Friday, March 30, 2012

Ban AYO Visit 03-30-12

We made the 40 Km trip to Ban AYO as we wanted to hike down from the road and see what was left as nothing has been done since Chom-nom was incarcerated over two years ago.

It is an easy trip by car as the road through the village is now paved and the driving time is only about 40 minutes from our home in Mae Sai. We arrived about 10:00 AM, parked just off the road and hiked down the hill.

A lot of the over growth had been cut but there is still a lot of vegetation left to be cleared. We were glad to see the roofs of the two buildings and the rest room building were still intact. The dis-hearting part is all the glass had been broken out of the windows.

All in all, everything was in fare shape considering this project has been abandoned for over two years.

The plastic piping from the road to the water tanks and to the first building had been taken but the concrete tanks were still there. If you look real hard you can see them covered by the vegetation. We will try and find out how and why the piping was taken from the site.

In Thailand, if something is not being used the Thais feel it is okay to take it and use it. I'm not judging, I'm just saying.

We hiked back up the hill and drove another kilometer to Mechu's home. Mechu is Chom-nom's Mother. It was nice to see the flowers in bloom as this is a very dry time here in northern Thailand.

Mechu, Chom-nom's sister and some of the other folks were glad to see us. We had cookies and coffee and talked for a while. Si, Chom-nom's sister, said the water piping was taken by a man that was still owed some money when the project stopped. More will be reviled. That is Si on the far left in the picture of Mechu's front porch.

After talking for a while we agreed to pick up Mechu and Si at 5:30 AM and take them to visit Chom-nom on Tuesday, April 2nd. Mechu gets motion sickness but Daeng said she would buy her some pills to help her.

Si also told us she had to go at 12:00 Noon as she was cooking for a celebration with 28 farangs that built a classroom building for the local school. Farang is a Thai word for non-Thai, usually a westerner. We told her we would give her a ride. She said that would be great and we could eat, as well.

The trip was just over the mountain about four or five kilometers. We talked, had coffee and mango while she cooked. I loved the sink area as it was outside. To get to it from inside the cooking area you just opened the window.

It was a nice celebration. These are a group of folks that volunteer all over the world, not only giving of their time but also their money to do projects like this. You can read more on their website

We had a nice lunch after the ceremony for the Doi Sean Jai School. The Akha folks also did some dancing while lunch was served. I took a few pictures of them all dressed up. Si also dressed and danced on stage.

A good time was had by all! Well, almost all as some of us were pretty tired by this time. We told Si we would call her on Monday and see her at 5:30 AM on Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Our Days in Mae Sai

We slept well on our new mattress. At first, it seemed too soft after sleeping on a five inch foam mattress but did not take long to get to like it.

Up early, coffee and Pa Thong Ko at the Ban Pa Meat morning market. It is nice to see "Mee" and her husband again. Daeng always likes to help her serve customers.

We they stopped at the exercise equipment to work out a little. I like the machine that rolls up my spine. My back feels lots better after I use it.

Daeng and I have both been working on our upper body, too.

Yes, that is the sun shining through the palm leaf over Daeng's head. It is only about 6:30.

When we got back to the house I did some calculations and found we got 13.62 kilometers a liter of gas or 32 miles per US gallon for our trip to Lampang and Chiang Mai. That was using 95 octane gasohol. I guess the variable valve engine works.

We are going to rest for a few days and then visit Ban AYO again on Friday. We'll walk down from the road and take a look at the building and see what is left after the two years the project has been abandoned.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Shopping and Trip Home to Mae Sai

After we had breakfast and coffee at the hotel we packed up the car and headed toward home in Mae Sai.

We did stop at a little furniture shop just off the inter-city loop to look at the furniture we wanted for the guest room. One of these days we'll arrange for transportation and buy the wardrobe, dresser, table, chair and night stand. They will look great in our third floor guest room. With nine bedrooms we have a few guest rooms but this one is air conditioned and has it's own bathroom with hot water shower.

We also looked a wicker set for the sitting area of our master bedroom.

The drive northeast to Chiang Rai took about three hours. We stopped in Chiang Rai at "Lucky's" bedding store and purchased a new, soft, independent pocket spring, king size mattress for our master bedroom. By the way, what Thai's consider soft is what we in California would consider medium firm.

The mattress shop does take credit cards but they charge 3% to do so. We just went up the road to an ATM machine and withdrew the 17,000 Thai Baht for the bedding that we bought. I saw a ride and being the kid I am wanted to ride it.

