Friday, March 31, 2017


Did some chores yesterday and then went shopping for our home defense pistol.  The process has been a fairly long one with lots of forms, waiting, and some generous 'tea money'.  For a foreigner to own a gun legally in the land of smiles, its almost impossible.  For Thais even, its an extremely trying process.  For the record, the gun is not my weapon but belongs to the resort and is registered under B's mom's name.

Snow Ice at the Old Siam Shopping Mall in Bangkok
If you are in a relationship with a Thai woman, one of the first things that you will notice is that nothing serious starts until you eat first and start off with a full stomach.  So it was the case on this day as the first shop we found was a desert place in the mall.  I must say however, that it was a very good idea as I had a small breakfast and the thought of a sweet snack sounded very appealing.  The shop is called "Snow Ice" and their stuff is worth a special visit if you are in the area.  The three of us, especially Marina, had a very big smile on our faces afterwards.  Contented, we were ready for bear.

The good news was that we found our item and was able to buy it and take it home with us yesterday. Like most item in Thailand, especially expensive ones, there is always room for negotiation in price. So it was with the 'Art of the deal' approach that we took as we sized up the gun shops near the Old Siam shopping mall.  This is the cheapest place to buy a gun in Thailand and there is the widest selection here as well

We got the gun that we wanted, 12 rounds of good ammo, a holster, and some cleaning supplies at a very, very good price. I won't disclose the exact amount or shop, but it was not too far above the discounted police and government prices.  It helps to visit as many stores as possible, have some police friends, and lucky for us there were quite a few shops with the exact model that we wanted. We might have even gotten a special ordered version as it had a stainless steel barrel instead of the standard barrel.  Had all the Sig markings so it wasn't a forged or aftermarket part.  Salesman didn't know too much about it so it was to my advantage regarding the options, versions, etc.

Took it easy last night and today, a visit to the Motorshow is on the calendar.  More tomorrow.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Hectic couple of days

Desert at Oishi....yum yum
Since my last post, its been a crazy and hectic couple of days in the Mango.  Had a great dinner and then hung out a bit with JW and BB night before last.  JW decided he was going to Patty after all and so we said our tentative goodbyes, unless he changes his mind and comes back to the mango.  We pigged out at Oishi and then went next door to the McDonalds to hang out, oggle the girls, and chat. A pleasant way to spend the evening in the mango.

Spent most of yesterday at the dental clinic and seeing my doctor at BNH.  Ended up with a through cleaning and two cavities filled.  Seems like I have a couple of more cavities left so a followup is scheduled for next Monday morning.  My old dentist left and she was replaced by a younger and much more attractive dentist.  Gentle hands too as I didn't feel any pain at all during the filling of the cavities.  Spoke decent English as well.  My internal medicine doctor changed and filled my prescription for the four months that I will be away for my heart surgery and recovery.  No major changes in condition, still alive and kicking at least for now.

In the afternoon, I went to the bank to get my automatic debits filled out for the resort accounts. That allows me to have the utilities, phone, and internet bills automatically deducted or paid by the bank each month.  I like it because I know we will not miss a payment and it allows me to monitor the bills and the costs via the Internet no matter where I am in the world.  For those that are absent for long periods from the LOS, its an option that helps you keep all your bills current and not risk having them cut off due to non payment because you aren't here.  It doesn't apply to pre-paid mobile phones so you will have to find another method for that bill.

Marina got a special Doremon Dish, fork, and spoon set....

In the evening, B wanted to go to Fish Head since she couldn't go to Oishi the night before. Never objecting to a good meal, I said "lets go!"...555  Anyway, we had a wonderful meal and Marina was her little funny self entertaining the wait staff.  She always get special treatment at this place for some reason..555  It was a long day and we were tired and it was off to bed early.  Just another wonderful day in our little slice of paradise.  

Get ready for some Muay Thai Boxing at the resort

Tomorrow, its shopping time..again.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The big mango awaits

Got into the big mango early afternoon yesterday and right away went off to do some shopping for supplies and stuff for the resort.  After that, I was a bit pooped out so I took a long nap which turned out longer than I expected.  It was a long day, starting at 6 AM with my exercise and walk so it was justified that I took it easy...or was I just too darn lazy?

