A wise man once said....

"When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new."
Dalai Lama

Thursday, 31 December 2009

Goodbye 2009 and Hello 2010

We had no plans for any big do at the end of the year. In fact I had rather hoped every one had forgotten about the whole thing and we could have an early night and let it pass. But that never seems to be the way these things work out.
In fact it turned out to be a really great evening. We decided at the last moment to have a small party. About 20 of us in all including our house guests.. Those were Owen, Charlie Lynnie Ian and Thia. So already we had enough numbers to have the makings of a good party. So no choice but to go for it.
Charlie, Owen and  I did the 'Tesco' trip to stock up with beer, gin, tonics etc not forgetting of course the plastic plates, cutlery etc.
Wanna meanwhile was far more clever. She organised the cold box for ice, extra chairs and best of all for a roasted pig on a spit to be delivered. That was it the evening was organised.


All that was needed in addition to the above was a few more friends and we were off.  And they were planning on turning upa round 7.30pm.
I might add that the roast pig seller told us he had sold 53 such pigs for this evening!  Thats a good business by any standards.



The pig arrived already laid out on the spit and was half cooked with the charcoal still hot !  Way to go... The seller also organised as part of the deal for a young lad to remain and cook it cut it all up into small sizes ready to go with our potatoes and salads all to be washed down with a couple of very cold beers. See below as pictures tell a thousand words.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

And A Good Time Was Had By All

Well finally Owen, Charlie and Lynnie made it out from UK to join us for New Year. We also had Ian and Thea with us and Phuk joined for the evening. As you can see it was late and a lot of beer and Gin had been enjoyed. Great night.


Land Registry

Every year I try and set myself targets. Not silly new year resolutions but 'things'. Learn a computer software etc.

This year one of the aims was to complete the transfer of ownership of our new Condo in Bangkok. I know it happens when it hapens but it is long overdue as scheduled completion was Jul;y 2009,  and now fortunately they are completed. It was supposed to be a simple thing taking over ownership.

Saturday last weekend saw us in Bangkok at the Condo offices. Signed numerous papers and were told all was OK to proced with the formal registration with teh Government Department of Lands this Tuesday. It was to be a quick 5 minute job. Well it took all day. A long day starting with a few more signing wiht ouir bank and then the Department of Lands. It was all completed at 4.30pm....Real headache but now over. So 2009 has ended on a satisfactory note. I've added a couple of photos of their offices. As you can see they are the same as any Government offices world wide!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Daily Grind

Can't say I've been doing nothing, ut can say I've not bothered writing any posts. s apologies. As I mentioned earlier we have got my Mother over visiting and being with her plus time spend going to work means the days have flown by. Thats no excuse and I'll be getign back on trach this week.
What has kept us so busy...? Well travelling, shopping, sight seeing, work, sitting round at home and of course in our spare time doing absolutely nothing!
Last weekend saw us up in Khon Kaen where normally I take a few photos. It really is a photographers dreamland. So much colour and such different sights to see. However, and I do not know why, but my camera stayed in its pouch and we got back to Pattaya 'photoless'.
Monday was back at work followed by the usual pool evening. We lost.  Again. Getting to be a bad habit, one which we must change.
Last night saw us out again for dinner with friends. Great fun but again no photos. Again more and more food! SUper fried fish, steamed fish adn various salads and freid rice. I'll start very soon looking like my Blog title....
Anyway back to events. Which is where I started this rambling Post. I was thinking that today to add to this Blog I would go into the local town and take a few snaps of  the market and general street life. Nothing special, it really was intended to be almost a space filler for my Bolg. (I don't like leaving new postings to far apart....) So I planned ot go into town after lunch. No chance today at work things were manic and it is now time to hit the road home.  Back no doubt, to yet another busy evening.... Must take a few snaps tonight whatever we are doing!!!! Promise.... Always assuming I'm not to busy...

However and fortunately I suppose, I had earlier on the way into work catched sight of a group of school kids on their way to school. The little pick up/bus was packed to the limit. Did not seem to bother anyone as they carried on past us.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Pattaya Balloon 2009



The 2009 Pattaya International Balloon Festival is in its 4th year just outside Pattaya. Adds lots of colour and brightness to Pattaya's skyline.
So with what was a beautiful morning. I today set off to work as usual and round the first corner I spotted a set of balloons taking off. Sure enough Pattaya Balloon festival in my back garden. Even got my driver interested.

