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23 January Stories

Everyday stories about an

expat’s life in Isaan, Thailand

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 January 2020

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:

FARM UPDATE THURSDAY:

I sometimes think that I won’t take the camera when we visit the farm in the morning and then after I do I know why. There is always something happening to report on and today was a good example.

The jackfruit are growing beautifully this year.

Yuan is always looking for ways to make a bit of extra money especially when she is in-between crops that are ready to harvest. Today she was trying a new concept for her by boiling the jackfruit.

After they are cooked she was cutting them up and removing the skin.

Resulting in this. These were destined for her Thursday street market stall in Si Bun Ruang.

On the same them of looking for way to produce income here she is collecting fruit from this tree, called many names but Manilla tamarind is an easy one to remember.

Lud helping out from above.

The end result. 10 kilos at 70 baht a kilo and we checked in on Yuan’s stall this afternoon and she’d sold all very quickly. 700 baht in her pocket as a result of not sitting around but being proactive.

This is what the eating part of the fruit looks like. I find them dry and pretty tasteless but others enjoy them.

Yuan cleaning them up for sale supervised by mama.

And still the tomatoes are producing.

Tham and Bear digging up garlic to dry for planting at another time. 

You will get bored of my photos of this field but it continues to mature with all the usual vegetable crops – dill, coriander and lettuce.

Having received a rough cut from a commercial tractor it returned yesterday to refine the soil. It is now ready for Lud to use that iron buffalo to build the beds into which crops will be planted.

And another. Lots of work about to happen based on the number of fields prepared.

I have floodlighting spread around in the farm gardens. Of all the places a coconut had to fall it had to pick one of my lights! 300 baht to replace. This is Tom, a nephew of Gaun.

A shot of the farmhouse. It looks cluttered but everything has a place and it is kept clean and orderly. Dining room of the left, lounge straight ahead, kitchen at the back and bedroom upstairs! Yuan and Lud’s home for the last 25 years. 

This is such a typical scene in Isaan as all of you with Thai partners will relate to. What locals refer to as ‘pok pok’ meaning pounding something up with a mortar and pestle

Resulting in this pure Isaan breakfast for Yuan, Lud and mama. Everything has come from the farm. Sour tree cuttings on the left, fish from the pond on the right and chilli (peppers) BBQ’ed by mama (see the post on my personal Facebook page) centre.

This is the shrub from which those small green berries were picked. Turkish Berry. We see vegetation and Isaan people see breakfast!

We had lunch with friends outside of Si Bun Ruang and we passed this farming construction on the way. This is a tomato farm but set-up to collect the seeds not the fruit. We went inside one of these a couple of years ago. They are super controlled to prevent diseases getting in. You have to walk through a cleaning powder and wash your hands at the entrance.

Tropical Gardens News:

Garden photos of the day:

A banana tree caught against morning light and the bougainvillea at the family farm and some magnificent orchids taken at the palace gardens of Doi Tung, Chiang Rai.

Village News:

We headed out of Si Bun Ruang this afternoon for lunch with friends Greg and Noi before a drive in the opposite direction to pick up some sour tamarind that I reported on yesterday so that Gaun can work her magic and produce a yummy chutney.

On the way we passed this huge house being built for a husband and wife doctor team. It is slowly taking shape.

Greg and Noi own a restaurant but it has been closed for a while due to some health problems with Noi. The good news for local farang is that a reopening is planned for February and some redecorating is happening as a result. I won’t reveal the final look until after the huge star studded opening ceremony but here’s a taste 

The guarantee with Greg and Noi is a friendly welcome so this sign is totally appropriate.

As Gaun told us when taking the photo ‘two handsome men’ but I have been thinking it’s time she got her eyes checked because there’s only the one handsome man on the right!

We drove past this sugar cane field after harvest. It wasn’t burnt because of the amount of waste material on the ground. The problem for the environment is that often this is then fired so you end up with the same result as if they just burnt the cane in the first place. All the grey skies you see in these photos is as a result of smoke. A rubbish time of year to be in Isaan.

Leaving Greg and Noi we drove the 30 minutes to Ban (village) Din Si On and arrived as the tamarind was being prepared for packing.

More than I needed for my chutney!

Tamarind with a tamarind tree in the background!

Workers were compacting three of these rolls of tamarind into one. You can see the completed ones on the left.

We ordered 2 kilos and this is the owner of the shop preparing some for us. 60 baht a kilo (A$3.00)

The compacted rolls were then packed into plastic bags three rolls wide and about eight high to give a total 10 kilos. Kids out of school and helping mum!

Gaun just organises people to position themselves for photos. This guy was put in place to demonstrate the 10 kilo bag. All of this crop is being sold and shipped to Bangkok. where it will end up overseas according to the boss. Evidently some will become tamarind soap – who would have thought?

Thailand Photography

Showcasing some of my favourite photos taken around Thailand during my time here.

Hills to the north of Chiang Rai. Tobacco was going to be planted in this field.

Sunset from the royal palace of Doi Tung, once again outside Chiang Rai.

Beautiful traditional Thai dancing at a ceremony for King Narasuan, a historical Thai king, held at Nong Bua Lamphu last weekend.

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

Tony

2 Comments

  1. Alan Clark

    Hi Tony,

    It’s great to see you back in action. As others have commented, I was getting a bit worried and was going to drop you an email to check you were ok.

    I really like the new format – very clear and easy to navigate.

    A recurring theme of your posts is the seasonality of vegetation and agricultural produce here. After 1.5 years in Phayao it is something I am gradually tuning in to. You mentioned the Dok Khun tree. There is one directly opposite our front gate, and sure enough a quick glance shows me the long seed pods are now well formed. One seasonal indicator I could do without, however, is the smoke, which seems to have arrived earlier this year than last year. We have a view of 2 mountain ranges from our house. When the range in the far distance disappears we know the smoke is coming. When the range in the middle distance disappears, as it has today, we know it is getting bad. When our front gate, 100m away, disappears it is time to stay inside and avoid any exertion.

    Keep up the good work. It really does encourage me to look a lot closer at what is going on around me every day.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Good to hear from you too Alan.

      I am pleased that you are pleased to have the blog up and running again.

      Funny how the coincidence of me writing about the Dok Khun tree and then you noticing it outside your place. We have certainly had smoke here but maybe a little less than previous years (?) Hard to compare. The sugar fields are ever expanding as the drought cuts back on farmers planting rice, but this year there was more unburnt sugar on the road post harvest. The air quality is still pretty rubbish but not at the heavy fog level (yet).

      New stories on there way so keep in touch.

      All the best.

      Tony

      Reply

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