Daily Blog 2013

The Long Trip

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We began our journey April 2nd when our Delta flight departed Tampa at 7:20 pm and after spending the night in a Holiday Inn Express about a mile from the LAX airport departed on a flight to Tokyo and then after a several hour layover and plane change left for Bangkok. After arrival at the Bangkok airport we were driven in a large van to the our village of Nong Dan in Northeast Thailand which took another 12 hours. …

The first full day


Well, after spending a lot of time out at the farm we headed back to the house. I was disappointed to find out that the drought has left the river that "flows" on three sides of my farm almost dry. I will be happy when the rains start, probably later this month and increasing during May and June. We sure do need it. We do have a good crop of feed corn because we had the river for irrigation. Farmers without access to the river are hurting. …

Worked on Computers Today


Today I was finally able to get this site up and going and posted. Also set up several iPads we brought for the family. I updated the iPad two they already had here and got FaceTime working on everything which will make life easier when we get back to Florida. Walked over and saw my youngest stepsons house which they were still building when we left here two years ago. They did a great job. Really nice. I also did some research on buying a small swimming pool for the family and hope to have it done in the next week or so. …

Trip into Nong Bua Lamphu

Got a great nights sleep. It cools off wonderfully after the sun sets. Early morning trip to the market to buy some fish (cooked whole with the scales on). Piked up some fruit that is unique to Thailand called "Rambutan". It is just coming into season here. This afternoon my son and law drove Phai and I to Nong Bua Lamphu (about 20 miles) to go to the new Tesco Lotus store. They are a British chain similar to Super Walmart but the stores are larger and everything from food to clothes to appliances to electronics and have a large food court. …

Government & Banking day

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Phai and I and two of her sisters who are also here from the U.S. went to the government offices in Na Klang to renew their Thai Identification. It was a piece of cake for Phai because I made the decision when we got married to not change her name. Her sister, who gave me some flack at the time for doing that could not get her ID updated due to having changed her name to her American husbands name. He has since passed away. …

A Hot Flea Market


I think today is the hottest day yet. It only hit 99 degrees but I think the fact we spent 2 hours walking around a big flea market, going in and out of the sun in crowds is what did me in. They set this flea market up twice a month in the village of Na Klang which is about 5 miles from our house. I really enjoy walking with my two granddaughters holding my hands. I think some the locals assume they are my kids which makes me feel younger. …

A Quiet Day - Sonkgran Starts

First Sonkgran Photos

The word ‘Songkran’ itself means the time when the sun passes into a new astrological cycle — ie: New Year — and is always celebrated in April.

On Songkran Day, Thais give merit at their local temple, pour water onto the hands of the elderly, and then go out into the streets for a massive water fight. The water fight itself actually lasts three or four day with water being sprayed and thrown over anyone who gets in the way.

Day 7

Tree Cutting

Up at 5:30 AM again today. Of course when you are sound asleep by 9:00 PM it isn't so hard to do. I finally feel like I have made the transition and adjusted. Feels like I am home. It is so pleasant at that time of morning. Phai I walk over to the restaurant and get things lined up for the day, sweep the area, wipe down the tables, etc. 

I usually start my day with a bowl of Frosted Flakes (can't find Honey Nut Cheerios here) and some orange juice. …

Sonkgran at The Temple

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Things got very interesting yesterday after I updated my blog. I happened to walk behind the restaurant to use the bathroom and there were mats on the ground with about a dozen people playing some kind of game. I walked over and realized they were gambling. Small stakes fun. They had a plastic mat with different symbols like a "chicken" a "fish" and 4 others. If you want to bet you put your money on one of the animals or between animals to split your be. …

More Songran in the Neighboorhood

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The parade we thought was going to happen today did not. Phai reminded we are on "Thai Time". I call it that because being "on time" is not important here. If you want a Thai person to be somewhere at 1:00 pm you better  tell him to be there at noon and if you are lucky they will show up not too long after 1:00. I guess she feels something happening a day after she thought it would happen is just a part of Thai time. 

An Amazing Day

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Last night I got in the shower and there was a 8 inch long lizard on the wall at about head height. He didn't seem bothered by my presence and I didn't mind him being there so he stuck around a few minutes and then scramble up the wall when I turned the shower on. No, I didn't have me camera with me in the shower.

Up at 5:30 this morning, a quick breakfast and then off to the Temple with Phai. This is the day the elders all get blessed. …

A Hurried up morning but relaxing day

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Phai up early to get things set up at the restaurant and I stayed in bed for awhile longer. All of a sudden Phai came running to the house and said "hurry, a lot of Monks come". So I jumped out of bed, threw on a shirt and shorts, raced to the restaurant to grab my camera. Realized my battery was in the charger so I had to grab it, put it in the camera and by now the Monks had already passed by. Well, I took off down the street and caught up with them so I could grab some photos. …

A Amazing Day - Blasted with water by Buddhist Monks

Phai informed me this morning we were going to take a little road trip with her sisters to a special religious spot. I thought I would be photographing some amazing Temple or Buddha statue. Instead we ended up in the middle of nowhere where strange activities take place. We stopped on the way to purchase a clay pot and a number of gift baskets for the monks. When we got there there was a structure where on one side of the was a monk was talking to groups of worshipers. …

A Trip to Khon Kaen & The Heat is Back

I didn't get back in time to update my site yesterday. We went out to the farm in the morning and I got to see them training the roosters to fight. Then we went to Khon Kaen. It is 206 kilometers or 128 miles and takes more than 3 hours each way. Phai's sister needed to pick up some special medicine for her Thai boyfriend back in the states and that is the closest location it was available. We stopped and spent some time at a Big C store in Khon Kaen. …

A Day at the Farm Shucking Corn

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I Guess I can truly add "farmer" to my resume because I spent a lot of time shucking corn at the farm today. While it was hot we always worked in the shade and there was a breeze. I Drank a lot of ice water. The kids went with us and they really have a lot of fun playing at the farm. I couldn't wait to get back to the restaurant and collect on the huge bowl of shaved ice with flavoring that Phai promised me. My 8 year old grandson Lam had been staying with his  mother's parents for a few days and he returned this evening so we were able to give him the new bike we bought for him. …

A Day of rest and catching up


Got up at the usual 6:00 am and swept the gravel at the restaurant. That is my morning chore. It is fascinating to me the have a straw broom that you litterly use to sweep the gravel. For the most part it leaves the gravel in place but moves paper, bottle caps, leaves and other debris which I then pick up with a dustpan. I will have to ask Phai to take a photo of me doing my chores tomorrow morning. A man stopped his flatbed truck in front of the restaurant this morning and came in to buy something while I was sweeping. …

A Government Office Visit


We got up bright and early today (5:20 am) so we get the restaurant set up for Ning. I did my morning chore of sweeping the gravel (see photo below). We then headed to the government offices in Na Klang so Phai can look into getting her granddaughter (13 years old) who she legally adopted as an infant to the United States. So far immigration has turned us down because even though Phai has adopted her she lives here with her actual mother who is fully capable of caring for her. …

Booked A Trip to Bangkok


Phai and I have decided to take her 13 year old Daughter/Granddaughter to Bangkok. The original intent of the trip was to talk to authorities about some way to bring her to the United States. within an hour of booking and paying for non refundable flights Phai decided to visit the Monk at the Temple. One of the things that is not part of the teachings of Buddha but is practiced by the Monks in Thailand extensively is fortune telling. …

Thursday April 25th


We woke up at 5:30 this morning got ready to go to the funeral for her son's wife's brother. I got dressed nice and even put long pants on. First time since I have been here. Ate a quick bowl of cereal at the restaurant and got ready to go when Phai's daughter came over from the house and said the funeral is tomorrow, not today. Oh well, I get to do it again tomorrow.

