Thursday, April 30, 2015

Interesting Couple of days at the Golf Tournament

After two fun days working at the golf tournament in the City, its great to get a day off.  The job was one of challenges as well, especially the first day when temperatures quickly dropped from the 80s to the low 50s with a 10-15 mph wind.  Chill factor then became an issue as it felt like it was in the 40s. The official uniforms they provided was not warm enough for such dips and so for many of us, it was a scramble to get some more layers from the gift shop in order to cope.

My duties the first day was interesting.  It included covering the disabled guest access area, the first aid trailer, shuttling players from the driving range back to the clubhouse, and being a runner for the Nike and Taylormade equipment trailers.  I was driving by the driving range when I ran into my old teaching pro from Thailand.  Many years ago, when I first started playing golf, my friends introduced me to a young teaching pro who was the caddy for Thongchai Jaidee.  Jaidee was just starting out on the tours (Asian and European Tour) and was having success and advancing in his world ranking.   After some twists and turns in life,  they are back working together again and Jaidee has moved inside the world top 50.  He a bit of a national hero as no other Thai pro has gone so far in their careers.  He looked great during his range session and it was good to talk with Pro Arm and catch up on things.

It warmed up a bit yesterday and my day went better.  Just a few minutes after starting my shift, and as I was making a exploratory circuit around the course, I was commandeered by the police department to drive the Mayor of San Francisco and his entourage to the opening ceremonies.  It caught me and my boss by surprise as it wasn't planned.  The cops just came up and said, we are  having you and your cart drive the Mayor to the opening ceremonies from the Clubhouse.  The tournament director over there said it was OK.  So I ended up driving Mr. Lee to the ceremonies and got a close look at the ceremonies from ground level next to the staging area.  Had to wait to drive him back, but he decided to walk back so he could interact with the spectators (much to anxiety of his body guards and the police protecting him).  Unfortunately, no pics as cameras were not allowed yesterday.

I'm off today and have a lot of things to catch up on.  Tomorrow thru Sunday, I have all day shifts and the tournament will finally kick into gear.  With match play, anything can happen so I expect to see an underdog come out on top.  

Lastly, my last post was made before I found out about the Baltimore riots.  Its a stark example of how close we are to very edge of chaos.  The agitators are trying to spread these demonstrations and any future incidents and riots nationwide.  If they are successful,  TEOWAWKI, is coming soon, very soon.  Come out to the golf tournament and at least enjoy yourself while you still can........

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

This one is for my buddy Barnaby

I knew I was getting old when I started getting mail from the AARP (formerly American Association of Retired Persons).  In reality, AARP is an organization that aggressively promotes a variety of products and services to its members (mostly seniors) and non members.  Its a NGO with a powerful lobbying agenda and has both a profit and non-profit arm.  

But this just came up recently from them...check these two videos out.

The first:

and now the second...

Strange or bizarre or both?

Martial law in the US will not look or feel anything like the Martial Law we have in Thailand. The FEMA camps are ready as are the stockpiles of plastic coffins.  The people here are more violent and have not experienced this kind of government control.  Things can get out of hand very quickly nationwide.  Crazy thinking? just being open minded and observant.  

I personally don't trust a government that loses hard drives, wipes out backup tapes, and a potential Presidential candidate that totally wipes clean her private email servers to be able to cope with any major event.   If you want to entrust your life and future to these folks alone, then do so at your own peril.  

We are already at a critical tipping point where only a very small spark can set things off.  Some examples of a 'small spark'.

- a computer failure that knocks out the EBT system for an extended time (or forever)
- a major, extended,  power grid failure due to sabotage, sunspots, or human error
- a major natural disaster affecting multiple regions or a wide spread area
- a biological outbreak
- a financial or currency crisis or multiple bank failures
- a major political, racial, or social event (i.e. like Baltimore the last few days)

So this video may be nothing but a big joke by someone....but it sure isn't very funny because its too close to reality.

Sticker Shock

$25 bucks for a pack of oxtails at Costco.  Premium gas over $3 again, $20 for some cans of corned beef, and CA redemption for those little plastic containers that dairy yogurt drinks come in.  Needless to say, I didn't buy 1/2 of the stuff I wanted...could afford it, but couldn't stomach the prices after living in the land of smiles for so long.  When I go shopping in the mango, its seldom that I spend over 2000 baht at stores like Makro or Big C.  For that amount, I would get a whole shopping cart full of groceries and household goods.  Today, for just a few items that I carried in two bags, I paid $94 USD.  Groceries for just over a week, and that didn't include fruit or drinks (I will go to Target for those).  

