Monday, November 30, 2015

Tale of the tapes....

One time I am really glad I'm in the land of smiles....


Back in Kalifornia....

33F.  One degree above freezing




Here in the land of Smiles.......

88F in the big mango at this moment.  Yep shorts and tee shirts for all




Passport renewal and also made it to the Archery Range Today



My passport appointment at the embassy was at 8:15 am this morning.  Decided to get it renewed here in the mango because it seemed like it would be faster, with a turnaround time of two weeks.  I had filled out the form online and brought it along my photo.  Decided to get the fat book with extra pages plus a passport card.  The passport card cost an extra $30 and is not good for international travel, but I plan to have it as a form of local ID when moving around in the Land of Smiles.  Technically, you are supposed to have your passport with you at all times and I have mostly left mine at home in the safe most of the time, relying on using only my Thai driver's license.  With the card, I can now have something to show the boys in brown if they get picky about having some other kind of passport ID.  Total cost is $140 for both.  The process took about 45 minutes and was fairly painless.  Incidentally, the passport card can take up to 6 weeks and is processed separately and notification sent out separately as well.

Some Monday Friends to shoot with today
I was delighted to be able to go to the archery range in the afternoon and shoot for about 2 hours without any pain or side effects from the hernia surgery.  The doctor told me to be careful and not attempt to do anything violent (e.g. golf) for about 2 months, but he said activities like swimming, running, etc. would be OK.  So my assumption that archery would be OK was correct in that proper archery form does not use arm or stomach muscles, but back muscles to pull the bow back correctly.

It was more difficult to pull the arrows out than to shoot them as that involved pulling with your upper body.  Anyway, no harm or fouls so I am good to go as far as archery for the rest of my trip.  Definitely need the practice as I didn't shoot as sharp as normal.  Also may have been getting acquainted with a new bow.

19 inch metal riser



high performance foam carbon limbs
Bought this bow used on Ebay during my last trip and it was the first time I shot it here in the land of smiles.  Its called a TradTech Titan 3 with Black Max limbs.  Bow is all black except for the wood grip so it quite stunning in appearance.    Got a great deal on Ebay and it also came with two sets of limbs - short and medium lengths with the same draw weight.  This bow is very fast!  Among the fastest I've shot in this draw weight.  The bow would make a great hunting bow because the short limbs make the length only 58 inches so it will be easy to use in heavy brush, trees, or a tree stand.

Not good shooting in this round as everything grouping low and right
note 'Robin Hood' on right.

Was a bit upset that I shot a 'Robin Hood' today.  It usually means that I might lose two arrows to the damage.  Fortunately, I was lucky that the second arrow only destroyed the nock and not the entire shaft.  You see these in TV and in the movies, but they do happen - an arrow shot inside another arrow.  Only in my case, the arrow was not in the center of the target, but off to the side.  Anyway it will be repaired before the next outing at minimal cost.

Tomorrow its a dental appointment in the morning, some chores, and dinner with Johnny Walker and Bangkok buddy at the fish head.  After that, its back upcountry until after Father's day. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Got Scammed today....but all is OK


Got scammed today by a fake website.  After I made the online purchase, it didn't look or feel right, and when a few red flags popped up, I decided to investigate further.  Good thing I did as it did turn out to be a fake, despite its slick appearance.  I am usually pretty good at spotting a fake, but I was fooled this time.  The site looked SO legit.

Link here, but please don't buy anything:  www.shopnorthfaceoutlet.net

This is likely a counterfeit Chinese merchandise site or a site to skim credit card numbers.

I expect that North Face will be closing it down soon, but until I reported it today, no one at the credit card company knew about it.  Anyway, I closed both credit cards and also stopped payment on the charge so my loss is protected.

How did I find out it was fake?  First of all I highly recommend using http://www.scamadviser.com/  It will look up details of the website and give you important details about how long its been around and ownership info.  In the above case, the site was only 1 day old and the owners were 'protected' but located in Panama.

The second giveaway and red flag was this link:  http://www.shopnorthfaceoutlet.net/about-us/

Northface would never put out such a page.  Its full of grammatical errors where English was definitely not the writer's first language.  North Face is a US based company.  Also the contact info was funny as it referred to a hotmail account.

Should have checked all this out BEFORE I  ordered something.  It would have saved me some phone calls to my credit card company to stop payment and put my credit cards on hold.

Lesson learned.  Things are not what they seem, not only in Thailand, but more especially on the internet.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Getting ready for the free buffett


Nothing in life is free right?  Well, this is not free, but its  pretty close.  All one needs is to buy a drink and some of the participants do only buy a bottle of water - so it practically free.  Its not the free food that brings me, but the opportunity to see friends in the mango who are involved in so many different activities that its hard to catch up with them except this one time in the week.  Its been kind of a tradition for some of us for years.