Yesterday about 8:00 pm it suddenly got very windy. …

Attended WesPasMac Meeting in Florida

Sorry if you find the headline confusing. Apple technology is so amazing that I was able to face time with the Mac Group that I am President of during their meeting. They could all see me projected on the big screen and I was able to see all of them around the room, give them a tour of the restaurant and even show them how you flush a Thai toilet (you pour a bucket of water in the hole). With the time difference I was able to call them at 6:00 am my time - 7:00 pm their time. …

Visit to Phai's Sugar Cane Farm

Phai was excited about going out to see her sugar cane farm we bought two years ago. Unfortunately her excitement turned to disappointment when she realized the drought has killed her crop. As you can see in the photos below the pond is all but empty, the ground is dry and hard and while the sugar cane is green it will not mature into a harvestable crop. We will have to replant based on what the rains bring this coming rainy season. …

Official Chicken Chaser

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Yep, I have volunteered to be official chicken chaser for our restaurant. I have a nice bamboo pole about 5 feet long and when the chickens come around to the front area of the restraint I grab my stick and chase them to the back of the property or across the street. So if you want to know why a Thai chicken crossed the road it was to get away from the crazy foreigner. I will have to have Phai take some video of me to post on youtube for your entertainment pleasure and for proof so I can add it to my resume.

My Stepdaughters' First Day Off Since we arrived


It was nice to be able to se Ning relax for a day. We were sitting around eating an early lunch before leaving to go to Nong Bua Lamphu and even though we put a sign out front a few people stopped and wanted to eat. They were disappointed that the restaurant was not open. I wasn't sure how much we were going to get done when all the kids and several cousins piled in the back of the truck to go with us. What I didn't know is that there is a "Resort" about half way between here and Nong Bua Lamplu with two swimming pools, water slides a snack bar and other amenities and we dropped the kids off there to spend the afternoon while we went into town. …

Trip to a Waterfall


Wow, I'm tired. First someone stopped by and talked to Phai this morning about some land he is selling. I told her we are not buying anymore farms but agreed to go for a short motorcycle ride because she thinks her sister might be interested. It had some nice features including a big pond that he is pumping well water into in an attempt to save his fish he raises and sells. He also had some pigs with several full size and about a dozen piglets. …

Visited my farm and the market


Went to the farm this morning to check on the progress of the tractor doing the leveling . Almost complete. After the rains come (hopefully) he will come back and prepare the farm for planting rice. I have included a few photos from the farm below. The number of roosters at the farm is increasing as they test more of them for fighting skills. While is was very hot today at least there was some breeze. This evening just as we got ready to got the market on the motorcycle it started raining. …

A haircut and a shave - $3.40


This morning we went to a big flea market in the village that was set up for today only. Bought school clothes for the grandkids because school starts after a two month break on May 15th. Brought the grandkids back home, had a big bowl of Ning's soup and then I went to the village for a haircut. It was a small, one chair open store front and we had to wait for the barber to come back from lunch. He cut my hair and then asked me something in Thai i didn't understand. …

We are in Udon Thani

We climbed in the truck about 5pm and took Phai's 3 sisters to the airport for their flight back to the States. They have a long trip ahead of them. They will fly from Udon Thani to Bangkok getting to Bangkok about 8:30 pm. They will hang out at the airport until 5:30 am when their flight leaves for Tokyo where they will have a several hour layover before flying to Detroit Metro and after a layover there will fly to Tampa. …

In Bangkok but not happy.

We had a nice evening and morning in Udon Thani and caught our plane at noon for Bangkok. Fa Sai was really loving her first flight and enjoyed taking pictures out the window with the iPad. Then we caught some turbulence during our decent for landing (I am an experience flyer and it even bothered me) and she quickly found out why the have the have the white bags in the seat back pockets. Got to the hotel and we were not happy with the accommodations. …

I am beaming with happiness! "The 93 Hotel" is fantastic!


Wow, after our terrible experience at the first hotel I am on cloud nine. I didn't think I was going to find anything at a reasonable price until I changed my search and instead of looking for 7 nights I looked for something for 1 night just to get us out of the first hotel. Well, a hotel came up that is brand new (October 2012) and was a short distance from where we were. It was just a small amount more and from what I could see on the internet looked great with strong reviews. …

Exploring Bangkok


We slept in until 8:30 this morning. I thought I was having trouble sleeping but it was so dark and quiet in this hotel and the curtains so good it was actually bright sunshine out. Had our first free breakfast this morning and it was really great. Loved the fresh pineapple juice. Not only lots of choices but very comfortable seating  They have all new electronic heaters under the food on the buffet so the temperature of the food was perfect. …

A Visit to Pantip Plaza


We originally started out this morning to simply get our marriage documents translated into Thai so that Phai and I could register our marriage here in Thailand. We went to the location of a company we had used two years ago but they were no longer there. A person who works in the building suggested we go the building next door and gave us the name of a company there. Well, we ended up spending several hours there exploring how we might possibly be able to bring Fa Sai back to the States with us. …

Two Days of Thai Bureaucracy


Okay, let me catch you up on a crazy two days. 

On Wednesday morning we got up at 6:00 am, showered and had our free breakfast and got to the American Embassy at 7:00 am for our 7:30 appointment. Very interesting getting through security. We had an appointment and there is a separate check in for U.S. Citizens so we got in with relative ease. Thais were cued up probably 50 deep when we got there and longer when we left at 8:15 am. …

Things Change Rapidly Here


Without going into the detail, we visited with some Thai authorities today who strongly recommend against the method the company we were dealing with had recommended using to get Fa Sai to the United States. We have decided to do it the correct way even though it will greatly increase the time frame involved. So to make a long story short, Fa Sai will not be returning to the U.S. with us but we hope that sometime in the future it can happen. 

Chatuchak Market

The 35-acre area of Chatuchak is home to more than 8,000 market stalls. On a typical weekend, more than 200,000 visitors come here to sift through the goods on offer. I find very interesting the area where all kinds of animals are for sale. Exotic birds, flying squirrels, unique breeds of dogs,  all kinds of tropical fish, ducks, chickens, snakes, etc.

You are not allowed to take photographs and the vendors have lookouts posted and if they see authorities approaching suddenly many shops close down because they are dealing in illegal animals.

Back "Home" in Isaan

It seems funny to be excited to leave the comfort of our nice air conditioned hotel to go back to the restaurant but that is how I felt. I told Ning she has her chicken chaser and gravel sweeper back and she laughed. We got back to Udon Thani after a pleasant one hour flight and stopped to do a little grocery shopping before the drive back to Nong Dan. Had an ice cream cone to tide us over until we could have a big bowl of Ning's soup. …

So Happy Back In Isaan


You would think after the comforts of a nice Bangkok hotel I wouldn't be so happy to be back in Isaan "roughing it". I love it here. 

Last night was the first night of rehearsal for the Bang Fai holiday coming soon. This celebration takes place in villages all over Isaan but not other areas of Thailand. It is done at the start of the Rainy season to encourage good rainfall for the farmers. It starts with a big parade in the village. …

Back To School

Today is the opening of school for the kids here after a two month break. They didn't have full days today, only orientations. The did have to wear their school uniforms which every single public and as far as I know private school in Thailand requires. It certainly makes back to school shopping easy. When things get really rolling I will have some opportunities to photograph the kids in their uniforms. We took Fa Sai into her school in Nong Bua Lamphu today which is a private school about 20 miles away. …

It Has Begun - The New House


Things can happen quickly here when Phai puts her mind to it. We stopped somewhere yesterday and Phai's son in law went in and Phai told me he was ordering something. Then about 9:30 this morning a big truck pulled up with the first load of supplies to build the new house. I am starting to get excited. 

We walked down to watch the dancers practice last night and I violated my rule of taking a camera everywhere I go. …

School Kids, A Foriegn Visitor and Construction Begins


Wow, not sure to start. Talk about a busy day in laid back Isaan.

We got up at 5:30 am and I got the restaurant swept out. Fa Sai left for school about 6:30 then Lam and By about 7:30 and then it was time to take little Fa Mai to her first day of pre school. They even wear uniforms and carry backpacks for preschool. Today was mostly for the parents/grandparents (a lot of grandparents raise the kids here while the parents are off working in other cities or countries to earn money). …

Phai's Mother Passed Away This Afternoon

I hope everyone will forgive me for a small update today. My Mother In Law passed about an hour ago. The whole family had come to see her and she had about 30 people gathered around her bed when she passed. I think she waited for them so they could say goodbye. It was a very peaceful passing.

Things are very hectic right now. Unlike anything I have ever experienced before. As word got out many of the people in the village came. …

Phai's Mother

Mutt and Little Mut

It has been very hectic since Phai's mother passed yesterday and rather than try and tell you about everything in a page on on my blog I am dedicating a section of the site to her. When I post it you will find it under the tab "Phai's Mother". I will have a lot stories to tell you, photos to share and videos. I was a bit concerned about taking photographs and video but Phai asked me to please do so for her sisters in the States. …

After Three Days it is Almost Done

I have so much to show and tell you that I will not even attempt it today. The funeral is basically over but a number of people came back to the house to eat and the Monks just arrived again and are leading the group in some chanting. I am at the restaurant doing this quick post and can hear the monks on the loud speakers. Please be patient and I will make it worth your while so I can edit all the video and and photos and do a proper write up for Phai's mother.

Surprise - Not Done With The Funeral

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Since Phai's mother was cremated yesterday about 3:30 PM and feeding everyone continued all afternoon and evening I figured everything was done. Then about 8:30 pm they brought in an entire freshly slaughtered pig and the men began chopping it up. I came over to the restaurant and was having a FaceTime chat with my father when the entire village went dark. I have to tell you, it was pitch black. Luckily my iPad was fully charged so I used the iPad screen to light my way so I could walk to Phai's mother's house. …

Another long day of Funeral Ceremony

Head Monk in His Chair

First let me correct yesterdays post. I did some research and found out that the creature I almost stepped on is a Millipede, not a Centipede and does not bite. However I am sticking with my commitment to leave my shoes on entering dark rooms. 

The monks were back at 6:30 am and again at 11:00 am today. After eating, all the monks left except the head monk and there was a huge chair set up for him from which he did a 2 hour long lecture on Buddhism for the group (almost all women). …

Finally, Phai is taking a well deserved nap this afternoon

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Phai was up at 4:15 this morning and making arrangements for the final day of her mother's funeral. She came back to the house at 6:00 am and woke me up and we showered and she left again. I came to the restaurant and called my father via FaceTime and shortly after she was out in front on a motorcycle to take me to the Temple. There were many people at the temple eating breakfast along with the monks in the community center. …

Back To Normal

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Wow, we went to sleep at 8:30 last night. It had rained heavily and was very cool so we slept great, even used a blanket. This morning we got the kids off to school, did some overdue housecleaning and laundry and then went for a ride into Nong Bua Lamphu to shop at Tesco Lotus. They have a computer shop so I was a able to pick up a new Western Digital 1 TB portable drive for $76 tax included. Since Western Digital is manufactured in Thailand I guess that helps the pricing. …

A good computer day and more rain


Make sure you look at the tab "In Loving Memory of Phai's Mother - Gome Ammarin" for the photos from the funeral. This is a small portion of the photos I took and I have put explanations below each photo. 

I have also added two videos each about 10 minutes long. I finished editing Part Two and my upload to YouTube failed after 2 hours the first time and after 3 hours with it saying 2 minutes left it gave me a error and I have started the upload again. …

A amazing four hour parade


Spent the morning at the Temple because they are installing a new large Gong. Had a ceremony this morning to bless the construction site. I took some photos and also some crazy video of the Thai men moving cement pillars into place. These were heavier than the ones for our house and they had to carry them across boards placed crisscrossed over the construction hole. I added that footage to the video I previously posted about the House pillars so you will want to watch it again even if you already viewed it. 

Rocket Day


Well, the weather was great. A mix of clouds and sun and we had seats in the shade. My face is sunburn however from walking out in the sun to take photos. This year the number of rockets was much smaller, the large rocket they always do was about ⅓ of the size in past years (unless they brought another big one in after we left) and there was too much time between launches. 

I did have fun learning to use my 70 to 300 MM telephoto lens on my Sony DSLR and using continuous  shooting to capture rapid moving subjects. …

Getting Back To Normal


Okay, the kids are off to school and day care, the restaurant is open and i had my bowl of Ning's soup for lunch. Took a ride out the to the farm and the rice is starting to grow. The river has more water in it but is still not flowing. It will take a lot more rain here and upstream before it starts to flow again. However, leave it up to the Thais to always find the good. With the wet river bed there is an abundance of the reeds that Thais use to make rugs and mats. …

If I Didn't See It For Myself I Would Not Believe It!

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My day turned out totally different than expected when I woke up. Well, I did get a haircut from Phai which I was expecting, had a bowl of Ning's soup like normal but then Phai said we our son in law would drive us to Udon Thani for a day of shopping. So we got in the truck and drove the hour and ½ to the Big C Shopping Center. I finally found some shirts I liked that fit me and some soft shorts to sleep in. We also loaded up on some things for the restaurant and a few treats for ourselves. …

Bud & Phai Celebrate 4th Wedding Anniversary

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The funeral, the big parade and the rocket festival are over, the kids are in school and three year old Fa Mai is in day care. It gives me time to ask Phai some additional questions about her history. Much of this I knew but some additional information she had not shared before came out. As her English improves she is able to explain more to me. 

Phai's mother had ten kids. Five girls and Five boys. 

When Phai was 6 years her brother, who was a year older than her, got sick (she thinks food poisoning) and died. …

Construction of our house is underway - The Parade Video is posted


It rained most of the night but that didn't stop the family from starting work on the house early this morning. The pillars were put in place within the first 30 minutes. I will add video as soon as I can of that effort. Another septic tank hole is being dug because it was decided one is not enough for both our house and the restaurant outhouse. I did learn that there is a truck that comes to empty the septic tanks. …

Some progress on the house.

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Not a lot to report today. We got a call from Fa Sai's school (the 13 year old) that she was having a problem with on of ears. They had taken her to a clinic but there was not a doctor available to check her. We were headed to Udon Thani with Phai's oldest son to pick up some paperwork he needed for his job in Korea so we pick Fa Sai up at school and tried to get her ear checked at the hospital but again told no doctor would be available until 3:00pm and it that was two hours from when we arrived. …

The heat is back but not as bad. House progresses.

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It had been very comfortable and overcast the past several days but the sun is out in full force today. It only reached 95℉ today and was actually fairly comfortable in the shade. I even helped with the house today. The first truck bringing a load of dirt got stuck in mud so he dumped the load which allowed him to drive out. We then had a tractor come in and spread that first load over the low spot where the mud was and Phai and I finished the job (photo below). …

Minor House Progress and I have a new broom for my morning chores.

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They have started putting the base cinder blocks in place. They will make those the correct height for the floor, then fill with a layer of dirt and put the rebar and cement on top. The floor plan only changed twice today and the second time it was my change (I want the bedroom bigger). There is no such thing as built in closets here in the village so you have to leave room for free standing wardrobes. I teased Phai I want separate His and hers closets because in the single unit we use now she takes about 7/8 of the space. 

Big construction goals foiled by rain

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This was going to be a big day of construction on the new house. They had planed to have all the roof support beams welded in place and the fill gravel put on the floor ready to pour cement. They got a few beams up and the cinderblocks and filler gravel were scheduled for delivery. Then the rains came. We had dump trucks of dirt and a tractor build a dirt road on our empty lot leading up to the new house. Well the rain made the dirt too wet and the trucks would not take the chance of getting stuck. …

The day started great but got rained out.

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Well, I thought we were going to get a lot done today. Did get some more of the roof beams in place, started to move the fill gravel for the floor into the foundation and tore down the current fencing between properties so we can build a new wall between our property and the neighbors. The second load of cinder blocks arrived but the truck still refused to drive on the soft dirt to get to the new house site. Everybody was scrambling to figure out what to do when the crazy foreigner (me) said "Why don't you move the bamboo shelter at the front of the restaurant and pile them there against the wall. …

Which of you didn't cross your fingers? Check video tab for new videos.