It was about 6.30am so I thought a bit early for most people so imagine I was surprised to see some many cars about. Must have been 200-300 at the very least. Seems I was not the only one interested. The air was still, not a drop of wind which I'm sure made for great ballooning. We stopped for a few photos but being so early in the day the light was not so good. Really for photo work it needed some bright blue sky as a back drop to set it all off. However a quick stop was in order and indeed absolutely necessary and a great chance for a few photos, I will be honest with you, I was glad to be gong to work and not up 'there' in a hot air balloon. I had no wish to partake thank you!

I'll say no more as it has already been said in far better detail on this link. That s.aid I might go along again tonight to see the night balloons.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Pasta Again



I seem to be long suffering. In fact it is self imposed suffering making yet more pasta. Seriously though I enjoy making it and am getting better at it. Now I know which wheats and how to mix them etc. Sounds good and a bit professional don't it?...
Indeed I've developed some patience and have learnt to wait till the dough is ready for rolling out and stuffing through the machine!! No small achievement I can tell you.
We made some yesterday evening and left it out to dry on the broom handle. Seemed to work easy enough and came out OK. Tonights dinner will be the proof!!


Pattaya Floating Market.


Had a very pleasent and interesting trip round the floating market at Pattaya. Also know as the four regions market.  That's because it is set up to provide a sample of all the different cultures and foods etc the four main Thai regions; and it manages to achieve just that. Not tacky and not too touristy.

Its located just south of Pattaya and was built in 2008. So its a relatively new place to visit.  It really is a great place to spend an afternoon even if you are not a shopper type. There are eateries of every description selling every type of Thai food and local coffees and teas. Various shops selling crafts and of course being a floating market there are numerous boats drifting around selling various food stuffs. It really is quite something. I'm finding it difficult to convey the place in writing and can only suggest you visit!!!!



We took my Mother who is out visitng with us and we all enjoyed it very very much. She wants to go back again.

I took a few shots but really could not do it any justice. It is the sort of place you could go back to, again and again to take photos and still need to return for that one last photo. So I am afraid this time, whatever I write in my Blog entry it does not do it justice. However as I keep repeating we enjoyed it, which is the main purpose of the trip.

It does have an official site  pattaya floating market

Monday, 30 November 2009

Shopping


A very quiet weekend. Saturday we picked up my Mother from the airport as she is out staying with us for a month. Sunday went and did a bit of shopping and took in a few local sights. Well I was exhausted at the end of it. My Mother was still in 4th gear going full steam ahead. Still it was good to have her here and plenty more activities to follow. During out trip out I only took one photo. No time. However in one of the big shopping arcades I noticed a stall selling car polish etc. Just though his stall was so appropriate. Using a bonnet as the sales table. Cool idea.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Long Boat Racing

The Annual Long Boat Racing at Mapracham Lake, Pattaya took place this weekend. Thousands of people turned out to watch this amazing event. I say amazing. Why? Because the boats come in several different categories based on size, nukmber of crew etc. They do a number of 1-2 kilometer straight races. Some sort of elimination and a load of heats and grand finals.
Similar events go on throughout the year in different places in Thailand and neighbouring countries, including Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Taiwan. All these countries were competing here today, and its serious stuff.
The events in Thailand are sponsored by the Queen and a cup is awarded to the winners of the various events and catagories.
The lake shore is only about 500 meters from our place so it was a short walk to have few hours of really good and 'free;'entertainment.
It was loud. I mean very loud, in true Thai style. I think the enjoyment factor in Thailand is a direct link to the volume of music and coming out of loud speakers. Really loud then its realy Fun, Fun, Fun...
And with the electrifing excitment in the crowds it reminded me more of being in the stands on a horse race day with full commentary blasting out, then anything else I could equate it to.
Add in all the usual side shows with country dancing competitions between the local schools, music groups etc. All the kids dressed up in their traditional costumes and looking great. Big smiles all round. Exactly!!! You would not expect anything less in Thailand.
And of course it would not have been complete without the full retinue of hawkers selling ballons, horns, flags, assorted trinkets and stalls selling every possible type of Thai food imaginable. The smells of curries, stirfrys, sweets, coffees etc. Magic.
It's difficult to capture the atmosphere of it all with so much going on around you where ever you looked. But I did take a few shots with the camera.

But back to the boats.

