Saturday, October 31, 2009

We're Bored, Bingo & Fishing

We're been pretty bored over the last few days. Nothing is happening here in Mae Sai, Thailand. It's pretty quiet at this small border town.

Many folks are getting ready for the upcoming holiday, Loy Krathong.

Loy Krathong is a religious event which happens every year on the full moon of the 12th lunar month (This year it's the first full moon of November). Most Thai people buy or make a "KRATHONG". It is made of styrofoam surrounded by banana leaves, with flowers and a candle in the middle. Then in the evening, Thai people go to places where there is a river or a pond to launch their "KRATHONG".

They also have a BIG parade so everyone works to make floats for the parade.

This year the full moon is Monday, November 2nd. Many folks in Thailand go to the family homes to celebrate, much like the folks in America do at Thanksgiving. We'll tell you more about Loy Krathong in the next few days.

In the mean time, we have been hanging out eating and playing BINGO. Yep, BINGO right here on the Myanmar (Burma) border. They play for a Thai Baht or two a board. (1 Thai Baht = 3 US cents).

When Daeng is lucky she will win 20 to 30 TB an afternoon, big money!

Fishing is also something that many folks do here.

Yesterday, I went with the girls to fish at a "pay as you go" fishing place.

You rent poles for 10 TB (30 cents) and buy a pail of bait for 15 TB. Then everyone hangs out eating and drinking, soda and potato chips for us kids. Oh, we fished, too.

We spent about four hours and everyone caught fish, some big and some small.

We kept 3.8 kg (8 1/2 pounds) of fish which we had to pay 40 TB a Kg. Like I said, it's a "pay as you go" place.

We did have a good time at a total cost with pole, soda, chips, 2 pails of bait and over eight pounds of fish was 279 TB ($8.45 USD).

The six of us hopped on two motorbikes and drove back to the house for a fish fry.

Hlong, Daeng's sister, cleaned the fish.

Daeng started the charcoal fire.

I hung out to eat the fish. The fish were delicious!
Happy Halloween to everyone in America! Save us some candy as we'll be back to the USA in a month.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting your Furnace Ready for Winter

During this time of year almost everyone is getting ready for winter.
After spending 42 years in and around the Heating, Cooling and Ventilating business I wanted to pass on some tips for homeowners.
Replace your heater's air filter monthly or at least as needed. Your heating system will work less hard, use less energy and last longer as a result. Most homeowners can replace filters and do such simple tasks as cleaning and removing dust from vents or along baseboard heaters.

Examine your house's heating venting and ducts for leaks. Think of your duct work as huge hoses, bringing hot air instead of water into your house. Mostly out of sight, ducts can leak for years without you knowing it. They can become torn or crushed and flattened. Old duct tape - the worse thing to use to seal duct work, by the way - will dry up and fall away over time, allowing junctions and splices to open, spilling heated air into your attic or under the house. It's wasteful. According to field research performed by the California Energy Commission, you can save roughly 10 percent of your heating bill by preventing leaky ducts.

Furnace vents and chimney flues should be inspected -- preferably by a professional -- to insure proper venting of the gases created during combustion of natural gas or oil.

NOTE: ''Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is created by many combustion appliances, particularly furnaces,'' said Andrew L. Port, a certified industrial hygienist with Environmental Waste Management Associates, an environmental consulting firm in Parsippany, N.J. ''Basically, carbon monoxide is an asphyxiant that takes the place of the oxygen in your blood. "First, it puts you to sleep; then it kills you.''
Use your set-back thermostat. California houses built today must have them. If you have an older home, consider installing one. A set-back thermostat allows you to automatically turn down the heat when you're away at work or when you're sleeping at night, and then boost the temperature to a comfortable level when you need it. Remember - it takes less energy to warm a cool home than to maintain a warm temperature all day long. Properly using your set-back thermostat could cut your heating costs from 20 to 75 percent.

Make sure all hearing vents are opened and unblocked by furniture or other items. This will ensure that the air is evenly distributed through the home.

Note: If you are vacuuming out your furnace or heating appliance DO NOT VACUUM OUT THE BLACK SOOT WITH YOUR VACUUM. The black soot can still burn and under the correct conditions can explode inside your vacuum cleaner. That could injury you and at the least make a big mess when all that dirty explodes inside your home. Use a small brush and a playing card for a dust pan to remove the black soot.

To keep things working correctly keep the area around your heating equipment clean. Remember it takes almost ten (10) times more air than gas to make a flame. If the combustible air coming into the equipment is clean the equipment will work better and longer.

If your heating system is old, you might consider updating it. A pre-1977 gas furnace is probably 50 percent to 60 percent efficient today. That means only half of the fuel used by the furnace actually reaches your home as heat. Modern gas furnaces, on the other hand, achieve efficiency ratings as high as 97 percent. By replacing an old heating system with one of the most efficient models, you can cut your natural gas use nearly in half!

Insulate your attic. In an older home, that can be the most cost-efficient way to cut home heating costs. Before energy efficiency standards, homes were often built with little or no insulation. As a result, large amounts of heat can be lost through walls, floors and - since heat rises - especially ceilings.