Yesterday on my blog i asked everyone to cross their fingers for the the weather to give us a break so we could get our house built. Well, either some of you didn't cross them or we have to try something else. This morning at 6:00 am I woke up to rain that was coming down so hard the clouds weren't just dropping the rain they were throwing it down. It poured like that a for several hours then slowed to just a drizzle and finally at 1:00 pm it has stopped and the sun is actually coming out. …

Thank You! Thank You! To everyone who crossed their fingers.

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We had a fantastic day to get work done today. It was overcast early and did not rain during the night. About 9:00 am I asked Phai why no one was working on the house. She said she didn't know. So I grabbed a wheelbarrow, a shovel and I began moving the gravel fill from across the street to the new foundation. Phai joined in and after a few loads one of the daughter in laws joined us. Phai and I would fill the wheelbarrow and she would take it over and dump it. …

Another great weather day.


Unfortunately, Phai's oldest son had to catch a bus last night and go to Bangkok to meet with the company that will be sending him to South Korea for 3 years to work. He will get back tonight but he is the main brain behind the construction. We did get the rest of the gravel base moved and did some more prep in regards to getting ready to pour the floor. Phai decided to use the time to go into Na Klang for their Bang Fai parade. …

Unbelievable! Overnight my river is full and flowing.


About 9:00 this morning our son in law came back from the farm and said the river is full. Evidently somewhere upstream they have opened a dam and released a lot of water. Phai and I jumped on a motorcycle after I grabbed my camera and we couldn't believe our eyes. The river is flowing, the lake is full, water is running over the dam, the ducks are quaking and already someone is fishing at the bottom of the dam. I no longer need to worry about the rice and my farm once again feels like a little bit of paradise like it did when I bought it. …

Our House Has A Floor!


Phai had told me that we would go shopping today for the roofing materials but as usual plans change quickly. Her son decided we should get the floor poured. So about 10:00 am Phai called the cement company. I figured it would take a few days. I asked her when the cement trucks would come and she said today but she didn't know what time. Our son in law drove us into Na Klang for basic supplies I needed like cereal, milk juice, etc along with using the ATM to make sure I could pay for whatever costs we incur during the next few days. …

The walls were going up until the rain came.

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Thank goodness we got floors poured yesterday. We were making good progress today. Some of us were moving the cinder blocks from in front of the restaurant to the house location. Others were working on roof beams and others were cementing the cinder blocks in place to build the walls. The first thing we did this morning was a final agreement on the floor plan. We made decisions on the size of rooms, the placement of windows and doors. …

More Rain but More Progress. Apple Keynote.

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Woke up to a pouring rain this morning that lasted for many hours. Three of the kids stayed home from school because it was raining so hard. Our mud dam held up at the back door to the restaurant and today we put in a permanent cement barrier just inside the door so we won''t have to worry about flooding. Finally about 3:00 pm they started to work on the house again. Looks like another day will go by without going shopping for materials. …

A busy day of construction and shopping.

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After I updated this blog yesterday evening I realized that they had not ceased working due to darkness. Instead they strung some lights on extension cords and continued bricking the walls. They were back at it this morning and are still going strong now at 4:30 pm. Our son in law took us shopping for roofing material but unfortunately non of the supply businesses in this area had the right color of material. Tomorrow we will try again by going to the larger city of Nong Bua Lamphu. …

We purchased our roofing materials today.

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After visiting 3 more building supply shops today and striking out on the color I wanted for the roof I finally gave in and will go with my second choice. It is a lighter shade of blue than I wanted but should look good. Also it appears Phai and I have found a ceramic tile pattern for the floor we both like. It is a pattern that looks like a wood floor but with all the durability and ease of installation of ceramic. …

More successful House materials shopping

Wow, things happen fast here. I got my sweeping done by 6:30 am and had my cereal with a fresh sweet banana on top. Everything tastes better when you grow it yourself. Phai's oldest son came about 7:00 am and started working and at 8:00 am the truck with the roofing material arrived. It took two guys 1½ hours to unload it because they could only carry two sheets at a time through the restaurant and stack them by the new house. …

The Dreaded Phone Call! Phai's son leaves for South Korea tomorrow night.

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Last night, after I updated the blog, Phai told me her son A got a phone call telling him to be in Bangkok on Monday to catch his plane to South Korea were he will work for three years. I have been dreading that call and was hoping it would not come for another few weeks. It is A who is educated in construction and he is a vital key to building our house.If we have to hire the expertise from outside the family our costs could escalate. …

Our New Roof makes good progress.

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Well, they started about 9 am today. There is no rain in the forecast but it is expected to hit 98℉ so it will be very hot working on the roof in the sun. As I start writing this they have the first row on one side of the roof installed and are taking a break to eat breakfast. 

It is now 7:00 pm and they made great progress today. I would guess about half the roof is up. Photos below. Also got a lot of cinder block put up and the windows and door wall entrance further prepared. …

Two new documents added to answer your questions.

Monday so things are quieter here today with the kids in school. The heat has returned but 94 doesn't feel so bad after all the 104 degree heat we had in April and May. We passed the 10 week mark on Friday so we have a bout 13 more weeks. Just like all trips, time moves slow at first but I am sure when we hit September we will think "where did the 5 months go?" 

SInce it has been quiet I took the opportunity to complete two documents I have been working on and post them to the site. …

A day of concern regarding the house but the farm is doing great.

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Our son in law worked on the roof all day yesterday but didn't seem to be making much progress. This morning Phai said it is not good and things are not fitting together like they should. I already had concerns about some of the things he was doing. I insisted she talk to the company we bought the material from and if we have to pay to have someone come out and work with him we will. Of course that was resisted. There is a thing in Thailand (and most of Asia) called "saving face". …

House progress. Then a Whoops.

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Well, I was pleased with the fact that we had more workers at the house today. We have a woman who is putting cement around the window frames and main door frame so they are the correct size. They also worked on installing the back door and the bathroom door. Then later this afternoon they started on the roof and seemed to making progress but I won't know for sure if everything is okay until they put the special pieces along the seams. …

Rained for a short time this morning but some progress on house.

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Okay, the optimist in me tries to look at the positive side. They framed out a new bigger opening for a larger bathroom door, got the rest of the cinder blocks installed all the way up on my bedroom and got the bedroom door opening further prepped. Also on the positive side two men came this morning and spent some time talking with Phai and my son in law and going up on the roof to take a look. When they left I asked who they were and Phai said she had called them and they have done these type of roofs before. …

Continuing Progress on the house. Visit to Mom's memorial at the Temple.

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Lots of activity today on the house. The women are putting the cement coating on the walls that looks a lot like plaster. It is quite thin but looks nice. My son in law spent the day up on the roof welding special brackets in place that the guy who is going to help with roof recommended. A lot of work but apparently that is what was lacking before. The contractor was doing to work here this afternoon but came by and said he was so busy he could not but promised to work tomorrow afternoon and all day on Sunday. …

A beehive of activity all day long.

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Phai got up early this morning and told me she was going to recruit some people to work on our house. I said okay, rolled over and went back to sleep. I didn't wake up until 7 am which is really sleeping in for me. Guess I needed it. By the time I had swept the restaurant and started eating breakfast workers started arriving. Her recruiting trip was successful. 

We had four people working on plastering the walls, two on building forms around the back doors and pouring cement and several other helpers (including Phai and I). …

A light rain from 7:00 am until 3:30 pm but much work got done.


We are really disappointed that no work got done on the roof today. Our expert stopped by this morning but due to rain they could not work on the roof. He said he would come back when the rain stopped but it finally stopped abut 3:30 pm and he has not shown up. However they got almost all the interior and exterior coating of the cinderblock done. Also finished the cinderblock around the two back doors. The interior should look great when we paint and hang pictures. …

Wow, the house is really coming along.

