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Daily Stories – 23 February

Everyday stories about an

expat’s life in Isaan, Thailand

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In this unique blog You will find hundreds of stories about my life in Thailand, the good and bad. Not just a list of tourist destinations but stories about REALLY living here. I hope you enjoy sharing my experiences of settling into a new country and culture as much as I am living it. 

To visit my main index page click below.

To read today’s stories please scroll down.

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.

NEW: Search the blog:

My stories of the day – 23 February 2020

NEW: Non-immigrant O (marriage) Visa

I usually try to stay away from the more specialised topics that require regular monitoring to stay in touch, but I recently had to apply to change from my current non-immigrant O-A Visa (retirement) obtained in Australia to a non-immigrant O (marriage) the reasons for which I will explain. I thought I would share my experiences for anyone thinking of following the same path.

My life in rural Isaan revolves around three main topics of interest. Firstly there is the family farm situated about 1 km from where we live. I love learning about and sharing aspects of farming in a different country. Read my stories and you’ll become a virtual Isaan farmer in time! Click HERE

Secondly is our enjoyment in developing the best private tropical garden in Isaan. We also have a small but still beautiful garden at the farm. In this section I write about any aspects related to gardening in Thailand, illustrated with photos taken in our gardens and locally. Click HERE

And finally I share everyday stories as I see them relating to life in a small rural village. This could cover anything from personal events to festivals and local attractions. Anything that doesn’t fit into the other two headings ends up here. Click HERE 

Or of course read them all in which case just scroll down!

I am a keen photographer and all my photos are shot professionally and edited. The end result is far better than most blogs and social media and I will publish my favourite shots from time to time, which will almost be a fourth topic.

The stories I share here are reflected in my very active social media exposure and you will find me on Facebook as follows:

Tony Eastmead HERE 

Thailand Tropical Gardens HERE

Rural Isaan, Thailand HERE and;

Isaan Photography HERE.

Farm News:

Today’s Update:

A very minor update.

The trellis for the long beans is taking shape. I didn’t get out there today but I suspect these are finished now.

Yuan packing lettuce.

Bags of Backbead or Manila Tamarind(?) being sold on Yuan’s Thursday market stall at 50 baht a bag.

And mixed ripe tomatoes at 10 baht.

Tropical Gardens News:


I have mentioned this before but gardening at the intensity we do generates a massive amount of waste material. Gaun is on a Spring clean mission, and I am helping too I hasten to add, and we are slightly changing a few aspects of the garden in the process.

Dork Khun or Golden Shower trees not only shed leaves this time of year, which is odd because other trees are starting to put on new leaves post-“winter, but they drop hundreds of these seed pods. A messy tree to be avoided if you want an easy gardening life.

One load – the second this week.

My gardener in her element.

The two loads dumped at the farm. It will be burnt unfortunately. What else can you do with this quantity of material?

Gaun shakes all the pergolas to remove dead leaves that build up underneath. This is the result of half of this pergola over the driveway.

We have opened up this path, which had a lot of greenery right at the edge and made it feel a bit restricted. Four new golden palms have been added on the right.

This wall was hidden behind very tall copperleaf and that has now been chopped to reveal the feature behind.

It’s not very clear but six new golden palms have been added on the left. These will grow reasonably quickly to introduce a more tropical feel to this scene in the next couple of years. I recommend golden palms for a low maintenance garden.

The palms. 140 baht each.

Two buffalo have been added to our growing family of Isaan farm animals. Protecting the entrance to our sala.

Hanging basket ferns add an easy to maintain tropical feel to any area. Buy the ferns for 10 baht each and a basket for 50 baht. Five ferns per container. Place in the shade and water well. This area is outside our bedroom. A nice scene to open the curtains to.


A couple of new plant identifications, a new wall hanging and a few updates.

Our third load of garden rubbish to the farm. Pretty well done for the coming week thank goodness.

I told you that Gaun attacks these pergolas to shake the dead leaves down that get caught underneath. This is the result afterwards. Nice dappled light again.

We got these plants in Chiang Mai and they made the journey to Isaan when we moved. They are beautiful and flowering now. Hard to grow for some reason, They can be doing fine and then just up and die. Clerodendrum quadriloculare or Starburst Clerodendrum. More information HERE

You can see why they’re called starburst.

These are Copperleaf and when transferred from home to the farm I was sure they had dies. Not so. Just chopped off, stuck in the ground, not given any special treatment and they are now established.

The bougainvillea has reduced but is still giving a good display for the farm driveway.

I showed you this area in the garden, whichGaun redesigned for Valentine’s Day photos. Here it is in its finished state. Two new plants needed for those pots.

French fries for lunch. Thanks Gaun.

This wall was hidden by a mass of Copperleaf, which grows to three metres. We have cut them right back to reveal the wall again, which I paid to have specially treated in that shiny concrete when it was built. Similar to the new local village shop, for those of you who follow my personal page.

I felt it needed something to make it a feature so today I built this wall hanging.

Very traditional Isaan I think, but sort of modern too,.

The wall and the hanging give an added interest to this path now. Happy with that.

Old carved wall pieces bought on one of our trips to Chiang Mai, the new hanging and timber farm implements on the rice hut wall.

This was a bare spot that needed filling.

Three plants brought from the farm this morning.

Job done.

These are the Copperleaf we chopped in front of that wall. After only a few days they are sprouting new leaves already.

Gaun’s seedling factory.

The Frangipani is coming into flower after being totally bare over the Isaan ‘winter’. Beautiful.