Today, its chores and errands before meeting up with JW and BB for dinner at Oishi in the evening.  JW might stay in BKK or he might go on to Pattaya.  As of yesterday, he said he had not made up his mind yet.  Whatever the case, it will be good to see them both again and dine at one of my favorite places.

Tomorrow, I have a doctor's appointment at BNH after going in early at 7AM to give a blood sample, and then its off to the dentist for a cleaning and exam.  Luckily its all in the same hospital but that will completely take up my entire morning.  

This is what we are shopping for

Either tomorrow or Thursday, B and I will make our rounds to the gun stores to finally buy our home protection handgun.  We have the Por 3 in hand with all the required signatures and designation of gun type, bullets, caliber, etc.  We just have to pick out the actual handgun and then the store will send the papers electronically (eFile) to the authorities and we will be legit. The Por 4 will be sent directly to us later as our record of legality. I wanted to get this all done before I left for my heart operation and to spend enough time with B and her mother teaching them gun safety and how to shoot.  We are in a generally safe area, but its in an isolated area and sometimes the women and kids are alone at night and they need to be ready should the circumstances dictate.  Also have to set up the gun safe that I carried over from the US so that the gun can be safely  and properly stored in the resort.  I take gun ownership very, very seriously, no matter if its here in the LOS or Kalifornia.

If all goes well, a trip to Fantasia Lagoon waterpark at the Mall Bang Khae is on the schedule later in the week. Promised it to Marina and I really liked it last time too.  Its located on the roof of the mall and is only about a 30 minute drive from the CBD.

Then its the Bangkok International Motorshow.  Too much stuff to do, so little time...

Times a wasting...time to finish them chores before dinner.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Its always like this...

When its time to go back to the mango, the weather is just fabulous outside.  Its a pleasant 72F or 25C outside with a mild breeze.  When I went for my walk this morning, it was actually refreshing. Just checked the weather for the mango, and its a bit warmer (80F) with a chance of rain.  I don't look forward to the sticky weather, but its something we just have to accept as part of living here.

I promised an update on the Fire TV box and stick operational capabilities here in the Land of Smiles. The good news is that I got everything working perfectly.  My geographical restrictions are no longer an issue because inside the list of apps provided by Amazon is a VPN service called VyprVPN.  That app can be installed directly into the box or TV stick and then just configured for a location in the USA - problem solved.  To watch netflixs, one should have a USA account.  Although Netflix does have a Thailand service, the service is limited:  

A Netflix account in Thailand will give you access to 178 TV show titles and 515 movies.  However, US Netflix users pay the same price and have access to 1081 TV shows and 4579 movies.

The VPN service costs $80 USD per  year and is good for 3 units.  Its far cheaper than any cable service and also give you the ability to use it on your computer to access blocked sites or provide an extra layer of security.  Click on the above logo for more info.

Almost time to go.  M.I.L. calling that food is ready and its time to eat.  More from the BIG mango.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Lazy Weekend...Lazy Sunday

Yep, its the weekend and its almost over.  Didn't do much  yesterday except shop for tiles and 150 kilos of fertilizer in town.  It started to get hot again even though the sun didn't come out because it was down right steamy.   Things are going pretty smoothly here as the contractor is finishing the concrete bed frames for each room.  That was the reason I had to go into town - to buy some more glass mosaic tiles for the sides and headboard.   Also it was time to start fertilizing the bamboo plants which are going crazy after the last rain storm.

Heard from Johnnie Walker yesterday that the Bangkok International Motorshow is going to start next week. He and Bangkok buddy were doing the rounds at Mega Bangna. Schedule permitting, I think I may go visit and shoot pictures of the 'pretties' like I always do.  Actually, its a neat place to visit if you like cars, motorcycles, and other motorcraft. There is also a section where you can buy accessories for your vehicle as well.  The neat thing is that its all in one place so you don't have to scramble all over Bangkok to see the latest and greatest or to get something you want.

The 'Pretties' are one of the big attractions of the show..
The event is held at the Impact Arena, just north of Bangkok not far from Don Muang Airport and will open until the 9th of April.  Here is a slideshow from a previous show for new readers of this blog.

