Monday, August 31, 2015

Left my camera in the Mango

My camera is in the mango and I am up here at the resort so there isn't going to be any posting of Snow Town until I get back.  Kind of a bummer as its a fun place to take kids and people who have never touched snow.  Good for a single visit or two, but not something I would do very often as its boring (at least to me), and a bit on the expensive side.   But then I am jaded because I've seen snow many times and I am not a kid that likes snowmen and snowballs, living in a country where it never snows.

Been trying to figure out some water issues for the ponds.  We had a big die off fish the other day and we want to know why.  Its a good thing that we didn't invest in a lot of fish.  We purchased 1000 fish at 50 satang each as an experiment so the investment was only 500 baht.  Out of the 1000 we only have a few hundred left so I think it may be a water or oxygen issue, but only more testing will give us the answer.  In the meantime, we are not stocking any more fish until we get the issue identified and resolved.  Worse case scenario is the the ponds end up as irrigation ponds only.  

Planning to be back on Wednesday as I have two doctor's appointments on Thursday - then one week left in the Mango before heading back to Kalifornia.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fat Bikes and Archery

Bought a Fat Bike yesterday morning.  In fact, its called a Coyote FatMan bike because it has these super wide 4 inch tires.  I've been looking at getting one of these for use up in the resort and upcountry on the dirt roads in the area.  Beside they look kinda cool.  

The cheapest place in the Mango to buy an inexpensive bike is in Chinatown, near Khlong Tom market.  There rows of bike stores with bikes parked outside so they are easy to find.  I ended up paying 6,200 baht for my bike which was the 17 inch version - specs here.   Its a 17 inch bike but can accommodate a rider up to 6'3".   The larger 26" version of this bike was 13,000 baht but it looked way too heavy and bulky for me.  Anyway, it will be something else to do in addition to walking for exercise when I am at the resort.  Plus the fat tires make the bike ideal for trekking around the fields, dirt, sand, and even small rocks and twigs.  

Inexpensive, heavy, and not the best components, but it will get the job done.
 All I think I need to add to the bike is a FAT seat - The extra wide, super cushioned ones for my butt and I will be ready to cruise.

Had a chance to go to the Archery Range yesterday.  Met up with Bangkok buddy there and we shot some traditional bows. Shot for two hours - or around 200 arrows.  Didn't have a great day shooting until near the end when I found out my shooting arm was not locked and extended properly - then the arrows started to find the center ring.  I think it was due to not shooting for a couple of weeks and the new BP medication making me a bit tired.  But still, it was a great day - as always in the mango.  

Up to the resort this morning.  Will finish and address any details there and see the family before my trip to California.  Back to the Mango on Wednesday and will stay here until I leave on September 10th.  BTW, Snow Town was great.  Will try to download and do a post on the trip later.




Friday, August 28, 2015

Feeling so much better this morning


Wow, what a change.  The new medication and visit to BH really made a difference. All the blood tests came out fine and so did the Echogram and stress tests.   I had a very good night's sleep and feel great this morning.  In fact, I think I will resume my workout schedule again.  I stopped earlier in the week due to the heart palpitations, but as of yesterday they were gone and now I feel just like before.  

I am now on Concor or Bisoprolol, which is a beta blocker that slows down the heart without depriving it of the necessary oxygen and blood flow.  It used to reduce hypertension (High blood pressure.  Doctor only gave me a 7 day supply and have to go back for a followup test next week. I think he is going to evaluate arteries feeding/leaving the heart and other long term meds after the tests.  Doesn't think there are any issues, but best to be safe that sorry.   But in the meantime, its all systems go.  Today's blood pressure was 125/79 with pulse rate of 60.  


With that out of the way, I have a surprise special day planned for B and Marina.  They don't know it yet, but we are going to Snow Town.  Located on the 5th Floor of the Ekkamai Gateway Mall, it supposed to be Asia's largest indoor snow mall and snow town.  B has never seen snow and I know that Marina is in store for a giant surprise.  Marina loves Olaf from Disney's Frozen, and now she will get to experience snow and maybe a snowball fight for the first time.


Snow Town just opened last month, so its a really great place to take the family or someone special because snow in Bangkok is as rare as hen's teeth.

Pictures in a followup post.


One final note:  While it seems like I am doing a lot in my life (and I am), I don't feel any stress due to the activities...in fact I am happier and more stress free than working or just sitting at home.  I believe my high blood pressure was due to previous carry over stress when I was working and genetics.  Besides, I would rather die happy doing something I enjoy than and being a vegetable consumed by worry about my medical condition !  Life is always shorter than one thinks...get out and enjoy all it has to offer...especially here in the big mango




Thursday, August 27, 2015

Released to go home

Results of tests was good.  Palpitations due to congenial valve which I have had since childhood and BP medication.  Doctor gave me new meds, and set a followup for next week.  No physical restrictions.