$3 for a 1/2 ripe pineapple vs 10 baht (32 cents)  for half of a pineapple that is freshly sliced and chilled is such a stark contrast that it makes me cringe.  Or how about $1.49 for five bananas when I can get a whole big bunch at Big C for less?  

I can't wait to get back home.

Tomorrow through Sunday,  I will be working at the Cadillac World Golf Championships Match Play tournament at Harding Park.  It will be my fourth tournament as a volunteer, having worked the President's Cup and US Open during the last couple of years.  Its a great way to get a behind the ropes perspective of golf tournaments and a cheap way to attend an event that will televised around the Nation.  Its a golf enthusiast's opportunity to see the pros play in person.  Weather is supposed to be great this week with unseasonably warm temps in the 70s and 80s for the area.  

Will get some pictures for posting tomorrow as cameras will not be allowed during the competition rounds later in the week.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Good Morning California

Back in California.  Got in last night with little fanfare except to note a change in the US passport section.  You now have to have your passport scanned and have a picture taken at one of the new machines they set up before you see an immigration officer.  Also have to answer some questions about what you are carrying, purpose of trip, etc.   While in line, all the machines crashed for about 10 minutes, creating a bit of havoc as they had to go back to the old way of doing things.  It actually took longer instead of less time to go through passport control.

Once back in my condo, I was too tired to do any posting and slept until about 1AM.  Then got something to eat and went back to sleep.  Its about 5AM now and I expect today to be kind of a hit and miss day due to jet lag.  Its always the case for me and lasts about a week.

Called back home already and had a video call with Marina.  LINE video work great and its free!  Also LINE has free voice calls so I think the combination of chat, voice calls, and video calls makes LINE the best combo communicator app on the net today.  For video calls to work properly, you must have a good WiFi or Wireless data connection.   Works on all platforms too, from PC to Android to iOS to Blackberry, etc.   More info here:

Click on logo for info on LINE
Originally invented by some NHN Japanese Engineers in South Korea, the app has taken off world wide and is extremely popular in Thailand.  In fact, if you ever glance over at what all the people are doing on the Skytrain, bus, or underground are doing on their smartphones...most will be chatting with their LINE friends.  Line is operated and owned by Line Corporation of Japan and has well over 500 million users.  

So it was easy to get B to begin using the video chat portion of the app because she already knew about line and some of her friends and family were using it.  

Anyway, that's today's tidbit.  More later in day or week after I get unpacked and settled in for my two month stay.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A new lounge

EVA has a new lounge at Suvarnabhumi.  Modern looking with an expanded food section.  Had two bowls of their pad Thai, so dim sum, and pizza.  Comfortable chairs, fast WiFi, and lots of little corners to get a bit of privacy fora nap.

Emotional departure so have to drown my misery with food.  More from Taipei.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

twas the night before California.....

Its my last night on this end of the bookend until I head off for California.  Didn't do anything special tonight and in fact, we tried to keep it as normal as possible and had dinner at home.  Both B and I see this as a business trip and the Land of Smiles is my home now.  Its a mindset that one has to take to make this kind of absence bearable.  I will miss Marina the most.  She sleeps with us every night and her playfulness and personality really gives us a lot of laughter and joy during the day.

Having had boys before, I can testify that having a girl is totally different.  

Spent part of the day at the Archery range with Bangkok Buddy before going out for some last minute shopping at MBK.   Bought some shirts and a couple of back up battery packs.   I still have all morning tomorrow and lunch before going to the airport around 1:30PM.  My flight is around 4:20PM so that will give me plenty of time to check in and get some food at the EVA lounge.  EVA has a late Thursday departure which I like better than their normal 12:30PM flight.

Its supposed to rain tomorrow so hopefully there won't be any delays in the flight.  In a way, its good to get out of the Mango for a bit.  Its 90F outside my window now and its almost midnight, so I will definitely be enjoying the cool bay area weather.  By the time I get back, it will hopefully be cooler and the start of rainy season...yeah!   

