Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Taipei

Looks like a lot of changes for EVA.  They are adding a 'Club EVA' and that second floor area is also getting a Starbucks.  Flight was late 30 minutes due to both a late departure from the mango and rain here in Taipei.


Supposed to be in the 80s back in the Bay Area, but it's chilly here.  We don't get temps in the 60s except next to the freezer at home.  


Missing baby M already....




Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Going to the Golden State tomorrow.......

That's what they used to call it, the golden state of California.  The Chinese called it golden mountain.  Legend has it that there was gold in the streets and and one could get rich fast.  Thus throngs made their way there to find their fortune and fame - many found fame, others found only disappointment.



So its a trip to California for me for a bit of joy and personal business.  Going to attend my twin grand daughter's second birthday party, do a bit of business, stock up and order a few things, and maybe spend some time outside in the cool weather to remember what that feels like.






Sunday, April 27, 2014

The heat...

April is almost over, but it remains so hot here in the mango.  So, if you are coming over in the next few days, be prepared for some hot sticky weather....  Its 8:15 pm and the heat index is still over 100F





There was a heat index of over 108 F today, with an actual temperature reading of around 98 F.  As always its the humidity that makes the difference and the skies have been cloudy.  Even Bangkok Buddy complained of the heat today as we were out around the Fortune Town area.

The good news is that I will be in California the next month or so to attend some family events and to finish some personal business.  It will be great to get that first cool shot of fresh air in the morning and to wear a long sleeve shirt and jacket again.






On Kidney Stones.....


Since my return from the resort, I have been recovering from a kidney stone.  For those that have not had the pleasure, I don't wish for any of you to ever come close to experiencing it.  Its very painful, and in my case came on fairly quickly.


Fortunately I had good treatment at Bumrungrad and aside from being a little tired, am fully recovered.  In a nutshell, my left kidney was inflamed due to blockage from a kidney stone lodged in my urethra tube.  I didn't notice anything unusual before except a slight lower back pain, which I attributed to overuse.  Anyway, on Sunday night it flared up and I was in agony an had to be admitted to Bumrungrad emergency.  They performed an extraction procedure with a microscopic camera and basket and removed the small stone with no issues.


Short story is don't ignore even your most minor symptoms.  They could be a sign of something serious.   More info on Kidney Stones and their prevention here:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/5-steps-for-preventing-kidney-stones-201310046721


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why I like living here so much

There are many things that make living here great.  There has to be in order for me to accept the less comfortable things like the heat, the traffic, and the political turmoil.  One of the things that remind me of why I love it here so much is the level of service you get on such mundane things like car maintenance.  

I'm upcountry this week and recently, received a recall notice on some items for Vanna, including some new brake system parts.   I also needed my 60,000 KM service oil change, lube, air filter, and check-up so I thought why not take care of it before I get back to Bangkok?  After all, there is an Isuzu dealer and service center right in town.  Problem is, I didn't have an appointment and the idea just occurred to me this morning.

In California, showing up at a dealership with no appointment is like taking a chance at the lotto.  Good luck if they can fit you in.  If its an emergency...maybe...on a non emergency, maybe come back in a week and we might consider taking you...after all, we are doing you a favor by helping you.  And expect to leave your car all day as we give you a list of other things we recommend you do.

Anyway, to cut the story short.  Drove up to the dealership, at 9AM.  This dealership is big. About 12 service bays and all were busy.  Nice friendly greeting.  No appointment?...no problem.   Service manager goes through a checklist...off to the adviser.  A pleasant lady looks at my recall letter and book.  "OK Sir, you car should be ready by 10:30 AM".  


I was shocked...10:30?  That's just 90 minutes from now.  Maybe its a mistake and its 10:30AM tomorrow.  Nope.  It was 10:30AM today and "you can wait in the lounge, watch some TV and have some coffee and drinks".  By the way, the cost for everything will be 3,405 baht (a bit over $100 USD).   Got my truck back at 10:45AM.  Is there any wonder why 90% of all the trucks up here are Isuzu or Toyotas? 