Today, I will try to wrap some things up as tomorrow we are scheduled to return to the big mango.

This is Marina's idea of the "Big Mango"
Have a nice weekend and see ya all in the big mango............

Friday, March 24, 2017

Thunder and lightning this morning plus Star Tiger Zoo

Its thunder, lightning, and heavy rain this morning.  So heavy that I didn't even bother to go out for my morning walk.  With the rain, there is a welcome drop in temperature and its a cool 26C outside with a light breeze.  Its been a strange year weather wise.  Normally, this time of year is hot enough to cook eggs on the asphalt and the air conditioners are running day and night trying to keep up.  But this year, the hot spells have been interrupted with spells of rain and cool weather.  Kind of refreshing really and would save a lot of water during Songkran.

This kind of pattern also means that the humidity goes way up and the apparent temperature or heat index is a lot higher than what shows on the thermometer.  It was only 38C all the way back from the zoo yesterday but it felt like it was over 43C and today, its 26C with a nice breeze.  Our timing was perfect for the outing  yesterday.

Took the family to Star Tiger Zoo and Waterpark in Chaiyaphum.  What? Where?

It won't make the top list of attractions of anyone visiting the land of smiles nor will it likely be on anyone's list at all.  But if you have kids and are visiting our neck of the woods, and its hot (which is most of the time), you definitely want to make a stop here.  As described in the name, this place is a Zoo and Waterpark and the Zoo part is pretty nice, although small.  There is a nice assortment of animals like tigers (White and Bengal), giraffes, monkeys, exotic birds, etc.  Its in the middle of nowhere, but it was a lot better than a zoo some tour guide tried to take us to outside a big city in China when I visited a few years back.

Kids can feed some of the barn animals and birds as food is sold next to each display.  There was also a huge pond of 100 pound carp that would make these huge, booming splashes as they tried to grab the food.  Link here if you want to see the video of the huge fish.  The zoo cost us 170 baht for the whole family. Caution, double pricing here as its 100 baht if you are a foreigner. Also, there is an additional charge for the Waterpark so the whole adventure cost us 300 baht for admission. You can't go to the waterpark only.  Inside, there is food, suit rentals, and space to change and shower.  

Plenty of lounge chairs in the shade - just add a cold iced tea and massage and its heaven
The bigger attraction is the water park.  In a area where its hot and in some places, far from a swimming hole, a water park for the kids is a godsend.  Its a small waterpark by most standards, but there is enough to keep most younger, pre-teen, kids happy.  There are water slides and a shallow kid's pond and playground for toddlers and bigger slides for the older kids.  Heck, even Sevenwinds took to one of the slides to accompany Marina as she was a bit scared.  If that sounds like a lame excuse, it was, as she was the one encouraging me to go with her not the other way around.  Anyway, it was some precious father/daughter time that is priceless.

A wandering moat goes around the entire park

Swim and sit at poolside for a cold drink if you want
Lastly, our little 'dog problem' resolved itself.  After I made the post  yesterday a big commotion was heard later in the morning.  Evidently, one of the dogs took exception to the little guy and started a fight, and bit him.  It was not a serious injury or bite, but it gave the little guy a message that he wasn't wanted so he continued his journey down the road to the next group of houses.  Good luck little fella, hope you find your way home.  Funny how things in nature kind of take care of themselves if you just let it run its course.

Ella having a blast with Grandma at the kiddie pond

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Magnet for strays...

In the last two weeks, we've picked up two stray dogs.  One I just discovered this morning and its taken a liking to me and is following me everywhere.  Tiny little mutt is obviously just a puppy, but seems like it was been bitten and scared but in otherwise good health.  Why us?  We have a nice resort with lots of trees, water, and cover from the hot sun.  There is food and the company of two other dogs on the why not?  They think its a jungle paradise.

Would you keep this stray mutt?