Even then, it hard for me personally to make it every week.

But tonight, I'm back from the countryside and not too tired so I will be heading over in a few minutes.  Its not anything exotic or erotic that we do, considering all the possible venues we have here, but just a gathering of buddies to shoot the breeze and hang out for a few hours.

But this is life in the big mango...just hanging out and loving it.

Black Friday shopping...and back to the Mango


Its Black Friday here in the land of smiles.  For shopping, I just ordered my OnePlus 2 and an OnePlus X.  As I previously posted, these came on sale without invites for this weekend only and many of the accessories were also on sale.  Disappointed that I couldn't get their new headphones (Icon) nor extra USB-C cables. Both are out of stock already.  But those can wait.

Anyway, B just came in to tell me she is ready to head back.  She has a dentist appointment and some social calls to make today.

More when I get back to the mango...


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving! and Loy Krathong too!


If you are an American, Happy Thanksgiving wishes to you today!  I've realized over the years that many of the readers of this blog are not Americans, but from around the entire planet and many of our 'American' and 'Thai' holidays are not celebrated in your home countries.  So an apology if it sounds a bit slanted in terms of holiday coverage and cultural orientation at times. Well wishes anyway from our family to all of you too on this Loy Krathong Holiday!

We had a great Loy Krathong celebration last night.  We started with our own little dinner, Krathong making,  and lantern launching at the resort.  This year, the kids had the idea of using balloons for floats instead of bread, figuring that they could put heavier stuff on top and that it would float for sure.  It seemed to work, except that with bread, the fish get to have a meal when the krathong sinks.


B and Marina Dressed up and ready to celebrate

Tonight we were launching Hello Kitty, Birdy, and another Character that I don't know.

Marina ready with her sky lantern

Fun to be a kid here in Thailand!

Then we took a little drive to the little town of Ban Khwao where they set up a large festival each year.  Very beautiful launching area for the Krathongs, music, food, dance, and a large raffle.  They even had a very small fireworks show.




Beautiful pond set up for launching Krathongs

Lots of yummy food
With the Loy Krathong Holiday over for now, plans are to head back to the Mango on Friday morning.  That will give me time to spend the weekend in there until next week when we have to come back for Father's day.  Another big holiday and busy week for us.

Unfortunately for me, I took a little spill from my bike yesterday.  We were practicing for the big Bike for Dad event  up here and I tipped over on my Big Fat Tire Bike.  Aside from a few scratches on my knuckles and a kisser on my cheek, I am doing fine.  It was a very low speed, in fact..no speed, tip over...ha ha ha  All is well except for a few embarrassing scratches.  Almost completely recovered from my hernia operation.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Loy Krathong

Happy Loy Krathong, no matter where you are in the planet.  Wishes from the land of smiles for a great new season of luck and success!  Out with the old problems (and we have lots in this crazy world today), in with hope, joy, and success on this beautiful holiday.

Activities all over the mango and throughout the countryside so go out and have a great time.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Angry Birds were out tonight !


Day or should I say, night one of Loy Krathong has started at the resort.  Tonight, we decided to launch  a few of the sky lanterns B bought today in the town.  We bought four packs of them and each pack contains about 12 lanterns and cost about 35 baht ($1) apiece.   Our launch is supposed to be tomorrow night, but all the kids couldn't wait, so we decided to let them send off a dozen tonight.

What's different this year is that there are designs on the lanterns.  They have put cartoon faces on the lanterns.  Kind of corny, but it does add some additional humor to a very fun event.  Tonight, it was the flight of the Angry birds!

The lanterns are sold flat, 12 to the pack, ready to assemble

First you unfold the lantern and attach the fire ring to the cross wires
Make sure its centered or you will have a flaming fire!


Light and wait for the air inside to heat up

Marina watches as daddy prepares her lantern
Marina hangs on waiting...
That look is priceless as it takes flight
Look at that one!

More tomorrow as that is the official day for Loy Krathong up here.

One Plus Two available during Black Friday Weekend


For those that want a One Plus 2 and do not have an invite, they will go on sale during Black Friday weekend without restriction.  So from Nov 27th thru the 30th, you can get your own "flagship killer".  Priced at $329 for the 16GB and $379 for the 64GB, the phone is a super value with high end specs equivalent to its flagship competitors like the Samsung S6.   Technology specs here.