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Overcast, no rain today. All of the walls inside and outside are coated. Both people who have said they would help with the roof have now said that after being rained out this weekend they cannot help. My son in law is up there doing it himself and telling Phai he has it figured out. I hope he is right. He will live in the  house when we are not here so I am sure he wants it to be rain and windproof. He put up a lot of panels today but it is the caps over the seams that concern me. 

Another rainy morning and overcast day.

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Even though it was raining, the man Phai hired to build the wall between our place and the neighbors showed up at 7:00 am today, worked in the rain and is still here working at 6:00 pm. He has made huge progress. He is an incredible worker. 

The rain was never really hard and finally stopped around noon. We spread the dirt piles that were dumped for the rest of the house by hand. The small tractor never showed up. I think the rain has caused everyone to fall behind. …

Feels Like the "Ground Hog Day" Movie


If you have seen the movie "Ground Hog Day" with Bill Murray where each day he wakes a to a repeat of the previous day you understand how the last four days have felt to me. The weather pattern is identical. Light rain all morning up until about noon or 1pm, then cloudy the rest of the day. It was exactly that way today, yesterday, the day before, etc. It is getting a little tiring having to clean the mud off my sandals every time I have to walk to the house to go to the bathroom. …

A day of Pigs, some sunshine, and a new roof.

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No, not Bay of Pigs. This is Thailand, not Cuba. Because the sun actually came out Phai and I took the opportunity to visit her childhood friend and his wife at their pig farm. His wife came by the restaurant for soup. After she ate and we showed her our new construction, we followed her on our motorcycle to their farm a couple of miles away. 

Wow, I have never seen 600 pigs in one location before. I took some video and a photo. …

We Have a roof & an amazing new store!

Phai and I really slept in today. We didn't get up until 7am. I think all the hassle with the house has gotten to both of us. She was moved to tears yesterday morning after a "discussion" with her son in law about the construction. She told me she thought building the house was such a good idea and would be a fun project. But with her oldest son called to Korea and the roof issues it is a lot of pressure on her. We talked about it and have decided scale back plans for now. …

Dirt, Dirt and More Dirt.

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Today started with digging the trenches for the foundation for the back room and bathroom. The holes for the roof support were dug last night and the pillars cemented in. About half the foundation footing was hand mixed and poured today. Our son in law created braces out of steel and welded those braces in place to extend the house roof so it almost meets the restaurant roof. Our wall guy worked all day cementing in cinder block and got more than a ⅓ of the wall built. 

Our tile floor is being installed.

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The trucks continued arriving this morning until we had a total of 34 loads of dirt dumped and spread. Well, actually we didn't have the tractor spread the last load because we are going to use it to fill in along along the base of the new wall between us and the neighbor. Ten sections of the wall are done with three more to go. It is 5:20 pm and he is still working. I am typing this up a little early because Phai and I need to make a run into Na Klang to buy a small travel bag for Laos. …

Headed to Vientiane Laos - Going quiet for 3 days.

It is almost 10 am on Monday July 1st. Just want to let everyone know Phai and I will be leaving for Laos in few minutes and have decided to leave the MacBook behind. I will have my iPad but will not be able to update my blog. Hope to have lots of interesting stuff when we return on Wednesday evening (unless we stay an extra day). 

I appreciate all the email and support readers have sent my way and am still reachable via email during our trip. 

Back in Thailand after our Laos Trip - Shot a lot of photos, here are just a few.

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It is 5:00 pm and we got back to the restaurant about 30 minutes ago. It is raining but we were able to check our house progress. The tile is all down in the main house and looks great. They did a wonderful job on it. The wall between us and the neighbor is finished and the new septic tank is dug and the cement moved. Just need to fill in the hole where the old one was. All the roof supports are up so that we can put the roof over the back room/bathrooms. …

First full day back in Thailand. You can see the Laos photos under the "Lao Photo Album" tab.

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Feels good to be back with the family. It poured rain last night and the good news is we did not get a single drop of water in the new house. Looks like the roof will be okay. The new floor looks great and the son in law filled in the space between the house roof and the restaurant roof today. He and Phai went and picked up the roofing material for the back room and have decided to go with the same material as the roof on the house. …

An exciting day of progress on our new house.

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The company came this morning to provide us a quote on providing doors, windows, electrical, etc. for the new house. I am a little nervous because everything was done verbally with him drawing pictures of his proposed solutions. I asked if he has pictures of the doors and windows they use but he did not. The windows will be sliders with screens (3 large windows) double sliding glass doors for the front door with glass sidelights and glass above the doors. …

A hot sunny day full of progress. Check the new video on the video tab.

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To say we worked all day is an understatement. We began (yes I helped) by hauling dirt from our vacant lot to fill in along the wall between the house, the restaurant and the neighbors property. Phai "hired" the local kids who worked like crazy carrying buckets of dirt. They earned soup, ice cream and the one who worked the hardest gets a trip to the local resort to go swimming. The crew showed up with all the materials to frame in the doors and windows with aluminum framing and tracks for the windows and screens. …

Oops, no cement today, it is a Buddhist Holiday.

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I was so excited about getting the floor poured and that it didn't rain last night but Phai discovered it is a Buddhist special day and the company is closed. So instead my son in law spent a few hours cleaning and painting the roof where they had to cement the caps over the ridges. Then we packed all the kids, including the one who was such a big help, in the truck and took them to the resort with the swimming pools. …

Unbelievable Day. From almost disaster to maximum success.

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Well, I finally hit my limit this morning. I woke up happy that it did not rain last night. I asked Phai when she was going to call the cement company and order the cement. She told me that Ning (her daughter) said we should wait because someone about 10 houses up the street had died and they had not been cremated yet. I could not believe my ears. I asked what that had to do with us pouring or cement in the back of the house. …

Rain all night and most of the day. A new video added.

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I have been vindicated for my tough stance on the cement truck yesterday. It poured rain all night. If we had not had that cement poured yesterday it would sure not have happened today. There is no way a vehicle, especially a heavy cement truck, could reach the new house now. It did stop for awhile this morning and we used the old pickup truck to move most of the cinder blocks from where they were stacked at the old house to the new house. …

More rain, lots of shopping and more progress on house.

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The company that is doing the doors, windows, ceiling, etc. did not show today so Phai and I used the day for shopping while our wall builders worked on the back room. We went to the big new hardware store and bought a new sink (the one the son in law had was ugly) and faucet and connection kit. We also bought a  toilet paper holder to mount on the wall and looked at things like shower curtains (Phai wanted the only one they did not have in stock). …

I get confused so I must confuse you also.

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It sure can be stressful building a house in a different culture, different language and different ways of doing things. I often think I have communicated correctly and understand what is communicated to me only to find out later I misunderstood or they misunderstood me. 

I had Phai call the company that is doing the interior when they had not shown up by 10:00 this morning. I could tell it was a testy conversation. …

I am thrilled with the new electrician.

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Great progress today. Phai's trip to the government offices has been postponed due to an issue with the paperwork for the property her sister is buying. So we were here when the electrician arrived and clarified my desires. Then Phai and her sister decided to visit their sister in law who is in the hospital. They dropped me off at Tesco Lotus and I an hour of shopping all by myself. I loved it. I even treated myself to  a banana split at the dairy queen. …

An Amazing Day.

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The day started with a very nice family that stopped out in front. The father had his little boy and young girl on his motorcycle and his wife was on her own motorbike. What caught my attention was the little boy was holding a Kaen. A Kaen is a traditional Thai Isaan instrument. They are very difficult to master but almost every musical group in Isaan Thailand includes a Kaen player. They come in all different sizes and the larger ones can make lower sounds. …

I couldn't believe my eyes when the truck with the materials pulled up about 9:30 this morning.