The shop told us they had another delivery in Chiang San, about 40 Km east of us, so they would deliver today. I went into the storage area and picked out the one we wanted delivered and made the deal.

We headed north, stopping for barbecued chicken and som-tom salad at a road side place we liked.

The delivery folks made it before us. They put our present 5" foam mattress in one of the other bedrooms and installed the new mattress on our bed.

We made it up and slept like babies. We made a good choice.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lampang Prison for Drug Addicts

It was a bright sunny day in Mae Sai. See, right off the bat, I'm lying. The sky had so much smoke, from the jungle burning, that we could hardly see the sun.

We had coffee, fried chicken , sticky rice and Pa Thong Ko (Thai donut) in the Ban Pa Meat morning market. We stopped at the exercise equipment on the road by our home and worked out for about a half hour. I found a machine there that helps my back. It has rollers that run up and down my spine as I push back. It's kind of like doing AB crunches in reverse.

We than showered, packed and headed down route number one to Lampang. The trip took about four hours. We decided to stay the night at the Asia Lampang Hotel and travel the other 20 Km to see Chom-nom in the morning.

Lampang is one of the areas in Thailand that has some unusual things about it. One thing is you can still get a horse drawn taxi. They blend in quite well with the cars.

We had breakfast in the hotel and made our way to the Lampang Correctional Institution for Drug Addicts. We did stop at the railroad tracks that link Bangkok and Chiang Mai together. Some men were working to fix the tracks. Where the spikes had come out they were putting a wooded wedge into the hole and then putting in a new rail spike. This is a very tedious job when done the old way, like it was done a hundred years ago.

Then we arrived at the prison, Daeng gave the chief guard our identification and told him who we were there to see. She also gave him a small Narcotic's Anonymous book that had been translated from English to Thai and asked he it could be given to Chom-nom. He looked at us, said no for the book and told us that we needed to wear long pants. He would allow us to see him now but next time wear long pants. We both had on short pants as it was about 95 degrees and only 9:15 AM.

After all the paperwork was done, he sat and talked with us for a few minutes. He looked over the paper bound book and said he felt it was a very good book for addicts but he could not allow any books to be brought into the prison, not even bibles of any kind.

We spent about 20 minutes with Chom-nom talking about what he wanted to do when he gets out, considering his wife is now remarried and has the kids. Chom-nom said he wanted to come back to Ban AYO and continue building the children's shelter that he had started.

We talked about what most men want to do when they get released from prison and how that starts the whole problem of addiction all over again. We also talked about how old friends, that are using, are not good to hang out with as it is way to easy to start using drugs, again.

We told him we would be willing to pick him up upon his release, get him in a new change of clothes and go from there. He is to be released on May 10th. He got Daeng's telephone number and said he will call us a few days before his release to let us know that date is still good and the approximate time. With just that short amount of communications, we were out of time on nour visit.

Daeng and I drove the 70 Km north to Chiang Mai and checked into a very nice hotel in the inter-city of Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand. For more information about the town:

The Wangburapa Grand Hotel has car parking, swimming pool and American breakfast. We were in a cut-up kind of mood so we did the lampshade pictures and laughed at each other. Yes, our hats in this picture are lampshades.

For the night, we stayed pretty close to the hotel, just going out for a little supper and to pick up some milk and cookies at the 7-11, near by.

In the morning, I took Daeng over to see a friend that she has not seen in almost 20 years. We visited a little and I went to see my Canadian friend, Brian. He is very knowledgeable about Thai ways as he has lived and worked here for many years. His website is I wanted his advice on how I could help Chom-nom with his life and the children's shelter at Ban AYO.

One of the kids at Daeng's friends liked my shoes. They were almost bigger than he was.

It was nice to see and talk with Brian but it was almost 3:00 PM and time to pick up Daeng at her friend's home. I did take a picture of Daeng, her friend and Friend's Mother. They seemed happy but busy as she has eleven shoe stores in Chiang Mai.

Daeng and I spent the night as honeymooners. We did get up for breakfast and headed to Chiang Rai to buy a new mattress for our master bedroom and to pick up Boonrean's, Daeng's son, grade book from school. Chiang Rai is a very small town about 60 Km south of our home.

It was a good trip, now shopping for a new mattress in Chiang Rai.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday in Mae Sai 03-18-12

Today was a busy day for us. We started out by putting on our Sunday clothes, black socks and long pants for me. I must say, the pants I bought in Laughlin, Nevada with our friends Michael and Charlotte, during our Super Bowl trip, felt very nice in this topical climate.