These phones come completely unlocked and should work with all GSM carriers. I've been using a One Plue one,  and one reason that I am personally switching over is that the new phones have dual sim support.  That is a plus here in the land of smiles because there are times when one service provider has either a weak  or no signal in the area that I want to make a call.  Happens a lot in golf courses outside Bangkok, and often in the countryside.

Here is the link to the oneplus website:  

So you have been warned and notified.  Happy Black Friday shopping!


Monday, November 23, 2015

Playing around with the drone today at the resort.



Took this over fly video of the resort in the late afternoon.  Pardon the lighting as we were flying directly into the setting sun and hope that the blogger video isn't too bad.   In fact, I it was so bad that I had to take it down and upload the video to youTube.  Its a little better but not anything like the original from the drone.

As you can see, we are surrounded by the high water and would be an island except for the road that passes by.  Fortunately we are higher than the road so we have no flooding.

 At least you have an idea of how our place looks like from above.


Buck Naked...underwear

Back awhile, I posted about great travel clothing.  You know, the stuff that is comfortable, easy to wash, and dries quickly.  One of the challenges we all have when on the road is packing enough underwear.  Cotton underwear, while very comfy, has a lot of disadvantages when travelling.  They take a long time to dry and are uncomfortable if they get really wet.  So if you are travelling a long time, you will likely need to pack lots of underwear to stay fresh.  But there is a solution!




The new technology nowadays is synthetic underwear.  This kind of underwear is cool, comfortable, easy to wash, and has technology to get rid of the 'stink' any underwear gets with use and age.  With this kind of underwear, you can wash them in the evening and they can be ready the next day.  Keep a few sets in rotation and you can have fresh underwear for the entire trip.


Anyway, the reason for today's post is that Duluth Trading Company is having a big sale on these Today ONLY.  Boxers are only $14 a pair, briefs are $12.  Usually they sell for $22 or more, so when they get on sale, I stock up.  These are equivalent or superior to the REI counterparts.  Remember its for today only!!!!

If you are interested, the website is here.  They also have some great travel pants that I recommend, the "Dry on the Fly flex" pants and shorts.  

I am not getting any sponsorship or money for this post.



Sunday, November 22, 2015

Safely Upcountry


We are safe and sound upcountry at the resort.  Got in at around 2PM and just crashed for a few hours with a nap.  It was my first long drive after the surgery and it didn't hurt or was it uncomfortable at all.  Just tired after a long drive.


Weather up here is fabulous.  Its in the high 70s with very little humidity so its very comfortable sitting outside.  A little bit of a breeze and one can almost sleep outside with no aircon.

Busy today, resort is full.  Running a resort is like baby sitting sometimes.  Just came back showing someone how to use the TV and the Air Conditioner.  Didn't know how to make it cool...he had it on 'Dry' and couldn't figure why the air was still warm coming out of the unit.  Also had the wrong input selected for the TV.  But with a little patience, all is well in la la land...555

B's mother and helpers were out doing sheets, pillows, and the other linens.  B father and a new gardener was out fixing the landscaping.   Just another day upcountry.


Going Upcountry today

We are going up to the resort this morning.  Having gotten a great checkup and full clearance from the surgeon to resume normal life with a few obvious exceptions, it will be good to go upcountry again.  This is going to be a fun week with lots of Loy Krathong activities in the area so I will take a lot of pictures to post.

More later from upcountry.....

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Relationships - key to success for living in the land of smiles

No one is an island


Not even Tom Hanks when he was shipwrecked.  He created a ball face character named 'Wilson' to keep him sane.

Its my belief that relationships in life are the key to happiness and success in any place you choose to live - whether it be the frozen Tundra or decide on a place like the land of smiles.  Its not how smart you are, there is always someone smarter than you.  Its not how rich you are, because there is always more money than you can ever imagine.  Relationships cross the boundaries of culture, money, class and politics.

Relationships go beyond your partner, family, and your friends.  Those are no doubt the most important because they are the closest to you, but relationships with each subsequent outer ring of friends, family, and business acquaintances are often overlooked.  When you are in a foreign country, the more good relationships you have with these outer ring people and entities, the happier and better adjusted you will be.

Some examples for me:

I've played golf with the same group of Thai friends for over 15 years.
I've used the same group of motorcycle taxi drivers for over 16 years.
I have the same barber for more than 12 years.
I go to the same place regularly for a foot massage for over 15 years.
I have had the same maid for the last 13 years
Lived in the same building for the last 16 years.
I use the same Airline to fly back and forth (with minor exceptions) for the last 15 years
Until this last operation, I've been using the same hospital for more than 10 years.
I belong to the same golf club for more than 15 years.
etc. (My list is quite long)

As you can see, relationships offer stability and predictability.  It might be boring to some people, but I like things and situations that are predictable, especially if you are in a foreign country and don't speak the language exceptionally well.  Nurture your good relationships - it takes work and a genuine commitment.  At the same time, dump the ones that are poisonous as quickly as possible. 


