Monday, May 31, 2010

We Made it to California 05/31/2010

We made it to our home in California. It was a good trip without any unusual events. We do have a bad case of jet-lag but other than that we are in good shape.

My sister, Diane, had cleaned our house and put some food in the refrigerator so all we have to do is turn on the water heater, take showers, have a little to eat and head for bed.

Love to all!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bangkok 05/30/2010 Looks like the Bronx on Sunday Morning

We made it from the Myanmar (Burma) Border to Bangkok yesterday.

Bangkok looks like the Bronx on a Sunday morning. There are very few tourists and the shops and store have everything on sale with big discounts so they can pay the rent.

We flew in, had something to eat, showered and I slept for almost 16 hours. Daeng slept for about 14 hours, too. We were beat from finishing all the work on the new place in Mae Sai.

Daeng is now out shopping and taking some pictures of what the "Red Shirts" did to this area. They sure did help out with the economy. I'm not judging, I'm just saying.

Our plan is to rest as we make the long trip to California tomorrow. It is supposed to be over 100 degrees in LA this coming week.

Love to all, may your toilets never run over and stay cool.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mae Sai 05/29/2010 We're done for this trip

We have been busier than a one legged man in a butt kicking contest. Kick, fall down, get up, kick, fall down, get up, kick, fall down, get up, kick, fall down, get up, kick......................

We told the guys if they didn't finish the work yesterday they would not be paid until we return in September. You guess correctly, they finished all the work except for the dead bolt on the metal roof door. They said they would return at 8:00 this morning to put it in.

All the major work is complete and everything works good. We had a couple of hours of hard rain yesterday afternoon so we got to test the new piping system. Everything drains correctly.

I was a little worried as I watched them pour the concrete but it turned out very nice. I also had some concern about the way they hung the Teak door in the downstairs room off the kitchen. They deep mortised the four door hinges in the door but surface mounted them in the Teak door jams.
They explained that because the jams are sent in concrete they can not be replaced but the door can and the only thing that would show, if you removed the hinges, would be the screw holes. They can be filled. The door looks good.

The only thing that was wrong is I set the eight (8") clean out up to grade beside the building. I did not glue it in so if a car or truck ran over the top it would just push down and not break the pipe. Well, I stepped on it before the concrete was completely dry and it went down a few inches.

I removed the cap and raised it up again. This time we put a big planter over the top so no one will drive or walk on it.

We are going to give Daeng's brother, Tun a set of keys to the place this morning and walk him through everything that we feel he should know.

We have a car picking us up at 11:30 AM, talking us to the Chiang Rai airport about 50 Km south. Our Air Asia plane leaves for Bangkok at 1:35 PM. It is about an hour and ten minute flight.

We'll hop in a taxi and stay in a nice little guest house in downtown Bangkok. We'll rest up for two nights, do a little shopping and head to California on Monday night. We leave Bangkok at about 5:00 PM and arrive in LA two hours later. That always blows my mind.

According to the weather reports on the Internet if will be 100 degrees in LA this coming week. I'm sure our telephones will be ringing with people saying: "Please help us, it's hot."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mae Sai 05/23-2010 8" Pipe

We are beat but relieved that the 8" drain line to the street drain is in the ground, tested and back filled with sand.

Everything went pretty good with the new crew except one of the workers was hurt badly yesterday. What happened is he was cutting some rebar with a 4" grinder using a thin cut off blade but no guard on the grinder. You guessed it, the blade broke and a piece went into his eye.

The part that pissed me off is everyone just kind of hung around not taking any action to get him to a hospital. I called Daeng, who was at the afternoon market. She rushed home and demanded that they take him to the hospital, right now!

The good news is we were told today that his eye will be okay. We were relieved to hear that as when I looked it was cut pretty deep into the eye lid.

We both are happy that this 8" pipe project in done. All we have to do is some concrete work and a few odds and ends and we can leave Mae Sai for three months.

I'm going to turn in early tonight as this 68 year old body is tired from working with the big pipe.
Tomorrow, it's electrical, finish kitchen and replace one broken tile in bathroom. Then back roof repair, eves trough replacement and repair roof drain pipe.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mae Sai 05/20/2010 Moving right along...