Don't know what we are going to do with this mutt yet, there are no animal shelters or pounds around here and we are definitely not dog eaters like some in the other surrounding countries.  Its a refugee, or should I call it an illegal alien?  Do those terms even apply to stray dogs who just wander into your home and refuse to leave?  Not implying people are like dogs, but I see the same dilemma we face as compassionate beings for the welfare of other forms of life - especially those of the same species as ourselves.  We could take the dog, lock it outside and tell it to go away - but it refuses to leave. Where else would it go..down the road or likely be run down by the fast moving cars?

If the circumstances were such that we had lots of dogs and not enough food and resources for them, then we would treat the situation differently than now, where we have plenty of space and food.  So, I think the answer is to wait a couple of days and see what this mutt will do.  Maybe it will just wander down the road back home or his owner might come by to look for him/her.  It doesn't seem like its making any trouble with the other dogs and is definitely a cute pup.  It might even be that an owner that is leaving the dog at our footsteps like an unwanted baby in a basket..whatever the case its our problem now.

It's going to get the extreme vetting treatment for a couple of days.,,,555

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Getting Vanna Serviced

At the Isuzu dealership today.  Vanna has been squeaking a little when I step on the brakes lately.  That usually means that the pads are low and it's time to replace them.  Also on the schedule is a comprehensive fluid change, including the transmission and differential.  The valves need to be gapped and the engine fluid replaced.  In Kalifornia, I would be looking at a thousand plus USD bill, but I was just quoted 7000 baht plus it's going to be ready in less than three hours.

There is a comfy lounge with soft seating and free coffee.  Thailand really understands the concept of customer service.  More later as there is someone selling food outside.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Up Country chilling out...

Left this morning and was up here around 1 PM.  The roads are fast now and I was lucky that there wasn't too much traffic as I was leaving the big mango.  Stopped at Baan Suan for some food, but the place was packed with tour buses.  Evidently, there are still a lot of people from the outer provinces of Thailand paying final respects to HRM Rama 9 as everyone was dressed in black.  Ban suan is a big place, but there were at least 25-30 bus loads of people at the place in addition to their regular business. The people looked like they were returning home.  A link to my review of this rest stop can be viewed here.  This other website on wordpress also contains my backup blog and old copies of my posts.
These are great cakes - average 50 baht a box depending on flavor

I would have just moved on but I wanted to get some of their special cakes and muffins that its not sold anywhere else.  There is also a special item in their food court that I crave from time to time that I haven't seen around.  Its a dish of  deep fried pork with rinds that is re-fried and tossed with Thai sweet and spicy chili sauce.  The flavors just explode in your mouth and the crunchiness is still intact and it just forces you to eat piece and piece.  

Stopped for some bamboo along the highway vendors near the Saraburi hill and found a couple of interesting species we did not have.  Bought 6 plants for 400 baht.  At three plants for 200 baht, it came out to less than $2 USD apiece so it was worth taking a chance to see if these will do any good at our plantation.  

Don't worry, this ugly tile surface will be hidden under the mattress and the
sides and headboard are going to done with elegant glass like tiles

When I arrived at the resort, the workers had already started on the beds.  The last guest left this morning and now all four rooms are getting concrete bed platforms.  Our previous beds from IKEA were starting to fall apart after only 3 years of use, but I guess that would be normal because the furniture is intended for home use only and not the heavy duty abuse that a rental unit will put it through. They have served their time and made us lots of money so its time for them to retire to that bed heaven in the sky.

Sorry for the short post tonight, but its already late and almost time for bedtime.  We sleep early in the countryside because we get up early.  More tomorrow as its bedtime for the kids too.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Two months....

Almost two months to the day, I will be on the operating table in Cleveland getting my heart operation.  As the date draws closer, each day means that much more to me as I rush to enjoy life to the fullest in the big mango.  I don't know what the future will bring after the operation, and the activities I will be limited to during the recovery period, but right now I want to enjoy doing what I can.  I had a great couple of days in the mango shopping and hanging out with friends.

Went to the free buffet on Friday night and then spent part of Saturday doing some taxes before I got a call from BB saying that Johnnie Walker wanted to take us out to lunch in the Silom area. We went to a restaurant called "Peiking Restaurant" and they had a pretty decent menu.  Many of the dishes were set up for 'family style' dinners, but we each ordered a noodle dish and JW ordered three racks of xiaolongbow.