That was great news and I am out of there.   Hate hospitals, but BH treated me fair and didn't gouge me.

Time for some food!  More later.  Thanks for all the support messages guys.

At Bumrungrad this morning

Been having chest palpitations the last few days so this morning I decided to come to BH to get it checked out. 

Doctors want to do tests and want me to be admitted for observation so here I am all checked in.  Nice room, like always, and currently wearing a constant heart monitoring device.

Echogram scheduled with a specialist at 9am. 

But all indications so far is that what I have is not serious or life threatening.  More later.

Only regret is that no archery for today!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Have you heard about zalora.com ?

One of the things I miss about California is the online shopping.  With websites like amazon.com and retailers like Best Buy, Costco, Cabelas, and even eBay, etc., I would venture that I do nearly all of my non-grocery shopping online.  The sites that I order from typically offer some kind of free or discounted shipping right to my door and I can browse and order any time of the day or night right from the comfort of my home desktop.

Online shopping is still at its infancy here in Thailand.  Aside from the language factor, many expats and even locals worry about the integrity and security of the sites and whether or not they will get their merchandise after paying with all their private credit card info.  And what if the item you bought isn't right?  What is the return policy and how do you get a refund or exchange on the item?  How long will it take for delivery and can we track its delivery like we do in the states?  So the issues are numerous and deter most from participating.


Via a reader of this blog, I was contacted and introduced to Zalora.com.  This site is an online retailer that is striving to become the dominant online fashion retailer of Southeast Asia/Australia/New Zeland.  That is a big piece of pie to bite off.  Retail - Asia - Fashion - all must equate to tons of quality inventory choices and very deep pockets.  So out of curiosity I took a closer look and here is what I found that made them different:

Rocket Internet
Zalora is based in Singapore and has divisions in 11 countries, including most of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand.  The parent of Zalora is Rocket Internet, a German company which has 30,000 employees and is a publicly traded company that controls business interests all around the world.  Link to companies here.  The reason I mention all of this is that this company is not going to disappear on you after you place your order.  They are big, have deep pockets, and because of their size, they can have a large inventory of brand name products ( i.e. Nike, Converse, Casio, etc.) to offer.  They can also provide the security and integrity for your sale and customer service after the sale is completed.

Another selling point to me is that they offer free shipping above 690 baht ($20), accept CODs,  and provide a 30 day free return policy.  For those that shop in the land of smiles, returns are usually not accepted and once you leave the store...its your problem if things don't fit, break, or not what you expected.  They even have pickup and payment at 7Eleven as an option!

One thing to make clear is that Zalora is not a discount merchandise site.  It offers competitive prices to the department stores and specialty shops, but they do offer fashionable merchandise and brand name products that are genuine and in sufficient inventory in the right size and style for your needs.  Their products are trendy and targeted to a  younger crowd that are into the latest fashions but there is something for everyone.  If you have a wife or girl friend that is into fashion trends, it might be a way to save a few baht.  They are not as cheap as the US websites, but you don't have to pay the extra shipping charges, import taxes, and go through the hassle of customs clearance, etc.


I had a chance to order a pair of their Zalora foldable sneakers from them this week.  What intrigued me about these shoes was that they could be neatly folded up almost flat and put into a suitcase or bag and take up very little weight and space.  This is an idea travel or vacation sneaker for walking around, going to the beach, and just hanging out. It has real rubber non-slip soles and the netting provides ventilation for hot weather like we have here in Thailand and it looks fashionable enough to wear almost anywhere for dinner.   Three colors available here: http://en.zalora.co.th/men/shoes/sneakers/.  Cost is less than $10 USD (339 baht) on sale.  Tried them on today for errands and they seem comfortable enough...will do more testing and maybe a followup post later.

One last thing.  They are offering 'pop up' stores in a number of cities where limited merchandise with all sizes and colors of their products are available for inspection and fitting.  You can't buy the merchandise in the store, but instead can order and have the product delivered to your doorstep.  Neat concept of try before you buy on the internet !

Check them out.  at http://en.zalora.co.th/men/ for more info.



Busy Week Scheduled for the big mango

With just a little over two weeks left before going back to California for a month or so, its going to be very hectic for me.  One more trip is planned for upcountry this weekend and in the meantime, there are chores, chores, and more chores.  In between, I want to go to the archery range and definitely to the free buffet this Friday.

I had to wait for a delivery yesterday and take B to the dentist.  She had a lot of dental work scheduled and I had to provide transport and babysit.  She is going to have a sore mouth for a couple of days, but better that than a mouth with no teeth!  She lost a lot of calcium from her body when she had the baby and is now paying the price.  That is why there are so many older Thai women who have missing teeth, plus many just don't do a very good job of dental cleaning and maintenance.  Anyway, I believe that there are some things that have to be done regularly, and one of those is a regular check-up with the dentist.