Things are moving right along.

The Thailand Army went into the UDD, Red Shirts, barricaded area and the demonstration is over. I don't what to get political as I'm an invited guest in this country but................ Call me at 1-714-586-9569, leave me a message and I'll call you back with my feelings on the subject.

The new re-modeling guys finished the bathroom this afternoon. YEA! We have already tested the fixtures but will wait until tomorrow to run the shower to be sure the grout is set.

For the 8" drain piping, we arranged to have the concrete broken, hauled away, the ditch dug and back filled after we install the pipe. The cost was a little high at 13,500 THB ($422 USD) but we needed to do it fast. They have worked two days and already had to replace the armature in the small jack hammer they are using. They are about half way.

We priced the impact hammer they are using and it cost 22,000 THB new. That means we are getting the breaking, digging, hauling and back filling of ditch for half the price of the jack hammer.

Tomorrow, the electrician will wire up the lights and switches for the bathroom and put a couple of plugs in for refrigerator and upstairs hallway.

The tile guy will start finishing the kitchen by setting the sink and plastering the inside of the tile cabinets. They are also going to change a couple of tile that the other tile guy put in upside down.

We think everything will work out alright so we can return to the USA in 11 days.

Remodeling is almost as fun as camping.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mae Sai 05/19/2010 Life is Good

We are moving right along with our projects. A lady at church referred us to a young tile man that is going to finish the bathroom for labor of 3500 THB ($110 USD). We already bought all the materials.

He also said not to pay him until the work was complete.
Yesterday, they removed the other tiles that was not bonded well and have the doors hung and locked. They work much cleaner than the Burmese tile guys and the work looks good.

Daeng and I have done all the drain piping inside both of the shop houses we bought. It looks good and works well.

Our only problem is braking the concrete outside the building to run the 8" piping to the street. The concrete is like granite. Yesterday, we had two laborers and our friend, Pastor Lota, use 10 pound hammers for half a day and only broke about 2 square feet of concrete. We have about 90 square feet to remove.
Pastor Lota came by to see if he could help us so we put a 10 pound sledge hammer in his hands.

There are no concrete cutting and breaking companies here like in California. We need to find a crew that does street work as that is how the concrete has been done, re-bar and everything.

Taun, our Thai friend that lives in Japan, is home for a holiday. She came by to say "Hello" while she was here. She is funny as she does not want her skin to be dark so she is bundled up like she is going out in sub-zero weather. Here is a picture of her as she was getting ready to go out into the sun. Remember, it is over 100 degrees here.

As far as the concrete work, move will be reviled.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mae Sai 05-17 Falling Tile & Chicken Heads

I slept great last night, the best in a month, and let me tell you why. The night before we woke up with this large crashing noise. We thought it was just a loud lighting strike as it was raining. We went back to sleep.

In the morning, when the tile men came, they ask us if we had pulled the top row of wall tile off the walls as it had fallen off. We told them no but we did hear the loud noise in the night.

We'll they thought it was us that did it so they said they did not want to work here any more. I said great, good-bye and have a nice life. I was even happy about it as they have done such poor work along the
Salad, the head man, called and said he was coming to pick up everything. We said we would pile his concrete forms and tools outside so he needed to come do it right now as we were leaving for church. Hlong, Daeng's sister-in-law stayed behind as she speaks Burmese. Also, she is very strong willed and won't let him get away with anything, else.

We can hire someone to correct their work or I'll just do it myself. We can put up with most of their mistakes. We can live with tile upside down in the pattern of the back splash of kitchen, the small puddle area on the counter and the random groat lines.

As I was working along,I even fou nd myself singing. I feel better about this re-model project now than I have from the start.
We bought almost all the pipe and fittings to do the gray water drainage system to the outside of both shop houses. It is all PVC as ABS is not available in Thailand. The size ranges from 1 1/2" to 6" pipe inside, at the rear and then will be 8" outside the building, running to the street drain.

There are a few fitting that I would like to make the job easier, 1/8 bend hub-spicket (street) ells and flush reducing bushings but "This is Thailand".

