Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lao Trip 6.1 - To Nakhon Phanom

Every one of my trips outside the village is different and the ones outside of Thailand are even more so. My sixth trip to Lao, in March 2014, was not only different, but somewhat unique, as I travelled to the south central part of the country with the express intention of applying for another one-year Thai visa.

After leaving the village, on Day 1, I took a bus to Udon Thani, where I visited my good friend Scotty and his wife Rott. Scotty and I go back about a decade, as we share a number of things in common; Thai wives, expats from the United States, music, positivism, and an overall love of Thailand and its people.

(Scotty and Rott, on their front patio, celebrating his birthday in 2013)

I’ve noted previously about the many types of expatriats living in Thailand. Scotty is definitely one who is upbeat and optimistic in most all things. He has helped me out a number of times and I’m trying my best to get caught-up, in return; call it “Expat Mutual Aid.”

I’m always well received at Scotty’s, as Rott always has a beer ready for me. This time, I was surprised to have a Beer Lao DARK! Tasted great! Ah… I had more than one.

 Sometimes when I visit, we just rendezvouz at the big mall in town – Central Plaza, more commonly referred to by Thai’s as “Centrun.” It’s conveniently located close to the main bus station, so it was here that I took off from, the next day, bound for Nakhon Phanom (location of the main airbase for the Secret War, 1962-1975) via Sakhon Nakhon, travelling east.

Monday, May 26, 2014

My Thai Visas

I’ve written a little about the conditions of my one-year Thai non-immigrant “O” visas before. Well, March 2014 was the month my old visa expired and a new one obtained.

Last time I had transitioned from one Thai visa to another was in February/March of 2013. Since the main restriction is that you have to leave Thailand when your current visa expires and apply for a new one outside the country, I used the opportunity to visit my sons, parents, family and a few special friends in California and Florida. I basically did the 2013 trip back to the U.S. by credit card and deficit spending. So, this year, in an effort to create a travel account and save up for my next USA trip, I cancelled my plans to go back to America in 2014, skipping a year, and rescheduling it for 2015.

My family back in The States were remarkably supportive and understanding of this decision, despite 2014 being my father’s 90th birthday, and my second son and his wife expecting their second child – the first female Gault-Williams!

Monday, May 19, 2014

2014 Beginnings

Back in the late 1960s, in the USA, we called events or occurrences that were above the norm (in a positive way) HAPPENINGS. Well, January 2014 was notable for two Happenings that, once I get the courage to write about them, I will. One was the family New Year’s Eve Party out at Thip’s and my 8.5 rai (our second biggest rice farm and also currently being occupied by one of Thip’s brothers and his wife). The other Happening, towards the end of the month, I will simply entitle “Rescue Party.” Stay tuned.

In February, as the temperature heated up rapidly, the big thing was Thip being tasked to be the trip organizer and tour guide to Mynmar (Burma, or as the Thai’s call it: Pomah) for a group of monks, her father and two other lay persons. I was invited, but graciously declined. Most all temple-sponsored trips are way too busy and rushed for my taste. When I travel, I like to keep the pace slow and open to change.

Much to my surprise and delight, Thip did her research (thanks to her Nexus 5 “smart phone” and our home LAN) and even though she had never been to Pomah before, earned praises for how the 4-day trip went; visiting pagodas and other Buddhist sites.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Most Listened To in 2013

Before we leave our front patio, here's some more images...

... and before we leave 2013 all together, here is a sampling of some of my most-listened to music this year:

Carabao: Raeng Khoy :

Deng Jittakon – Absolutely most listened to; a favorite of the Village Headman and on the village loudspeakers a lot this past year:

The Airborne Toxic Event: Sometime Around Midnight – When I was back in California, March 2013, Das and Kopavi and I were on our way back from Sacramento when this one really got our attention. We didn’t pull off the road and stop, but mentally the effect was the same:

S.O.S. Band: Just Be Good To Me – Legendary DJ Lee Baby turned me on to this early 80s classic and, like the others, I put it in frequent rotation throughout the year:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Winter's End

After our second trip into Thung Yai, Thip and I returned to the village and settled back into our home routine.

It was still unseasonably cold at the end of 2013, but that didn’t last much past January 2014. As the winter wound down, we had Pong do a patio extension and bought some solid wood furniture to create a more welcoming front hangout spot.

Pattio extension with new furniture.
Note double front doors on right; one open, one closed.

Another shot taken from the same spot, looking out toward the road, 
our bamboo gate and farmlands beyond.

Over winter, I’d received a couple of promotions in my gaming clan, Tactical Gaming, requiring me to spend more time multi-player gaming, managing and administering during my mornings. While most expats rely on occasional expatriate meet-ups to keep them going, I’m fortunate to be able to link-up, in real time, daily, with gamer friends from around the world, thanks to the power of the computer and the internet.

... and a favorite song, when I think of "winter time" is Steve Miller's "Wintertime" ...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thung Yai by Motorbike

As exciting as my trips into Thung Yai accompanying Kamattan Buddhist monks between Washuku and Thong Pha Phum have been...

... there are admittedly more adventurous souls out there, some of whom have traveled a good deal along the same roads and tracks that we have, only on motorbikes.

Here are two photo-rich travelogues posted by guys who travelled along the Thai/Mynmar border going much further than we have, over stretches a truck definitely could not make. Recommended viewing: