Tuesday, August 15, 2017

In the Mango

Got into the big mango around noon yesterday.  It was a very pleasant 4 hour drive even though it was the last day of the big mother's day weekend.  There was a lot of news about people being stuck for hours on the highways Friday so I think a lot of people left early.  However, traffic was extremely light inside the major areas of the mango.

Met up with Bangkok Buddy at Fortune Town as we were both looking for computer components.  I also had his long overdue mail which I forgot to give him before going upcountry.  Bought a battery for one of my dead UPS units at Amorn even though I wanted four total as they did not have any more stock. Found my wireless keyboard/mouse combo and purchased a mini thumb drive.  Also checked out HDDs and confirmed that its cheaper to buy these online in the States than locally.  For example, the cost for a 6TB Western Digital Gold HDD was over 15,500 baht - the same drive cost 8,085 baht from WD directly.  Its even cheaper from other online sources like newegg. The lesson is that not everything is cheaper here and you have to shop around.  You would think that in this case, since most of the world's hard disk drives are made here in the land of smiles, that the prices would be a lot cheaper and it turns out not to be the case. Afterwards, we had coffee at Holly's in the Central Rama 9 mall because we wanted to check out another computer store there.

Also played around with my blog layout last night because I think I had too much coffee at Holly's and couldn't get to sleep early like usual.  Added a short playlist to test if I can introduce some background music to the blog.  Got it working on some browsers, but didn't check them all out because it was getting late and Marina was starting to get a bit sick.  If you hear some background music, then it working for your browser.

Want to go out to the fishing store today or Mega Bangna, but I have to visit the condo office and the post office first so the day is in flux.  Busy, busy, busy...

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Back to the Mango tomorrow

Will be going back to the big mango tomorrow for a few days.  I have a lot of goodies to collect from Aliexpress at the condo and some shopping to do. Get to hang out a bit too at the malls. Also might get my back checked out as I've been having back spasms for the last few days, especially in the late afternoon or evening.  Think its posture related or just muscle strains, but its better to get checked out in case its something more serious.  I've been taking ibuprofen and it seems to help except when I sit at the computer too long.  Definitely something to do with correct posture and back muscle exercises.

Bottom leaves yellowing, but upper leaves getting bigger

Its been dry for a week now and so the flooding seems to have subsided a bit.  Fully expect to have most or all the water gone when we return on Friday.  The strange thing is that this bamboo actually grew during the flood and expanded their leaves.  Some of the culms actually grew taller during the flood so that indicates this variety is flood proof for mature plants.

That's it for today.  Want to get stuff ready and make a list of things to buy so my time in the mango will be productive.  Have a nice weekend everyone.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day.  And to HRH the Queen, Happy Birthday!

Its mother's day here in the Land of Smiles. Just like in other places in the world, sons and daughters have traveled from all over the country to be with their mothers on this special day. Last night, relatives from Bangkok arrived including B's sister.  We had a big barbecue feast of giant prawns, steak, and Thai noodles.  B's aunt brought the prawns up from Khlong Toei market and they were pretty big for this time of year.  We had a great cookout (B's Uncle can be seen doing the Barbie below) last night and partied late.  Thais like to eat and party at night because its the only time when its cool enough to be outside. 

This morning, the mother's were honored by the kids who gave flowers and bowed to thank them.  It was a sweet time and I was able to capture some precious moments that I will keep in larger photos. Fortunately, I had my good camera with me on this occasion instead of just my phone.  You can immediately see the difference in quality and composition.

On this special day for moms, a special thanks from all the dads in Thailand for making our kids lives (and our lives) so great.  

Ella was a bit teary eyed because she didn't want to give the flower away to mom

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The birthday party that turned into a cake fight

Daddy feeding Ella her first ever birthday cake

All was going well for yesterday's party for little Ella.  After all, it was her first birthday ever and her extended family was all around her.  We had plenty of food.  On the menu were shish kabobs of beef and pork, salads, and of course plenty of rice.  There was the customary eating, joking, and fun and then the birthday song.  The cake was cut and we started into our individual pieces and of course, because of all the parties we've had lately, there was lots of cake left over.