If I can help answer questions about your heating system just email me at or visit our website for telephone numbers.

Get a routine maintenance and inspection of your heating system each autumn to make sure it is in good working order. In many cases the gas suppler will do this for free.

Remember to always use a trained professional to work on your most valuable single possession, your home.

If you live in an area that has steam, oil or other types of heat you may find this story in the New York Times helpful. CLICK HERE

Here is another link on getting your furnace ready for winter by FOX 5 NEWS. CLICK HERE


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Laughing & Buddha

Today, after Daeng made a little Som Tom Payapa Salad, we went to see if the Buddha from yesterday was okay.

We are not laughing at Buddha, we are laughing with Buddha. We went by the Temple that we wrote about yesterday to see if they had gotten the Buddha in the upright position.

Well, talk about poor planning. We found out that the small Temple area was not high enough to stand Buddha up in.

So they changed the plan and are now building an Alter in another area to put Buddha.

Buddha is in the shade and can sleep until the new Alter is built.

We did take a picture of the inside so you can see how the Buddha Image is made.

Even though it is hollow this image weighs over 2200 pounds (1000+ Kg)

We will keep you informed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Buddha and Team Work

The weather has been very nice along the Myanmar (Burma) border in Northern Thailand. We decided to take a little ride and go see how well Daeng's land had been cleared of over growth.

It is about 20 Km to her land. The folks that she had arranged to clear the over growth had done a pretty good job.

We left a bottle of chemicals for them to spray on the ground to help keep the weeds from growing back as fast.

Daeng had bought the land as an investment about six years ago. the house that was on the land fell down before she bought it. Some of the masonry is still left.

She gave the neighbor the 500 TB that was owed on the clearing. she had paid 1000 TB last week when she arranged for the work.

We then headed north from her property to come back to Mae Sai on the north east route. We stopped for coffee on the edge of Mae Sai and we noticed a little truck backed up to a Temple with a huge gold colored Buddha sitting on the truck.

There were maybe 20 men standing around looking at this Buddha. I realized that they were going to take this Buddha off the truck and put it in this tiny Temple.

We hopped on the motorbike and drove over to this area.

As time passed, more men showed up along with a small crane truck.

They rigged rope around this steel Buddha that weighed over a ton (1000 Kg). The crane laid the Buddha horizontally and then picked it up off the truck.

When the truck pulled away the men and crane moved this Buddha into this small Temple a little at a time until Buddha was laying on it's back in the place it would be set up.

Buddha was safe and inside for the night.

This Buddha was made in pieces and then welded together, sanded and finished to a beautiful gold finish.

It was definitely team work.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday is for Church?

Although I don't consider myself religious I have been known to go to church once in a while.

We got up and did our morning walk, came back to room, showered and dressed. We then hopped on the old motorbike to go see Pastor Lota's service at the little church run by Rev. Sunit.

We arrived late but I've been told that you are never late if you get there before the collection is made.
I don't know why but Thai parents always want me to hold their kids. I feel like a politician. Usually I scar the kids and they start crying. That may be because I'm almost twice the size of the average Thai person and look pretty scary with all my hair.

It was nice to see Pastor Lota speaking in Thai and then being translated to Akha for some of the member of the congregation.

After church Daeng's family rode over to the new restaurant around the corner. We had driven by the other day and saw it advertised on cable TV, too.

The name of the restaurant is "Coconut Restaurant". I think they picked the name because they have coconut ice cream. Sorry to say the food was terrible and the service was every worse.

The coconut ice cream was average if compared to the ice cream carts that sell ice cream on the road stands.

We had to try it once. The building was fixed nice and will probably be up for sale in a few months.

As we returned to our room we stopped to take a picture of the renovations at the place next door to our hotel called "Monkey Island".

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Good Morning Mae Sai

Another morning in paradise. We got up and took our morning walk. this morning we walked down our little street and under the bridge that goes across the river to Myanmar (Burma). The other side of the river in back of us is Myanmar.

The border is watched closely by armed military. They stay very low profile but there are around.

We walked down the road a little and stopped to watch the concrete men empty a cement truck one bucket at a time.

Then onward to the little vegetarian restaurant we like to eat at when we walk on this side of the village.

After we ate we walked the long way back to our room, showered and took a nap.

When we got up we, yep you guessed it, we ate again. This time we had a BIG fish cooked with a very spicy sauce.

The rest of the day was nice as we just hung out walking, talking with folks and laughing.

We stopped by the Rudy processors and watch them separate rubies. They handle thousands of small rubies everyday sorting them into piles by quality an size.

I can't tell the difference between them at this stage but I'm told the difference in price between one pile and another is 20 times higher. These rubies are used to make jewelry and have to go through many more stages of cutting and polishing.

Another thing I am amazed at is the quantity of fruit that grows everyplace in Thailand. The fruit that Daeng is pointing to gets to be the size of a basketball.
We retired early as we had walked many kilometers today. We needed to walk to burn off all the food we had eaten.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Boonreang's Birthday

I would like to move from death to a lighter fare.

Today is Daeng's son, Boonreang's birthday. He is officially fourteen (14) today.

