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An Achievement Worth Sharing



I had one of those Facebook memory photos pop up today, which showed my stepdaughter Peng a few months after her major operation two years ago. That memory took me back to 2013 when I first met Peng during a brief visit to Isan and the path we have travelled as a family since then.

Building in Thailand eBook

When my wife and I bought some land in Isaan, which is a region in the north east of Thailand, and then started to build our house I wanted to record the daily events of construction life. For twenty six weeks I wrote a weekly blog update about all the aspects of the build and included as much detail as possible for others who might be thinking of going down the same path. I was surprised by the number of readers I attracted as a result of writing on this subject, many of whom followed the entire build from beginning to end. 

Based on this continued interest I thought I would revisit my original words and bring them all together under the one heading in the form of an eBook. Included in this process has been some extensive updating and expansion of many of the original posts and the addition of the many comments, which are designed to expand your knowledge and save you time or money or both!

Read more HERE and find out how to obtain the eBook.

I am loving your book – just on my second read at the moment, to make sure that I didn’t miss anything first time around (which actually it turns out I did!).  

Just a note of thanks at this point ……. I am a fairly methodical sort of bloke, but there are many issues which your book highlights which I just wouldn’t have thought about – or if I had, I may well have assumed they were “standard” building practice [U-bends, drain positioning, barge-board alignment] – if it hadn’t been for your excellent descriptions!!  I will probably still “miss” something – that’s the nature of building/design – but thanks to you, it shouldn’t be anything too mission-critical.

The income from my eBook pays for the upkeep of this blog, which is otherwise commercially free unlike so many others.

For regular readers I don’t have to tell you how incredibly proud I am of this young lady and her positive attitude to life that has taken her from a likely wheelchair outcome to being an independent and mobile university student in Chiang Mai.

This result is not just down to Peng but the unwavering support she has had from her mum. The increasingly solid and loving connection between these two, especially over the last couple of years when Peng needed her the most, has been one the highlights of my life. The photos that show these two together give a hint of the strength of that relationship.

I thought I would share a few photos of my time with Peng from the beginning to now, which shows her growing into the beautiful young adult she is today. Her constantly sunny attitude bursts through in so many of these photos and it was a real challenge to select which ones I would share.

One of the photos that started this post. You will see why later.

And the second one…………read on.

Early Days

I met Peng in 2013 when I visited Isan and the family for the first time. We were staying in a resort close to the family home in Si Bun Ruang and here Peng has a close encounter with a sheep, which for her was a first-time meeting as well.

Peng was 13-year-old here. Mum and daughter.

Peng as a bridesmaid at our wedding in March 2014. My sister-in-law Sam on the left and a good friend Saskia Bicker-Emms on the right.

Just before we moved to Isan permanently, we flew Peng on her first air-plane trip to Chiang Mai to show her some of the places we enjoyed after 12 months living there.

It included a few days in Chiang Rai, where we lived for three months before moving to Chiang Mai.

Peng’s mobility restrictions at this time meant she couldn’t walk from the family home to our land, which was only 50 metres away. We bought her a three-wheel scooter in Chiang Mai and had it shipped to Isan. Was Peng pleased to be mobile? I think so.

The Operation and Recovery

Bedside after Peng’s operation in 2017. We were 10 days here before we could take her home.

Happy to be home.

Peng was three months in those casts. I think this photo shows the connection between mum and daughter like no other.

Casts off and Peng’s learning to walk again.

I measured up the steps at Peng’s school (her classroom was on the third level) and built these replicas so she could practice climbing stairs. She started with just a few as she walked endlessly around the dining table but ended up managing several hundred. I have a photo of Peng, first day back at school, heading up the stairs to her classroom. Yay Peng.

Off the walker and onto sticks. Practising her walking at the farm. Gaun was Peng’s shadow for months.

Nothing keeps that smile from shining through – sticks and all.

And another example.

If ever there was a photo that captured the joy in walking independently it is this one. The first time Peng walked from the family home to ours without help.

Endless hours on the treadmill. Her school thought that she’s have to repeat a term because of her long absense but Peng was determined to get back ASAP and not be head back from her goal of getting into university this year (2019).

More Recent Times

Laughter is always bubbling up between these two.

All dressed up for a Songkran village street party, Thai New Year.

She’s growing up.