One drunk to another "Don't know where we're going, but we're sure getting there fast!"
Four days in the row and still counting.  The US markets started out on fire, but burned out by the end of the day and became negative.  Also, all the Asian markets are down again as of this post at 9:45am,  Are we at the bottom? ...I don't think so because the stock market doesn't represent all of the economy, its just an indicator, and the economy is in trouble.  Trouble won't start until the layoffs begin and the banks begin to fracture due to the strain.  If the market continue to slide, go to the bank and get your cash out as soon as possible and not get caught like many Greeks who were limited to $60 per day ATM withdrawals.  

Will likely go to Fortune town today to get some cabling for our video security system at the resort.  With the expanded area, we need to add a few more cameras to monitor the ponds and perimeter of the property.  Let see what time permits for today.


Monday, August 24, 2015

In the Mango.....

Got back mid afternoon to the mango.  Uneventful trip back except for the many police checkpoints.  Looks like they are trying to put up checkpoints everywhere in the hope that something turns up, either by brute force or luck.  

Not much scheduled for today except to get some dinner and relax a bit.  Will monitor the US Markets tonight.  The Asian markets absolutely tanked today, with many hitting multi-year lows.  That is a bad indication for the US Markets unless the Feds or banks or ??? start buying to keep the market from dropping even more than Friday.  Since when did we charter the Feds and Banks to buy into the market and eventually get bailed out with tax payer money if things go badly????


Just checked the futures and it looks like blood will be flowing on Wall Street today.  Futures on the DOW are down 650+ points...worse than Friday. When the house of cards begins to collapse,  there might not be enough money in the world to keep it from doing so. 


Funny thing is that life seems to be carrying on like normal.  There are still traffic jams in the mango, people are out and about shopping, eating, and walking around.  In the grand scheme of things, they are the ones that are going to suffer, but as of now, they are totally unaware of the things going on around them.  Mai Bpen Rai...whatever will be will be.  Don't mess up my life with details right?

More tomorrow as its time for little dinner.  Life must go one right?




Back to the Mango Today......

Going back to the mango today.  Right into the thick of things as the latest information from the news shows that the likely suspects were living and operating right in my neighborhood.  Whether they are still there is unknown, but very unlikely.  If they didn't high tail outta there by now, then they are pretty stupid.  We know that they are not stupid and in fact, pretty proficient in setting up the bombs and so far, evading the manhunt.

But I am not going to be scared to go back to my neighborhood and condo.  I stand in full support of the other Thais that are doing the same - going on with their daily lives and giving respect to those that were killed and encouragement to those that are injured.  

Looking at the Asian Markets this morning, they are down again...not surprising after the big drop in the US Market.  The slippery slope is getting steeper and the next couple of days will be indicators if we have the ability to avoid going over the edge.  Stay tuned....

Will post more later as its getting close to departure time and I still need to wrap up a few things here.  More later from the mango.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Making merit and peace with the land spirits...global economy needs exorcism

In Thai beliefs, there are spirits of the departed that occupy all the land around us.  These spirits may be good or evil, but mostly just want to live in peace.  If one wants to change the land that they control, such as building a house or business, etc., one must request permission and make peace with these spirits in order to ensure they protect you and not cause mischief  and calamity for your endeavors.  This could be in the form of spirit houses and other rituals.  

Pig ready for offering to the spirits

B's family is a believer of this practice and yesterday, they took the big pig we were roasting all night out to the land by the ponds as an offering to the spirits of the land.  I was incorrect to say the pig was only 20 kilos, it was more like 40 kilos and we had to take the truck to transport it out to the pond.


Prayers and offerings...fish ponds in the background
The pig was accompanied with flowers,  fruit, pastry, and a variety of drinks.  Very much like the traditional offerings to the dead you sometimes see at Chinese cemeteries in the west on certain days.  Chants and prayers are offered along with incense and the whole ceremony was done is less than 15 minutes.  To finish things off, we want to put up a small wooden spirit house on the far end of the property when time permits.  For now, they believe the spirits are happy and our fish pond endeavor we will be lucky and successful.


Marina taking all this stuff in stride

The Market continues its downward plunge:

If that is not a correction, I don't know what else you could call it

 Last night (for us anyway), the US market declined again.  The DOW dropped another 530 points and shows no sign of slowing down.  That makes it almost 1000 points in three days for the DOW. The S&P 500 declined nearly 10%.   Fortunately it was Friday again, and this weekend, the dream teams from the economic manipulators will once again be working overtime on something to try to keep the market from collapsing on Monday when it re-opens.  The problem is that the retail investor (the little guy) has long exited the market and if they haven't they are going to get out soon.  Only the big players remain, and they are all like wounded sharks in a small tank.  There's blood in the water and the frenzy has begun and there is no way out of the tank.  The dream teams may be out of ideas.  Some sharks are going to have to die.