By the way, the cost of all the fittings in the picture is about 2700 THB (less than $85 USD)

I laugh at all the folks that look at our project as they are used to doing open trench draining. Then they wonder why they have bad odors and mesquites. It is bad enough they don't vent the plumbing drains but open trenching gets really nasty.

Kit, Daeng nephew, helped me get all the pipe installed in back of the center shop house and into our corner shop house. I am real pleased with it so far.
I also eat something else I never thought about eating, chicken head. Yes, the girls were all sitting around eating chicken feet and chicken heads so I thought I would belly up to the table and eat one.

They are very easy to eat as you just chew it all up, brains, eyes, red part, everything. Guess what, it "tastes just like chicken".
Our plan is to just work along and do what is needed to correct the Burma tile men's work and get the storm/gray water drains hooked up. If we have to stay an extra week or two more in Thailand, that's okay, too.

This in one case that I am happy to say if it could not be my way it was the highway.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mae Sai 05/10 to 05/13 Lots has Happened

A lot has happened in the last three days. Besides the constant battle to get the Burmese tile setters to keep putting the tile with the shiny side up we, Daeng and I, did all the plumbing piping.

Patience and tolerance, patience and tolerance, patience and tolerance.........

That's correct, this old, fat, plumber, at the age of 68 broke out the concrete floor in the cooking/garage area, punched holes through the concert walls and installed all the piping, with Daeng's help. The plumbing for the kitchen sink, shower, toilet and bathroom sink is in and the water back on and tested.

It also gets me in shape to return to California and fix air conditioning system this summer. We will be back in California by June 1st.

Since the whole family wanted a squat toilet, we had the tile men install a squat toilet in the third floor rest room. They did it as a side job and we paid them 500 THB to do it. that is about $16 US dollars.

Now, besides the purchase of the place next door and the recording of the Land Lease, while doing the other work we learned that the 8" drain line that should go to the street drain has been blocked off. This was done when concrete posts were installed for a second story addition in the shop house next door.

Now, we knew there was a problem with the gray water drain when we bought the shop house but we did not know the magnitude.

What this means to us is we need to put in eight (8") drain piping to the street drain for sinks, shower and rain water. The system is what is called "Gray Water Drain". It is a job but we can do it with lots of labor to dig the trench. We think we will do it in PVC or cement pipe. We need to break out more concrete and dig down to investigate more to make that decision.

As far as fun, we are going to a wedding today. Bang, a girl that Tun, Daeng's brother, and Hlong raised, is getting married at 6:00 PM. It will be a small Christian wedding with a little reception after the wedding. She, at about age 22, is marrying a nice "Akha" man, of about the same age from Myanmar (Burma).

As for me, I'm going to continue working on the place and will add pictures and write more later.

Well, the main tile setter didn't show up today. We were worried about that when we gave them the 500 THB last night for putting in the squat toilet. Sure enough, got drunk last night and no show for work today. TIT w/BT (This is Thailand with a Burma Twist). The other tile man started grouting the walls.

I went next door and used an impact hammer to break up part of the floor. I don't think the drain line can be saved. We have one more neighbor's drain to look at and we'll know for sure if we have to install a new drain system.

We also see some water on the floor so we need to be sure and install a floor drain, just in case.

Daeng and her nephew, Kit, worked all day cleaning the 3rd floor. It is my understanding that the tile cutting is finished so no more tile dust. YEA!

We are going to shower and have some fun at Bang's wedding. She stopped my today and she does look "hot" for a 22 year old Thai girl! Although she is to old for me! (Come on, it's a joke!)

The wedding was nice. It was a simple wedding ceremony, although the only part I got is "as husband and wife live happily together...". I still, after four years, don't understand Thai.

There was a lot of girls, too. We think the girl to boy mix was about 10 girls to one boy.

We also want to show you the typical Thai kiss. It is a long kiss on the cheek with a kind of inhaling noise. It is very seldom done in public. This is an exception.
I came home around 9:00 PM but Daeng stayed and helped with the party.
The food was all cooked by Hlong and it was delicious, fried rice with chicken, soap and a kind of Thai cold slaw.
A fun time was had by all.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mae Sai 05/09/2010 Didn't sleep good!

First, let us say Mother's Day is a United States of America holiday but we want to say to all the Mothers of the world: "Happy Mother's Day."