If you never had these before, they are hot pastry dumplings (originally from the Shanghai region) filled with meat and a bit of soup. The soup is encased inside the little shell and one gets a burst of wet flavor when its opened in one's mouth.  History here. The restaurant also had some tasty Chinese beef stew which I had as a flavoring to my noodle bowl.

This photo of  Dim Sum is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Afterwards, I left BB and JW as they were headed towards Pantip Plaza and then the weekend market.  I returned home to look at my taxes, only to feel tired from all the food and collapsed for a long afternoon nap.

Yesterday, we had a long day as we met up with Barnaby for breakfast at the On Nut McDonalds.  He has had some problems with mobility so we decided to visit him instead.  He looks a lot better and says his condition is improving.  We are hoping he will be joining us again soon at the Friday buffets. After breakfast, we made our way out to Khlong Thom Market.  JW was looking for a shift knob for his car and I was after some car seat covers and accessories.  After some wandering around and coffee at the market area, we headed out for a late lunch or early dinner.  

We decided to have lunch at MBK.  I always wanted to try the Bon Chan Chicken which is just outside the food center on the 6th floor.  The place always seems full and I was curious about how their "world's best chicken" tasted.  After the meal, the consensus was that it was good but not up to its world 'best' billing.   The portions were huge and the garlic fries tasty, but we all agreed we have had better.  Afterwards, we hung out in the soft seats at  a coffee shop in the basement of the center. It was Sunday, it was hot outside, and we were a bit tired so there was no better way to pass the time than to just hang out and watch the world go by inside a big mall.

Today its a visit to the archery range for some target practice and to hang out with friends there.  Also want to buy a couple of targets for the resort as I want to finally get our own range into shape.  That way, I'll have someplace to shoot when I am upcountry.

Finally, I ran across this video of our resort's construction during one of my picture searches.  It may have been published before in the blog many years ago, but likely it has been archived as I only keep about 2 years online.  Hopefully, it will be an interesting view as to how we built our resort and why we cherish it so much today, and continue to improve it as a family enterprise and eventually a legacy for the kids.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Mango Pie

Why Mango Pie?  Because being back in the Mango has been a wonderful delight.  For one thing, the choices for eating out are unlimited and the food is good too.  Won't go into all the details but dining out with Johnnie Walker and then the family last night was really nice.  Bad for the waistline, but really nice for someone who has been upcountry for a spell.  

I also spent some time shopping yesterday at MBK for some phone accessories and clothing.  Was disappointed by the clothing stores, but the place is still the best if you want something for your phone or a new phone.  Had a vegetarian lunch at the food court and even pigged out at Dunkin Donuts after I got tired walking around.

Played around with my Amazon FireTV stick yesterday.  Found out I could install a VPN right from the stick's apps menu.  Using the VPN app, I can now see all the geographically restricted stuff without having to do the special router installation.  Bought a one year service for VyprVPN for $80. Not a bad deal for what it opens up from a TV and movie viewing experience.  I will do a more comprehensive blog post on how to set up everything in the future so you will not miss anything from home when and if you decide to relocate here to the LOS.

Might go out to Khlong Thom market today to get some things for my Truck in California and maybe new seat covers for Vanna.  Will also look at some of the gun shops as well since I am in the area. Lots of accessories for guns like leather holsters and laser etched wood handles can be purchased by tourists, but its almost impossible for a non citizen to get a gun legally.  

Lastly, plan to go to the Friday free buffet tonight.  BB should be getting back from Patty and JW said he was also going to attend.  Should be fun.

That's it for now, too much to do and too little time...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Mango...

Got in a bit later than usual yesterday as the amphur office lines were a bit long.  By the time we got into the mango, it was close to 4 pm and as in the Bay Area, the commuter traffic had already started. Just took it easy for the evening.  Bought some street food and had dinner at home.  B went over to visit her Aunt, who is like a second grandmother to Marina.  Between the two sisters (B's mom and Aunt are close sisters) have a team of always willing baby sitters.  B's mom, in fact, won't let us take Ella to Bangkok this time because she said she would miss her too much...555  Great for us as Ella and Marina would be a double handful on this little getaway.  Marina's Aunt will be moving back the country after her husband retires from the Port sometime next year and they want to buy some land near us.  That means two full time resident sitters.  