What was particularly interesting to me was the way the people looked after their boats. Immaculate.
All the boats were beautifully decked out and had the usual Thai adornments of brightly coloured cloth tied round the front. Not sure of the nautical term for such a 'bow sprit'. They almost remind you of the Viking long boats. When looked at closely it was clear they also all had special names depicting good luck and a reference somehow to their origin. Wanna, my wife who is not great boat person (she will freely admit to this!) was able to tell me exactly which province or town, inside or outside of Thailand they originated from, just by reading the name. (Maybe she was Bull Shitting me, but I would't know any better would I?...). So I'll accept it anyway.
All this racing is taken very, very seriously. Which of course makes it all the more of a major event not to be missed. It was great just standing around, watching, especially the sight of the long 'long' boats. They have crews of up to 58 persons. (I know I counted ! ). I figured at 55 Kilo a person it works out at over 3 tons of body mass per boat. Add in the wooden boat, drums, paddles etc etc and at it is a lot of stuff to shift through the water. But they did it and did it very quickly.
I'll be back agin next year and I already am planning on donig a proper video of it all as a 3-5 minutes thingy. Something to plan for.

Bufallo Racing

Every year at the yard outside the local Wat there is buffalo racing. Its done through out the country in different times in different places.Today we're lucky it is just outside out house about 500 meters away. It really is a local thing with some serious racing being undertaken. Wanna tells there is also some gambling but being illegal it was not obvious and I did not see any.



The idea is to ran the Buffalo's with a rider about 200 meters. Normally 4-5 in a race. And believe you me they move.. Just think about it. Trying to take a few photos and there is over 2 tons coming straight at you over 30 kilometers an hour is a bit nervy to say the lease. And of course in true Thai style safety is not a major issue like in UK etc. So stand in the way if you are stupid enough!!!! It seems ot be the way, thats why I took the picture fo the 'Felangs' with their cameras. More like Twitchers than ardent Buffalo race followers!!! And that's a lot of meat on the go...and a lot to stop if it hits you. So focusing in on it as it decends takes some bravery or total stupdity. Not sure which. In fact if it does hit you it will just keep on going.

video

Garden Lights

Sometime ago our friend Tee made some simple garden lights. I say simple as they were so simple and yet so effective. Basically he purchased a small 'garden lights' kit. It comprised a wick and plastic float together with some water colouring. You then need to use a bowl or glass with water and on top add some cooking oil. The float and wick float on top of the oil and when lit provide a lovely soft light. The added water colouring makes for a more rounded effect. Final lighting looks wonderful and a few of these set around the pool make for a really wonderful ambiance.
So with that in mind we decided on a short video to show how it was done. Bit self indulgent on our part, but hey this is my site right?...So we can do it.
We, comprising Wanna, Tee, his son Ghan and myself had intended making it in some sort of formal manner, but, a few 'takes' and it was clear a more relaxed type of video was called for. Listen to me sounding like an expert. I've also tried to add in the video of the video if you know what I mean.
I've only ever made a few home clips for this Blog!!! So stick with us on this one OK? Anyway check out below and tell me what you think of it. Well done Tee, and of couse Wanna and Ghan. Both leading Aotors and Actresses. Oscars anyone?....

video

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Camping

Had a really busy weekend doing all sorts of things. Attended a long boat racing competition in Pattaya. 5 Countries competing. Exciting stuff.
Buffalo racing, making garden lights. All of which I'll be sharing with you in the next few postings. But it brings me to possibly the most light hearted of them all, camping. Yes, camping, we set the tent up in the garden. You'd thing we were still young teenagers... So what!!!! It was fun.

video

Friday, 20 November 2009

Aquaponics

I'm enjoying writing and sharing about my life and times in Thailand etc. One project that has taken my fancy is to establish a small Aquaponics system. With some successful Internet searches I've got some good ideas to get me started. But it is clearly a separate and possibly long term project and as such I've decided to have a separate Blog to record its progress.




Join me in my exploits. See you there.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Fishing in Issan "Owen and Charlie".

Following our last weekend in Ban Munag. I put together this small video to let Owen and Charlie see what's store for them next month when over for some fishing. These fish are all home grown.

video

Monday, 16 November 2009

Ban Muang


Sunset in Ban Muang. As viewed from our farm.
Anyone following this Blog must think I live half my time up in Ban Muang. Well not quite but this weekend we decided to check on our road and complete a few little jobs around the place.
Well the road is looking great. No major cracks. All that is required is get the surrounding grass to grow and give it a more natural look. Instead of the harsh new bare concrete as it is now. We seem to have adopted a dog from one of Wanna's nephews. 'Bo' as he is called has moved in. I'm not sure who has adopted whom? But he's good company and seems happy enough just hanging around.

