Saturday, February 28, 2015

Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance

Got back to the mango Thursday night, but have been busy with a variety of chores...specifically maintenance items.  It started with Vanna getting her 80K service, to back here in the mango where the beverage refrigerator had to be defrosted, some laundry machine maintenance, and today my printer and PC are going to get their periodic 'blow-out' of all the dust and dirt than has settled inside the machines.  Once I got started, it looked like the vacuum machine needed to get cleaned out and the filters cleared as well.  The boxes of stuff from the tile job still need to be resorted and the old stuff given away or thrown out.  

Its not all play and party time living here in the LOS.  Its a dream come true living here, but the same old stuff needs to be done anywhere you choose to live - even here.  I'm a believer that with periodic maintenance and care, most of our material things can last a very long time and be reliable everyday you need to use it.  In the long run, it will be cheaper to own and definitely cheaper than buying a new replacement.

I did have a chance to go the free buffet last night.  Small crowd at the buffet but we did have a great meal of lap moo, sticky rice, veggies, and the usual fruit.  Got a great loaf of homemade rye bread from Barnaby too.  His previous loaf of home made 'demi' sourdough bread was spectacular - he said the sour taste was introduced via yogurt instead of the natural fermentation from dough yeast.  I will be anxious to give the rye bread a try.  Its not easy getting different kinds of bread here in Thailand and since Barnaby got his new oven, its been great to get some of his creations to remind us of the States.

Afterwards, we hung out at the parking lot and lobby for a bit.  Noticed that the parking lot scene has changed a lot.  More police patrols and stricter enforcement by the hotel's security people have pushed the action elsewhere on the Soi.

By the way, Google has changed it policy regarding porn on its blogger sites.  From now on, there will no longer be any porn on this blog...just torture from bad writing and boring narratives.  

Plan to be inside all day today...tomorrow its archery time.  

But first its chores, chores, chores...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Plaza done except for the grout

All  the tiles have been laid for the plaza.  The only remaining work is for the joints to be grouted.  They started today with three extra ladies and hopefully by tomorrow sometime the entire job will be done.  So far, they've used 60 bags of grout and they are only 1/2 way done.  

Women working in construction up here in the country is common.  In fact, much of the internal brickwork in the bungalows and cement work was done by women workers when we built the resort.  There is always someone looking for work here and the women up here can give most men in the states a trashing with one hand tied behind their backs.  They are strong and tough and not afraid of hard work in the hot sun.

Materials wise, this project has been a huge  undertaking.  We are down to just two boxes of tiles from a total of 645 boxes - yeah, I calculated correctly!  We've used 80 sacks of cement, and likely 120 small sacks of grout.  A pile of sand still sits behind the car port, but we can always use that in our landscaping and planting.  

Back breaking work in the hot sun...

Now that the plaza is done, its time to look for some tables and umbrellas.  The plaza will be a great place to have breakfast in the morning, or even lunch or dinner if its not too hot.  Our guests will enjoy the open space and hopefully we can improve our food sales.

The weather has been similar to  the central valley of California the last week or so with the temperatures reaching near 100F during the hottest part of the day but cooling to the 70s at night. The humidity is relatively low at around 50% peak and so the evenings are very pleasant out.  I know why people choose to live up here instead of the mango...I would too if there was a bit more activity and some golf and archery available.

One more day up here and it will be back to the Mango on Friday!  If things get done early, maybe head back tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Real Wood furniture in the LOS

Went into town today for some food provisions and to visit the local market.  On the way back, they had this improvised market which comes from time to time to the center of town.  At one of the stalls, they had some nice wooden tables and chairs made from single slabs of tree slices.  B and her mother told me that they wanted me to see some similar tables in Ban Khwao a while back, but they said that these tables were a lot better looking.

Makes a great picnic or dinning/work table

They had a couple of redwood tables, but they also had some white wood that looked like gamboo, but its harder and more dense.  There was also a very unique grain running through the center which added a bit of character to the set.  Redwood tables here look like redwood, but they are a local wood from Burma with similar characteristics.  But our table is not as dark, which I liked.  Its also very obvious that the set was produced from the same tree, with matching grain and patterns in both the table and chairs.  Photo above after delivery and refinishing out in back.  This kind of wood is heavy and termite resistant.  It took four strong young bucks to unload the table from the truck so I am guessing that it weights upwards of 500lbs or 200 plus kilos just for the table.

