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30 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 – 30 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:

A Farm Update:

I haven’t updated this page recently because there’s not much happening at the farm. That’s partly because Yuan and Lud are in-between planting and partly that Yuan has been involved in helping out at a couple of village funerals, which always puts everyday life on hold.

With no rain due for months to come the farm pond continues to be topped up using bore/well water. Yuan and Lud don’t use the water, keeping it as a reserve and for the fish, so it isn’t totally necessary to do but probably sensible. With more and more people accessing ground water (including four big new bore/wells for an ice factory, which has the villagers a bit concerned) having some surface water makes sense.

Yuan and Lud made offerings to the farm’s san phra phum (spirit house) early this morning asking for a productive new growing season. A whole chicken has been buried here plus food, drink and whisky offered to the spirits to get them on-side.

Lud built a small ladder so that small spirits can reach the food and drink 

Another Lud creation. Any ideas?

His idea to scare away birds from eating the fruit on this tree, which are in season. Maybe a bit optimistic but I love the enthusiasm  This image got some comments of Facebook such as this one from Jim:

So would some birds would be scared away with Chang, and others with Leo, and still others with Lao Khao whiskey? Maybe the idea is to get them drunk so they fall off the limbs and don’t eat the fruit. Probably would work for humans as well.😃

The preparation for broad bean rows starting. We have just come home from a search for a particular brand of broad bean packed in 2019, that took us to a town called Phu Wiang, an hour’s drive from us. Yuan likes this brand but the 2018 version she has and is readily available won’t sprout because she tested some seeds. Regulars will remember this from a previous post.

Yuan weeding.

And again. I only add this shot because morning glory as been added to the usual range of vegetables growing here.

Long Bean seeds:

We were on the road yesterday and headed to a small town 45 minutes from us called Phu Wiang. Yuan was after some long bean seed of a specific brand and year and the rumour was that these packets could be found in the rural shops there. Ants are back on the agenda too as tomorrow are the big Friday markets and Yuan wants to have some for her stall.

We found the seeds but they were packed in 2018, which Yuan already has, tried and they didn’t sprout, so no good. She was after the 2019 variety, which no one had. I love these rural shops. They have everything you’d ever want hidden away and cold beer at the front. If only Bunnings were the same (for Aussie readers).

Bad news on the seed front. The seeds Yuan was sold last year (the 2018) cast her 300 baht a packet. From this supplier they were 150 baht, so it would have been a good result if she had the right year.

Just a photo because I loved the shapes and colours. Essential cleaning equipment in Isaan. Great for tiled floors. Hoses costed by weight not length.

Just a photo because I loved the shapes and colours. Essential cleaning equipment in Isaan. Great for tiled floors. Hoses costed by weight not length.

Yuan, Lud and Gaun ant egg hunting outside our garden.

Yuan is always the hunter with lots of encouragement from Lud.

The nest is broken open wit the end of the bamboo pole and the eggs and a lot of ants fall into the basket.

Waiting to be sorted. The ants aren’t too pleased as you can imagine.

Tropical Gardens News:

Cochlospermum or buttercup tree:

Gerry Campbell posted a photo and information on this tree recently. I came across a beautiful one flowering in a local temple so thought I would add the photo to brighten your day. More information HERE.

This is the temple where I took that photo. Wat Pa Kittiyanusorn outside the town of Phu Wiang, Khon Kaen province.

Cuttings are cheap:

Gaun literally bought a truckload of good soil, parked it on mama’s land and this is being put to use in her enjoyment for taking cuttings and growing new plants from them. Never be shy about chopping off anything you see, sticking it in some soil and see what happens. Some fail but a surprisingly good proportion grow just fine.

Gaun’s cutting workshop. I must make a bench for her. These vivid green plants being repotted today.

The soil dumped in the corner of this empty piece of land at the family home.

The soil dumped in the corner of this empty piece of land at the family home.

Seeds from the cascabela thevetia tree. Information here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascabela_thevetia

And a small previously planted tree growing nicely. Goodness knows where we are going to plant it. Gaun says she is going to sell them 3 for 100 baht but I don’t know if she is serious.

This is what it grows into very quickly. Lots of bright yellow flowers.

This is the temple where I took that photo. Wat Pa Kittiyanusorn outside the town of Phu Wiang, Khon Kaen province.

Copperleaf, although if you plant them in the shade they stay mostly green.

These look on their way to dying but don’t be fooled. Most will be fine.

Copperleaf on the left. You can see how it got its name!

This centre-piece tree looked as though it had lost a lot of its limbs as the leaves dropped off and they looked dead. I know this is a deciduous tree but it also gets badly attacked by borers and does have bits die and drop off.

The good news is that most of the branches that looked dead are re-sprouting so nature taking its course as we head into ‘spring’.

Village News:

I am closely following the construction of a new village shop, which in this case is literally a corner shop, because building in Thailand interests me.

The lady building it is called Jan and we bought our original block/plot of land from her in 2013. Her husband works in Taiwan and only comes home once a year, so Jan earns a living solo working her farm, cutting sugar and planting rice. Jan is true Isaan, a hard worker and just gets on with life.

Her daughter recently got married and the sin sod (a payment from the groom to the bride’s mum) was 300,000 baht and I suspect that some of that is going to creating this new business. Great for us in that it is located 50 metres from home if we need to top up on anything.

The builders who were taking it to this stage finished Tuesday and yesterday the blocks had arrived and Jan is constructing the walls herself.

Rebar ties welded onto the frame to support the walls as they are built.

That insulated (yay) roof is up. This will drop the temperature underneath by 5 degrees yet how many people do it!

Jan working away on her own. I love these gutsy Isaan ladies. Give me one of these (I already have one) rather than a poncy madam polishing her nails and booking the next hair appointment 

This photo was taken this morning. Steady progress.

Thailand Photography

Showcasing some of my favourite photos taken around Thailand during my time here. Last updated 30 January:

Orchids. Photo taken at the royal palace gardens in Doi Tung, Chiang Rai province.

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

Tony

January 2020 – new stories

6 Comments

  1. Greg Carroll

    Thank you for another great read Tony. Really enjoyed starting the day with a coffee and a quite scroll through your blog.
    The store where Yuan and Lud were looking for seeds is very much like Yuri’s parent’s store. It is a cross between a general corner store and a hardware store, with beer! Aussie men’s dream. After visiting Bunnings many times with me Yuri has a number of ideas for her parent’s store. She has this plan to make it a mini Home-Pro. Knowing her determination I’ve no doubt she will succeed.
    The orchids are stunning – something I’m really looking forward to. Yuri’s sister has an orchid nursery near Chang Rai, so you can guess what is going to feature prominently around our house.
    Time to get ready for work – only 3 weeks left 🙂

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Thank you Greg. I will be interested to see how Yuri’s parent’s store evolves if she introduces some western ideas. Businesses here seem to operate within pretty narrow restraints of keeping keeping on with whatever has always been done, which may or may not be the best plan in these days of change. We haven’t had a lot of success in growing orchids, but they do need more specialised attention to get the best results. We have some flowering now but that’s more due to their natural state than anything we have done. Wow – 3 weeks is no time.

      Reply
  2. Mark

    G’day Tony, great story and pics.

    Do you know the name of the blocks Jan is using to build her mini mart?

    Thanks

    Seeya

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      They are the standard Thai concrete building blocks. Hollow inside. You buy them for around 4.5 – 5 baht each. If they’re not constructing house from the small red bricks then usually they are using these. Neither bricks nor blocks have any great insulation ability. You need to use AAC blocks for that, which we did in our house.

      Reply
      • mark

        Thanks for the reply, in the back of my mind am comparing bricks and builds to what I’m accustomed to over here. For wall strength bricks with holes for cement to go into is what I am used to. I know it’s a few years off yet but isn’t too early to start thinking about it.

        All the best.

        Reply
        • Tony in Thailand

          The building process and the materials used is very different Mark. I can advise more come the time.

          Reply

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