Anyway, B gets the idea that it would be a good time to smear some frosting on her father's face. Well that didn't go unchallenged and pretty soon, everyone was smearing others with cake.  Between bouts of uncontrolled laughter and running, I think we looked like a bunch of crazy people out on the drunk instead of attending a baby's first birthday party.

No harm and no foul and a good time had by everyone.  Its definitely a party that we will remember for a long time. Its back to peace I hope, until the 18th when we have Gaeow's birthday.  Marina is already getting ready for the cake fight...555

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Birthdays Galore

Ella at a few minutes old, one year ago

Today is Ella or Ariella's first birthday.  Can't believe that one year ago, I saw her being born at the hospital - time has certainly raced by quickly.  Unlike her big sister, I was in the land of smiles in time and was in the delivery room.  The picture above was snapped by one of the hospital personnel at the end of the delivery.  

Ella and big sis Marina at Mom's party

She is now a big bouncy baby about to walk and can clap to the singing of happy birthday.  It is also a time of laughter and tears as she tries to communicate her needs and wanting to be part of the family.  Her party is set for tonight and we will have some relatives over for a simple party.  In a way, we are kind of birthday partied out, but at least its all within a couple of months and then afterwards, hopefully it will be back to normal.

During B's birthday, we had family over for a simple fest of barbecue fish, Thai rice noodles, and my impromptu spaghetti dish.  Lots of fun and laughter and of course, the customary birthday cake.  No, I did not design the cake...we left it up to the shop owner...555

On the personal front, I purchased the tickets for my return to the land of smiles in October.  I have to go back to Kalifornia for some doctor appointments and to meet up with some friends for a pilgrimage to the holy land in mid September.  I also have a couple of birthdays in October and some business to attend to as well.  My plans call for traveling on October 16th back to the land of smiles and remaining here until after the new year.  It will be my first holiday period here in a few years and should be lots of fun.  Can't believe its almost a month since coming home and almost time to go to Kalifornia again in a few weeks.  Time goes by too quickly here in paradise.

That's it for now as the clock is ticking...very fast at that too.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The big fish are still here for a couple of days more

B's father went out this morning to go fishing on the little plastic boat again.  To me, its kind of a safety hazard, but for the locals, it seems to work just fine.  Now, B's father is probably no more than 50 kilos with wet clothes on, and B's nephew is likely only about 35 kilos so this kind of boat is a great fit for them.  Small and maneuverable, it allows them to skim the surface and into the weeds where these fish are hiding.  Forget the casting rods and traditional gear as the weeds will snag your hooks and lures.  You need close quarter combat gear, heavy lines, and muscle to fight these fish. 

Ella with Grandma
Wow that's some big fish!

Anyway, he was quite successful again this morning.  Pretty decent catch with the largest over 3 plus kilos.  I don't have a fish scale, but its was quite heavy when I tried to lift it.  I took a picture with Ella in the background for scale.  Ella is a one year old and you can see the fish dwarfs her.

Going into town to stock up on goodies as its B's birthday today.  We ordered her cake yesterday and the party promises to be a lot of fun.  More tomorrow.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Big fish are following the small fish

Bow's catch this morning.  Note the tiny boat he used

The big catfish are now in the lake across the resort.  Starting yesterday, they began showing up in large numbers and B's father and nephew went out fishing last night and this morning.  The fish are the local catfish which I've seen can grow up to 100 lbs (45 kilos).  This morning's catch was mostly smaller sized fish, around 2-4 lbs each and the perfect size for eating.  Last night, they filled the black container with fish and sold the catch to the locals.  This morning, we kept a few fish and the rest are going to be sold as well.

