Happy Days in Isan

26 February 2019

Another mix of small stories for you Isan enthusiasts. From ongoing upgrades to the farm rice hut and Guan’s ever expanding garden there, to long beans, Buddha holy day celebrations, tomato seeds and more. There’s more happening than that brief introduction hints at.

Updates to the Farm Rice Hut and rocks

So the suspense is over. Here’s the new table safely installed in the farm rice hut that I told you about in the last post. The stool replacement is still work in progress. I have seen pick-ups stacked with wooden stools but when I want to buy one they become a rare item. 

This photo doesn’t show them very well, but the pavers we also bought on Sunday in Udon have been laid as steps next to the rice hut so that ancient farang like me can easily access the water! It’s a hard life.

This is Gaun’s second farm garden and the one she is focussed on expanding and improving every early morning visit.  She wanted a small feature pond to be the cnetral feature and dug it by hand. We sourced some rocks from a neighbour but not enough to make it look as we wanted. Since then we have been on the lookout for more to finish the surrounds. Rocks are a rare item in our part of Isan. You can’t just call into a garden centre and order a pallet load.  

Yesterday we had a dinner booked at Noi’s Kitchen to meet with Mike, a blog reader and his wife. Noi’s is close to hills with lots of rocks so we went early, picked up Gaun’s sister-in-law number five who lives in the area and went rock hunting.

The end result is as you see here. A large pick-up load of rocks to add to the ones we already had. BTW these were beside the road rocks not ones on the hill itself (we cleared it with a park ranger).

Gaun moving some of the rocks this morning (she did get help!) You can see the before (here) and after (above).

On the way to where we ended up searching for rocks we passed through a village that was decorated for the opening of a new temple addition. Flags and hundreds of hand-made ‘flowers’. 

Farm garden progress

This is Gaun’s new garden behind the farm rice hut, which is filling in nicely.

This is almost exactly the same view taken on 25 November 2018! Three month’s hard work to buy and relocate the rice hut and Gaun’s endless enthusiasm and energy for anything horticultural!

The new garden and rice hut. Gaun has curretly moved beyond the rice hut to the other side and is planting that up. A five star resort in the making.

Duk Dik and rice hut. He loves the paving and the shade.

For all you long bean enthusiasts!

Two weeks old (?) and the long beans are heading vertically. Yuan and Lud have started on the trellis that will support these climbing plants and make harvesting the beans easier.

The photo on the left is yesterday and this one today. Yuan is staring to install the uprights that will support the vines. They will have this area finished today.

The sticks are saved each year to use for the following season. As always with Yuan and Lud everythig is super organised and stored perfectly.

These uprights will be tied into place using those handmade bamboo ties made by Yuan. Nothing is bought that can be made on-site using local materials.

Stick uprights are leaned against these uprights left and right to creat a tepee arrangement and then tied at the top to lock them in place.

Neighbours call in for a chat while Yuan and Lud pick lemon basil to sell at the Monday markets yesterday. This is Bun on the right and Mon her husband on the right. We bought the land on which the new tropical garden sits from them.

Although farming is consistent work, it offers more flexibility than any structured occupations. Yuan and Lud met twenty five years ago in a canning factory in Bangkok. They left to work the farm because they could be their own bosses and set the daily agenda. No supervisors telling them that they can’t chat to friends.

Dok San Sai

There’s a useful Apple app you can get called Garden Answers Plant ID HERE, where you take a photo of a plant or flower and it comes back with matched suggestions. The app is free and according to it the plant below is a Callistemon Viminalis or weeping bottlebrush. Now we both know. Gaun calls it a Dok San Sai – take your pick.

This time of year (end of the cool season) it produces these striking flowers before growing new leaves. We’ve had mixed results growing them here. Sometimes they look fine and then just die. I wouldn’t recommend them if you wanted a sure thing even though they are beautiful.

Gaun spotted these when we lived in Chiang Mai and these examples at the farm were cuttings from ones she brought with her when we moved to Isan.

Some of Gaun’s portable garden waiting to be loaded onto the removal truck in Chiang Mai October 2013. The truck ended up 50% furniture and 50% Gaun’s plants!

And the result of her enthusiasm in full bloom.

Makha Bucha Day

Makha Bucha, sometimes spelled Magha Puja, is one of the most important dates in the Buddhist calendar. Celebrated on the full moon night of the third lunar month, it is a day of veneration, marking the day nine months after Buddha’s enlightenment when 1,250 of his ordained followers spontaneously gathered to hear Him give a sermon, at which he established the basic tenants of the monastic order – the Sangha. The day is a public holiday in Thailand, as well as Laos and Cambodia.

Observances on the day begin around sunset at temples all around Thailand. Thais will come to pray, make offerings, then, after sunset, there will be candlelight processions around the ordination hall (ubosot) or pagoda, if the temple has an especially important one. 

Not my words. Credit and thanks given to this site HERE

I am not a Buddhist but I do enjoy going to one of our local temples called Wat Pa Silawa and joining locals celebrating some of the main Buddhist events.

Phones taken with Gaun’s phone in poor light so the photos aren’t the best but you get the idea. Peng here making an offering in one of the small open air shrines.

Having walked three times around the ubosot with candles they were placed under a large tree in a central area of the temple. Peng and Gaun.

Peng is tiny and makes me look huge.

A big heart in a small package. A sweet girl.

Tomato seeds in Isan!

Driving south of Si Bun Ruang we passed two of these large enclosed structures sitting in the fields. I am always interested in everything new so we stopped to find out what was growing.

Tomato plants, not for eating but to cultivate for the seeds. A guy from Khon Kaen had covered the capital cost for all of this and had guaranteed to buy all the seeds for 10,000 baht (A$440.00) a kilo.

The entrances were sealed and to get in you had to walk through this powder (lime?) and wash your hands.

A big production.

There were several of these netted structures in two separate locations.

Watered by a dripper system.

Buddha finds a home

This beautiful Buddha head that I showed you in the last post has found himself a new home. He will be slightly raised once I find the timber I need but even now he is just stunning.

This is one of our main outside sitting and entrertaining areas so will be part of and observe many happy times in the garden.

This statue was given to my by my parents around 40 years ago. It has travelled around to all my homes and has just been relocated to make room for the Buddha head. 

Not 100% (too low) but you get the idea for one of the pots we bought on Sunday. A new stylish feature in the garden.

I told you in my last post about a statue I had bought for almost twice the price as the one available at a new garden centre option we found on Sunday. This is that original figure. Nice.

Puk’s Birthday

I only came across this video today and decided to publish it even though it relates to an event that happened on the 13th. Gaun’s niece Puk has her birthday the day before Valentine’s Day, so we get to remember it. A very small gathering at the family home with a cake I bought. Yuan, Puk, Lud, Peng and Gaun. Birthdays have the same rituals worldwide.