People who have failed relationships from their past and their home countries will likely have failed relationships here in the land of smiles.  If you are a jerk at home, just a change of venue won't fix the real problem.  In time, you will be the same miserable person you tried to leave behind.

Some times it takes a while to figure out exactly what is good and bad - especially here in the land of smiles when things are not always what they seem to be. But don't be too jaded to think that everything and everyone is a scam waiting for a sucker.   Be patient, be smart and aware, and be willing to give as much as you will get in return.

Your rewards can last a lifetime!



Friday, November 20, 2015

Vanna gets a bubble bath

Relationships.

Important topic I will post about in detail at a later time - specifically how they impact your life and adjustment living in the land of smiles.

Been coming to this car wash for over 12 years.  Two cars and many many moons and they still treat me like family.

Relationships.  Here like everywhere else..that is the secret.

Almost Normal again

Its been a week since my surgery and things are almost back to normal.  There is still a tender feeling where the surgery was, but no pain.  From a physical standpoint, I am walking again on a daily basis, about 30 minutes in the morning and then having a regular day, going about my business.  Planning on attending the Free Buffet tonight to meet up with the guys.

Yesterday, I was feeling quite well and even went out with Bangkok buddy, Johnny Walker, and Willie Brown for lunch at MBK.  Afterwards, we spent a few hours at coffee 'just hanging out'  and at the end of the day, I still had a lot of energy left and NO PAIN at all.

Tomorrow is my followup exam with my surgeon and then on Sunday, we are planning to drive up to the resort for Loy Krathong next week.  This year it looks likes Loy Krathong and Thanksgiving Day week (the American holiday) are the same.  That means I will likely be up at the resort instead of having Thanksgiving in Bangkok with the guys.  

Last year at the resort - Everyone got into the act with lots of Sky Lanterns o


Loy Krathong is a busy week for us at the resort and many local families have visitors that need a place to stay for the holidays.  We are still one of the places in Thailand where they still allow the sky lanterns to be launched. They are banned in Bangkok, Chiang Mai,  and any city with an airport!   There is also a local fair and beauty contest in the nearby town of Baan Khao.  That is also where we will float our Krathongs and make our wishes.  I will have some pictures to post later next week.

Wishes for a successful and healthy year for everyone!

In the meantime, its time to give Vanna a wash and to get some late lunch.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Are you part of this 1%

Are you part of this 1% or less?  I just don't understand TAT's targeting of this group of people, but I guess there are some that have this much to blow over a vacation.

I guess I  (and 99% of the locals) will never know or experience any of this stuff in our version of the "land of smiles".


Amazing Thailand indeed!


Snow Town - Bangkok

A few months back, I wrote about an outing to Snow Town here in the big mango and promised some pictures of our outing.  Things got a little hectic and I didn't get a chance to do a follow-up post so this is a belated post with some pictures.

For those living in Thailand, the sight of snow and feeling cold is an unlikely occurrence unless one travels out of the country.  Sure it might get really cold in the mountains above Chiang Mai, but having a place where one can build a snowman, or have a snowball fight is unattainable to the majority of residents.  But now, locals can experience something similar in a new attraction called Snow Town.  

Entry to Snow Town Bangkok

Located right off the Ekkamai BTS station in the Gateway Mall, its conveniently located for both locals and visitors alike.  The attraction is on the 6th floor and consists of the attraction plus restaurants.  Just look for the bear mascot at the entry way.

Once inside, you are greeted with a town like atmosphere.  Restaurants and snack shops make up most of the tenants and offer a great venue to take a break from the cold and to get something to eat.



Boots, gloves, and play toys are available for rental.  Be sure to dress warmly in long pants, etc. because it will be cool inside and even an extra change of clothes would be wise since the kids tend to get wet from being all over the snow.


Only plastic, but she doesn't care - its a snowman!

Marina gives the 'Thumbs Up"  as they are about to go down the ramp

Wow, that is snow!!!


A big bear hug from the snow town mascot
Snow town is not only for kids, but they will enjoy it the most.  On one end of the ice rink is what looks like a cocktail bar.  It would be a fun place to take date - especially someone who has only seen snow on TV.

The website for Snow Town is here.

There is suppose to be another place like this south of Bangkok which is larger and colder.  That will be something worth exploring another day.  