Packing for California is pretty easy.  If I forget anything, I can always buy it there.  Aside from phones, etc., I am also putting any files I need on my shared drives.  I use Google Drive and dropbox to keep files that I want to share between my machines in Bangkok, the Resort, and California.  That way there is no need to carry around a lot of portable hard drives, etc.   The free storage is limited to 15GB, but one can buy up to 1 TB of storage for $10 a month.  

I seldom go over 15 GB of shared files so the free option works just fine for me.  Besides, I don't put a lot of personal stuff on the 'cloud' drives because you never know if it can be target of a security breech.

Anyway, more tomorrow as its my final chance for some quality time with the girls tonight.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Another Scorcher today........

Its 8:30AM and already 88F with a heat index of 100F.  Not much more to say than its going to be another nasty day in the mango.  Went out this morning for some food and was soaked in sweat just standing there waiting for my food.

Only a dental appointment and a visit to the salon planned for today.  Maybe hang out in an air conditioned coffee shop if I have time.  The one thing that would drive me out of the land of smiles is if they banned air conditioning.   I could not live here anymore - especially on days like today where we move from one air con bubble to another to stay cool.

Time for the gym.  Yep, its air conditioned inside the fitness center!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Four days before California

There are just four days left on this end of the bookend before going to California.  Will be there for two months on a variety of missions.  One is to get some final paperwork done for a real estate deal that started 18 months ago.  Once completed, its going to be clear sailing for a long long time.  Two months is an eternity for a new father however so I value every precious moment I can spend with Marina these last few days here.  We plan on using Line and Line video a lot to stay in touch, but its not quite the same as being together physically.

Next week, I will be working as a volunteer at the Cadillac Match Play Golf Championships in the city.  Driving disabled patrons to their seats and doing general transport work is the only way to work in a golf tournament. You have an open ticket to roam the entire gold course in a golf cart and just wait for assignments as they come up.   During the US Open, I was stuck inside all the time at the gift shop being a cashier.  You can never tell on this kind of assignment what comes up.  For example, about five years ago, I had both Tiger Woods and the Commissioner of the PGA Tour as my passengers - I couldn't help thinking here are these two billion dollar people in my golf cart ... good thing I didn't screw up driving as I could have changed the course of history (maybe for the better?).

I will also be participating in a pilgrimage to Italy next month.  Never been to that part of Europe so it should be very exciting.  More on that as it gets closer.

This was at 8AM this morning - heat index already at 95F at airport

Lastly, as usual, there is a flurry of activity getting things ready for my trip.  Have to do some more shopping and want to get in some last minute activities before I go back.  Unfortunately the mango's weather has started to get really hot and sticky.  Supposed to be 98F in the mango today and my weather station is showing 79% humidity.  If it stays that way, people are going to die today of heat stroke because the heat index is over 142F.  

I did go out to the archery range yesterday to do some shooting with my new bow.  It performed extremely well and with a change that I made to the string and some padding, the bow is almost silent when I shoot my arrows.  It was hot, but not as bad as its supposed to be today.  Its not a good time to be outdoors in the mango today.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

New Bow

Well Bangkok Buddy and I were at a new archery range the other day and I ended up buying a new bow.  Didn't know that they would post my purchase on their Facebook account.  Anyway, it turned out that while we were there and talking, the manager brought out a sample of a bow they have ordered from China.  

Shot a whole bunch of arrows with the bow side by side with a $700 wooden "Bear Paw" bow from Germany and it felt almost exactly alike.  Very smooth and accurate and only $4900 baht plus they charged me for the string and fur ball silencers.  So now I own a full sized recurve and made a bunch of new friends and shooting buddies at Rama 2 Archery.

I bought the sample bow instead of a new one and have no regrets.  My Statistics professor once told me something at school that I never forgot.  He said, people always assume that samples, whether they are free or not, are exactly like the 'big batch' of the product you are likely to receive.  But not so he said, "In every batch of products, there are good, typical, and poor units".  "Why would the manufacturer ever send out a typical or poor unit for sale or evaluation -- he wouldn't - they would always send out the better units to try to convince the potential buyer to order".   Ever since, whenever I find a good product at a store or show, I try to buy the sample that is there because more often than not, when my new product arrives, it didn't feel or perform like  one I tried.

Yeah, that guy in green shirt sure has a weird expression on his face as he gets ready to shoot.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Getting annual health screening exam today.  Skipped last year as I got a pretty good exam due to being here for three days due to a kidney stone procedure.
Internet with True 3G is great and it allows me to surf and post during the long waits between stations.