I did not sleep well last night as I kept thinking about the mistakes the tile men were making putting on the tile. Every time I walk by the kitchen or the new bathroom I get pissed. So, to solve that, we are going to have them change the tile that are wrong.

That is the sun shining through our new bedroom windows.

When Salad arrived, with four men this morning, we confronted him and told him what we wanted. We could tell he was not real happy about it but to bad. It should be correct.

We talked with the regular men and we think they now understand about the pattern on the tile. The other two men are putting in the door jams for the door we bought yesterday. When that is done they will be finishing the block wall. That way the wall can be plastered tomorrow.

After the wall is rendered the door can be hung and we can stain it. That way Daeng can have her Mother move in a few days.

I went out and bought the few things we need to do the plumbing in the next day or two. Daeng went and bought some more tile grout, cement and tile edge. It looks like we will need two more boxes of wall tile, also.

After lunch, we came back to find the older tile man had started a new row of tile with the tile upside down. I kept thinking to myself: "Green side up, Green Side UP!" That's a Polish Landscaper joke.

I'm not feeling well today, maybe due to lack of sleep, so I'm going to rest the rest of the day.

I did get up, after a few hours, and helped get almost all the wall tile on the bathroom walls. It is looking pretty good, if we do say so, ourselves.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mae Sai 05/08/2010 Bathroom Tile

The day started out pretty good. Salad came with two men and they laid out the tile for the upstairs bathroom. I questioned why they were doing the tile before the plumbing but they just said that's the way they do it in Thailand.

They laid out the level line for the tile with a water level, a piece of plastic tubing with water in it. One person holds the tubing with the water line on a mark and the other person marks the other side of the wall were the water line is. We used to set closet flanges for toilets that way when I was young except we used a garden hose.

I did talk with Salad after they laid out the tile and we will buy the new wooden door and door jams today so they can finish the wall on the downstairs room. We also agreed to go buy the plumbing fittings and pipe so we can get that part done, too. After the plumbing is tested they can finish the floor and hook up the kitchen sink.

We had to go to two places to buy the plumbing parts because the first place did not have the the type fitting that I wanted. I wanted female adapter elbows with a metal insert in the fitting. That way the plastic fitting does not stretch out when you screw in the shut off valves.

We did buy a very nice Teak, panel door to match the existing window shutters. That, with the door jams was 2180 THB ($68 USD). The stain, locking door set and brass hinges cost an additional 830 THB ($26 USD).

When we returned Daeng took one of the men from Burma to get another worker. He is doing the grouting of the kitchen tile. They did turn a few of the tiles upside down when they installed them but I'm probably the only one that will notice.

By the way, I must have looked cute with a length of 3" sewer pipe on the motorbike.
I will be very happy when this re-model is over. The dust never stops!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mae Sai 05/07/2010 Ate a BUG

What's New? What's Different, What's Typical? Let me answer those questions in reverse order.

Typical stuff was got up to a sun shiny day. We'll, I got up in the dark, about 5:00 AM and watched the sun come up with my morning coffee. Daeng got up about 7:00 AM and me had coffee and fruit together.

New and different, I did something I thought I could not do. I ate one of those big bugs I said I could never eat. Daeng brought home a small plastic bag of a Cockroach-June Bug looking bugs that her brother, Tun, had fried up last night.

We kidded around and I finally said: "If you eat one, I'll eat one." So there you go. She just popped one in her mouth and crewed it with a little crackling noise. "Okay, smart ass!" I said to myself. I picked one up and eat it. I was very surprised as it tasted just like chicken.

I'm kidding, as it was crunchy but tasted very spicy. I think that was from the spices that were used to cook it. I know think I have eaten just about everything here in the "Land of Smiles".

What was typical today was the men doing the remodeling showed up very late, about 9:30. They said they were going to finish the kitchen tile today. We told them we were leaving for Chiang Rai in about a half hour but would be back later today.

We changed clothes, took copies of everything we needed to see the attorney that Jeff from Lanna Realtors had suggested to us. The reason for our visit to an attorney is foreigners can not own property in Thailand. When we bought and recorded the shop house at the District Land Office, I had to sign a statement that even though it was my money and Daeng and I were married (Thailand is 50-50 community property.) the property belonged to her, alone.