Gosh, they are slipping....it was 15 minutes late!  I didn't get Vanna back until 10:45!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Its Thunder and Rain up here!

A welcome relief from the humid heat, a loud summer time thunderstorm with rain just rolled in.  Its been off and on cloudy for the last few days, but finally the heavens just let up and its dropping buckets.  We need the rain up here, badly.  Aside from the cool relief, the Northeast of Thailand is suffering a major drought.  If it were not for the water across in the lake, it would be likely that we would have lost a few more plants and trees than we did.  So far, out losses have been due to wind damage and not lack of water, but losing any big plant or tree is like losing a pet...you try your best to feed and take care of them, but nature is cruel and merciless and losses are part of the evolutionary cycle..only the most fit and lucky survive.




On a more positive note, I take back my statement of water splashing being polite and gentle up here in the country.  Our main town's major road turned into a waterfight zone yesterday.  Traffic was so bad with pickup trucks loaded with revelers that we couldn't get through to go to the zoo.  And just today, an innocent looking little girl of about 9 years old hit be broadside while I was taking the motorbike to buy some gas.  Almost got knocked off the bike and my clothes was soaked.  She thought it was the funniest thing.  Wait till next year you little brat...I know where you live...5555

Thinking of heading back to the mango before the weekend, but it all depends on B and the rest of her family.  There is already a lot of traffic on the main road back to Bangkok which started early this morning.  If we wait a few more days, the worse of the traffic should be over and I will still have time to spend the weekend in the Mango.



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chilling out upcountry

Some people say that being away from the big cities like Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, etc during Songkran is boring.  After all, there are no designated water fight zones, girls in wet tee shirts, and free flowing booze.  Songkran is a tradition, but more recently, the Thai tourism industry and government has unfortunately distorted this tradition for the sake of tourist dollars. For many, Songkran is big business..so big that Thailand threatened to sue Singapore for having their own version of the holiday celebration.

But upcountry, its more of a holiday of tradition.  People return home to gather and share time together as a family.  Torn apart by jobs, marriage, or other reasons, Songkran offers the opportunity for families from all corners of the LOS to see each other and keep close, for Family is one of the most important aspects of Thai life.  The traditional water splash is more symbolic and intended as a gesture of good will and blessing.  Its fun and polite and not the all out water fight to end all water fights  like on Khaosan Road.


But upcountry, while its more traditional,  its also a time for business.  Small upcountry businesses gear up for an influx of visitors from the big cities returning home.  Local stores stock up on drinks, alcohol, and other necessities.  Resorts like ours are fully booked and restaurants are busy.  That is one reason there is no waterfall trip for us this year.  We are all here, but its attending to business and having some fun while doing so.




Baby Marina Chillin out at the resort kiddie pool


So we do celebrate and chill out...in the pool instead of at the waterfalls.

We play with all the new toys, like this country version of the tut tut that B's aunt bought for her food catering business.  By the way, these are around 60K baht up here, brand new and they look a whole lot better than those in Bangkok.  I do not recommend anyone over 5 feet 3 inches tall driving one of these as the controls are so close together that I did not even have room to shift gears once I got into the cockpit.  Its built for skinny little guys or girls only...555



Its been usually cool upcountry and it even rained in the city this afternoon.  Some say its not a good sign when it rains during Songkran when it traditionally is the hottest and driest time of the year.  Is it an omen of the heavens crying over the year to come for the land of smiles?  I hope not and wish that all this political turmoil will end soon and the real Songkran and the Land of Smiles will return again.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Knowing when to quit

They say a knowing when to quit is a good thing.  If so, then I think I did a good thing.  I finally gave up trying to make IPTV work at the resort.  From poor and intermittent service to frozen pictures, I decided that IPTV for us at the resort is not ready for the big time.    But the potential was great, with everything from online movies, to Facebook, and even twitter right at the TV.  I didn't want our guests to be upset and I didn't  want the hassle to be called every time we have a network problem so I decided to quit the project for the guest bungalows.