Prices are up to $427 for the executive exam with the stress test.  Nine years ago when I first started it was less than $250.  Just gives one the idea that health care costs are not immune to inflation, not even here in the land of smiles.

Hoping all comes out well.  More later after the exam.

**** Update  ****

Finished my exam and things haven't really changed, which is good news.  Still have my congenital  heart murmur, mild hypertension, elevated cholesterol and a fatty liver.  All in check and not really so that bad that I need to be on medication (which I won't take due to the side effects anyway).  

Passed the EKG and Stress Test so my heart is good to go for another year.  In light of all that could be wrong, these are conditions that can be dealt with and controlled with lifestyle changes so I am very thankful for more time on this merry go round ride.  Tomorrow its back the  gym workouts or walks, and better food and lots more sleep.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Today's blog is about money.  If you are not interested in money nor its implications on your future, just move on to the next item on your reading list.  IF you don't mind a boring blog entry on monetary history and banking, then proceed at your own caution... 

The History:

AIIB:  The four letters that represent the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.  Its probably the most important development in over 70 years since the Brenton Woods agreements were made back in the days after World War II.  Those agreements led to the development of the IMF and World Bank and established the foundation for world financial transactions and that all currencies would be based on its value relative to gold.  44 countries signed up for that initial agreement and a bank, the IBRD was set up to help countries rebuild and recover after the war.  The US insisted that the dollar should be the reserve currency because at that time, the US controlled nearly 2/3 of the world's gold and that we could back dollars redemption with gold.  

Totally invalid now..but imagine holding a bunch of these back then.. $35 for 1 ounce of gold

Unfortunately, the US, under Nixon broke that agreement and in 1971 the dollar was no longer redeemable for gold. At that point in time, the US was already short of gold to cover the dollars it had on hand.   Instead, we convinced the world that the dollar should still be the reserve currency and that the US would promise to exercise control over it and not use it for its own advantage (like printing too much of it, etc.).

Well we all know how that promise came out.  Then there was the petro dollar, but we will cover that in another blog post.

Under the current system, despite the dollar abuse,  the US still has extraordinary control over the IMF, the World Bank and other institutions where sovereign nations can borrow money.  The use of these institutions, which are dollar based, have been increasingly used to further political and policy agendas and have become the 'financials weapons of war'.  The reasoning goes that if you control the world monetary flow, you can strangle any country's economy by imposing limits to their credit and banking capabilities (e.g. like we are trying to do to Russia)


It didn't take long for many countries that were developing economically and growing rapidly to figure out that this was an unfair situation.  When the IMF proposed rules giving more say to emerging and developing countries, the US congress sat on its approval which continues to date.  The US and its banker lobbys wanted to retain control of that power.

With the battle of supremacy over the next reserve currency and China's rise to the top of the economic heap, China proposed the formation of the AIIB as an alternative for alternative financing for Asian countries in direct competition to the World Bank and the IMF.  Most likely the currency would be Yuan based and with China's recent flurry of activity to acquire gold, it may be that the Yuan would be backed by gold.  Little did they know that the AIIB would be a lightning rod for those unhappy with the current IMF based system.

The US had tried its best to discourage countries from joining as founding members, but with little success.  Except for the US and possibly Japan, countries have been flocking to the new AIIB.  As of 2 days ago, the number of countries have reached 46 (more than the original Brenton Woods countries).  The mad rush to join the AIIB, despite the US objection, is a clear indication that the world is ready for an alternative to the dollar and the western banks that control the financial systems we have in place.  

While the AIIB is just a bank and not a governing body, its influence is not by monetary rules and regulation of the planet.  Instead, it will be offering an alternative to the world's dependence on the dollar and the powers that control it.  With nearly 7 trillion in anticipated loans for Asia alone, the AIIB serves as a great vehicle for China and other wealthy countries to make money.  Only this time, money will be wealth in another currency and perhaps even be backed by gold.  It will likely push the yuan to either a co-reserve currency or replace the dollar completely over time.

With Russia developing an alternative to the SWFT, it won't be too much longer before things get totally out of the control of the US and its allies.  With money moving out of dollars and money transfers out of control of SWFT, there is no way the US can use its financial system as leverage.  It will barely be able to survive the fallout of this change to the world order.   To protect yourself, the only answer is to acquire non-dollar dominated assets.  Its always good not to have all your eggs in one basket.  