Ever wonder why everyone seems to be calling people their 'sister' or 'mother' in the LOS?  Its because of the 'village' phenomenon in some parts of the country where kids are raised by relatives as if they are their own children.  The kids know who their real moms and dads are, but its not uncommon for young children of different moms to be raised by a grandmother or aunt while the parents work in the big mango.  That practice, along with many family members sleeping in one big room together is something I had to get used to seeing and experiencing.  When B and I first met and went back to visit her parents home, they had a small house with one large room where everyone slept on the floor under mosquito nets and a fan.  From there we moved to the farm with our own bungalow.

This was our first 'home' on the farm before it became a resort
It was hand built by B's father for the two of us
We have changed a lot from those times, but going through that period helped me understand the closeness and importance of family in Thai culture.  From our first little shack of a house to now, its the realization that the people we call family, and not the house,  is what is most important.

Our farm in the old days before the resort - our shack way in the background
So today, we don't have to deal with the heat and mosquitoes as we are back in the mango.  Instead we deal with petty things like getting a car wash, running errands, and deciding where we want to have dinner.  This has been one crazy but wonderful journey in life....  wouldn't trade it for anything.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

From the fire back to the frying pan?

When I was coming back from Chaiyaphum town yesterday, my car thermometer read 42C all the way back until we got to the resort.  It then dropped a couple of degrees to 40C because we were getting a cool breeze off the lake.  That's typical Vegas weather for many months of the year, but for us, hopefully this spell of hot weather will go away in a few days.  Rain is expected before the weekend and is supposed to last until early next week. Rain always cools things down. I don't know how many of the locals without aircon can deal with the heat, but I guess that is why they wear parkas when the temperature drops to the high 60s.  

The plan is that we will leave for the mango later this morning.  We have some paperwork business to file with the local amphur office and then we will be on our way.  There are doctor's appointments to take care of in the mango, including a visit to the dentist for myself.  I will be needing a medical certificate and form to be completed for my heart surgery saying I have no active infections that will impact the procedure.  How long we stay is also fluid as it depends on any issues and social engagements we have upcountry.  I know we have to go back before the end of the month because the local Wat is doing a big charity event and raffle that we are helping to sponsor.  

Our return also indicates my confidence that the water tower project will be completed satisfactorily. The workers have the tank up on the tower and they will be enclosing the tank to keep the sun out and the water cool during the day.  The sun is so strong that the water from these tanks can very hot and possibly damage any sensitive plants we have.  Plus enclosing the tower adds years of life to the tank as its protected from the uv rays that destroys the plastic shell.  We have a 20 warranty on the tank.

Tank will be enclosed in metal siding material with roof

Hopefully, when I get back all the drip hoses will be installed and we can have a relaxing Songkran holiday despite the heat.  

If some of the photos don't seem as sharp as in the past, its because I am using some new technology to capture pictures for this blog.  Instead of a camera, I am using my smartphone which  then automatically uploads the photos to my cloud drive.  From there, I can leisurely download what I want from the cloud drive and not worry about setting up a USB connection from the camera to the PC, etc.  A good camera is always better than a smartphone when it comes to quality, but its a hassle to always carry a camera.  

More later as it almost time to get packing and something to eat before our trip to the mango.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Back to the mango tomorrow or Weds

Going back into the mango in the next couple of days.  Might be as early as tomorrow, situation permitting.  Not really sure I want to stay up here for the next few days as its supposed to be around 102F (39C).  Its not uncommon to be over 40C or more during the hottest time of the year, but fortunately we don't have the humidity like the mango.  Its not as dry as Las Vegas, but its still under 60% in most days.  The reason I like being in the mango is that even if its hot, there are always places to hang out like the malls, coffee shops, and other venues that are air conditioned.

We have air conditioning up country, but the choice of venues are limited.  There are only so many times one can go to Big C, Makro, Home Pro, etc.  Besides, I miss the excitement of the big city and all the things we can do and the places we can go out to eat.

