Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The big mango awaits

Got into the big mango early afternoon yesterday and right away went off to do some shopping for supplies and stuff for the resort.  After that, I was a bit pooped out so I took a long nap which turned out longer than I expected.  It was a long day, starting at 6 AM with my exercise and walk so it was justified that I took it easy...or was I just too darn lazy?

Today, its chores and errands before meeting up with JW and BB for dinner at Oishi in the evening.  JW might stay in BKK or he might go on to Pattaya.  As of yesterday, he said he had not made up his mind yet.  Whatever the case, it will be good to see them both again and dine at one of my favorite places.

Tomorrow, I have a doctor's appointment at BNH after going in early at 7AM to give a blood sample, and then its off to the dentist for a cleaning and exam.  Luckily its all in the same hospital but that will completely take up my entire morning.  

This is what we are shopping for

Either tomorrow or Thursday, B and I will make our rounds to the gun stores to finally buy our home protection handgun.  We have the Por 3 in hand with all the required signatures and designation of gun type, bullets, caliber, etc.  We just have to pick out the actual handgun and then the store will send the papers electronically (eFile) to the authorities and we will be legit. The Por 4 will be sent directly to us later as our record of legality. I wanted to get this all done before I left for my heart operation and to spend enough time with B and her mother teaching them gun safety and how to shoot.  We are in a generally safe area, but its in an isolated area and sometimes the women and kids are alone at night and they need to be ready should the circumstances dictate.  Also have to set up the gun safe that I carried over from the US so that the gun can be safely  and properly stored in the resort.  I take gun ownership very, very seriously, no matter if its here in the LOS or Kalifornia.

If all goes well, a trip to Fantasia Lagoon waterpark at the Mall Bang Khae is on the schedule later in the week. Promised it to Marina and I really liked it last time too.  Its located on the roof of the mall and is only about a 30 minute drive from the CBD.

Then its the Bangkok International Motorshow.  Too much stuff to do, so little time...

Times a wasting...time to finish them chores before dinner.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Its always like this...

When its time to go back to the mango, the weather is just fabulous outside.  Its a pleasant 72F or 25C outside with a mild breeze.  When I went for my walk this morning, it was actually refreshing. Just checked the weather for the mango, and its a bit warmer (80F) with a chance of rain.  I don't look forward to the sticky weather, but its something we just have to accept as part of living here.

I promised an update on the Fire TV box and stick operational capabilities here in the Land of Smiles. The good news is that I got everything working perfectly.  My geographical restrictions are no longer an issue because inside the list of apps provided by Amazon is a VPN service called VyprVPN.  That app can be installed directly into the box or TV stick and then just configured for a location in the USA - problem solved.  To watch netflixs, one should have a USA account.  Although Netflix does have a Thailand service, the service is limited:  

A Netflix account in Thailand will give you access to 178 TV show titles and 515 movies.  However, US Netflix users pay the same price and have access to 1081 TV shows and 4579 movies.

The VPN service costs $80 USD per  year and is good for 3 units.  Its far cheaper than any cable service and also give you the ability to use it on your computer to access blocked sites or provide an extra layer of security.  Click on the above logo for more info.

Almost time to go.  M.I.L. calling that food is ready and its time to eat.  More from the BIG mango.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Lazy Weekend...Lazy Sunday

Yep, its the weekend and its almost over.  Didn't do much  yesterday except shop for tiles and 150 kilos of fertilizer in town.  It started to get hot again even though the sun didn't come out because it was down right steamy.   Things are going pretty smoothly here as the contractor is finishing the concrete bed frames for each room.  That was the reason I had to go into town - to buy some more glass mosaic tiles for the sides and headboard.   Also it was time to start fertilizing the bamboo plants which are going crazy after the last rain storm.

Heard from Johnnie Walker yesterday that the Bangkok International Motorshow is going to start next week. He and Bangkok buddy were doing the rounds at Mega Bangna. Schedule permitting, I think I may go visit and shoot pictures of the 'pretties' like I always do.  Actually, its a neat place to visit if you like cars, motorcycles, and other motorcraft. There is also a section where you can buy accessories for your vehicle as well.  The neat thing is that its all in one place so you don't have to scramble all over Bangkok to see the latest and greatest or to get something you want.

The 'Pretties' are one of the big attractions of the show..
The event is held at the Impact Arena, just north of Bangkok not far from Don Muang Airport and will open until the 9th of April.  Here is a slideshow from a previous show for new readers of this blog.

Today, I will try to wrap some things up as tomorrow we are scheduled to return to the big mango.