Beautiful grain structure on all pieces

Nice thing about locally produced tables is that they are relatively cheap if you have the space and the inclination for rough wooden country style furniture.  This table set would be out of character in the big mango where everything is modern and chic, but here in the country resort, it fits in just fine.  Additionally, its real wood compared to the particle board covered with veneer stuff sold in most stores in the US.

Cost for this kind of furniture of decent quality should cost between 10K-12K baht delivered.  Haggle a lot as there is a big profit margin in this kind of product.

Also saw some swing chairs made from old wood, but that will have to wait for another tomorrow...555

Monday, February 23, 2015

A bit of excitement last night

We had a bit of excitement last night and this morning.  B took my car over to visit her grandparents and niece around 7PM.  When she came back, they were unloading some stuff from the back of Vanna when they accidentally slammed the hatch shut with the keys still in the inside.  oops....

No one noticed until I went to get something out of the car and saw the cargo lights on.  After an unsuccessful scramble to find the keys, I noticed that they were still inside the car.  Now what?  I'm in the middle of Northern Thailand and my spare keys are at my condo in Bangkok.  Closest Isuzu dealer is 27 kms away and they are closed  until the morning.  There is no AAA service in the LOS.

After about an hour with the coat hangers, etc.  we decided to let it wait until the morning.  Our flashlight was attracting bugs and working in the dark wasn't very productive.  After looking at some videos on YouTube last night, I decided to give it another try in the morning.  After another 30 minutes, I figured that a coat hanger was not the tool to push buttons with.  It was too flexible.  I had to find something else.

Inspiration came when I saw a broken arrow shaft on the ground near the target we set up at the back of the resort.  That did the trick as it was both stiff enough and small enough to fit between the window and the frame for me to push the lock release button.  5 minutes of trying and it was open!

Moral of the story....carry a spare car key when you are traveling around Thailand.  It doesn't take up much space and can avoid a ton of headaches should  you lock yourself out or god forbid...lose your keys.  I am making a set immediately today!

Plaza pictures:

Here are the latest pictures of the plaza as it stands as of this morning.  The area around the palm trees are done and the edges still need to be completed.  Maybe two more days of work.  

Starting to take share with middle mostly done

Another view

Tiles around the edge still need to be cut and finished

Hopefully the rest of the day will go smoothly.  Planning to go into town to look for mosquito netting for Barnaby and to visit Big C for some supplies for the week.  Also, Vanna is scheduled for her 80K KM maintenance.  Can't believe its already 80K...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Up At the resort

The plaza before the tile job...

Its been a fun few days in the Mango, but today I'm back up at the resort to check out the tile job for the plaza.  They are still working on the hard part - those cut pieces around the planters and the edges.  Its been a major job.  Almost 5000 pieces of tile, 80 plus bags of cement, and more than 12 days of work.  I was calculating that if they could put down 500 pieces of tile per day, it would take at least ten days and I was correct.  They are on the 11th day and are still not finished.  500 pieces of tile in ten hours is 50 pieces per hour.  That is one every 1.2 minutes - pretty fast considering they have to mix the cement, level the tiles, fit the tiles, etc.  It will cost me 100 baht per square meter or around 45K baht for the entire job - labor only.  My estimate is that it will take around 15 days so the average cost per day for two workers is around 3K per day.  

Up here, that's a good wage and for me, its a bargain compared to what I have to pay in Bangkok or more importantly, in California.  Its hard work and something I could do in my younger days, but it doesn't make sense if I can avoid the heat outside and provide some local employment to the locals.

A nap is in order.  I'll post some pictures tomorrow morning.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Back from the beach

Got back late last from a couple of days in Hua Hin.  We had a great time just hanging out at the beach, first in Hua Hin, and then yesterday at Cha Am.  Hua Hin beach closed down all the tables and umbrellas on Wednesday for some reason so we drove over the Cha Am instead.  I'm thinking it might be the band on chair imposed by the military on public beaches.  Hua Hin and Cha Am are in two difference provinces (Petchaburi and Prachaup Khiri Khan) so they may be enforcing them a bit differently.