I'm sure you have heard of stories about the Asian girl and the old, stupid foreigner. We all say: "That's not like me or us."
I talked to a man at the bus station in Chaing Mai a few years ago, myself. He said he was from Denmark. He was sitting on a bench in the bus stations looking depressed. I ask him if he was okay. He stated he had bought a house in his girlfriend's name and when he returned from a trip to Denmark, the house was sold and she was no where to be found.
One of the ways to avoid this is through a "land lease". The lease says that I am leasing it from Daeng for 30 years and, for tax reasons, a set amount, paid in advance.

If she dies the lease is still in affect and I can still live there, sell the lease or just rent the property to someone else. We wrote the lease if I died first the lease is canceled with no strings attached. She is my wife, and an excellent wife, at that.

The only negative part is we will have to pay about 7,500 THB ($235 USD) tax on the lease on top of the 8,000 THB ($250 USD) for the attorney.

We drove the 70 Km on Daeng's motorbike to the office of Tanai Jack, Esq. We were early but the office staff called him and he arrived a few minutes later. He seemed very familiar doing this and with the help of the office staff we think everything will go correctly.

We will meet him at the District Land Office in Mae Sai to sign and record the lease at 9:00 AM on Wednesday, May 12th. They said there will be a English translated copy with the lease to be sure everything is correct.

We paid him half of his fee and went to see the huge HOME MART at Chiang Rai. It is a very big with two bridge cranes to handle materials. They also stock 1/2" 45 degree PVC elbows. Daeng wanted me to buy two, just in case, but explained we don't need them now.

We did decide to put a squat toilet in the third floor bathroom for two reasons. First, all the family wants that type and they use a very small amount of water. The reason for low water use is you have a tub or container of water next to the toilet and you you use a plastic, 2 quart, pan to dip water into the toilet when you are finished. Usually one pan for just urine and two pans for solids. That means you are using only 30% to 60% of the water that is used in the new, low water usage - 1.6 gallon, western toilets.

HOME MART also had the metal studs and sheet rock that no one knew anything about in Mae Sai. If we do much more construction we will need a pick-up truck to haul materials to Mae Sai.

While we were in Chaing Rai the tile man called, needing another box of red wall tile. Daeng had Hlong, her sister-in-law go get another box of tile. A little later, his tile cutter broke, again, so Hlong had to go get it fixed for him. Things are different with construction work here in northern Thailand.

The trip back on the motorbike was uneventful, thank goodness. We did stop at the Toyota dealer and looked at small pick-up trucks. We can buy a four wheel drive, deluxe, small pick-up with AC, etc. for around 700,000 THB ($22,000 USD). Maybe we do that next spring.
When we arrived back home we found out the second man working at our home when to lunch and never came back. We hope he's okay.

We worked around the house for a while, showered, had some dinner and I called it a night. Daeng was wide a wake so she went and spent some time playing BINGO with the family.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mae Sai 05/06/2010 Two quiet days

Yesterday was a holiday in Thailand. Daeng told me it was to celebrate the King being married 60 years. I did a little investigating to find the King was married 60 years on April 28th but the real holiday was he became King in 1950. To read more about the holiday CLICK HERE.

Daeng and I cleaned all day and I painted the florescent light fixtures on the third floor. There are nine inside and three outside on the third floor. I only did the inside ones.

We took the 4" grinder back to Tesco/Lotus and they refunded our money. I'll buy a better one at the tool repair place as that way we know we can get it fixed.

Today, no one showed up to work except the gate man that we talked with yesterday. He came and put two new wheels, two upper rollers, new track and attached the end piece so it will not move. I did not check the latch before he left and he missed welding the guide to the latch. He is just across the street so I don't think we will have any trouble getting him to come back.

You can now open and close the gate with one finger. I need to paint it so it doesn't rust. The gate is a machine gray so I don't think I will have to paint the whole thing.
His charge was 700 THB ($22.00 USD). He probably charged me more than he should have but that's the way it is in Thailand. Farangs (non-Thai's) pay more because most folks think we're rich.

Daeng spent most of the day at the District Land Office as she sold the lot she owns a few miles out of town. She bought it about six years ago and will net about 35 % gain. Nice news is there is no capital gains tax in Thailand.

