Monday, June 24, 2013

The Heat Revisited

I came back to Thailand for my second year of retirement right at the beginning of the hottest season of the year (beginning April). This year, coming from California where I had to wear a light jacket most of the time and even had to beg my older son Das not to surf because the water (Pacific Ocean, California side) was so damn cold, I loved coming back to where I didn’t have to wear a shirt or shoes!

(laying in the hammock at our 15 rai rice farm near the temple)

Unlike last year, this year I did not need to resort to fans, mid-day beer, or even frequent showers – although those always are worth the time to take.

You remember the ab nam routine, right? Even with a shower head and hot water in the new bathroom, I prefer the old plastic pan with cold water dumped over my head; maybe up to ten times a session to cool myself off, which includes splashes to certain critical areas to enhance cleanliness.

I guess you could say I’ve adapted to the heat of the Thai countryside and… it fits.

Now, when villagers ask me:

Hawn, baw?” (hot, no?)

My reply is usually:

Hawn nit-noy.” (hot a little)

They always laugh at this, because when the heat is on, it’s hot for everyone!

As I stated last year, I prefer the heat over mosquitoes (nyoong), even though some days may be as hot as “96-degrees in the shade.”

Friday, June 21, 2013

Village Home Rewired!

Here are some before-and-after shots from our village home rewiring, 2012 to 2013. Thai electrician Ee did a great job:

Old main line to the house, from the road:

 The upgrade, with local ground (inside white PVC):

The old main circuit breaker:

 Replaced with a junction box and distributed circuit breakers:

Old switches with their replacements in-process:

Which ended-up looking like this:

General inherited wiring also showing some of the new wiring and cable trays going in:

 How it looks now, facing south, in Thip's kitchen after we had the new roof installed:

Monday, June 17, 2013

"Home Alive" Revisited

Remember when I wrote about “Our Home is Alive!”? Well, here’s a “year later” update:

The scorpions were dealt with right away. They like dark crevices, so I filled-in cracks to our cement pad and removed debris from around the exterior of the house. Whenever I overturned something and saw one, it was dispatched mercilessly, including the time I chopped a mother with all her babies on back.

Geckos remain a feature of the home and I have no problem with them, even though they sound like they’re laughing at me, at times. They actually help with insect control. Same way with the Tokays who actually fascinate me.

When I began my retirement in Northeastern Thailand, the field rats were my biggest problem. My wife didn’t like them, either, but being the good Kamattan Buddhist she is, she didn’t want me to kill them. I hated having them in such close proximity and they would actually wake me up at night cuz there were so many of them. I decided to wage a not-so-secret war on the Noo.

I’ve done some trapping in my time and learned quickly how to outsmart the rats. I was always careful to dispose of their bodies when my wife was not around. By the time I’d won the war, around twenty Noo had been added to my negative karma.

I figured it was either us or them.

More lizards are living on our home property than last year, especially the thin, fast runners. This is probably due to my prohibiting the neighbors from hunting them, last year. Their movements are so precise they fascinate me almost as much as the tokays.

More birds are with us, now and more variety, too. Not sure why that is, but it’s probably because of the growing number of fruit trees we have that are being better cared for than before we bought the land. These include jack fruit (mak mee), mango, bell apple and cherimoya.

The neighborhood chickens still traverse the property. Their numbers are in the thirties, including chicks. The roosters provide some amusement for my friends in America, when I am gaming with them from the other side of the planet (BF3 on the PS3).

Dogs have become less of a problem and that’s mostly due to them having better pickings at the family farm, the family house and elsewhere.

Lastly, an increase in snakes has caused Thip and I to be more cautious and observant of the grounds and house. We want to keep those guys away from where we abide!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Borey and The Charcoal Kiln

Charcoal kilns are everywhere in the Isaan, but they're mostly tended to by the older folk. Here's a well-written description of a falang expat named Borey and Uncle Som and the charcoal kiln Som had going:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Invasion of The Big Boxes

The big chain stores have finally found Thailand’s poorest province and it’s provincial capitol of Nong Bua Lamphu.

My wife loves them; especially here in the Isaan where the stores’ air conditioning can provide much needed relief on a blistering hot day.

My oldest son and I have opposed “big boxes” (named after the structures built to house the big chain store) at various times in our lives, mostly due to the tendency of these businesses to drive out smaller, more indigenous, retail shops; what sometimes are referred to as “mom and pop shops”.

I think the Big Boxes have their place as long as they don’t directly compete with other, smaller businesses. For instance, when I neede to set up a home LAN (local area network; home wi-fi), I shopped at the new Tesco-Lotus (locals call it “Low-tut”). They had a better variety of models to choose from and a return policy that was fair. Many stores in Thailand will not take an item back once purchased, no matter if it’s brand new, you bought it that day or the day before, and have a receipt. To me, that’s just bad business.

Remember when I wrote about the “building boom” going on? Our village is only about “seven clicks” (seven kilometers) from Nong Bua and only a couple of clicks away from the nearest Big Box. Consequently, a lot of the building taking place in our village is intended for housing of workers who will staff the Big Boxes. Basically, they are single room/bathroom apartments in unites of 5-to-8 clustered together here in the countryside.

I guess the presumption is that a lot of out-of-town labor will staff the Boxes. Presumably, also, this labor force will be young and single, or at least without children.

It remains to be seen whether young renters will want to be so far from the lights of the city, even if they are only using the apartments as sleeping pads. I certainly have my doubts about the viability of these rental units spouting up like crazy, not only from an economic standpoint (after all, I want our villagers to be successful), but also a cultural one. If these apartments do get rented out, how’s the character of the village going to change with so many young people moving in and out, who we don’t really know?

We will see.