A wise man once said....

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

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.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

6 years on....and on.....

Yesterday was our 6th Wedding Anniversery. Our friend Phuk came round. and left us with a beautiful cake. Lovely idea.

We had not made any plans for the evening but eventually decided to go out and have simple mexican dinner. It was good! But no photos.

That said I had not planned to write about it but for some reason this morning I went back to loook at our wedding photos. Though perhaps I would play a quick 'spot the difference'. There were to many differences to choose from!!!
But that's my opinion. You can see below the Wedding and the 6 years on photos for a comparision!!!! I doubt very much that I need to tell you which one is which! (Hint: The new one has a cake in it!!!).

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Loy Kratong

Monday night was special. It was ‘Loy Kratong’. One of the most popular and romantic of Thailand's traditional festivals. The festival is held on the night of the 12th full moon, which this year was on the Monday evening. Last night.
We went to the local Wat and whilst it was fun, it was somewhat low key this year. Perhaps also it was because we had been so often before over the last few years it was no longer a new thing to us.
The festival is to pay homage to the goddess of the rivers and waterways, Mae Nam.
‘Loy’ literally translates to "float", while ‘Kratong’ is the Thai word for a sort of tray made out of Banana leaves. We had one Loy Kratong each. Loy Kratong 'activity' is celebrated by floating these down a river. Again in our case it was a lake and the wind was blowing onshore. So they did not go far…. Not sure if this is a good or bad sign….
The romance input, is provided by a legend from the origins of the festival in 13th century during Sukhothai. The story goes, Nang Nopamas, a royal consort of King Ramkhamhaeng (the founder of Sukhothai), made the first kratong as an offering to Mae Nam. She set it afloat on one of the canals of the palace so that it would drift past her lover the king. The king was delighted with the creation, and this was the origins of the saying that if two lovers set a kratong adrift and it stays afloat until out of sight, their love will last forever. You believe that…..... Keep floating your Kratong...along….
So my video, which is not particularly good opens with a lantern floating in the sky. I tell you this as I doubt you would have figured it out on your own! Not a critism of you the reader but of my vidoe techniques.
It is made of paper and has a small flame/candle to heat it up so it lifts into the sky and floats away. Beautiful to watch. The rest of the video shows people placing their ‘Kratongs’ and a few shots of some food stalls at the evening event.

video

Monday, 2 November 2009

Guns without Roses….☺




Often up at Ban Muang, having a cool beer as the evenings set you may hear gun shots. Not automatic but single shots. Clearly not a high caliber rifle but something more akin to a shot gun that you might find in the UK. ‘12 bore type thing’. I knew about this as I had several times asked what was ‘that’ noise. Well imagine my surprise when I came up this weekend and found one such gun up against the wall in my bedroom. It is an old fashioned type which I am told are made locally. It has a flint lock and needs gunpowder and manual priming followed by a flint to let it off. Has a range of about 40 meters tops.
What do you use it for? Shooting wild rat and birds. Farm food is the way it was described to me. I plan to try shooting with one next time I go up. Only worry is will it blow up in my face. It looks so old and fragile. Take a look at the close up of the flint action. This gun is apparently about 25 years old. They are available for sale but I’m not sure about getting one. I think I would prefer something a bit more modern and also need to learn just what I am going to shoot excluding my own foot of course!!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Making Of Our Road

It’s a big event making a road. You see them everyday but this one we were making for ourselves. A small road. About 3 meters wide 35 meters long with a small turning area. Hardy a major engineering feat but enough for a weekends work for a desk jockey…

video


The Project
To make the road with an area of about 170 square meters.
Materials. 17 cubic meters of concrete. It weights in at 45 tons. Needed four delivery trucks. Some reinforcing steel and a couple of embedded plastic pipes for future use to carry water and electricity. Not together!!!!
Labour. 4 experienced construction workers, with Wanna and I helping by getting in the way.
Started at 2.00pm and we were done by 6.30pm. A good piece of work which went well in spite of my involvement. No real issues except for the first truck delivery which started to bed itself in the first part of the road and crushed my plastic water pipe as it reversed in. So much for advanced planning. Positive side to this was that the ground got better compacted. On completion of the work it was followed by showers, clean cloths and a sit down to an excellent chicken dinner. Way to go… I’ve posted this video together with a few photos. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did making it.