So what's all this have to do with Thailand?   Thailand will be a founding member of the AIIB and will likely finance some of its major infrastructure projects using the bank.  For our readers, its maybe time to think about how a massive shift away from the dollar would impact you personally.  Would you be ready to have your 'wealth' (not dollars) reduced by 70%.  Would you still be able to come to the land of smiles and be smiling or will you be frowning about how much things have increased in price since you were last here?   Could you even afford to live here in retirement?

AIIB.  These four letters will likely change your life --big time.  Check it out for yourself!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Back in the Mango

Smooth trip back into the big mango this afternoon.  Roads were clear and the weather was great so it was a pleasant little drive.  Going to take it easy tonight and stay inside and away from the party streets.  It doesn't seem to be very warm in the mango today at all, making any kind of water play a potentially chilling experience.

Most of the stores seem to be operating and the malls seem to be full so its not like the mango is a ghost town.  

More tomorrow  or the next day on the four letters that may be potentially the biggest and most important threat to the American way of life as we know it.  

Hint:  it is NOT  ISIS.  

Sunday, April 12, 2015

heading back to the mango tomorrow

As per our usual schedule, we are heading back tomorrow to the mango.  We always like to leave on Songkran's first day to avoid the traffic jams coming back into the the city.  Many will make this a week long holiday and won't return until next Monday, but I am leaving on the 23rd and want to spend a few days in the mango to pick up some things for the trip back.   We are full tonight, but B's mother and sister seem to have the situation under control.   I will hate to leave the resort as the weather has been both strange and very pleasant for this time of year.  

For example, today the sun was out, but it was only in the low 80s with a pleasant breeze.  If I didn't know better,  I would have thought I was in the Islands.  A tropical atmosphere, everyone wearing their Songkran shirts, which look similar to Hawaiian shirts, so all we needed was some Hawaiian music and some leis and the picture would have been complete.

Talking about leis, we made some up today as well.  We planted 17 plumeria trees last year and they are finally just starting to bloom.  It seems like all the work I put into spraying and caring for the trees has paid off.  One of the trees was from B's grandfather's house and is over 15 years old.  Anyway, it was fun gathering the flowers and everyone got into the act - including Marina (See picture on the right).  At some point, I think we should give every guest that checks in a lei when the trees are in bloom -- what do you think?...too corny?

Short post and have to run as its B's mother's birthday today.  Took her out to eat at Hot Pot buffet this afternoon and outside they are preparing another little 'party' tonight.  She doesn't want any birthday cake, instead she wants only durian for dessert (its in season and absolute delicious now).  Strange, but as they say, this is Thailand.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Weird Weather

The weather up here has been really strange the last couple of days.  Supposedly there is a high pressure ridge from China that is pushing strong wind and storms down into Thailand.  Its been overcast the last three days, a welcome relief to the oven hot sunny weather we had earlier in the week.  Seems like it wants to rain, but only a few scattered drops here and there.  But the weather is much cooler and anything can happen.  If the pattern holds true to the weather forecasts, it might even rain on Songkran day.  That is going to put a dampener on the water festivities up here and all around the country.

So far the week has been pretty quiet, despite being almost full.  We have one open room today, but the rest of the weekend and most of next week is fully booked.  Nothing to do while the guests are out except to watch over the resort and surf the net.  The security cameras are all up and capture nearly everything should there be an issue.  

Plans call for me to return to the mango sometime next week.  I want to do my annual health screening and get my dental appointment that I missed taken care of before going to California.  In the meantime, have a happy Songkran everyone, no matter where you are.  Especially if you are in of our guests told me this morning that it was flooded.  Don't know if its true, but will see if I can find out more info.  If its true, then mother nature wanted to get in on the water fun this year...a good drenching of rain on Songkran day...just like last year.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The deal........

A few posts back, I indicated that we were considering buying some parcels around the resort.  The guy that owns them has the deeds at the bank, meaning he has borrowed money on the land and is having a hard time paying off the loan.  Its not surprising because the last couple of years in the North East have been very hard on farmers.  With the collapse of rice prices and this year's drought situation, the yields have been less than expected.  Anyway, we waited and he lowered the price again and I think we were offered the land for a very decent price.