Doing well on my recovery.  Had a chance to drive myself to the mall yesterday and shopped around Tops Market for everything we needed.  B did the heavy lifting when we got back, but all in all not a bad day.  Feeling a lot better this morning as well and expect to go out again today.



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Day 4


Its now 4 days since I had surgery and I can feel my body healing more each day.  I slept pretty well last night and I am totally off pain medication.  There is no pain if I am standing or sitting and this morning, I was able to walk about 20 minutes around the track downstairs.  Also got my appetite back and was feeling really hungry when I woke up.  There is just a feeling of tenderness when bending or stretching around the abdomen.

Plan to go out later today to either Tesco or Tops Market for some additional supplies.  I will bring B with me just in case I can't around or can't drive back but I feel a heck of lot better today.   No matter what, it will good to just get out of the condo for a bit as I am getting a bit stir crazy.


More later depending on how much energy I have left.  But this will be the last post about my recovery as I am sure this is getting quite boring.  


Monday, November 16, 2015

Day 3 - feeling a bit better

Its about 72 hours since the operation and I just got back from the 6th floor where we have a walking track that goes around both buildings.  Walked 3 laps with no pain, just a very 'tender' feeling around the two area where I had the surgery.  So far today,  I have not had to take any pain killers, but maybe later in the day, especially after my late afternoon walk.  I was able to get more sleep last night too after taking one ibuprofen and a Magnesium/calcium drink.

The hardest part of the recovery has been those situation where you have to use your abdominal muscles (i.e. getting in/out of bed, bending over, and coughing).  Walking doesn't involve too many of those muscles so I can get around the condo pretty well.  From what I understand, this tenderness and lack of strength is what will take another couple of weeks to normalize.

If all goes well, I think that by tomorrow I might be able to drive but unless its absolutely necessary, I might wait until Thursday.  In the meantime, some reading and surfing the net is in order. Later in the afternoon I might wander down to the pool area and hang out a bit.   The land of smiles is a great place for recovery after surgery.  


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Hernia - 48 hours after the operation

Its been almost 48 hours since the start of the operation and things are doing OK.  Last night was probably the worst so far, but taking some ibuprofen helped me sleep through the night.  The nurses and doctors told me not to fight the pain and take the drugs when needed - it didn't help recovery any if you suffered through the pain.  In other words, don't be too macho.

Anyway, this morning I had something to eat already and am sitting in front of the Computer reading the news and catching up with this blog.  I plan to walk a bit today around the track downstairs.  Don't want to overdo or rush the recovery - there is time for everything.

Looks like no golf for 2-3 months.  I'm not sure about archery as that doesn't involve an abdominal muscles but we'll see after a week or two.  In the meantime, its some more rest and recovery.



Saturday, November 14, 2015

At Home resting....

All is well in the Land of Smiles for me - I am home resting and taking it easy for the next few days.  Have a followup appointment with my surgeon next weekend and in the meantime, its rest and physical therapy.  Supposed to walk 3 times a day, building up strength and keeping my circulation healthy.  No trouble getting around the condo and not too much pain either.

Would I do it all over again?  Yep.  I feel it was a good time to have it done while I was still in good health and not too old.  This surgery would be very difficult in 10 years and the risks would go up significantly - not to mention the cost.

When I checked out, one of the going away presents besides some home medication was a DVD of my operation.  When I am in need of something shocking, I will just slap it on and get grossed out.  But seriously, all operations should be recorded now - just for your medical records should something come up in that area in the future.  Just like taking pictures of a house under construction so that you know where all the pipes, electrical wires, and air ducts are located without having to punch holes in the walls.

More as I have the energy to post, but definitely will be at the Friday night buffet later this week!

Going home soon...hopefully in an hour

Yeah...
Got cleared by both doctors to go home.  Can get around on my own, but very slowly.  Not too painful, just a feeling of tenderness.  Turns out that I had two hernias, one at my belly button an the other on the right side.

Changed to blogging on my iPad and hopefully can send a photo or two now.


The highlight this morning was a video of the operation that the doctor narrated.  It was very interesting how much can to be done through just three tiny holes.  Unfortunately don't have a picture of the video presentation before he left (the above news program is regarding the horrific massacre in Paris).  Watching the news makes my little hernia problem feel really insignificant to the suffering of the French people at the moment.


Nice big room with Refridge and microwave.

A tired and pooped out B taking a nap on the guess couch.  
Great to have her nearby.


Standard hospital bed. Good window view

More later when I get home.  But overall experience not bad, although the service was a tad bit better from the nurses at Bumrungrad.  Doctors here in this hospital are better however.