I think we're going to take it easy the rest of the day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mae Sai 05/4/2010 Surprises!

Yesterday was a pretty typical day in the re-model world of the Plumber & Little Thai Girl. The men laid tile in the kitchen and we spent most of the day shopping for a better kitchen sink and a 1/2" 45 degree PVC elbow.

We could not find either. The sinks here are all very thin stainless steel and the bowls are not deep. Also, most of them come with an overflow built into the sink that I'm sure will leak at some point as it is just plastic with a screw to hold it in place.

My problem is I laid out the bathroom piping against the advice of the man doing the work. I have one 45 degree fitting that is needed. Everyone tells me that you can't buy that fitting in Thailand.

Now, what I did was warm up a piece of PVC pipe and made the bend in the pipe. It worked very nicely, maybe better than a fitting as no glued joints.

Today had a pretty mellow start. The three men that are going to put in the additional cesspool came and we moved everything out of the way. They marked off the location and started breaking out concrete.

Daeng and I decided to get some exercise and carried the 28 boxes of ceramic tile up to the second floor bathroom. We both broke a sweat or as girls say: "Got a glow."

Surprise, the men putting in the cesspool got down about two feet and found they were on top of one that is already installed. That is good and bad. The good part is we know where the present one is and can bring the clean out up to the finished grade. The clean out opening is so a pumper truck can come and pump out the solids when needed.

The bad part is they have to move over and put another one in a few feet away. Installing the cesspool is only 2500 THB ($78.00 USD) so even if we had to pay the whole thing twice it would not be a big deal.

By the way, If you want 6-pack abs, this would be a good job your you. Check out this picture. Check out the bare feet, too. There is no workman's compensation here. The only injury today was one blister on his left hand.

The tile man also informed us he needs another bag of cement, 2 red tile edges, 5 cream tile edges, a box of red tile, 1 Kg red groat and 2 Kg of cream groat. We will also have one full box of cream tile left over so we can return that box.

We'll go get those after lunch time is over as I fell better about the men that are here working everyday than I do about the new workers. Like Mom always says: "Better to be save than sorry." I feel okay with the worker but don't feel good about the boss. He reminds me of "Gold Tooth Louie" in Santa Ana, California.

After a little talking, the cesspool men are going to bring the clean out top up to grade on the old one and put in the new cesspool with a clean out up to grade for a total of 3000 THB ($94.00 USD). We gave them half or 1500 THB to buy the materials.

Everything else went good today except the tile man's 4" grinder, that he cuts tile with, broke. That held things up for an hour or so while Daeng took the grinder to the tool repair shop down the street. In the mean time we tried to use the cheap one I bought last week but it did not work correctly.

We'll need to return it tomorrow to Tesco/Lotus. The grinder I bought is a POS (Piece of Sh*t) grinder. The teachings of when I was young come back. I remember my Uncle Lloyd saying: "Buy good tools and they will last you the rest of your life." My question is: "How long is that?"

Daeng came back in about an 45 minutes with the grinder repaired at a cost of 90 THB ($2.82 USD) and life proceeded for the tile men. It looks like the tile will be finished and ready to groat tomorrow.

The cesspool men finished installing the cesspool and the clean out covers and wanted to be paid the balance of the 1500 THB. They had not hauled away the huge pile of dirt that they dug out to install the cesspool. I told Daeng we should not pay them until the dirt was hauled away as they said in the beginning of the job.

We'll for the next hour or so Daeng and the head man argued over this. They called Salad who was in charge of the whole job and he said he would haul away the dirt at the end of the job. I told Daeng that when it rained we would have 2-3 inches of mud in our drive way.

Daeng stayed firm as the deal was they would remove the dirt. I had even asked that question, again, when they started today. Daeng made a few phone calls and took a ride up the street to talk to the lady that owns the big empty lot in back of us. She said they could put the dirt on her lot. The men agreed and took the dirt, bucket by bucket, and spreed it on her lot.

We paid the men the balance of the money and they all thanked us. Daeng gave two of the men a ride to the Myanmar (Burma) border. It was after 6:00 PM so I think they were going to wade across the river.