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Phai had told me that the company doing the interior would not be here until Monday so when they arrived this morning I was on cloud nine. It is almost 5:00 pm now and they have been working all day and I am really happy with how it is going. They have been very cooperative about making changes. They have more work to do and will be back tomorrow. I think they will finish the doors in the morning and do the ceiling in the afternoon. …

I have a ceiling in the house! Two new videos.

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The crew that is doing the doors came to get their tools this morning and said they would work somewhere else for the next two days. They said, however, that  the crew that will install the drop ceiling will be here for the next two days. Sure enough about 15 minutes later they showed up with a truck full of drywall and got to work. By the end of the day the main living area had been covered along with the area outside under the eves. …

A trip to a Thai pharmacy

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I take Omeprazole every morning or my system produces excess acid and I am miserable with a gut on fire. Well I couldn't get enough from the VA before leaving for Thailand and ran out of time to purchase it over the counter before I left (I believe that is called "procrastinating too long"). I was trying to stretch my supply by taking less but when I spent a number of hours sitting up in bed last night due to heartburn I decided I it was time to see if I could get it here. …

I am a HAPPY camper!

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It is 11:00 am and I am on cloud nine. Two men are tiling our bathroom as I type this. The guys are finishing up the drywall drop ceiling including the complete exterior overhang. The electrician is moving the main power for the restaurant and our house and getting ready to hook everything up. He needed a way to access the "attic". Phai got me involved by asking where to put a trap door for access through the ceiling. …

Wow! Another day of huge progress on the house and the day isn't over.

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I am so happy with the progress on the house. I can almost feel that hot shower and shaving with hot water again. We went into Na Klang today and bought an electric, on demand, hot water heater for the shower and they will come and install it tomorrow. We also bought paint. We bought a good primer which all of us working together got almost the entire exterior primed. We underestimated how much primer we needed so will pick some more up tomorrow. …

Unbelievable! We will move in our new house tomorrow.

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At one point this afternoon I counted 15 people all working on the house at the same time not counting Phai and myself. We just supervised and tried to stay out of the way. The store dropped off the hot water heater this morning and said the installer would be here shortly. He was. The company doing our awning pulled up with their truck up at 10:00 am and 5 guys got to work custom building our large awning. Our son in law got our toilet installed and all the water to the bathroom sink, toilet and shower working. …

Tying up loose ends.

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A lot of activity today and the house is technically done but Phai and I are going to wait to move in. They finished up a second coat on the ceiling late this afternoon and we want to really scrub the floors. I came up with the idea to build a short privacy wall between the sink and the toilet. Phai thought it was crazy at first. I showed her some pictures from the internet and her daughter came over and saw the pictures and got all excited.  …

I can now reveal what we paid the company that did the interior and awning.

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The owner came and collected his money last night for the work we had done. Phai did hold back $300 until we are sure everything is okay. The reason I didn't reveal the cost when I first wrote about what they would do is it seemed to good to be true and I was worried somewhere I had misunderstood. Turns out the only thing I misunderstood was that we had to supply the actual light fixtures. 

For the following items.

A low key day in Isaan Thailand.


Today and tomorrow the schools are closed due to a special Buddhist holiday. It is the Buddhist observance marking the beginning of Vassa, also known as Buddhist Lent. The Vassa tradition pre-dates the time of the historical Buddha. It was a long-standing custom for mendicant ascetics in India not to travel during the rainy season as they may unintentionally harm crops, insects or even themselves during their travels. …

We will sleep in the new house tonight.

We brought all our soap, shampoo, razor, etc. to the new bathroom and took our showers in the new shower this morning.  Love the large shower. I love being able to step out of the shower onto a shower mat and then put my clothes on. Using the old shower I had to get dressed while standing on the wet floor because the whole room was the shower and the family would be in the room outside the shower. '

Our son in law drove Phai and I to the big hardware store today. …

I am much happier today. Did not sleep in the new house though. I have lost 16 pounds!

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Woke up to rain this morning and shortly after Phai and I walked from the old house to the new one it really poured. We ran out of time yesterday and yesterday Phai told me she would call her son to come and help us move everything today. I did get my clothes moved over last night and put away in the new closet. We did take a shower this morning for the first time in our new shower. It is wonderful. It is the largest shower I have had and I really could get spoiled. …

Our house has been blessed. A new video.

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Phai went the the Temple this morning to check with monks about blessing our house. She came back and told me tomorrow is a good day to move and the monks will be here at 3:00. Before she left for the Temple she told her daughter to call the cement company so we can pave the area  in front of our house under the awning. Well, the cement truck showed up a little before 2:00 pm and we had 3 people hauling cement through the restaurant in wheelbarrows, two people helping the cement come down the trough to the wheelbarrows and two people smoothing out the cement as the wheelbarrows dumped it. …

We slept in our new house last night!

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It is official. We didn't have our bed yet but brought a mat and two pillows from the old house and slept in the new house last night. It was really nice to not sleep under a mosquito net. Getting up during the night to go potty was much less hassle, other than my having to get up off the mat on the floor. Now our bed has been moved over, the two couches we bought several months ago have been moved in and all our "stuff" is in our new closet. …

I am really loving the new house.


I could get spoiled. It is so comfortable now that we have our bed and some furniture in the new house. I was able to take a break this afternoon, go in my own bedroom, lay down on my own bed and listen to iheartradio while reading my email. In the restaurant I usually had to put headphones on. Both so I could hear and so I didn't drive everyone else crazy with my radio talk shows. It was raining and cool this morning and that new hot shower was wonderful. …

The company showed up a day early to install the back room ceiling.

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I am still amazed at how fast things can get done here. We contracted for the drop ceiling in the rest of the house yesterday. They said they would start on Monday but Instead showed up this morning (Sunday). They got the entire back framed in and started to put the ceiling tiles in place and discovered they weren't all matching. Some had a very subtle nice pattern in the white tiles and others had a very visible flower pattern. …

This is not the Thailand I remember.

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When I was stationed here it seemed that anything you were promised would always arrive late. I used to get my clothes taylor made in Mukdahan and I seem to remember it being very rare if they were finished on time. Now twice in a row things have come early. The ceiling tile installation started a day early and now the curtains have been delivered and installed a day early. Amazing. They installed all matching tiles today but still need to come back with translucent panels so we have our bathroom skylights again. 

All the adjustments are made, work completed and contractors paid.

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They came today and put up the screening in the back room and installed the two translucent panels for our skylights. They also adjusted all the screens on the inside windows and two of the sliding doors that were not working correctly. Of course within a few minutes of them completing the work the owner was here to collect the rest of his money. While Phai and I counted the money he sat in my chair and seemed to really like it. …

We had a pajama party last night.

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I went in and started getting ready for bed last night when Phai came in and said we have some guests. Her sister who was still not feeling well did not want to sleep at her house so we got out mats, cushions, blankets and pillows and set up multiple sleeping areas. We had our bedroom, Ning and her husband slept in the utility room (good thing it got screened in), the thirteen year old granddaughter slept on one of the couches and on the floor with Phai's sister was her daughter, her daughters friend, her grandson and little Fa Mai. …

Fixing up the outside of the new house.

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It was a beautiful day today. Sunny but not hot with a nice breeze. That is until Phai had me help her haul wheelbarrows full of dirt to fill in along the wall outside the house so she can plant flowers. I found out it gets hot working in the sun. I had to take a nap after that. Now we will go over to our friends house that has the British boyfriend and she said we can have some of her plants. 

The family sold some of the sticky rice harvest from last year today and I was very pleased that the first thing they did is pay me back the 10,000 Baht ($330) they borrowed last year for fertilizer. …

Phai got her flowers but it was too hot to plant this afternoon.


We went to our friends house where Phai gathered some flowers and plants. The friend has so many that you cannot tell any have been removed. This morning started cool and overcast but by early afternoon it was bright sun and probably the hottest day in over a month. 

I am really enjoying "my" dog. Since I pay attention to our dog (his name is "Teep") he follows me around. For twenty years old he is doing great and can still chase trucks with the best of them. …

Another Technology Breakthrough.