This is Marina's idea of the "Big Mango"
Have a nice weekend and see ya all in the big mango............

Friday, March 24, 2017

Thunder and lightning this morning plus Star Tiger Zoo

Its thunder, lightning, and heavy rain this morning.  So heavy that I didn't even bother to go out for my morning walk.  With the rain, there is a welcome drop in temperature and its a cool 26C outside with a light breeze.  Its been a strange year weather wise.  Normally, this time of year is hot enough to cook eggs on the asphalt and the air conditioners are running day and night trying to keep up.  But this year, the hot spells have been interrupted with spells of rain and cool weather.  Kind of refreshing really and would save a lot of water during Songkran.

This kind of pattern also means that the humidity goes way up and the apparent temperature or heat index is a lot higher than what shows on the thermometer.  It was only 38C all the way back from the zoo yesterday but it felt like it was over 43C and today, its 26C with a nice breeze.  Our timing was perfect for the outing  yesterday.

Took the family to Star Tiger Zoo and Waterpark in Chaiyaphum.  What? Where?

It won't make the top list of attractions of anyone visiting the land of smiles nor will it likely be on anyone's list at all.  But if you have kids and are visiting our neck of the woods, and its hot (which is most of the time), you definitely want to make a stop here.  As described in the name, this place is a Zoo and Waterpark and the Zoo part is pretty nice, although small.  There is a nice assortment of animals like tigers (White and Bengal), giraffes, monkeys, exotic birds, etc.  Its in the middle of nowhere, but it was a lot better than a zoo some tour guide tried to take us to outside a big city in China when I visited a few years back.

Kids can feed some of the barn animals and birds as food is sold next to each display.  There was also a huge pond of 100 pound carp that would make these huge, booming splashes as they tried to grab the food.  Link here if you want to see the video of the huge fish.  The zoo cost us 170 baht for the whole family. Caution, double pricing here as its 100 baht if you are a foreigner. Also, there is an additional charge for the Waterpark so the whole adventure cost us 300 baht for admission. You can't go to the waterpark only.  Inside, there is food, suit rentals, and space to change and shower.  

Plenty of lounge chairs in the shade - just add a cold iced tea and massage and its heaven
The bigger attraction is the water park.  In a area where its hot and in some places, far from a swimming hole, a water park for the kids is a godsend.  Its a small waterpark by most standards, but there is enough to keep most younger, pre-teen, kids happy.  There are water slides and a shallow kid's pond and playground for toddlers and bigger slides for the older kids.  Heck, even Sevenwinds took to one of the slides to accompany Marina as she was a bit scared.  If that sounds like a lame excuse, it was, as she was the one encouraging me to go with her not the other way around.  Anyway, it was some precious father/daughter time that is priceless.

A wandering moat goes around the entire park

Swim and sit at poolside for a cold drink if you want
Lastly, our little 'dog problem' resolved itself.  After I made the post  yesterday a big commotion was heard later in the morning.  Evidently, one of the dogs took exception to the little guy and started a fight, and bit him.  It was not a serious injury or bite, but it gave the little guy a message that he wasn't wanted so he continued his journey down the road to the next group of houses.  Good luck little fella, hope you find your way home.  Funny how things in nature kind of take care of themselves if you just let it run its course.

Ella having a blast with Grandma at the kiddie pond

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Magnet for strays...

In the last two weeks, we've picked up two stray dogs.  One I just discovered this morning and its taken a liking to me and is following me everywhere.  Tiny little mutt is obviously just a puppy, but seems like it was been bitten and scared but in otherwise good health.  Why us?  We have a nice resort with lots of trees, water, and cover from the hot sun.  There is food and the company of two other dogs on the property...so why not?  They think its a jungle paradise.

Would you keep this stray mutt?

Don't know what we are going to do with this mutt yet, there are no animal shelters or pounds around here and we are definitely not dog eaters like some in the other surrounding countries.  Its a refugee, or should I call it an illegal alien?  Do those terms even apply to stray dogs who just wander into your home and refuse to leave?  Not implying people are like dogs, but I see the same dilemma we face as compassionate beings for the welfare of other forms of life - especially those of the same species as ourselves.  We could take the dog, lock it outside and tell it to go away - but it refuses to leave. Where else would it go..down the road or likely be run down by the fast moving cars?