One of B's friends and her family came down to meet us also so we had a great big table of food and the kids got together to share some sand and surf.  For Sevenwinds, a log series of naps on the comfy beach chairs was in order.

I noticed that the beaches are pretty full.  Lots of foreign guests in town in Hua Hin.  Cha Am is more of a beach for the locals and the food and accommodations are geared towards Thai visitors from Bangkok or other parts of the country.  The beach at Cha Am is not as pretty and the waves are larger.  But tables and food are cheaper and there is a strip of businesses and restrooms right across the street from the beach.

Don't know why, but Thais always wear all their clothes when going swiming

Marina had a lot of fun again, this time with B playing among the waves.  She did not want to get out of the water even when she was so cold that she was shivering.  But that's how kids are, they go gangbusters the whole day long....wearing out both parents.

Tables are pretty densely packed at ChaAm - Why I prefer our secret spot near Hua Hin

Most of the food is pretty good if you order from the people who run the beach tables and umbrellas.  I would avoid the touts that bring around food as most of stuff has been around for some time as they carry it around all over the beach until it gets stale.

Back in the mango today...maybe out again to the archery range or a trip out to IKEA.  Lets see how the day goes.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Among the many reasons why I choose to live in Thailand

The malls here in Bangkok are great.

Unfortunately, the malls in the US are not places where I would like to spend any length of time.  Between incidents like this one shown and flash mobs, mass killing targets, etc....the malls are rapidly becoming one of the most dangerous places to be visiting.

This is not an isolated incident.  I've been an eyewitness to a flash mob looting and several mall fights not far from my condo in California.  Or just look at this link:  You will notice that nearly all of them are from the US.  Sad isn't it?

Which place would you choose to raise your daughter?

UPDATED:  Complete documentary of incidents from Christmas to Valentine:

A little tip for business owners in the Land of Smiles

You can't be everywhere at once...or can you?

One of the tools I use to keep track of everything in the LOS is technology.  Its impossible to be everywhere at one time, especially if you are half way around the world.  But with tools like DVRs and IP cameras, you can at least be closer.  The technology is not fool proof, but with the internet service getting very good here and relatively cheap, implementing video monitoring can be a very powerful way to stay in control of things.  Video monitoring is widespread in Thailand and accepted as a way of life.  

For example, I checked on the plaza tile job at the resort this morning via a tap into our security camera system.  I could see the workers real time and on some of my cameras I also have an audio link.  Even if I cannot see the process all day, the DVR on site is always recording everything that can be played back locally or remotely -- from anywhere in the world that I have internet access.

The IP cameras that I have installed at the Salon and in my condo keep me appraised of what is going on in those locations.  With those cameras, its even possible to view them on my smartphone -- once again from anywhere that I have internet access.

Lastly, to be positive its secure, I make sure all the passwords are not default passwords and are updated and changed regularly.  I also have a dynamic DNS service that allows me to dynamically set up the URL to what I want.  Aside from allowing the convenience of a link that is easier to remember, it allows allows the link to be changed dynamically to something else to provide additional security.

So here is an example of a screenshot I took of the work being done this morning at the resort.  I have real time video, but this is just a screenshot of that video.  Looks like they are making progress as the large area is about 2/3 covered.  All the edges and cuts remain, and those will take a lot longer...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Back in the Mango.

Got back late this afternoon.  The tile workers for the plaza weren't working today and its going to take another week before they are finished.  Its a pretty straight forward job and its like watching the grass grow so I left it up to B's father to oversee the job and I will be back up there in a week for the final inspection and settle the bills.  That gives me a week in the mango and maybe some time for some vacation with my daughter Marina.  We've been working awfully hard since I got back and a little family time is long overdue.