B likes the country, being a country girl and growing up in the area.  She likes to be with the family - hanging out with mom, who is a great sitter for Ella.  Marina likes to hang out with me so we went out together yesterday to Chaiyaphum to go shopping.  She is at the age where she likes to talk to everybody..definitely not a shy girl.  Having a little daughter as a shopping companion makes one automatically a chick magnet...555

The water tower project is moving along and I felt sorry for the guys working yesterday as it was so hot.  The pad has been poured and the main structure is done.  Today, they are going to put a brace or frame around the tank to make sure it doesn't fly off during a windstorm.  We have no worries when the tank is full, but if its empty of water AND the wind is very strong, the tank is light enough to be possibly (but unlikely) to blown off the platform.  If they are far enough along, then we might go to the mango as early as tomorrow.  I will leave it to them and B's father to pull the hoses for the drip system - another job crawling through the bushes in hot weather that I don't enjoy doing.

The Amazon Fire TV box is working well except that the geographic restrictions are stopping some of the programming.  But I do get Netflix and some of their prime programs with no problem. Started watching episodes of 'The 100', which is a series based on some young people sent from an orbiting survival colony to a future earth after a nuclear disaster.  Kind of like a corny 'Lord of the Flies' scenario as the group tries to govern itself and survive unknown perils.  The show is not that great, but I love the forest and scenery in which the show was shot.  From the IMDb info, I believe it was somewhere near Vancouver B.C.  However, I am three years behind in episodes...555

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Summer comes with a rapid vengence

Wow, just a few days ago it was pleasant in the evenings.  Tonight, you know that summer has arrived.  Its 7 pm and a tiny little breeze.

Yep, its also 92F  or (33C) outside.  With the humidity, it feels like 95F.  Supposed to go into town today for a big show too.  Looks like summer has arrived in Issan for the next few days.  Just looked at the conditions for BKK, its hot and humid there too...even worse as the heat index is 102F.


Few more days...

Then it will be back to the mango for a bit.  The guys are starting the water tower today, pouring the foundation for the tank.  Its not going to be a trivial tower, being three meters high and having to support over two tons of weight (4,400 lbs).  That is the weight of a large truck and we don't want it to be crashing down in the wind or a big storm.

Looks like the guys are building some footing for the legs before pouring the pad.  Once this tower is finished, it will be used to irrigate the resort and the market, which is three meters higher in elevation than the bamboo fields.  It will have its own feeder pump and timers to alternate between the resort and the market.  All the watering is currently done manually so it will save a ton of work each day for our workers.

This Wat is about 2KM from our resort

The monks working on another structure on the Wat grounds

The contractor is someone we are considering to build the pagoda building for the new market. He is an expert mason and is famous for making artificial wood structures, trees, and faux stone signs from cement.  I saw some of his work at the local Wat and he is quite talented.  Supposedly, he was trained by one of the old monks who was an expert and avid maker of these kinds of structures.  These are the same kind of sculptured buildings you see at Disneyland and other places where wood is not practical.  In Disney's case, they get the best of the best for their contractors - we are just hoping to get the best in our area.  

A bathroom on the Wat grounds
Our new structure is a bit easier and I want to build the frame from steel tubing and have him apply a faux bamboo veneer on all the exposed surfaces, making it look like a bamboo structure without the headache of continuous maintenance and worry over pests, such as termites and ants.

The building, which is really not that big, will be used for selling drinks and eventually bamboo related products and gifts.  It will be the center point for the Jungle market and our landmark as seen from the road.  Construction is still a bit down the road (after my heart surgery for sure), but getting the right people for the job is something we can do ahead of time.  We want to make sure our market looks like a 'jungle market', even if its really steel and concrete underneath.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Busy Morning

JW commented to me the other day, "you do real work up there don't you?"  The short answer is yes.

There is real work up here when there is a small resort to run, a bamboo plantation in the works, a jungle market being landscaped, and three fish ponds that need to be ready for some fish soon.  Some of it is maintenance, and a larger portion of the work is new work to enhance the property.