After months of constanly droping leaves and generally making a mess, this gooseberry is settling down with new growth and starting to produce fruit. Described as:

Phyllanthus acidus, known as the Otaheite gooseberry, Malay gooseberry, Tahitian gooseberry, country gooseberry, star gooseberry, starberry, West India gooseberry, or simply gooseberry tree, is one of the trees with edible small yellow berries fruit in the family Phyllanthaceae. Despite its name, the plant does not resemble the gooseberry, except for the acidity of its fruits. It tastes sour and tart.

Even at the end of winter and the beginning a brief sort of spring period in Isaan, a tropical garden can still be a colourful place to spend time.

Village News:

A Happy Peng:

Two pizzas for the price of one. Can life get better for Peng in Chiang Mai? She did have a friend to help out in case you were wondering about the quantity! That’s my farang girl

A few mixed photos:


The only shop that has been occupied in this row 18 months after completion (?) across the road from the police station. It is a photo process and frame business. For locals the one almost opposite the 7/11 on the main street in Si Bun Ruang has closed.

The only reason I raise this is that if you are after a quick turnaround for visa related photos, which I was today, then this is a good place to come to. Six larger photos and six passport sized for 140 baht.

The village shop we have been following together now has its roller doors installed. Pretty neat.

Inside the electrician was at work today. Normally Thais would stick with the standard yellow electrical conduit, so this white choice is a rare moderation. Sometimes the wiring is cut into the blockwork, but with this polished finish that wouldn’t work. Installed on the walls is fine in this ‘industrial’ environment.

Out the back a neighbour was building a table from scratch for Jan to use in the new shop. Using Jan’s own timber. Very nice.

This is looking like it’s going to be a shop above the average.

Another Bright Resort and Golf:

We spent the day organising a change of visa from OA (retirement) to O (marriage), which only makes any sense to locals, which took us to Immigration in Nong Bua Lamphu, our provincial capital a 30 minute drive from home. I have been wanting to take some photos of these two new landmarks on highway 228 just south of NBL and today was the day.

This looks like a scene from a Hollywood movie set in its clinical colourfulness but in reality is a new resort.

I had to add a more dramatic sky just to ft the slightly surreal photo.

A place to crash for the night and nothing more. The side-income for these places, which are scattered everywhere, is what’s called ‘short-time’ rentals. Overnight will cost you maybe 400 – 500 baht while a short-time (however long it takes) 250 baht. Useful for girlfriend and boyfriend or any other combination that comes to mind who experience limited private space in a home environment.

I don’t know why I like this scene so much. The only in Thailand contrast in colours maybe. Accommodation Disneyland.

The markings on the every cabin door are from a Buddhist monk blessing.

I presume the owner’s house. A fair investment here.

Shortly up the road (heading south) is this new complex, which is a first for Nong Bua Lamphu. The cafe isn’t the unique attraction but the sign might give you a clue.

The deck at the back overlooks this pond, which will be more attractive in the wet season once everything greens up.

Now there’s a clue to its main function.

Yes, a golf driving range. Who would have thought?

Yes, a golf driving range. Who would have thought?

Still to open but it’s all ready to go.

40 golf balls a tray? I wonder how much. I will advise later for all you golfers dying for a hit in rural Isaan.

Workers-to-be chatting with Gaun.

Toss a coin as to whether this concept works. At least it is someone having a go at offering something different so I wish them every success.

Sit and have a coffee r beer and laugh at your friends attempts to avoid the netting.

This track runs down the side of the cafe. It leads to a large cock (chicken) fighting arena, which if you go back in the photos is that structure at the end of the driving range. They get a huge turnout for the fights. Not my thing but any action to reduce the number of roosters in the village is welcome. Did you know they crow ALL bl***y day and not just at dawn like in the nursery rhymes?

If these fights are your thing here’s the next big event. That’s King Narasuan, who has a shrine in the centre of Nong Bua Lamphu. He has a strong connection to cock fighting, which will become clear if you Google his history (he dates back to the 1500’s)

Regular readers might remember this wonderful dance display for King Narasuan in front of his shrine in Nong Bua Lamphu last month.

Thailand Photography

Showcasing some of my favourite photos taken around Thailand during my time here. Last updated 23 February:

Thank you for reading and please leave a comment. It’s the only payment I ask for.


February 2020 – new stories


  1. Jim Busby

    I know it’s the off season, but the garden is looking nice, and things seem to be ready to take off again. Your Starburst probably just need to get a little older to handle the cool season better, and then they should do better. That was sweet of Gaun to update that area for Valentine’s/Anniversary Day. Any bare spot in the garden quickly becomes the new haven of more plants. I like the description for the taste of those gooseberries, sour and tart. The two favorite words to an Isaan’s ears. You and Gaun should rent a bucket of balls to whack at one day, with each of you taking photos of the other’s golf swing. It should be entertaining. I’ve already commented on the remaining parts of this post on FB, but once again, I do want to emphasize that your photos real shine here over the postage sized ones on FB.


    • Tony in Thailand

      My garden in Canberra went almost bare in winter but it was so cold we didn’t use it that much. The only plus for the traditional winter is the joy or spring with the burst of greenery. Here the same happens with some plants but it tends to merge with existing greenery so is less dramatic. Gaun and I did once play mini-golf in Chiang Mai HERE but I have to say that normal golf doesn’t rate on my bucket list in any form. I get full sized photos on my Facebook posts and they are twice the size of the blog posts so an oddity.

      Thank you Jim. Sorry to give you extra work commenting on both FB and the blog.


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