Just because they are big players doesn't mean there is no impact on the public.  Many of these players are pension funds, insurance companies, banks, and mutual funds.  Most of the money from these funds came from the little guys...so lots of small people are at risk of losing their pensions and savings.  As shown in the Greek crisis, even cash sitting in the bank or your brokerage account is subject to being frozen and taken from you.

Then there are the nasty derivatives.  The so called financial WMDs are going to have some impact.  Most are just hedge bets - or bets against certain things happening almost like an insurance policy.  The only problem is that if a major event occurs like a huge storm or market/currency crash, many of those issuing the policy or bets will be unable to pay - thus was the demise of AIG, etc. during 2008.

Too bad there is no ceremony to exorcise the demons that are controlling the economy.  I'd be glad offer them a pig or two at this point,  hope for the best,  and ask for them to leave us alone.

In the meantime, time to grow some fish and veggies...might be the only reliable source of food in a few years.










Friday, August 21, 2015

Slo Mo Tip-over

The slo mo tip-over into a deep recession is starting.  With a DOW drop of 500 points in the last two days, the weakening dollar, and the subsequent fall of the Asian Markets yesterday, and everything showing red  in the Asian Markets TODAY, it looks the long overdue market correction has started.  Gold has continued its slow climb, despite market manipulations to keep it down, and is now on the verge of a big run like in 2008.  Dream teams around the world are trying to hold back the dam by plugging holes the best they can, but as with any weaken and rotten structure, its going to burst completely as the forces will be just too great to be contained.

the global house of financial cards

With the IMF putting off China's bid to enter the world basket of currencies for another year, there is very little China has to lose if they continue to float and devalue their currency.  I think they will have to do so for self survival.   That means more market turmoil and money moving to other investments.  With economies around the world falling like a house of cards, there are very little options left except precious metals.  I called it right a few weeks back when Gold hit its 5 year low to buy some then.  With all the funny money that has been created, I won't be surprised at $2,000 per ounce prices within the next few months as people figure out that money doesn't necessarily equate to wealth.   Countries are already starting unofficial financial wars by devaluating their currency.

Expect food prices to go up significantly, but energy prices to be cheaper.  With no demand for products and goods, the demand for energy will go down along with other commodities.  Transportation will be impacted as will travel.  In other words, its gonna hurt a lot of people this time around.  

Will it be a total collapse ?  My guess is that its going to happen or come really really close, leaving a giant crater in the economy of the world for many decades to come.  Economists will study and use this period for teaching students in the future of how not to set up a global financial system.  Lots of people will die, and maybe another global war is inevitable as countries scramble for resources to survive.  It will be a dark time in human history.

In the meantime, get some non dollar demonstrated assets and hold on to them.  Do like they teach you in the scouts... "be prepared".  That could make the difference between being a survivor or a victim in the next few years.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tilapia, Climbing Perch, and a Pig too!

I thought that it would be a fairly simple task.  Just go down to the government fishery center, buy some baby fish, and put them in the ponds and wait for them to grow up....wrong.  

Its not always that simple here in the land of smiles...at least not with my family.  They believe that since we just acquired the property earlier this year, dug out all the ponds, and have finally stocked the ponds, that we also have to make an offering to the spirits of the land.  B's premonition was that the spirits wanted a roasted piglet (moo haan) because they were hungry.  
  
Piglet roasting on a open fire...

Normally, that would not be a problem except that the drought has made piglets impossible to obtain.  So the only other choice was a small pig.  How small?  Around 40lbs! A pig of that size creates a bit of a logistic problem trying to cook it.  Its too big for the barbie or anything we got,  so instead its strung out with two huge bamboo sticks and frame over some coals.  And then it decides to rain......

Anyway, its supposed to be an all night job getting it cooked and tomorrow morning, B's mother and some of the family will wake up early and go out to the land and make an offering to the spirits and ask for good luck.  As for myself, I think I will just sleep in and have some of the porky for lunch.

As for the fish...well we got a couple of small batches of 1000 fish each of Tilapia and Climbing Perch.  They are supposed to do well with the water we have around here.  Since it hasn't flooded yet and the ponds are not completely full, I wanted to just put in a few fish to see if they do ok.  The Tilapia cost us 1/2 baht apiece and the perch 1 baht each.  So the total investment for our initial stock was 1500 baht.  Small potatoes....but its a start.

The pig...that's a whole other story..(and it wasn't cheap).


Tilapia
Climbing Perch

Tilapia is a commonly farmed fish in Thailand and its kind easy to care for.  We plan on using only duckweed and organic feed since we plan to eat some ourselves and sell the excess.  The climbing perch is a very interesting fish that fetches a good market price and is very tolerant of poor quality water.  Its a good eating fish and a great fighting fish for those who like to use a rod and a hook.