We made the trip to ChildLife for a little Sunday service with the kids. It is always uplifting to be with them and Pastor Lota.

We then headed to Rev. Sunit's church for the regular Sunday Morning service and lunch after the service. It was nice to see old friends and to meet a lady from the Netherlands that will be here working the next two years to help the Christian fellowship. I liked her because she laughed at my off-beat humor.

We were also invited to a party at Rev. Sunit's new home. It is to celebrate three things, he and his wife's birthdays and the finishing of there new home. The party starts at 4:00 PM today.

Our next item for the day is a little dental work. I need one filling and Daeng has two teeth that need work. When we got to the dentist Daeng wanted me to go first. Mine was pretty simple, just a filling. By the way, the cost for one filling was 400 Thai Baht (about $13.00 USD).

When Daeng got into the dentist's chair, the dentist looked at the cavities and suggested that some major work be done, a post put into the tooth that had already had a root canal, molar repaired and then a three tooth bridge made to replace the tooth that was already missing.

She took a new x-ray of the two teeth and said she could do all the work including the porcelain, three tooth bridge for 15,000 Thai Baht (about $492 USD). We talked about it and the alternatives. Daeng was concerned about the money and I assured her that she was worth it.

The process would be done over three visits. Today would start with the repair of the front tooth and installing the fiber post in the root canal. Return in a week to repair the back molar, prep both teeth for the bridge and take the final impressions. Then return about a week later and install the new bridge work.

We agreed and she started the process. Daeng was in the chair for a little over an hour but did not have any pain except a little pressure when the drill got stuck once while drilling out the old canal filling. It was down about 14 mm. More x-rays were taken to be sure the tooth repair was okay.

It was now time to go to Rev. Sunit's home for his celebration and party. It is a very nice home on a very large lot just outside town. We stopped at the church on the way to see if anyone needed a ride to his home but everyone had already been transported.

When we arrived they were already having a little service to be thankful for everything and to with the Sunit family the very best in the future. All the clergy, at least the ones that know me, laughed when I told them we were just there for the food and the whisky.

It was a nice party to celebrate the birthdays and the new home. The food was delicious and the chocolate cake was wonderful; just ask the kids.

Tomorrow we are going to head south the visit Chom-nom. He is about 400 Km south of us. We will probable make it a 4-5 day trip also stopping for a few days in Chiang Mai.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Trip to Ban AYO & Kids

We had our normal breakfast of chicken, sticky rice, coffee and Pa thong Ko at the Ban Pa Meat Morning Market. We then headed south from Mae Sai stopping in the little settlement, Huai Khrai, just south of the immigrations check point.

Daeng bought cookies, salt, small fish and fruit to take to Chom-nom's Mother in Ban AYO. While we were at the main market I saw a big truck with what looked like an arm. We walked over and sure enough it was part of a large statue. From the looks of it it is a rival for anything made in Texas.

In the pick-up truck in front is a life size statue and in the tractor-trailer is just part of the right arm. When it is put together is will be huge.

We made our way down route #1 and turned west on route #1130. From there we wound up the hill making sure we did not follow the directions on our GPS as it would take us through the villages and not on the new road.

When we got to the Ban AYO turn off sign we could see the burnt ground from the recent fires.
At the shelter area we could see that much of the over grown vegetation had been cut back and burned, as well.

Just to bring everyone up to date, we worked with Chom-nom to help build a children's shelter for children at risk. It was close to being inhabited when Chom-nom was arrested for possession of drugs and went to prison for a couple of years.

When we arrived at Meechue's home, Chom-nom's Mother, there was no one around. We were told she was in the jungle getting bamboo for her leaking roof. We sent out some scouts on motorbikes to find her. We hung out in the little shop area across the road from her home and had water and cookies.

About 15 minutes later, a motorbike delivered her to us. She was very dirty and said she was going to go get cleaned up at her house. We walked across the road to her house and hung out as she changed into her normal "Akha" attire.

A farang, non-Thai or Westerner, is not a common sight in this area so the kids come to see what the farang is all about. Most of them are scared but wander about this fat, white, funny looking guy is all about. They also like the cookies we usually bring. One of the girls remembered me from the video we did a few years ago. To see that video just CLICK HERE: Chom-nom is the main singer.

Here is a picture of some of the kids.