Valentine’s Day, which happens to also be our wedding anniversary

Jennifer Bowra, one of the many friends we have had visit us in Isan, connections made as a result of my blog. I don’t have to make introductions when people drop in. They know as much about my family and who they are as I do 🙂

A child no more.

My family.

She’s a good mate, and not everyone can say that about a stepchild. Lovely.

University 2019

Registering Peng at university in Chiang Mai earlier this year. The culmination of all that effort by Gaun and Peng.

Peng with new classmates.

Peng’s first-time teaching for real. Making an impression already.

This photo says it all really.

And maybe this one as well.

And one from yesterday to finish. An inspiration story Peng.

All grown up and starting her own journey. Go girl.


Thanks for reading.


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  1. Greg Carroll

    Hi Tony,
    Always a pleasure to read about Peng’s journey. She continues to inspire.
    Her smile is like sunshine – it can light up an already sunny day.
    She will make a wonderful teacher – you can tell from her nature.
    Her set backs overcome with the love and support from Guan and her own determination not to let them hold her back.
    We look forward to many more posts on her progress.

    • Tony in Thailand

      Thank you so much Greg. She and Gaun are chatting via video as I type and it is endless laughter. To be a small part of making that happen is just priceless.


  2. Jim Busby

    Thanks again for reminding us just how lucky your life is to have such a wonderful family. Peng is one of the most positive souls on this planet and nothing ever deters her in any way. She got that from mum for sure. That was quite the journey she’s had already and this story just gets better and better. You give most of the credit to Gaun, but it’s the whole family that made this happen, and that certainly includes you my friend. The bond between a mother and daughter is one of the strongest. Your photo of the two of them sleeping side by side, is just like when Gaun sleep next to her bed in the hospital. I still think that picture of her charming her first student speaks volumes of her future as a teacher and more. Yes, she is no longer the little girl, but a young woman with a destiny. She seems just as happy to have you in her life, as you are to have her in yours.

    Best wishes,

    P.S. To Adrian W. Martin, I am sorry about the loss of your lower leg and the financial burden you had to endure. If you ever need assistance, don’t hesitate to start a “Go Fund Me” page to request donations from others around the world for your needs. People like myself have money to help others, and are willing to do so, so you should not feel you have to go it alone my friend.


    • Adrian W Martin

      Hi Jim.

      Thank you for your comments and offer of support. I had a total knee replacement by a very competent surgeon in Chiang Mai, and 3 + years on, no problems at all.

      I’m back in Australia now, and no longer relying on my pension to pay doctors, dentists, buying medicine, although I miss Thailand and the friends I had there.

      Best wishes.


    • Tony in Thailand

      A generous and caring reply to this story and Adrian’s as always Jim. Connecting to people like yourself, who become friends over time, has been THE most rewarding aspect to writing the blog. As you know I sometimes wonder whether it is worth the effort and expense, but then I read a comment like yours and those from other long-term virtual friends that answers the question without hesitation.

      I look forward to sharing Peng’s journey as it evolves.

      Warm regards.


  3. Adrian W Martin

    Wow! What lovely ladies Tony!!

    All the photos, as usual, are great, and always so interesting.

    Seeing Peng hobbling around reminds me of my trip to China five years back, and the temp dropped to 4C and my right knee locked up!

    As soon as I returned to Chiang Mai, I went to see a recommended surgeon, and after an x-ray or two and me hobbling around, he announced that it had to come off!

    I could have returned to Oz and had it done there, after a wait of a year or two, but the surgeon said he could do it in 2 weeks!.

    So off to the hospital, where I was duly carved up and a new knee fitted. Made quite a dent in my pension savings, but after a week of rehab, I was on my feet and no problems since.

    I hope Peng had as good a recovery.

    All the best mate. It’s so nice to read such positive stories, as well as seeing the results of your building and gardening.

    • Tony in Thailand

      Thank you Adrian.

      We all take bodies for granted when they are working. Peng is still handicapped a bit with her walking and will never be ‘normal’ but she was on the road to a wheelchair before and is now pretty mobile as you can tell from the stories I publish. She will never have the strength in her legs to hold up a motorbike, but in some ways I am not unhappy for her NOT to be on the greatest cause of road deaths and injuries in Thailand, especially somewhere like Chiang Mai, which is crazy busy.

      Good to hear of your recovery but we have covered that ‘off-line’.

      Thank you again for your positive input Adrian.



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