Climbing perch can jump out of the water and walk on land to find new pond sources and have lung like facilities that allow them to survive for days out of the water if they are moist.  They are commonly farmed in South East Asia and are just getting popular here in Thailand.  We wanted to try something different and these fish will give us some additional variety to offer buyers.  

Anyway, tomorrow I plan on setting up an aquarium that I purchased at Chattuchak Market last weekend.  I put aside some of each fish from the ponds and will raise them in the tanks until they get too big.  Having some in the tanks will give me a reference to the fish size in the pond.  I can also test fish food and do other 'experiments' without going out to the pond and doing it on a large scale.

More pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Upcountry at the Resort

As scheduled, we are now upcountry at the resort for a bit.  Don't know exactly how long we are going to stay, but it won't be earlier than Sunday before we return.  B feels safer up here and I don't blame her as there are so many theories floating around regarding the motive and perpetrators of these barbaric deeds.  I feel its my duty to not let the events of the last few days change me and how I enjoy the mango.  But family obligations currently override my desire to stay and show support.

On the way up, there were many police checkpoints and more police on the highway than I've seen in a very long time.  I'm not sure if its a tip or just the fact that they are locking down any potential exit by the bombers.  Its one of those times when I am glad I don't have fuzzy hair and look anything like the guy in this mug shot.  There is one million baht reward for info leading to his arrest.  So I am helping, like others with Social Media capabilities to get info out to the public.  


To me, the hair looks fake, so expect that this guy might be wearing a wig.  I also think he has tattoos on both of his forearms as the sweatbands he wore were too high and too big and likely used to conceal something obvious.  In my opinion, unless this guy is the main man behind the plot, he is a dead man.  Right now there is too much heat on the lookout for him and if caught, they will likely make him talk and reveal the higher ups that hired him.  They will silence him first if possible or maybe they already have.

Going out tomorrow to check the water before we buy some fish to stock the ponds.  That is my project for the next few days and to figure out why my duckweed is NOT growing fast like we hoped.  In the meantime, for those on twitter, keep up with the latest on #BangkokBlast or #PrayForBangkok.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

You can run, but you can't hide..



Video of the suspect caught by CCTV.  Leaves backpack with bomb, walks away while texting on his telephone.

Note glasses and arm pads...guy has tattoos on his arms which is being concealed by the pads.  Maybe even the hair is fake as it seems a bit curly.

You can run, but you can't hide as this person is the most wanted person in Thailand at the moment.

Late update:  Another explosion at Sathorn Pier about 2 hours ago.  No injuries as device bounced off walkway and fell into the water.  


Will the bombing last night be Thailand's 9/11?

If the horrific bombing last night didn't effect Thais like it did me,  then there is little hope for this country's future.  It made me angry.  Very angry that these cowards would target innocent people for whatever political motivation they had.   Targeting central Bangkok and the very center of where so many events are celebrated.

Instead of cowering away, I hope the opposite will happen.  Are Thais are going to get angry and unite to find these terrorists and whatever cause or motivation  be utterly discredited?  It will be a significant turning point in Thai history.

Let hope the government does its job and gets the real culprits, instead of scapegoats.  Unify and ask the country to find them, and let the world know that this is not how things are done here in the land of smiles.  The whole world is watching, its time for the leadership of this country to step up.

For me, I hope General Prayut unleashes his anger and pulls out all the stops to go after these people.  The Thai people and all those who died deserve nothing less.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bomb in the big Mango

Serious stuff tonight.  A big bomb went off tonight in front of Central World just after 7pm.  This bomb was intended to kill and not scare people.  Death estimates are vague and have ranged from 2 to as much as 15.  70 or more injured.

We have been in Cha Am the last two days and are safe.  Planning on going back to the mango tomorrow for one day before going upcountry.  With all this stuff happening I will keep B and Marina upcountry for a bit.  Better safe than sorry.

These bombers will fry in a special place in hell...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

At the beach

Fast, smooth, and pleasant drive down to Cha Am/Hua Him.  Sitting on the beach waiting for lunch.  Beach pretty empty of people so we have lots of room.  Mostly locals.

Photo from our favorite table at our favorite beach.  Till to chill until Tuesday...

Friday, August 14, 2015

A few pleasant days in the mango.

Can't believe its already Friday.  The week went by very fast here in the big mango.  Had a chance to go to the archery range a couple of times, did some shopping, and had a couple of nights out with the family.  And now its already Friday and time for the free buffet tonight and maybe a foot massage. 

I have to admit living here in Bangkok is a lot more convenient than in the country.  Things are just easier to get done.  Meals are easy to buy and if I need something, its not too far out of the way.  But its way too easy to get trapped in city life, missing out on the wide open spaces and other wonderful places that Thailand has to offer.  So I believe we are doing the right thing, having a lot of choices, and taking time to visit places we enjoy.