Well I finally made the decision to buy the parcels around us for strategic and economic reasons.  First of all, the land is very fertile...if we get enough water.  Second, we will more than double our lakefront exposure, making our land more valuable in the process.  I plan to address the water issue by building a large irrigation pond/fish pond where we can raise Tilapia organically for our own use and for sale in the local area.  There has been a lot of bad press regarding Tilapia recently saying it was worse than bacon, but those reports are for commercially grown fish.  We plan on using our own organic blend of fish food and growing conditions because we plan to eat what we grow too.  The pond will also be our reserve supply of water during the summer months for our crops.  A khlong will be built to supply the pond with fresh water from a nearby creek which has water year round.

On the lakefront side, we are thinking of filling in part of the front side for a small market and a landscaped rest stop  area where we will rent out the space for local food and drink vendors.   We will have enough land for our own fish and even ducks, land for rice, and rental income.  Together, our parcels will be just under 20 rai with lakefront and stream access rights.   All of this in the process of building self sufficiency and in the event the stuff hits the fan in terms of a global economic crisis.

Anyway, we have 60 days to close the deal and the owner gets to keep his current crop of rice so its going to be a few months before we start anything.  In fact, I think we may want to wait until next year.  I want to see the flooding patterns for the property and decide where we want to put the big fish pond and khlongs for irrigation.  We know some people with lots of heavy machinery who are very cheap that would be perfect for the job.

In the meantime, its preparation time for Songkran.  Got to go into town to buy some water guns and other toys for our trip around the neighborhood.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Feels like 128F .....or more.

How can I describe living in a furnace?  Its hot.  Really hot.  

Back upcountry now and its 103F, with elevated humidity.  How much, I don't know, but at Don Mueang, the heat index is 128F and its only 100.6F.  My guess is that its somewhere in the 130F range.  Suppose to rain today but it hasn't so far and the clouds have brought in the humid air making it hot and sticky.  This is not a good time to be in the Land of Smiles except to be indoors.  Just for the record, the highest temperature recorded at Death Valley in California is 129F...just one degree higher than the 'feels like' temperature at Don Mueang.  In Death Valley, the humidity is so low that 129F feels like 129F so its a valid comparison.  

Anyway, the trip back upcountry was uneventful except for the weather.  Glad to be back at the resort, inside my air conditioned office where I expect to spend lots of time today.  Got my taxes paid this morning and even made a bid on Ebay.  Plans are to stay until Songkran and then get back quickly to the mango for a few days before going back to California (to cool off hopefully).

Today and this time of year is when I don't say, 'wish you were here'.  Don't want to punish anyone that doesn't like the heat.  In the meantime, some cold OJ and maybe a nap might be order.  Wait for the weather to cool off tonight before venturing outside.  Don't want to die of heat stroke.

Monday, April 6, 2015

In the mango for the night

Yep, I'm in the mango, but only for tonight.  Tomorrow I am heading back up to the country after getting some chores taken care of  this afternoon.  

Got everything done from a car wash to replacing two new tires for Vanna, to getting my stuff for paying my property taxes.  Getting new tires for Vanna is something I will blog more about later in the week.  There is a street in Bangkok where nearly every store is a tire shop.  Some of the best prices and selection  of tires in town.  Service is fast and good too.  The dental appointment was rescheduled, but I think I should have kept it as I think I had enough time - but there is always the week after Songkran.

Getting back to the Mango, it feels different.  It seems like 1/2 of the city has already taken off  for the holidays as the streets are not as crowded and the traffic is half way decent.  After a short nap, I plan on a steak dinner and some roti down the street.  

More tomorrow as its nap time!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Total Eclipse of the moon

There is a total eclipse of the moon in Thailand tonight.  Out in back of the resort, where its dark, we can see the moon slowly emerging after being covered for about the last 30 minutes.  The last time I saw this phenomenon was on a cruise ship sailing in the Caribbean, but it was a cloudy night and we only saw glimpses of the moon through the clouds.

Just realized that this picture totally sucks..its better live than in pictures!

Its a totally cloudless tonight as we are preparing an outdoor barbecue and so I took a couple of snaps.  It didn't turn out too good, but if I took a shot of the moon when it was fully covered, it would be just a black photo.  Anyway, couldn't ask for a better place to view it as there are no city lights or high buildings to obstruct the view.  