My beach table and umbrellas are waiting for my arrival

She liked the beach so much last time I might go as early as tomorrow down to Hua Hin for a couple of days.  It will allow my maid Pond some time to deal with the dust a bit more.  The precious moments when the kids are this young go by very quickly and I want to enjoy every moment before they grow up and make some 'real' trouble...555

B bought her a new swim suit last week and this time I think we will try to get some plastic toys for the sand too.  The weather has been almost perfect as the heat has yet to show up and the days feel very much like being in the Islands.

Some beach time with B and Marina, hopefully some wind for flying my kites...priceless

Saturday, February 14, 2015

No feeds to Feedly for some reason

Somehow my feeds have stopped over at Feedly, the news and blog aggregation service.   Not sure if its also happening in the other services as well, but the last post in Feedly was February 5th and nothing since.

Checked my Atom feed and it seems to be OK.


Upcountry and Plaza Update

Its been hard posting because my condo was all messed up with the tile job.  With shelving and stuff sealed in plastic I didn't have access to a computer or a space to work on in the condo as it was full of stuff in boxes and there was dust everywhere.  At some point or another there were five or six workers in the unit, machines going, and wet cement and half broken tiles everywhere.  The best thing I could do was to stay away from the place and use my smart phone.  That unfortunately made my posting limited because I was stuck with a tiny keyboard on my phone.  Its great for email messages, but for anything longer, its a real hassle.

Dust everywhere - even got underneath the plastic

Anyway things are done at the condo and I'm in the country to oversee the Plaza resurfacing.  Unlike the condo, this job seems like it flowing very smoothly.  It being outside, there is no worries about the dust, the noise, and furniture moves.  The tiles are smaller and lighter and the job is being done with just two workers.  

boxes and boxes of tiles

Two workers with B's niece looking on...
The job is eight times larger, but it will cost me about the same in labor and will take about 10 days. There are 450 boxes of tiles and so far over 50 bags of cement and a large pile of sand in the back. The extra cement was necessary to ensure the surface was level and to add the proper drainage.  We are buying the tile grout today. 

big job...lots left to do

The tile pattern is visible in this photo

The weather has been perfect up here in the last month or so and working outside is very pleasant.  Its been in the 80s and low 90s with evening temperatures dipping into the upper 70s.  Humidity is low as it hasn't rained for a nearly a month.

Friday, February 13, 2015


Posting from upcountry.  Left the Mango around noon today as they had finished the tile job late yesterday.  Still dust everywhere, but I did what I could and will leave the rest to my good old maid, Pon.  Hope she doesn't quit on me.  The place looks completely different with the new tiles instead of the wooden floors.  The light color makes the condo look much larger.

Had to leave to come up here because they are working on the new tiles for the Plaza.  They have been at it for four days now and I wanted to make sure things were done properly before they got too far.  So far so good.  The best thing is that the prices up here are a lot cheaper than in BKK.  Its about 1/3 the price per square meter of what I paid for my condo.  Granted, I had much thicker tiles (about twice the normal thickness) and 30X30CM size tiles in the condo, but that's how things are here in the land of smiles.  My condo management office made things a lot harder with a whole bunch of rules about working hours, material storage, paper work, etc.  Up here in the country, its a lot easier and no hassle with the paperwork and management.

Will post some pictures tomorrow morning.

More tomorrow as I just got here and need a little power nap before dinner.  Miss my Friday night massage and free buffet...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Jingle Bells in February

I am in Pizza company for a quick lunch after going all morning long.  And guess what is playing....Jingle bells.  TIT and I guess you can have Christmas season all year round. 

Next song..Santa Clause is coming to town...555

Funny place this land of smiles.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Still not finished

The tile flooring is still not finished although they are about 90% done.  The bathroom still needs to be completed but at least now the unit is in liveable shape with most of the dust generating surfaces covered.

Marina and B have been staying at her aunts while I have been using the couch in a clean area.  Spending as much away from condo as possible to avoid the dust.

Anyway more later as my 99 baht steak dinner just arrived.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Limited Posting

Posting has been limited due to the tile job at the condo.  My desktop has been all wrapped up in plastic as dust is everywhere, so I am posting from my OnePlus phone using the True Internet service.  Got the one month unlimited for 299 baht and the speed is great.