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This morning must have been "home shopping day". It was a steady stream of vendors coming past the house. I should have started taking photos sooner but I was doing FaceTime with my father and sister so they got to see it live from Thailand. Everything from fruit to cookies, to Thai pillows, to mosquito nets and believe it or not a gentleman who was selling eyeglasses out of a briefcase. He really tried to sell me reading glasses but Thai glasses are not good and I don't use reading glasses. …

Today was cloudy, cool, sunny, warm and rainy.

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That has been the pattern lately. Cool and overcast in the morning. Sunny and hot early afternoon followed by heavy rains and back to pleasant evenings. 

I should clarify something for everyone based on a question I was asked via email. Yesterday I talked about them moving Fa Sai's closet over and she has been sleeping here anyway and then came Ning and her husbands closet and they were mapping out an area in the back room. …

Invaded by tiny ants.

If you live in Florida you are probably familiar with those tiny little ants that seem to appear out of nowhere and if they find something they like they tell all their friends and you have a whole troop of the little guys marching along your counters or walls or wherever. Well, those same little guys exist here. Our poor thirteen year old granddaughter discovered them the hard way when she slept on one of our new cushions on the couch and woke up with bites all over her. …

A very hot and sunny day.

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We went into Na Klang to the big flea market they set up all along the highway. I took my good camera and had hoped to come back with some good pictures but taking photos mid day on a bright sunny day is absolutely the worst time. Especially if many of the subjects you would like to shoot are under tents with a bright background behind them. I have posted a couple of photos below just to give you a flavor of how they set up.

Almost got a haircut. Prettying up our house.


Phai and I climbed on the motorbike and rode into Nong Dan to the hair shop. Unfortunately there were two women ahead of me getting Manicures/pedicures. She quoted us a thirty minute wait time but I can never be sure about their estimates so we just rode back home. Phai went into Na Klang yesterday evening while I worked on the web site and bought more plants and two very large planters for the front of the house. She has filled them with water and planted water lilies in them. …

Added a "More Video" tab.

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Some readers have had an issue when trying to open videos on their iPad (my iPad included). In case it is because I have too many videos on one page I have started a new tab and added a video taken last year of the harvest of our rice crop. We will not be here for the harvest this year so I have never see the harvest other than in video.

This morning Phai asked me if I wanted to go to the dentist to get our teeth cleaned. …

Instead of building something today we tore something down.

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Phai never stops looking for things to change. Today she had them tear down the rice storage shed next to the old house. Believe me when I say it would have never fallen down on its own. It was constructed with extremely heavy wood and solidly assembled. Phai will turn that into a new driveway so we can get cars onto the property near our new house. There is already a fence with a gate so it is a secure entrance to the old property. …

Phai's teeth are all set. I took a pass.

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Another nice, overcast cool day. Son in law drove us to Nong Bua Lamphu about 11:30 am to go the dentist. Our two youngest grand daughters By and Fa Mai came also. We went to the same clinic were at on Thursday. Phai had accidentally left her Thai ID card there last visit and I had decided I would not get my teeth capped but I wanted her to get hers taken care of. She has had some sensitivity in several teeth for awhile now. …

A haircut, a nice walk to visit neighbors and some major news from my daughter.


This has been an eventful day. I woke up to an email from my Daughter Alexis in Michigan saying she had some big news for me and could we FaceTime tonight. I sent an email back to clarify if she meant her night or my night. We did eventually connect up and had a wonderful FaceTime talk. She and her husband of one year just got their assignment from the Peace Corps. The will leave in January for 27 months in Vanuatu. …

Trip to Udon Thani

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I was excited about a day of shopping in Udon Thani. The whole family went and we left the restaurant closed for the day. Unfortunately I was disappointed.  The big wholesale mall we went to used to have a lot more variety but it is about 90% women's and children's clothes now. Phai did find a couple of things and each of the kids got a new outfit. I was starving and had hoped that we would go the big new upscale mall so Ning and the kids could see it but they had no interest. …

A birthday party, a trip to the flea market and cooking bamboo.

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Last night after I updated the blog they had a party for Phai's son sA (yep, it is spelled on his cake with a small s and capital A). He turned 29 yesterday. The parties here consist of a birthday cake, with the Happy Birthday song sung in english. Then strings get tied on the wrist of the the birthday person and their family. They do not exchange presents here. After the cake they all ate dinner but sA had already left on his motorbike to go shoot rats in the dark. …

The Market, a Temple and a large snake.


What a crazy day. I got started on editing some of my photos this morning. Most of what I have posted the past four months had minimum editing other than cropping and automatic enhance. Now I am going back, selecting my best photos and making them better. First I am working on photos of the people in the village. I will then take them to the photo shop in Na Klang and get prints made to give as gifts to the people who were kind enough to let me take their photos. …

A Quiet Day, a nap and some photos

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I would call today kind of a down day. I slept in until 7 am, took a one hour nap this afternoon and took a walk with Phai to sA's house. Seems sA cannot find his iPhone 4 that we gave him when we first arrived four months ago. He thinks one of his dogs may have taken it so Phai and I searched all around his house in the yard, the bushes, across the street etc. Because he choose not to subscribe to a data plan we cannot use find my phone to locate it and it was on mute when he last saw it because he was sleeping so calling it does not work. 

A real pain in the back.


I woke up during the night to intense pain in my lower back. After some very careful movement I was able to stand up and go into the bathroom but I was in pain. Managed to get back into bed and back to sleep but when I woke up this morning the pain was still very strong. I finally got out of bed and made my way to the restaurant. Ning took one look at how I was walking and hollered for Phai. Luckily Phai had brought a can of Icy Hot spray with her and it provided a great amount of relief. …

A really nice day in Isaan.


The weather today was fantastic. A little overcast, cool and a wonderful breeze. Because it is Saturday all the kids are around so it is a little noisy from time to time but I will miss that when we come home. My back is feeling a lot better so Phai and I went for a nice long walk today. It still amazes me how nice the people are here. I took my good camera and not only do they not mind having their pictures taken, I think their feelings get hurt if I do not take their pictures. …

I Officially qualify to live in Thailand based on what I ate today.

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This morning a guy stopped by and he a had a mesh bag full of something. Phai called me over while she got an empty mesh bag. He had been harvesting grasshoppers last night. He transferred a good number of live grasshoppers to Phai's bag and when she asked how much he said free. So she put a pot of boiling water on and emptied the bag into the boiling water. I felt bad for the grasshoppers but then again they are pests and eat the farmers crops here. 

Thai Massage

Phai got me all excited this morning when she told me she hired a masseuse to come to the restaurant and give me, her and Ning one hour massages. The cost is $3 per hour. I kid you not.  We put a thin pad down on the floor of the restaurant and Ning was first. I got nervous because the masseuse was a very strong woman and was bending Ning in ways I know my body won't bend. After an hour of vigorous massage it was my turn. …

I learned some new information about the Thai school system.

Up until now I had been referring to my three year old granddaughter going to "day care". Turns out that the public school system here actually begins at age three. They have three years of kindergarten here. 

Kindergarten 1: start after 3rd birthday

Kindergarten 2: after 4th birthday

Kindergarten 3. after 5th birthday

So that explains what I thought was "free" day care. It is actually part of the public school system in Thailand and that is why it is free and transportation is provided by the government. …

The dogs are going crazy today.


This is the mating season for the dogs here and it is crazy. I could hear some huge dogfights last night. When the dogs fight it sounds like they are killing each other. Usually one submits quickly, the fight ends and no one gets hurt. They are being much more aggressive now. In fact, our dog is limping and cannot use one of his back legs. He must of lost one of the fights last night. I don't think he realizes that at 20 years old he can't keep up. …

It rained for 40 hours straight.


It has not been a hard rain but a constant drizzle since Tuesday evening. It is now 5:30 pm Thursday and it has finally stopped. It is still overcast and cool. Some of the day required an umbrella and at other times it was a light enough that if you were not going far you could go without an umbrella. 