Right now, the focus is on automating the irrigation for most of the property to save labor.  That takes some infrastructure work such as setting up storage tanks, running PVC pipes, and getting electrical power to the new pumps.  It will also require that we elevate one of the tanks about 3 meters on a custom built metal stand so that we can get enough pressure to irrigate the resort and the market.  Talked to the contractor this morning about the plans and he seems like a nice guy to work with.  The cost of the job will be 450 baht per day for labor plus we buy the materials.  A good deal by any standard since he did a knock up job on the bamboo plantation last week.  Since it slow from a farming perspective at this time of year, extra helpers are available for 300 baht per day as needed.

Put up the wall mount yesterday for the new TV I bought the other day.  Will hang it later tonight when B father is free.  I tested the new TV system and it worked great using the internet service we have.  Watched a lot of YouTube live feeds with no buffering.  The next thing to try is my FireTV box.  I have NetFlix already and with my VPN router flashed, I will get all I will need from the other apps and more.  Don't want however, to end up being a TV junkie when there is so much else to do here.  After all, wasn't the purpose of being in the land of smiles to get away from all that madness on the Tube?

The weather changed yesterday and it began to get cloudy with thunder coming down sporadically. That cancelled the plans for the trip to the waterfalls.  Today, it was much cooler in the morning so in addition to my morning walk, I went out back and shot about 100 arrows from my new bow.  It feels like Island weather again today and they say it should last a couple of days.

A revised picture from this morning in better light

The big excitement from the family last night was putting Ella into the Jolly Jumper for the first time. Ella is a very active baby and likes to push off on her walker and is starting to crawl.  The Jolly Jumper is a hand me down from big sis Marina.  I brought it over from the USA when Marina was around Ella's age because it wasn't available here in the Land of Smiles at the time.  They are available here now, but cost over 10,000 baht (I bought mine on sale for $50 USD!)  Grandma packed it away, along with most of Marina's clothing because she just "knew" we would have another girl she said.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Home on the range..

Yep its home again and it feels nice.  Got back yesterday afternoon after a leisurely drive from the mango.  Made a couple of stops, including one at the 71 Export shop inside one of the PTT gas station rest stops.  71 Export is a shop that specializes in overruns, seconds, or otherwise acquired clothing that is usually exported to the European or American Markets.  You'll find well known brands at really great prices but one must check the garments to be sure the flaws are not going to be something that will make them unwearable.  I like to shop at these kind of shops because the regular Thai clothing does not fit me.  Aside from the sizing, which is two sizes smaller than western sizes, the Thai market clothing is made for slimmer body styles.  I lost that slim body years ago!  Found a bunch of short sleeved dressy shirts for the upcoming warm weather.

After some rest, I went out to see the progress of the drip system that B's father was working on.  To my delight, its almost all done except for the timers.  The timers are my responsibility and they are still on route from China to Thailand and might not get here for another week.

timers are going to each branch of the Tees when they get here

PVC from the Tank to the hoses to maintain pressure

While I was away, B's father and the workers poured the cement pad, set up the water pump from the Khlong below and laid out 1700 meters of drip irrigation.  Took three men three days to layout the hoses and install the drip heads.  We took a walk-through yesterday to check the water pressure at all the plants and its going to work out just great.  We can notice already the impact of regular watering on the bamboo plants as many have sprouted canes  in just the last couple of days.

Bamboo are thirsty plants, and like lots of water

We have one more tank to set up for the resort, but we have to get the workers to build a three meter tower to elevate the tank.  Once that is built, we will have more than enough pressure for all the irrigation needs of the entire resort plus the market next door.  The neat thing is that aside from the electricity for the pumps, all the water is free and available year round from our adjacent creek.

The Lanai project is nearing completion.  The contractor is done with all the cement and tile work and only minor trim items remain.  We still need a railing and electrical fixtures to be installed and those should be done next week.

The weather is starting to get real hot again.  If all goes well today and we have some free time,  plans are for a picnic at Tat Ton Waterfall park. Its about a 45 minute drive through some beautiful countryside roads to the park.  Ella hasn't been to the water yet and this will be her first experience.  Marina on the other hand, can't wait and had a early rising time and is already asking when we are leaving...5555

More tomorrow as the kids are calling.

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