Also I discovered that all this time, practically free satellite TV was available all over Thailand.  Did you know that between 45-240 channels are available via Satellite free from any monthly fees?.  I am not talking about illegal boxes either, but legal channels offered from PSI and True once you buy their equipment.  The low end, smallest dishes run 1500 baht for the box and the dish.  You have to  install it yourself, but once you do, its free for as long as they run this service.  That is all we needed for our bungalows as we did not plan to offer channels like HBO, BBC, etc. anyway.  Here is the list of free channels for the cheap box.


So today, I finally got a dish guy from the village and he is working on putting up a large dish (for more channels) to serve the four bungalows.  Total cost for all the equipment is about 7600 baht, likely another 1000 for the install so for less than $300 USD, I will have satellite TV with 100+ channels to each bungalow.  Silly how little things cost here, and even more silly, how I spent all this time trying to upgrade android boxes, testing, and reading all about IPTV, XBMC, and 1Channel, etc.

So am I giving up my own IPTV?...nope.  Its still is a lot better deal for me as I can get all the illegal stuff like TV shows from the USA, torrent movies, etc.  I just won't let the guests see what I have....555  Did I say knowing when to quit was a good thing?



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Up Country for Songkran

Will be heading out in a couple of minutes up to the resort for the holidays.  Have a safe and wonderful Songkran if you are visiting the Land of Smiles and I will catch up with you after the holidays.




Sunday, April 6, 2014

A New Toy to play with

Got a new toy this week.  A new Honda Zoomer-X motorbike.  Some people say its  ugly..to me she is so ugly that she is beautiful in her own unique way.  It won't break any records for speed nor will it have the die hard motorcycle guys drooling, but its a neat utilitarian means to get around town when I don't want to take my truck and get stuck in traffic.

The 2014 Honda Zoomer-X with Combi Brakes

My other bike, the Honda Sonic will be going upcountry as I found that working traffic and shifting gears all the time was a royal  pain in the butt.  The Sonic will be used for touring the back country roads up to the four national parks we have nearby and all the hilly roads that can make use of the five speed gear box.

The Zoomer-X is a barebones bike ready for customization so it will get some treatment over the next few months, depending on time and inclination.  Today, she got her very own top box, a Givi E30.  Got it installed while I waited inside their little shop at www.thaimotorbox.com.  I understand that they are the distribution agents for GIVI here in Thailand.

 




Saturday, April 5, 2014

35th Bangkok Motorshow Slideshow

As promised, here is the 2014 edition of Sevenwind's Bangkok Motorshow Slideshow.  Its always fun to do this as I get to see all the new cars and bikes as well as some really beautiful girls.  The neat thing is that its OK to take pictures of the girls and they don't get offended at all.  Here is what its like behind the scenes.


All these beautiful girls and camera toting guys drooling over you for attention....yeah the good life...555

Enjoy the show!

http://www.photoshow.com/watch/ZI4hf3UF

UPDATE:  Just posted it on YouTube:



Friday, April 4, 2014

Answering a question

Got an email from a reader asking if I am back to blogging again, since I said that this blog would be going dark and private.  The simple answer is that I never stopped blogging, as the posts were private and some of them very personal.  

I will be sharing tidbits and stuff that is not personal on the public portion of this blog.  Most of it may be boring for those looking for the juicy stuff about living here in the Land of Smiles, but that is the nature of how I live...some stuff will be interesting to you and other stuff won't.

So the answer to the question of "where did you go?' is that I never left...I've always been here.

Can you see the man below?  That's like me...I'm in front of you, and you just have to take some time to look and see.



Went to the Motorshow yesterday..Yep that means the infamous Sevenwind's 'pretties of the show' presentation is coming up soon...maybe as early as today.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Back to the Mango to escape the heat!

Its been over 102F every day here up in the country.  So going back to the mango and its 94F seems like a treat to me.

Yes, stayed indoors most of the time yesterday working on my MX boxes for some IPTV requirements for the resort.

Can't wait to get back up here during Songkran...at least we can splash some water around to cool off.