This weekend, I've booked a couple of nights at the Grand Pacific Sovereign Resort n Cha Am.  We had a very enjoyable stay earlier this year when we visited and decided to go back again.  Aside from the atmosphere and swimming pools, they have a killer breakfast every morning.  The clientele are mostly Thais (the more affluent ones) from Bangkok and the service matches its five star rating.  The nice thing about this hotel is that its quite reasonable during  Sunday night and weeknights and that's when we like to go.  

The financial events during the last few days have been interesting but not unexpected.  China's devaluation of the Yuan was a smart move by China so as to not have to defend it against currency speculators and also to make their products cheaper.  How far will they go?  I liken the Chinese move to the Saudis.  They will lower the Yuan (and prices) until they are one of the last ones standing.  Having more money to lose than its competitors, they will see others go under before raising the yuan and prices again and having the market share to itself once again.  Highly leveraged countries and companies will feel it first, as lower prices means lower or no profits to pay off the loan debts.   The markets reacted swiftly, but its going to be shaky again as more adjustments are being made, almost on a daily basis.  I do believe this is a start of a currency war and things are lining up for that perfect economic storm.  I can only hope that I can still get back to the Land of Smiles after it hits as I plan to be in California during the Sept/Oct time frame.  


Sample screenshot from Pressreader

Lastly, I finally broke down and got a monthly subscription to Pressreader.com  This website is a great place to get complete electronic copies of many major newspapers from around the world.  Unlike the typical newspaper websites, Pressreader.com shows all the pages formatted exactly as they are printed on paper.  This includes all the photos, the classified ads, etc.   There are thousands of publications from around the world available and the cost is only $29 per month or about $1 a day.  I like reading and keeping up with current events so this is a real time saver.  Works on the PC and all my mobile devices too so its great no matter where I happen to be or what platform I am using.  Check it out here as there are free subscriptions too.  Pressreader.com

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!



A special wish for a very Happy Birthday to HRM Queen Sirikit plus a happy mother's day for all the moms in Thailand.  

Today is a day of recognition of all the times that mothers had to put up with their children, caring, comforting, and feeding them until they could fend for themselves.  All great people and leaders have had one thing in common.  They all had mothers.  Without a mom, they would not have been possible.  

Also a big thank you to HRM for all the years of devoted service to your country.  Whether through your special initiatives or special projects, or just being besides the people of the country, you have made Thailand the special place it is.  Have a happy birthday and wishes for many more to come!

Marina and I will be taking Mom 'B' for a celebration tonight, but I have also booked a couple of nights this weekend in Cha Am too.  Mother's day, a special day indeed.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

In the Mango

Smooth ride into the mango today.  Stopped at Farm Chokchai for some ice cream where Marina got to feed an Elephant that they had in front of their new museum for the first time. She was a bit scared, but once she fed it the first time, she loved it and wouldn't stop.   This rest stop is certainly undergoing a lot of changes, trying to add attractions and shops very much like Knotts Berry Farm did in the old days.  It was crowded today because it was Sunday and many families took their kids up to see the ponies, farm animals, and to experience their farm tours.  

I will do more of an in depth review of this place at a later date, especially after I visit their new museum.

Meanwhile, its mango time.


Heading back to the big Mango

Just wrapping up a few details before heading back to the big mango.  Its Sunday, so I expect the traffic to be light and fast.  The skies have cleared up and there are good conditions for driving as no overnight flooding or road problems have been reported.  I know that there is a lot of construction work underway on the small two lane road so hopefully there are no problems in that area.


From here....

To here......

It will be good to get back to big city life for a bit.  Maybe hit the archery range tomorrow again after a long break.  Couldn't get any archery done at the resort due to the weather and work on the ponds. Get some shopping done...visit some restaurants, and soak in life in the big mango. 

More when I get back into town.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Raining Hard this morning


Its been raining very hard up here.  So much so that I postponed my return to the big mango this morning until tomorrow.  There is thunder and lightning, heavy downpours, and if it keeps up, will fill the pond across the way to the top.  That also means our ponds will get some more water and be a bit deeper.  I don't like driving in rain storms and since we are not on a set schedule, safety is much more important than time.

B's sister and the kids are lighting the candles

The timing is actually pretty good as it was B's birthday yesterday.  We celebrated last night outside with a barbecue, some music, and naturally a birthday cake.  There was no rain.  All the relatives came over and her aunt from Bangkok also came up.  Instead of just celebrating like normal folks do, B's tradition is to prone herself in front of her mom and dad, thanking them for her birth.  Its gives a connection to family that we have somehow lost in many western cultures.  Thais are very family oriented and put family first and once you understand that concept, you've gone a long way in understanding Thai culture and how things work here in the land of smiles.  

On the way to surprise B...worst kept secret around, but fun for the kids

Blow out all those candles now.......