Those little jobs included some garden fencing, extending the conduit for the rice hut. Cleaning up and sorting out numerous boxes of stuff we had 5 years ago though worth boxing up. On opening the boxes most of the stuff was useless, outdated of just plain rubbish. And a lot of it I had just plain forgotten about.
We also restocked out fish net with some small 'fry' and got that started again. And bought some Mekong River Cat Fish. They the species not mine, are the largest 'scaleless fresh water fish in the world. Reputed to grow to 100 + Kilos. That's a lot of fish. I doubt in our pond they will exceed 25 kilos. Even that would be a great catch. But for now they go in at 0.5 kilo. Long way to go to reach 25 kilos.
The other thing this weekend is that it is rice cutting season. Hard work and in such a hot environment. Not my idea of fun.
But a really great weekend.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Wats And All

Busy weekend. Seems it started in a slow easy fashion and before I know it I was back at work Monday morning.
What happened? Well Saturday was intended to be a bit of a relax. You know what than means. a euphemism for doing nothing.
Didn’t work out as planned. Spend a few hours cleaning up a few things and checked out a few bits of stuff we had left in storage boxes. Even found my old rechargeable drill and grinder plus a few hand tools. They all needed some cleaning and the drill batteries recharging. So that took time in between coffees. Morning gone already. It did include a quick visit to us by Tee. He was all excited and he was trying plan a trip for Sunday up to Nakon Yayot. About 200 kilometers away in the national parks. Seems we could go to visit a famous Wat (aren’t they all ?) and see a large concrete dam and lake. All set in or close to one of the national parks. And if the water levers in the river are OK we are going for a river rafting trip. No sooner had we said “yes we would love to come along” then he said “Good. I’ll pick you up around 5 tomorrow morning.”. Before I could respond he was gone!!! So that is Sunday organized. Now back to Saturday.
Also found some time for baking and making yet another quiche. Why so many you ask? Well obvious really, they keep getting eaten. So by popular demand I keep making them. However I have given up following the same old recipe each time and added in a few of my own ideas. The usual bacon and cheese remains but I add a few different additions to each one, maybe a little curry powder and different spices seems to give them real added tastes. Last one included cocktail sausages and olives. Adventurous or what?... Hardly earth shattering or of the Jamie Oliver standard of ideas but I enjoyed it. Other big deal for the day… Making spaghetti. Yes I know, I seem to be going cooking crazy. Not really, its just that I am enjoying myself. And well, yes, Wanna had managed to locate some semolina flour. No mean feat in Thailand I might add. So I had to show my appreciation.
Finish the day off with a swim and relax in from of the TV. Rugby should be on but for seem reason I could not get it on my receiver. Bummer. Even earlier night than planned.
Ugh!!!! 4.30am and we’re up. Have some coffee and toast then get ready for the trip.
Made up some sandwiches and pack some water, drinks etc. And of course a quiche…. Don’t ask….
Checked camera, video etc and added in some spare towels and shorts(post rafting) ready to go and pick up the others. Six of us having a day out. Great.
And last but not least car keys and money. We’re off.
Tee drove most of the way and when we to there he was right. Beautiful spot and being early to the Wat (7.00am) we really were the early birds. However it did not take long for the place to start filling up and in no time it began to feel crowded. I was actually glad we had come earlier.
I should tell that by now the sandwiches had been eaten along with the quiche. That was before we arrived. Just a small snack during the journey. And we were all beginning to get hungry again….The place was quite calm if that is a good word to describe it. sort of lull before the storm. We wandered around and took a few pictures.

video
Wanna and the others wandered off to pray and we both ended up getting blessed by a Monk.

All made for a good start to the day. What next. A trip to the very large Concrete dam. Its apparently 2.3 kilometers along the top. That's a lot of concrete.
We stopped there for a while, again some photos and watched the fish swimming around. Yes big fellers they were to. I guess in the range of 6 kilos. Again everyone getting hungry. After our trip to the Wat it was time to move on to the Dam site. Followed by a trip to the water falls and a river rafting experience.
We even managed to fit in a good meal as well. All in all a great day out.