We also had a nice surprise, the man that we had lunch with at the edge of the jungle in 2007 came by as he heard "The Old Fat Farang" was there and wanted to see him again. We laughed together and he said his wife left him so he cut his hair. You can read that story by clicking on this link:

If you have trouble with this link you can read the story at on the "Stories" Page listed as "Terry's Trip into the Jungle".
He is on page 10 and 11.

We all talked for some time. We drank coffee, ate cookies, pineapple and laughed at the pictures we had brought for them. It was almost 2:00 PM so we gave Meechue a little money to help finish the repairs to her roof and said "Goodbye for Now."

We told her we were going to make the trip to see Chom-nom this week and would come back to tell her of our meeting with him.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another Day in Mae Sai 03-15-12

Today was another day in Mae Sai. Yesterday, Daeng went 60 Km south and had a Parent Teacher conference with Boonreang's teacher. The teacher said her son was doing much better in school and will move on to the next level at that school.

On her way home it rained very hard. She stopped at a friend's home and missed most of the rain. That was good and the rain put out a lot of the jungle fired, as well.

Today we got up and headed on Daeng's motorbike to the morning market. We turned left onto the main street, a one way divided road. A girl was coming the wrong way and ran into us. She did not have a driver's licence as she was illegally in Thailand from Myanmar (Burma). Note: In Thailand you drive on the left side and Myanmar (Burma) it's on the right.

She offered us all the money she had, 200 Thai Baht (about $6.60 USD) and must have said she was sorry at least forty times. The good part was none of us was hurt and the only damage to Daeng's motorbike was the basket on the front was bent slightly. I bent it straight with my hands.

We told her to keep her money, be careful and have a great day. She again said: "Sorry" another dozen times and "Thank you!" another eight or nine times.

We went on to the market and had the usual fried chicken, sticky rice, coffee & Pa Thong Ko. Deang did buy some cow skin and fried pork liver just to change up the breakfast a little.

I also took a picture of the lady in the market selling ant eggs for soup. I have had ant egg soap and it is pretty good; tastes like chicken.

Now, let's talk about the price of gasoline. Ninety-one (91) Octane gasoline is 42.45 Thai Baht a liter. US Dollar to Thai Baht is 30.69 per $1.00 US. 1 US Gallon equals 3.785 liter so 42.45 Baht x 3.785 = 160.67 Thai Baht / 30.69 = $5.26 USD a US gallon.

Now, that's not a bad price for 91 octane gasoline considering no gasoline comes from Thailand. ALL gasoline is imported. As you can see from the picture 95 gasohol and diesel, at the top of the picture, is cheaper. Many taxi's and big trucks run on propane which is almost half the price of 91 gasoline above.

Well, so much for the educational part of our blog.

Tomorrow we plan on driving to Ban AYO to see if Chom-nom is still at his school. You folks that have been in prison know what I mean by "school".

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another Day in Mae Sai

Another day in Mae Sai, we got up around 5:30 and had fried chicken, sticky rice, coffee and Pa Thong Ko in the Mae Sai Morning Market.

We then headed over to see how the folks that have the Pa Thong Ko shop in the Ban Pa Meat Morning Market. They are a Chinese couple that have the shop in the smaller market two lanes (call Soi in Thai) from our home. They have not been open for the last two months as the wife had a baby about 7 weeks ago. Here most husbands stay home and help the wife with the baby for the first month or two.

If you would like to read more about the Thai style donut called Pa Thong Ko just CLICK HERE.

We found their apartment and they are both looking well. We talked a while and they stated they were going to reopen their coffee and Pa Thong Ko shop next week.

Now, I not really into babies but this little kid is really a looker. We wished them the best and told them we looked forward to seeing them reopen in the market next week.

We headed over to the hardware store and picked up two toilet spray hoses for two of the five toilets in our place. Here in Thailand, as well as many other places in the world, when folks use the toilet they just spray off with a hand held spray hose. It pretty effective and no need for tissue, it's drip dry.

The sprays do get a lot of use and need replacing very frequently. The nice part is the sprayer and hose is only around 150 Thai Baht ($5.00 USD).

We also stopped for some home made coconut ice cream; made the old fashion way of ice and salt to freeze the cream into ice cream. I laughed at the "ice cream sandwich" as it is two slices of white bread with ice cream between the two slices. They also add corn and sticky rice along with chocolate, if you want.

Then home to do our chores.

There is not much to do as the old house is in pretty good shape even after us being gone for over three months. Tomorrow Daeng is going to Chiang Rai for a Parent-Teacher meeting with her son's, Boonreang's, school.