B doesn't want her age published for the world to see, so it will remain our secret.  Don't know why the pre-occupation by women to keep age such a secret.  For men, one you reach my age, every year you are alive is something to brag about ....555

Anyway, going to chill out today a bit and wait for it to stop raining.  Then pack and get ready to head on back to the mango for a bit of fun tomorrow morning.



Thursday, August 6, 2015

Some TV and Movies

Being out in the middle of the Land of Smiles with the nearest theater 90 minutes away in Korat, I have to be a little more resourceful in getting my entertainment fixes.  We have satellite TV and I also have a DUNE box, but often I get some of the latest releases on TV and in the movies through various torrent sites.  I keep up with the the news via live broadcasts from BBC, CNN, etc., plus we have excellent internet speed.

We can usually get the TV series shows by the next day or so after broadcast, considering we are fifteen hours ahead.  I try to keep up with Falling Skies, the Last Ship, and the Walking Dead.  As for movies, the new Mission Impossible Rouge Nation is already on the torrent sites.  With torrent sites, its like having a huge library of movies and films that can be downloaded and saved.  Never feel out of touch when it comes to current or old movies.  In fact, I love old movies.

This week's old movie gem from me is from 1988, called "They live".  Directed by John Carpenter, who went on later to do the Halloween movies, etc., its a nice thriller.  Review here.   I will not encourage you break the law by downloading it but I can give you an embedded YouTube version of the movie in HD.  This movie, made 27 years ago is re-gaining popularity for a variety of reasons. Truth, fiction, or speculation?  That's up to you, but its a pretty decent movie for the period and a subject of many current discussions.



Enjoy!
The full movie below:


Got our water tested today


We went down to the local government fishery research center and got our water tested yesterday. Its called the Chaiyaphum Inland Fishery Station, and is a part of the Thailand Department of Fisheries. A few days ago, before we put lime into the water, we took samples of the pond water.  This water came naturally from the ground water and rain run off from the last few weeks.  It was important for us to get a baseline of water quality before we added fertilizers and fish to the system.  That way, I know what we have to do to maintain the ponds.

Offices and information center


The fishery center is a large facility that breeds and sells fish and frogs to the area.  They also do research on breeding and farming techniques, brood line development, and impact on water quality.  They provide a resource to new fish farmers through education (publications), field consultants, and lab work.  The beauty of this center is that its just 15 minutes down the road from us.  
grow out pond

Our water tests came out great.  Our pH levels were ideal  (between 7.5 -8.0) as was our alkaline and hardness.  In retrospect, I should have known this because the research center uses the same source of water from Lahan Lake as we do and they would not have chosen this site for a research center if the water quality was bad.  Lahan is a natural lake unlike many of the man made reservoirs around the country.  The water level changes very little, but due to farm silt runoff, the lake is getting shallower every year.  This lake has some huge catfish.   

Research building where they breed fish in tanks

After the great test results, we started to fertilize the ponds this morning with chicken manure pellets.  We found the factory that produces the manure and purchased 12 bags.  The entire process with three people took less than an hour of work.  The next time around, it will take even less as we won't have to disperse the manure evenly, just stock them up in the corners so that they seep slowly into the pond.

With that work completed, I think we will go back to the mango during the weekend and stay a week or two.  Maybe even take a short trip to the beach.    It will take that long for the pond to turn green anyway and for us to decide if its time to stock the fish.  In the meantime, it time for a bit of a chill out.
one of 3 or 4 wild owls that occupy the resort

Some closing sad news.  We found one of the beautiful golden owls that have made our resort home dead by the side of the road this morning.  Evidently hit by a passing car in the night, it was one of the favorites of the many birds that have made our resort home. We took the bird and gave it a decent burial at the back of the farm where it will rest in peace.  Its amazing that at one time this piece of land was pretty barren of birds and animals.  With the resort landscaping and land transformation, we have literally become a sanctuary for many exotic birds and animals in the area.  We also got a bunch of pests too...like ants and geckos.  But we love the place, and its a great place to call home.






Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The great gecko hunt

Taking aim

We had our first open gecko hunt yesterday.  At the end of the night, I was out around 200 baht.  Instead of paying by the kilo, I was offering 2 baht per gecko for the small ones and 3 baht for the larger ones.  With a lot of family members participating, I think we put a serious dent in the gecko population here are the resort.  

Not as easy as it looks - fast little critters
It came to me later after the hunt that there could be even a great motivation for the kids.  Geckos can be sold instead of just being sent to lizard heaven.  There is market for them,  but unfortunately the common house gecko fetches little more than 180 baht retail even in the US market.  Here in the land of smiles, I think we couldn't get more than 5 or 10 baht apiece for them - only to be used a snake food for pet owners.  But if they want to go through the trouble of collecting them alive, transporting them, etc..it would be cash for the kids.   On the other hand, I think the thrill of the hunt was more fun.