When Daeng came back she said it reminded her of men at home in front of HOME DEPOT in California. When she uses the word "HOME" referring to California it makes me think she may want to continue living in the USA.

We spent the next few hours cleaning up this red earth that had been tracked everywhere. We will be cleaning up this dirt for days, I'm sure.

We were both tired when we crawled in bed but glad this part is over.

Help out your local Plumber!

Just a note to let you all know that the plumbing business is slow this time of year.

Accourding to the April 28th LBN-INVESTIGATES: 5 million Americans have one bowel movement per week.

Help out your local plumber by eating more fiber!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mae Sai 05/03/2010 Charcoal Gang

Daeng went to meet a man that wants to buy her land that is a few miles out of town. I am hanging out and I thought I would tell you about the story of the "Charcoal Gang".

Thailand has logged out all the trees. That means a couple of things; the thousands of elephants used to haul trees have lost their jobs and there is no more lumber, mostly teak, to build homes, furniture or to make charcoal.

There are two main types of fuel used to cook with in Thailand: bottled gas and charcoal. With no lumber, where does the charcoal come from? One of the places it comes from in Myanmar (Burma).

To read about how charcoal is made CLICK HERE!

Now for the story of "Charcoal Gang" that brings it across the river here in the Mae Sai area. I should say "Black Charcoal Gang" as when you handle charcoal you get BLACK.

The "Charcoal Gang" puts the big bags of charcoal on rafts made of bamboo and rubber inter-tubes and float it across the river from the Burma side. Then they carry it up the steep bank of the river to a flat area. This all happens before dawn.

Not only do they bring the charcoal but they bring their own two wheel carts to haul it in. I tried and I can not lift one of these cards, let alone carry it up the steep river bank.

They assemble everything in this area under the watchful eyes of the armed Thai military.

The morning we took these pictures someone was trying to smuggle Burmese rice across the river.

Charcoal is okay but no rice! Check out the "NYPD" T-shirt on the Thai soldier.

The head military man had a little meeting of the "Charcoal Gang" to tell them "Charcoal is okay but no Burma Rice!"

They then paid the "duty" for bringing the charcoal onto Thailand.

At dawn they pushed the carts with the charcoal over the little hill into this little town of Mae Sai.

Once it is over the hill the carts spread out to different areas of the town and they divide up the big bags of charcoal into small bags and sell it for 5 THB (15 cents USD) a bag.

At the end of the day or after all the charcoal is sold they cross back over the bridge into Burma to repeat the cycle again, tomorrow.

All that so we can have a HOT cup of tea as my Aussie friend, Peter, says.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mae Sai 05/02/2010 Typical Sunday?

I got up about 6:00 AM and started off with a typical cup of coffee. I called my Mother in California to see how she was doing and answered some emails.

Daeng woke up, cut up some cucumber & China pears for us to eat along with the vanilla, egg muffins she bought yesterday. They are really sweet and tastie.

We dressed and headed to HOME MART to see if we could find a sink we liked. When we looked at all the sinks they all had a different edge then the one Salad had brought.

We also stopped at another place and found one we liked but the hole for the faucet is in the wrong side and the edge is different. I think we will have to wait and talk with Salad before we buy the new one.

We had some breakfast of sticky rice, barbecue chicken and som-tom papaya salad. Daeng brought me back to the house and she went to take her Mother to church.

Rev. Sunit's church moved into it's new building and today is the first service. I told Daeng I would go, also. She said she would take her Mother and come back and get me a little before 11:00.

The re-model crew is plastering the one wall of our new bedroom and then, I think will finish the wall beside the kitchen. They need to install a door in that wall, too.

We went to he new church. The church looks nice and we were glad to see some of the older kids from CHILDLIFE there.
Daeng got right into helping Hlong feed everyone after church was over. The feeding of everyone has something to do with breaking bread together and the old saying that if you feed them they will come.

Chicken noodle soup was the fare of the day. Thai's use all of the chicken except the feathers. Daeng likes the chicken feet.

When we arrived back home we found the men had done both sides of the one bedroom wall and cut out more of the area in the bathroom for the piping. For some reason the water in the neighborhood is off so they called it a day.
Hopefully the water will come back on soon.