This guy is going to be dinner tonight

I would go out to try my hand at catching some, but the boat we have is too small for me and I would likely tip the whole boat over and drown after my first hit...555.  But my strategy is that I am going to buy a float tube from the states and use that next time.  I also don't have the right equipment available as my my tackle is too light.  I have a light weight rod and only 10 lb test line, which will snap after a big hit.  Will go back to the mango or Kalifornia and get some heavy duty stuff I used in the past for large mouth bass fishing.  

This device plus some flippers and I'm in the mix of things

I practiced a technique called 'flipping' for shallow water in which no weight except the worm is used. The line would be moved constantly in a dipping motion and the worm/bait allowed to sink naturally to the bottom.  Deadly technique and works in shallow water like we have in this area.

Anyway, its Sunday at the resort and drizzling outside.  Maybe a trip to the mall or watching TV is in order.  Already did my morning walk and had breakfast and waiting for the kids to wake up.  Another sleepy day in paradise today...and the fish are running.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Still a lot of water - Moo Ka Tat country style

There is still a lot of water around the area and it may be here for a few weeks more as another storm is approaching this weekend.  Evidently, they are releasing a lot more water from the dams upstream to avoid a flooding crisis like they had a few years back when large parts of the mango were flooded. When its rainy season and lots of the property is flooded, there is not much one can do except hang out and relax.  The nice side effect is very pleasant weather, especially in the morning and evenings.

Since it was Friday and the end of the week, we decided to do something a little different for dinner. In the mango, there are places where one can have dinner at a Moo Ka Tat, which is a coal fired grill with a lip where you can also cook items in water.  The top part of the grill is used to grill items like meat, fish, etc., while the lower part of the grill is used to cook the veggies.  In the mango, you can find these places where you can pig out at a buffet for less than 200 baht per person.  They are getting really hard to find as people who are big eaters tend to drive them out of business.

Gaeow helping himself to some food while B supervises

Here in the country, we have a variation of the Moo Ka Tat.  Instead of going to a restaurant, they will bring the whole experience to you.  They will bring the special grill, the coal oven, the coal, and all the meat and veggies prepared in plastic bags.  The cost?  One order is 200 baht, and that is ample food for FOUR people who are moderate eaters.  So we ordered two orders yesterday and fed the entire family and some relatives who happen to be by.  We have the space to eat outside at a couple of the kiosks so it was a lot of fun.  The kids were out playing and eating inside the relative safety of the resort.  Tomorrow, the guy will come by and collect his stuff and clean it himself.  Comes out to 50 baht per person, not including drinks.  A deal by any standard.

Want some of this Ella?

Will likely run into town today as my keyboard/mouse combination is acting up.  The mouse freezes up periodically and I have to jiggle the on/off button to get it working again. Also one of keys on the keyboard has popped out and the spring is broken.  Not a big deal to some, but its a nuisance to me. The keyboard is one I picked up at Pantip more than 5 years ago and drivers are no longer even available for it anymore.  Its wasn't a big name keyboard and it was from one of those bin shops on the fourth floor.  Time for something new and to put this worn out unit to rest.

That's it for today.  No big problems and the world is far far away.  Stress level at zero and happiness is on high... They say that ignorance is bliss, and so a blissful life it will be here in the land of smiles.

Marina the clown with her squinty face

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A bit too much water

This is where the flood waters would come from - it has to top the road

As was mentioned in the last post, the water has been rising in our area.  Its due to the run off from the last tropical storm Sonca, which dumped a tremendous amount of rain in the area.  It took a few days for the water to get here from farther north, but boy has it come in strong the last few days.  Due to the storm, we have had minor flooding of the area around the resort and our bamboo plantation has about a meter or so of water.  The resort is dry as are many of the homes in the area because they are on built up land.  Our resort is actually higher than the road in front so it will crest the road and go over before even getting to our front gate.  Then it would run around the resort into the lower farmlands around us so we are safe.  Below are some before and after shots of the plantation, which is lower and getting a bit of flooding.