If the circumstances were such that we had lots of dogs and not enough food and resources for them, then we would treat the situation differently than now, where we have plenty of space and food.  So, I think the answer is to wait a couple of days and see what this mutt will do.  Maybe it will just wander down the road back home or his owner might come by to look for him/her.  It doesn't seem like its making any trouble with the other dogs and is definitely a cute pup.  It might even be that an owner that is leaving the dog at our footsteps like an unwanted baby in a basket..whatever the case its our problem now.

It's going to get the extreme vetting treatment for a couple of days.,,,555

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Getting Vanna Serviced

At the Isuzu dealership today.  Vanna has been squeaking a little when I step on the brakes lately.  That usually means that the pads are low and it's time to replace them.  Also on the schedule is a comprehensive fluid change, including the transmission and differential.  The valves need to be gapped and the engine fluid replaced.  In Kalifornia, I would be looking at a thousand plus USD bill, but I was just quoted 7000 baht plus it's going to be ready in less than three hours.

There is a comfy lounge with soft seating and free coffee.  Thailand really understands the concept of customer service.  More later as there is someone selling food outside.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Up Country chilling out...

Left this morning and was up here around 1 PM.  The roads are fast now and I was lucky that there wasn't too much traffic as I was leaving the big mango.  Stopped at Baan Suan for some food, but the place was packed with tour buses.  Evidently, there are still a lot of people from the outer provinces of Thailand paying final respects to HRM Rama 9 as everyone was dressed in black.  Ban suan is a big place, but there were at least 25-30 bus loads of people at the place in addition to their regular business. The people looked like they were returning home.  A link to my review of this rest stop can be viewed here.  This other website on wordpress also contains my backup blog and old copies of my posts.
These are great cakes - average 50 baht a box depending on flavor

I would have just moved on but I wanted to get some of their special cakes and muffins that its not sold anywhere else.  There is also a special item in their food court that I crave from time to time that I haven't seen around.  Its a dish of  deep fried pork with rinds that is re-fried and tossed with Thai sweet and spicy chili sauce.  The flavors just explode in your mouth and the crunchiness is still intact and it just forces you to eat piece and piece.  

Stopped for some bamboo along the highway vendors near the Saraburi hill and found a couple of interesting species we did not have.  Bought 6 plants for 400 baht.  At three plants for 200 baht, it came out to less than $2 USD apiece so it was worth taking a chance to see if these will do any good at our plantation.  

Don't worry, this ugly tile surface will be hidden under the mattress and the
sides and headboard are going to done with elegant glass like tiles

When I arrived at the resort, the workers had already started on the beds.  The last guest left this morning and now all four rooms are getting concrete bed platforms.  Our previous beds from IKEA were starting to fall apart after only 3 years of use, but I guess that would be normal because the furniture is intended for home use only and not the heavy duty abuse that a rental unit will put it through. They have served their time and made us lots of money so its time for them to retire to that bed heaven in the sky.

Sorry for the short post tonight, but its already late and almost time for bedtime.  We sleep early in the countryside because we get up early.  More tomorrow as its bedtime for the kids too.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Two months....

Almost two months to the day, I will be on the operating table in Cleveland getting my heart operation.  As the date draws closer, each day means that much more to me as I rush to enjoy life to the fullest in the big mango.  I don't know what the future will bring after the operation, and the activities I will be limited to during the recovery period, but right now I want to enjoy doing what I can.  I had a great couple of days in the mango shopping and hanging out with friends.

Went to the free buffet on Friday night and then spent part of Saturday doing some taxes before I got a call from BB saying that Johnnie Walker wanted to take us out to lunch in the Silom area. We went to a restaurant called "Peiking Restaurant" and they had a pretty decent menu.  Many of the dishes were set up for 'family style' dinners, but we each ordered a noodle dish and JW ordered three racks of xiaolongbow.

If you never had these before, they are hot pastry dumplings (originally from the Shanghai region) filled with meat and a bit of soup. The soup is encased inside the little shell and one gets a burst of wet flavor when its opened in one's mouth.  History here. The restaurant also had some tasty Chinese beef stew which I had as a flavoring to my noodle bowl.

This photo of  Dim Sum is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Afterwards, I left BB and JW as they were headed towards Pantip Plaza and then the weekend market.  I returned home to look at my taxes, only to feel tired from all the food and collapsed for a long afternoon nap.

Yesterday, we had a long day as we met up with Barnaby for breakfast at the On Nut McDonalds.  He has had some problems with mobility so we decided to visit him instead.  He looks a lot better and says his condition is improving.  We are hoping he will be joining us again soon at the Friday buffets. After breakfast, we made our way out to Khlong Thom Market.  JW was looking for a shift knob for his car and I was after some car seat covers and accessories.  After some wandering around and coffee at the market area, we headed out for a late lunch or early dinner.  