Hoping that they will finish tomorrow night because they couldn't work on Sat or Sun due to our building's restrictions.  Also they can't start until 10am and must be out by 5pm.  Makes for a small window, but keeps all my neighbors at peace.

But I can't complaint too much as I am just hanging out in our pool area for the next few days.  Still better than a good day on the other bookend.

Hopefully more later as this small keyboard is for the birds...the small ones at that.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cholesterol City... 99 baht Rib Eye Steak dinner

After a busy day with the tile people, it was too late to cook anything and I was starved for some food.  So it was off to the local street vendors for something to eat.  Its never difficult to find food in Bangkok.  If you are willing to move around a bit, there is food available 24 hrs a day from both established places like McDonalds to the hundreds of food vendors on the street that open late.

One of the things I miss in Thailand is a good steak dinner.  You know, the kind of steak that is sizzling on the platter with an order of french fries and lots of steak sauce.  American beef is almost impossible to find here, but there are lots of places where Australian beef can be purchased fresh or frozen.  

Steak, a little salad, french fries, and 1/2 slice of buttered toast

Tonight, because of my hunger, I broke down and ordered the steak dinner from one of street vendors that I pass all the time.  This little place offers Chicken and Steak on the grill and is very fast, so I got the Rib Eye Steak Dinner for 99 baht.  They also offer a T-Bone dinner for 150 baht.  There is usually a long queue of both Thais and Expats living in the area and I was lucky to be number three this evening. They also have tables on the sidewalk if you prefer to eat in, but its usually too hot for me to be eating steak outdoors so I always opt to take it home.

One Roti can  power you all day long! - 30 baht

So I got my steak dinner and then ran down to the Roti man, got my egg and banana rotti for dessert and I was in Cholesterol and Sugar Fix heaven.

Value of  the steak dinner, roti, and a Pepsi to wash it all down:  Priceless....

Actual cost:  149 baht.    That is why life is still good here in the big mango....

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Got to see the commercials....

Got to see the "Top Ten" Superbowl commercials on YouTube.  Not an impressive lot except the Budweiser Beer and the new Jurassic World Movie trailer.  Maybe it was best that I missed them while watching the game here.  Anyway for those who didn't see the game, here are the commercials.

Except for a meeting with Barnaby to take delivery of his specially baked Sourdough bread (its fantastic by the way), I Spent the entire day getting the condo ready for the tile replacement.  Never knew I had so much stuff in such a small place.  But after 14  years of being in the same condo unit, and being a new father with lots of kiddie stuff, it was a challenge.  Decided to put all loose items into large rolling plastic bins and throw away old stuff that I forgot I had. This makes moving stuff around easily as the workers will do one side or one room at a time and use the other for storage while they tear up and re-tile the floor.

Boxes everywhere...also showing wooden floor that will be replaced with tile

Bought a nice imitation marble design which cost more than I expected, but since this is likely the last floor that I put into this condo, I thought it should be something nice as I have to live with it for a long while and we are not planning on moving any time soon.  The original flooring was the original flooring delivered with the condo.  After all these years and a bit of problem with water from the unit above and my maid using the wrong kind of floor cleaner, it was time to get something more indestructible and easier to keep clean.  

The workers are due here Thursday at 8AM and Home Pro will be delivering the tiles that day as well, which leaves me today with a little free time... so maybe its off to the archery range for a few hours!

Busy busy busy...but that's how I like it.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Great Game, but..........

Just finished watching the Superbowl here in the LOS.  Started at 7AM Monday morning and its around 10AM now.  The game was great, but watching the game here does have one big shortfall.  There are NO Superbowl commercials.  I guess True Visions has a prohibition about broadcasting commercials since its a paid service.  

One of my favorite features of the broadcast are the expensive and innovative commercials created just for the Superbowl.  There was none of that here, just dead time with shots of the field.  It was sort of like having an ice cream sundae without the cherry....oh well.

Anyway, congrats to the NE Pats...great job

Later today, I am going to Home Pro to pick up some tiles for the condo.  Going to try to get new flooring installed the next few days while we are in town.  Going to be a busy week so posts may be a bit sparse.  

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