The bamboo will do just fine as the variety we have selected can withstand floods, drought, and pretty harsh conditions.  The growth might be a bit hindered, but last  year at this time, many of these bamboo plants were totally underwater for nearly a month and they survived just fine.  This year, they are a lot bigger and the leaves are sticking up over the water, giving the plants plenty of air.

Two weeks ago
Talked a bit to Bangkok buddy yesterday regarding my plans for returning to the mango.  We have a number of family birthday parties and an official "mother's day"  holiday coming up this month so we will likely not get back to the mango until after all those are taken care of.  Plan to take Marina out of nursery school for a few days to go to the beach and the mango as I will have to head back to Kalifornia in early September.  Bangkok buddy is suffering a bit from gout so our wishes for a fast recovery bro - take care and you'll be up on your feet in no time!  You can't hang out unless you can get around right?

Also had a call from Castro.  Haven't talked in years and he says he is  now retired and doing just fine with his family in Phuket.  Its was great to exchange some pictures and see how quickly the kids are growing.  Hoping that we can catch up in person one day in the mango or maybe during a holiday in Phuket.

Life in the countryside is a bit quiet and routine, but I like it.  I wasn't much of a party until you drop kind of guy in the first place anyway and so not having a vibrant nightlife (or any nightlife at all) hasn't bothered me.  What I do miss are the variety of places to eat and the many stores and markets of the mango.  Lucky for us, we can get away and do that for a few days by coming into town by bus or car.  

That's it from upcountry central.  Another day of watching the grass growing...

Navigate the  plantation by boat if this keeps up...555

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Water is UP !

High water next to the resort and just off the road
Just aa surfers proclaim "Surf's Up" when the waves are big, the locals around here proclaim "Water's UP" when the local waters rise to a certain level.  The rise in the water means its time for fishing. Now is the time for easy picking for many local fishermen and women.  Now before you go out and grab your fishing poles and come up to the resort, the fishing is not what you would normally expect in more western waters.

For one, nobody I saw this morning was using a fishing pole.  Everyone had throw nets or some version of net trap to get their catch.  And its for good reason, as the fish are only a couple of inches long.  These tiny fish will grow to fingerling size in the big lake and as the storm waters enter, they are washed by the currents and follow the water in the creeks to new ponds in the area.  Each year around this time, huge batches of them make the run to new waters and the choke points is where these fisherman have built platforms to net some of them as they go by.

We have such a choke point about 300 meters down the road from the resort and this morning, every one of the platforms was full of people tossing their nets.  These platforms are private property but during the off season, people can use them with permission for tackle fishing.  Now, its time for the locals to haul in their protein for the next few months and there is no tackle fishing.  Any fish that cannot be eaten now is dried or sold to the local markets.  The locals have learned to live off the land and the big bounty this area has given to them.  We are lucky in that this area of Thailand is still relatively unknown to many Thais and definitely off the beaten track for tourists.

Once the fish get into the various ponds, they eventually end up as big fish and some of them will make their way back to the main lake to spawn and start the whole process again.  B's father was a fisherman for many years and knows these waters like the back of his hand and so he was successful in getting the big fish when others could not.  But for the locals, now is the time for some easy picking fun and small fish are OK as long as there is fish.  I don't know how much better the fishing would be if they let these fish go, but I wager that many of these tiny fish will end up dying anyway as the ponds dry up.  As long as people exist however, they will always be an impact on the food chain and I just hope they don't ruin a really this neat ecosystem in this area.

The little party we had last night for the people who missed their parties (like Marina and I) was fun. It was a great deal of fun for the kids, but I had a hard time managing to keep my eyes open long enough to blow out the candles.  Three more parties are scheduled for the next few weeks as B, Ella, and Gaal all have their birthdays in August.  We just love to party around here...555

Marina with her dreamy smile and Ella looking on at big sister's cake

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