Running full speed upside down on the ceilings of the porches

But yesterday, the kids and some adults were out in the early evening hunting geckos with their slingshots.  Using bent twigs for ammo, they managed to bag nearly 70 geckos in about an hour.  When they became scarce and harder to find, I think they finally gave up.  The geckos are still here, but 70 less is a reduction in the population.  I don't want to get rid of all of them, as they do keep the mosquitoes from growing too fast.  Having the right amount is the key so we'll keep a close eye and see if more hunting days are in order.

Last picture before gecko heaven
There are a few sites on the internet for gecko lovers and I'm sure I will get bombarded with hate mail if they find me, but these are not exotic geckos.  They are invasive pests that can harbor mites and other diseases to native geckos and create a big mess with their droppings.  I will gladly send them in bulk if they want to save them, just pay for the postage.   

In the meantime, its off to the government complex for some water tests.  We wanted to get our pond water tested before we moved any further in our fish pond project.  If the water quality is not up to par, we won't even bother as it would be a waste of time and money.  I have high hopes however, as the pond is naturally fed by ground water and our water table is close to the surface.  We'll know later in the day.

Monday, August 3, 2015

A bounty on Geckos at the resort


Wanted dead or alive...who me ???

Its official.  There is a bounty on geckos here at the resort.  As cute as they are, they have been multiplying in great numbers and have been making a mess of some of the facilities.  Aside from scaring a few of our guests, they leave dropping all over and even invaded one of the air conditioners, laying eggs and otherwise getting crushed in the rotary fan blades.  Their mating calls can keep you awake at night.  

Its not a small problem, as I think we have a significant infestation.  The ample bug life gives them plenty of food and the resort lacks any natural predators like snakes and big birds to keep their numbers in check.  As cute as they are, and I'm sure they keep the mosquitoes and other bugs from overwhelming us, some of them will just have to go.

Don't quit your job at Geico and
come over here!

So today, I put out a bounty on them for the kids and family members interested in participating...I will pay 200 baht per kilo of the nasty critters (dead or alive).  Maybe we won't get that many, but its all in the fun of the hunt.  

The kids and even B's father got into the action today, making slingshots for this evening.  Evening is a good time to hunt geckos as they come out to dine on the bugs that are attracted to the lights near the structures.  They wait for the bugs to land and then grab them for a quick meal.  Only this time, they might be the ones getting hunted.

I heard that Dettol, mixed 50-50 with water also knocks them down dead, but I am saving that as a last resort after the hunting is finished.

So please don't think that I am a mean person going after these cute, harmless, little geckos.  They seem innocent, but they are pests and have to be kept under control.  Get a few gecko droppings on you head and you will realized that I am right.  

The sound of geckos at night.  Horny little critters too!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Lucky boats, trees, and other spiritual items


Did I tell you that we are endowed with a lucky boat?  This boat was B's father's boat.  For many years, he made a living with this boat fishing the waters nearby the resort.  B. claims that her father was the only one that could drive and control the boat because a female ghost occupied the boat. Evidently she relocated from the Takhein tree from which the boat was crafted and now resides in the boat itself.  He was a very successful fisherman and caught many fish on days when others where skunked out.


When we built the resort and B's father's boat had seen its better days, we decided to retire it and put it in front of the property on display.  It was just a reminder for us of her father's humble beginnings and a way to respect the ghost that occupied the boat.

Can you spot your lucky number in the wood grain?

It sat there, behind some trees, and little attention was paid to it by passerby's and guests until about 3 months ago.  One day, one of the guests strolled over and looked at the boat and claimed to have found some numbers in the old grains of the wood.  She played those numbers in the national lottery and won.  So, for the last few months, she would come up every couple of weeks to stay a couple of days and get numbers for her lotto.  B's claims she has won a few of more times since.   Whatever the case, she is not only coming back from the mango, but bringing friends and relatives every few weeks.

The winners have bought clothes and other items for our boat spirit

Many Thais are very superstitious and believe in Tree Spirits and Spirits of the land, especially ones that are upcountry.  In a way, its harmonious with many other cultures that believe that life, and all the creatures we see are somehow connected through the environment.  But some take it a bit further, thinking that these spirits will reveal lotto numbers, tell the future, and bring good luck.  I am not a disbeliever.  I always keep my mind open and realize there are many things that I don't know about, especially here in the land of smiles.  I also have a personal experience that I will one day post about, when I am ready,  and have sorted out the events in my head.

This tree was unearthed and resides in a Wat about 1 km from our resort

People flock to this tree all day and night

Notice all the white powder on the trees used to reveal numbers

Anyway, if things get crazy and more and more people start coming up to see this boat, I think we will need to ask them for a stake in their winnings..5555  In the meantime, we already see it as a lucky boat because it brings us customers.  Maybe she is still looking over us after all this time.

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