Phai told me last night that our son in law called Ning from where he is visiting (about an 8 hour drive from here) and said something is wrong with the truck. …

The sun came out today - before the rain started again.

Man eats roasted sticky rice

I know we are not getting as much rain as we would be if we were in Florida. One nice thing here is that the rain almost always comes straight down. It is very rare to have high winds here. Thailand does not get tornados which is a good thing. Because our new house has a large overhang and huge gutters we can almost always leave our windows open even during the heaviest rain storm. I love the sound of rain so I like being able to do that.

The dogs have finally settled down.

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Last night the dogs finally seemed to return to their normal obnoxious selves instead traveling in a pack and fighting. We got a good nights sleep last night and they have been quiet today with no fights. Glad that is over. 

Phai got up very early today to go to the Temple because it is 100 days since her mother died. That a is when a final ceremony is held to say goodbye to her. She left for the Temple at 6:00 am and I rode my bike there after I showered and had breakfast. …

A somewhat quiet Sunday in Isaan.

It was a quiet day in terms of not much happening but because the kids are off school it gets a little noisy. I sat with the two youngest grandchildren for about an hour this morning having fun on my iPad with language and video apps. I need to take advantage of opportunities to interact with them since our time here grows short. In only 14 days we fly to Bangkok for a night and the next day to Florida. I can't believe it is down to two weeks. 

Tomorrow Morning we head to Mukdahan.


Yep, it is official. Our son in law got home sometime after Phai and I fell asleep. This morning he showed us a tire he had to replace on the truck and said he was told all the tires needed replacing because they were rotting on the inside. I looked and it is a tubeless tire and the inside lining had deteriorated. They are over 5 years old.. I told Phai that I can see that that one needed replacing and even the tread wasn't great on that one and perhaps the other front one also but the back two looked okay. …


Wow, we pulled into Mukdahan about 3:00 pm after leaving home at 10:00 am. Not a bad drive. It is a very erie and exciting feeling to be back here after spending almost a year here during the war. 

It has really grown up. What was a sleepy village 44 years ago is a good size, and fairly modern city now. We checked into the hotel which is fabulous. At a $25 per night including breakfast and free covered parking it is amazing. …

I Love Mukdahan!!!

It has been an amazing day so far and it is only 4:30 pm. I just took a shower to cool off (especially my feet). I feel I may have shortchanged you last night (your morning) by posting that update about finding the property that I lived on forty four years ago. It will take some serious thought to put into words the emotions I felt and the memories that are flooding my brain. And the good things continued today but since we are heading to the night market in few minutes I am not sure what time we will get back to the hotel and what time I will update the site. …

A nice morning in Mukdahan and now back in Nong Dan.

We ran into a little problem last night in that the hotel had 3 large busloads of Thais who were in town for some type of meeting check into the hotel. About 8:00 pm they started to party up in the meeting rooms which were right above our room. We were on floor five and to get to the meeting and breakfast rooms on the sixth floor you had to use the stairs. The doors, which they propped open were about 10 feet from the door to our room. …

Visited my rice farm.

We went to my rice farm today to check on my crop. It is looking great. If we were here another month I would get to see the harvest. Starting to see the actual rice grains now. Photos below. Everything is so green and the river is really full. It is hard for my stepson to keep the path around the outside of the paddies clear because the vegetation is growing so fast. Phai harvested some bamboo to cook and did a little work to stop more water from flowing into the paddy. …

A visit to our Sugar Cane Farm. Check the new tab "Mukdahan - My Story".

I spent a lot of time today to create a new section on the site called "Mukdahan - My Story". I actually have a lot more story to tell but it is a start. Things always take longer than anticipated and my eyes are so tired I cannot see straight.

Phai asked me today if I wanted to see her sugar cane farm and of course I said yes. Because her son planted too early and the rains didn't come in time the crop is not good. …

Our Final Week! Accomplished another goal - attended a Thai Concert.

Today I booked our flight to Bangkok on Thai Air and a hotel near the airport in Bangkok. We will leave Udon Thani Sunday September 8th at 2:35 pm and get to Bangkok at 3:35 pm. The family will drive us to the airport in Udon Thani which is about an hour from our village. We will all have lunch together before Phai and I get on the plane. I will make sure I have extra hankies in my pocket. 

I also booked a hotel for the night very close to the Bangkok airport. …

A trip to Nong Bua Lamphu. The concert video is posted under More Video" tab.

Phai wanted to get all her dental work done before returning to the states so we took a trip into Nong Bua Lamphu. After a stop at the big Tesco Lotus where I had a Dairy Queen Blizzard to tide me over until we go back to the restaurant to eat soup we went to the dentist office. Phai had me wait outside so they didn't raise the quote because she was with a falang. Finally she came out and said it would have been 300 baht (about $9) but the cavity was so small the dentist recommended she wait. …

My first computer class conducted in Thailand.

Our friend the pig farmer wants to be able to communicate with me when I go back to America. His son bought him a new PC a month ago and I told him to bring it over and I will set him up with Gmail and Skype. I didn't think about the fact it would be a Windows system. I haven't touched Windows in eight years now and for those who know me I am what is called an Apple Fan Boy. I managed to maneuver enough to get his  system set up with the wifi at the restaurant, create a gmail account and Skype account for him and show him how to use both. …

Overcast, very humid and hot. Gave photos to neighbors.

We made a trip into Na Klang today to the shop that has the equipment to print digital photos. On August 11th a neighbor family up the street welcomed us during one of our walks and gave Phai a lot of plants. While we were there I took a few photos of the family. I used three different photos to create portraits of their beautiful children and had them printed out as 8 x 10 prints. We picked them up this afternoon and walked down and presented the photos to the grandmother. …

The suitcases are out and the preparation for our return trip has begun.

Today Phai and I spent some time figuring out what clothes to bring back home and what we are going to leave here. Luggage weight from Bangkok to Tampa is not an issue but it is from Udon Thani to Bangkok. The in country flights charge hefty fees for excess weight. I have a scale with me so we should be okay. We did not buy a lot of Thai souvenirs because we plan on living here permanently and want to minimize what we would have to bring back over when we make that move. 

A Crazy day. A National Park, two bee strings and two birthdays

We drove about one and a half hours to a beautiful National Park in the "mountains". Well, compared to Florida mountains. I took lots of photographs and video but it is about 7 pm now (8 am EST) and we just got back. We left at 9:30 this morning. I am doing this blog while the family gets the birthday dinners for Fa Sai (she turned 14 today) and her mother (Ning) ready. 

I will add photos when I can this evening. I can add the ones I took this morning now. …

Our Last Day in Isann. Packing is a pain.

I always dread packing for a trip. Especially in Thailand where airline weight restrictions are painful. When we flew to Thailand it was not an issue because we rented the large van and a driver to get to Nong Dan from Bangkok. But flying from Udon Thani to Bangkok can be a pain. We are going to leave a fair amount of clothes here but the bigger issue is all my camera gear, computer, iPads, etc. I will exceed the carry on weight limit and it is always hit and miss depending on the personnel checking you in if they weigh your carry on or not. …

Part Way Home. In Bangkok Now.

We woke up to major thunder, lightening and rain. I was a little concerned about possible effects on our plane trip but by the time to fly to Bangkok arrived it was just a light rain and we had a surprisingly smooth flight. Ten family members went with us to the Udon Thani airport and we had a nice lunch at the airport before checking in for our flight. Now, everyone knows airport restaurants are notoriously expensive. …

We are back at our townhouse in Brandon Florida.

After 26 hours of continuos travel we landed in Tampa at 5:30 pm this evening. I got very little sleep on the three flights. Phai, being smaller than me, was able to curl up and sleep a lot more than I did. They fed us a lot of food on the flights and it actually tasted pretty decent. It was amazing that all three flights (Bangkok to Tokyo, Tokyo to Atlanta and Atlanta to Tampa were either on time or early. Our layovers were timed perfect so we never felt rushed but also didn't have to sit around airports for too long. 

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