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Happy Days in Isan

9 February 2019

Some new and some old(er) stories in this post.

Servicing the ‘Chang’ (elephant) – our pickup

It was 30,000 km service time for the Nissan and what a painless chore that is in Thailand. No booking required – just turn up. 

A summary of the work to be done and the overall cost is given to you before they start. This shop had windows overlook the service area so you can check that the things you paid for actually go into the vehicle. A free wash and polish at the end.

The waiting room in Nissan, Nong Bua Lamphu. Even though it was one of the least impressive I have been in here it still had the usual TVs, free wifi with two desktop PCs, hot and cold drinks and noodles! Mazda was better when we used them for our Mazda 2, because they gave you lunch!

Not all good news because the service schedule here for a Nissan is every 10,000 km while in Australia for the same vehicle it is every 20,000 km !!!! What’s that all about? The good news is that even with double the service visits the combined cost of them is about half the Australian single visit, including all parts. Capped costs brochure from Nissan Australia above. 

A Piece of England in Nong Bua Lamphu!

A little while back I visited the wat you see on the right of this Google Earth image above, which sits at the top of a hill overlooking the provincial capital of Nong Bua Lamphu. From the temple I spotted the lake on the left and what looked like a castle in the middle of it. Worth a look I thought. After we finished having the pickup serviced we drove to the location, which was almost next door, for some photos. 

Someone’s idea that has gone slightly off the rails. A shell of a castle, which is overlooked by the large Buddha statue at Wat Doi Thep Somboon – where I originally spotted this structure.

If you are looking for a castle to complete in Thailand please let me know and I’ll give you the address 🙂

Thank you food gods for Noi’s Kitchen

The next day we arranged to meet with Peter, a Canadian friend, and his wife Noi at Noi’s Kitchen (a different Noi) outside Si Bun Ruang. 

Now that Noi’s new dual language sign is on the road the new customers will be pouring in.

A mix of Thai, Isan and western food in a relaxed environment. The only farang orientated eating place in the area and a central meeting point for the local rural based westerners.

Peter had bought Greg and Noi a statue he had found during a visit to Korat (Nakon Ratchasima) a four hour drive south of us. Here we are all interested to see what was in the box!

The Thais love these sort of western statues with all sorts of messages on them. This guy will now greet you along with Greg when you next visit Noi’s Kitchen.

For Facebook fans you can find Noi’s Kitchen HERE

All you can eat with unlimited ice cream for $6.00

Gaun’s older sister Yurt left the family some money to pay for an Isan buffet when she returned to Udon Thani after Chinese New Year. I was invited to join the group.

Was Peng happy to have access to unlimited food? I think so.

Calcium – who cares?

No, not my latest drug run but salt! Nine bags of 2.5 kilos each for 150 baht ($6.50). 

See the white stain on the pot. This is calcium and the result of having hard bore/well water. It’s OK for the garden but you need to get rid of it for house use otherwise it will clog up your pipes, cause problems for things like kettles and water heaters as well as permanently stain chrome, glasses and windows. 

More calcium showing where this wall gets water from garden sprinklers fed by unfiltered water from the bore/well. The answer to hard water is to install a water softening system, often comprsing resin balls that extacts the calcium. How do you get rid of the calcium from the filter? Salt and back to photo one! Buy my eBook Building in Thailand HERE and find out how to avoid the most common mistakes. 

Free TV Movies


I have a satellite dish installed on my roof that gives me a hundred channels or more of free Asian TV (and I thought Australian TV was pretty poor…’my goodness’ to put it politely. How good it looks now). Gaun watches about three of the Thai channels and promptly falls asleep. She tells me “My ear listen and my eyes relax” or “I not look TV. TV look me” 🙂

If you have the same choice of channels the only one worth viewing in desperation is Mono29, not surprisingly channel number 29. If you have come across Mono You might not realise that you can often watch the movies in English with Thai subtitles and this is how that works:

I have to say that I almost never watch TV here. This large screen sits unused most of the time.

Mono29 shows a lot of action movies and if it has this logo in the top right hand corner you should be able to change the default Thai dubbing to the original English.

I have a PSI satellite box, which is pretty common. See the R/L button under the yellow one at the top. Press that to change the language.

This brings up a language choice box on the screen

Select ENG and you’re good to go. Another option for lesser known programmes to fill in time is HERE It is free and works pretty well I have found.

Creation and destruction at the farm

Lud and Yuan at the early stages of planting long beans. They will build a wooden trellis next to support the plants and to make harvesting easy.

The devistation of newly burnt and cut sugar cane. It is not an attractive time of year to be visiting Isan.

Saved by Gaun’s endless work to transform as much ugliness as possible into something of beauty. Here she is developing this part of the farm as a rough lawn area with newly planted trees and shrubs. Give it a few years and the scene of destruction next door will no longer be part of the view from Vansutha farm. 

Gaun has been here 🙂

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