 A lot of people at the resort tonight, including B's sister.  They are starting their Songkran holidays with a stopover here before going North to her husband's home.  They will return here next week for the new year.  Also, one of B's nephews got drafted today...fortunately he is going to be assigned to Bangkok and not the deep south.  So there is a bit of joy at the homestead tonight.

I can remember when there was a draft in the US during the Vietnam War.  My birthday was 21st out of a possible 365.  When my student exemption ran out, I was drafted.  Fortunately, I failed the physical and was classified 4F to the relief of my parents.  If I passed that physical, they told me I would be on the next bus to the induction center...would have changed the whole course of my life..maybe I would have discovered the land of smiles even sooner???

Anyway, on a more positive note, here are the more interesting pictures...yep food!

barbecued Calamari

Still fresh as B's sister just came up from the mango with them

T-Bone Steak round out the feast for tonight
Our full moon party in Issan...yum yum

Triple digits this weekend

Starting about yesterday, its been triple digit temperatures at the resort and that is expected to continue until at least Tuesday.  In Thailand, it gets hot this time of year, but triple digit weather for any length of time is not that common.  Good thing for us, the humidity is lower than in the lowlands like the big mango where is currently around 52%.  That actually makes the temperature feel a lot hotter, like by about +7 F.  I see our weather as being like California's central valley during the hottest days of summer.  Hot during the day, with a pleasant cool off in the evening.  Mornings are cool and pleasant so that is when I do my walking and exercise.  Afternoons are reserved for naps....yes the good life here in the country.

Marina and the other kids spent time in the kiddie pool yesterday and it was hard to get them to come out.  It did keep them busy all afternoon and let me do some more work on the resort website.  I am a little behind in finishing, having had to learn a whole new system for building the site.  But for the most part, I'm done except for the auto-linking of the blog and adding some more content.  Check out the website here, if you are interested.

B bought some more 'magic berry' trees yesterday.  They were small trees and were selling for 50 baht apiece.  If they all grow, we are going to have a bunch of magic berries all year round.  I don't know the economics of selling them, but they sure are a lot of fun.  Maybe some boutique shops or places on Khao San Road might sell them, but commercially I think its more of a curiosity than anything practical.  Just ask next time you are visiting the land of smiles...I will bring a bunch for you to try...or even host a magic berry tasting party one day.

Lastly, I might still do the one or two day trip back to the mango in a day or so.  I have to get some information to pay a tax bill and also make a dental appointment.  Whatever the decision, it will be a very quick turnaround.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Our Natural Fish Spa

If you have traveled to the land of smiles, you have likely heard of and maybe experienced one of the fish foot spas.  They are located all over the mango at major tourist spots, hotels, and little shops throughout town.  In fact, there are over 1.300 registered fish spas in Thailand

Fish spas are places where for around 200-300 baht, tiny fish will eat all the loose and dead skin off your feet.  You just plunk your feet into the tank, and hundreds of tiny little critters nibble and bite your feet and toes - supposedly taking a tiny piece of your dead skin away in the process.  It has become very popular in the mango, but I've never had the inclination to try it.

My curiosity about fish spas was peaked yesterday when B told me that there was a place where you could get the same experience but it was totally free and much more hygienic than plopping your feet in the same tank as other strangers who have used it before you.  It seems like there are areas in Tat Ton National park where the stream from Tat Ton Waterfall flows very smoothly and forms ponds.  In those ponds are hundreds/thousands of fish that will nibble and eat the skin off your feet just like the commercial foot fish spas.   

Quiet little 'fish spa' spot of our very own

We had some time yesterday morning so we took a short drive to the park and found the spot B was talking about.  Guess what, the fish do bite your feet and give a kind of tickle every time they suck and bite on your skin.  Get a bunch of them on your feet and it feels a bit like a very low level shock.  Not sensual by any means, but like a funny kind of foot massage.  Sat for about an hour so I must have the cleanest feet in the entire country!

Daddy with Marina enjoying his fish spa treatment

Tiny fish clean off all the dead skin and stuff from the bottom of your feet

It was also a great time to take Marina and Grandma out for some time together.  Family time is hard to come by now with the resort approaching Songkran.  We are going to be booked solid during the holidays and that means everyone has to be helping in one way or another.  There will be time for play, but we will do it before and after the big holiday.

Three generations of girls having some fun

Hopefully, I can make it back for a day or so to the mango.  I have a dentist appointment that I want to keep, but don't want to travel back and forth just for that.  More later in the week.

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