The family celebrated with a small birthday cake, birthday gifts and colored pictures of the King (money).

Wow, fourteen years old, I remember my 14th birthday a long time ago in a land far, far away.

Cruz Evaristo Vetasquez, Jr. 08-25-36 to 10-15-09‏

Greetings from the Myanmar (Burma) Border in Thailand,

The American Embassy, in the Philippines, called me about 6:15 this morning, our time, to inform us that our friend, Cruz, passed away on Thursdays, October 15th, due to a heart attack.

He had recovered enough from his leg infection to travel and was scheduled to return to the United States on Friday the 16th. He passed away from heart failure on Thursday, the day before his flight.

If you know of his family, please have them call the US Embassy. Unless the American Embassy can find Cruz's family his remains will stay in the Philippines.

We will always remember Cruz. Personally, I am thankful for his guidance, regardless of how strange it was at the time, as without him I would not have met Daeng or be where I am today, in the "Land of Smiles".

Daeng stated to me that Cruz probably died where he wished.
Love to all,
Terry & Daeng

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Halloween & the Scary Pumpkin

After being a plumber for more than 42 years I know about the SCARY PUMPKIN and the large amounts of money people have given me because they did not follow the SCARY PUMPKIN Rules.

Millions of kilograms of pumpkin seed and pulp are put into household drains every year at this time. Yea, the plumbing company's telephone starts to ring with the request of "Please help us, the plumbing in stopped up!"

Please follow these two rules and you won't have to worry about the SCARY PUMPKIN:

1. Never put pumpkin seeds OR PULP down the toilet, sink drain or garbage disposer. This pulp and seeds will clog drains and disposers.

2. Carve pumpkins on a newspaper. Wrap up pumpkin left over materials and throw away in the garbage or your compost pile.

You can separate the seeds and roast for a treat. You can also grow your own pumpkins by planting this year's seeds next spring. Remember not to put the pulp down the drain or toilet!

If you would like to see the World's largest Pumpkin according to Guinness World Records just CLICK HERE.
The Largest Jack O'Lantern is kind of scary.

Best wishes to you all, HAPPY HALLOWEEN and may your drains never stop up!

Friday, October 16, 2009


We had coffee and joke at Jan's coffee stand. Jan is Charlie's girl friend. Charlie is our friend from Canada who is now retired here in Thailand. Joke is a boiled rice, kind of like oatmeal but with rice.

We then went back to guest house, packed and headed to the clinic to get Boonreang's Government Medical ID Card.

When we got the the clinic it only took a few minutes to have the temporary card in hand. The permanent one will be mailed within the next two months.

We then headed to Daeng's brother's home outside Chiang Rai and he is the keeper of the family's book of record. He was busy building a new bed.

We visited a little and then headed to our friend's Peter and Nok as Nok had made sun dried pork for us. It is the best dried pork I have ever tasted. We spent most of the afternoon with them and headed back to Mae Sai.

When we got to our room in Mae Sai we showered and watched the news. We then got dressed and headed to the final night of Pastor Lota's four day camp out at CHILDLIFE. Over a hundred kids from the local area, within 60 Km, had come to CHILDLIFE during the four day camp out to have fun and learn about the Bible's teachings.

It was about 7:00 PM and dark already so we had to make the trip a lot slower than in the daytime. When we turned off the paved road we could hear the music and the kids singing over a kilometer away. When we arrived at Ban Nana, CHILDLIFE, It was great to see the young people singing and having fun.

They were having contests between five groups of kids to see who could act out stories in the bible the best. Daeng and I were asked to help hand out the prises.

At the end Pastor Lota ask me if I would do a couple of minutes about "Smiles and Hugs". It is about how it is hard to be mean to someone you have hugged.

I was worried about how it would work with a English to Thai translator but the translator worked well and the kids took part by everyone hugging each other.

It was hard to get the kids to laugh at the part about me being so big, fat and old but finally got through to them that they didn't have to be afraid of me because I had eaten dinner already. Thank you Pat LeBorio for that great line!

It is always wonderful to visit the kids of CHILDLIFE and Pastor Lota.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The 30 Baht Medical Plan

I am learning more about Government Health Plans, not only because of what is happening in the USA, but because Thailand has a Government Health Plan.

The plan is free and the co-pay is 30 Thai Baht a visit ($.90 USD).

It is my understanding that if you have a Thailand National Identification Card you are covered under the plan. There are other ways to be covered. One way is if you are to young to have a National ID Card you can go to the area that is your home of record (your permanent address) and apply for a health card.

Daeng's son, Boonreang, had a card from Mae Sai already but because he is going to school in Chiang Rai he needs a card for that area.

We got up and went to the hospital in Chiang Rai with his birth record and residence record (called a house book). We were told that we needed to go to the local clinic office about 18 Km up route #1.

We hopped on the motor bike and made the trip to that clinic only to be told we needed him to sign the form as he was a young man now.

Back on the motor bike to his school room for his signature.

We saw some bananas growing wild but we did stop to pick them as we had some great barbecued chicken on the way and could not think of eating anything.

Well, to late in the day to go back to the clinic so we decided to return on the way back to Mae Sai tomorrow.

We called it a day.