We decided to have lunch at MBK.  I always wanted to try the Bon Chan Chicken which is just outside the food center on the 6th floor.  The place always seems full and I was curious about how their "world's best chicken" tasted.  After the meal, the consensus was that it was good but not up to its world 'best' billing.   The portions were huge and the garlic fries tasty, but we all agreed we have had better.  Afterwards, we hung out in the soft seats at  a coffee shop in the basement of the center. It was Sunday, it was hot outside, and we were a bit tired so there was no better way to pass the time than to just hang out and watch the world go by inside a big mall.

Today its a visit to the archery range for some target practice and to hang out with friends there.  Also want to buy a couple of targets for the resort as I want to finally get our own range into shape.  That way, I'll have someplace to shoot when I am upcountry.

Finally, I ran across this video of our resort's construction during one of my picture searches.  It may have been published before in the blog many years ago, but likely it has been archived as I only keep about 2 years online.  Hopefully, it will be an interesting view as to how we built our resort and why we cherish it so much today, and continue to improve it as a family enterprise and eventually a legacy for the kids.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Mango Pie

Why Mango Pie?  Because being back in the Mango has been a wonderful delight.  For one thing, the choices for eating out are unlimited and the food is good too.  Won't go into all the details but dining out with Johnnie Walker and then the family last night was really nice.  Bad for the waistline, but really nice for someone who has been upcountry for a spell.  

I also spent some time shopping yesterday at MBK for some phone accessories and clothing.  Was disappointed by the clothing stores, but the place is still the best if you want something for your phone or a new phone.  Had a vegetarian lunch at the food court and even pigged out at Dunkin Donuts after I got tired walking around.

Played around with my Amazon FireTV stick yesterday.  Found out I could install a VPN right from the stick's apps menu.  Using the VPN app, I can now see all the geographically restricted stuff without having to do the special router installation.  Bought a one year service for VyprVPN for $80. Not a bad deal for what it opens up from a TV and movie viewing experience.  I will do a more comprehensive blog post on how to set up everything in the future so you will not miss anything from home when and if you decide to relocate here to the LOS.

Might go out to Khlong Thom market today to get some things for my Truck in California and maybe new seat covers for Vanna.  Will also look at some of the gun shops as well since I am in the area. Lots of accessories for guns like leather holsters and laser etched wood handles can be purchased by tourists, but its almost impossible for a non citizen to get a gun legally.  

Lastly, plan to go to the Friday free buffet tonight.  BB should be getting back from Patty and JW said he was also going to attend.  Should be fun.

That's it for now, too much to do and too little time...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Mango...

Got in a bit later than usual yesterday as the amphur office lines were a bit long.  By the time we got into the mango, it was close to 4 pm and as in the Bay Area, the commuter traffic had already started. Just took it easy for the evening.  Bought some street food and had dinner at home.  B went over to visit her Aunt, who is like a second grandmother to Marina.  Between the two sisters (B's mom and Aunt are close sisters) have a team of always willing baby sitters.  B's mom, in fact, won't let us take Ella to Bangkok this time because she said she would miss her too much...555  Great for us as Ella and Marina would be a double handful on this little getaway.  Marina's Aunt will be moving back the country after her husband retires from the Port sometime next year and they want to buy some land near us.  That means two full time resident sitters.  

Ever wonder why everyone seems to be calling people their 'sister' or 'mother' in the LOS?  Its because of the 'village' phenomenon in some parts of the country where kids are raised by relatives as if they are their own children.  The kids know who their real moms and dads are, but its not uncommon for young children of different moms to be raised by a grandmother or aunt while the parents work in the big mango.  That practice, along with many family members sleeping in one big room together is something I had to get used to seeing and experiencing.  When B and I first met and went back to visit her parents home, they had a small house with one large room where everyone slept on the floor under mosquito nets and a fan.  From there we moved to the farm with our own bungalow.

This was our first 'home' on the farm before it became a resort
It was hand built by B's father for the two of us
We have changed a lot from those times, but going through that period helped me understand the closeness and importance of family in Thai culture.  From our first little shack of a house to now, its the realization that the people we call family, and not the house,  is what is most important.

Our farm in the old days before the resort - our shack way in the background
So today, we don't have to deal with the heat and mosquitoes as we are back in the mango.  Instead we deal with petty things like getting a car wash, running errands, and deciding where we want to have dinner.  This has been one crazy but wonderful journey in life....  wouldn't trade it for anything.