Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chiang Mai - Elephant Visit

Daeng is not feeling well due to some problems with her teeth so she said she would stay home for a few days and then take the bus to meet me in Chiang Mai.  I was reluctant to go alone but after talking it over I said I would.  It is about a 3 1/2 hour drive so if I needed to return to help her it would be pretty easy.

I left the house about 7:00 AM and stopped at the Ban Pa Mueat morning market and had coffee.  It was pretty smokey as the jungle is on fire west of us.  This picture was taken directly into the sun.

I drove the 60 kilometers to Chiang Rai and stopped at Jan's Coffee and Pa Thong Ko shop to see if she was okay and let her know if she needed anything to call us.  Her mate, Charlie, had gone back to Canada for a six month trip.  She thanked me and I headed onward. 

Everyone along the way was surprised to see me without Daeng as we always travel together.

Next stop was at Charin Garden Resort to pick up some pie and cheesecake to take to our friends, Brian and Noochy, in Chiang Mai.

They have great pies and cakes here.

Although it was not on my diet, I had to have a piece of chocolate pie and tea sitting by the river.

The trip over the mountain was uneventful and the only flames I saw as about half way over the mountain there was what looked like a controlled burn going on.  The smoke was pretty heavy.

I did stop to use the restroom at the "Hot Springs".  This is the highest Hot Spring in Thailand.  It does shoot more than 50 meters (164 feet) into the air.

I drove the rest of the way to the Top North Hotel and checked into a regular room.  I picked the Top North as they have a swimming pool that I though Daeng would like when she took the bus over to meet me.  Rate is okay, 900 THB (about $30 USD) a night including breakfast for two.

After I checked in, I drove over to Brian and Noochy's house and had lunch with Brian and our friend, Wayne.  We also ate some of the Lemon Pie and Strawberry Cheesecake.  They were both excellent. 

In the morning it was breakfast at the hotel and then a little wall across the moat to see the Segway Tour.

I want to take Daeng on this Segway Gibbon Tour of the inter-city when she gets here.  Hopefully it will be Sunday.

On Saturday, I picked up our friend, Wayne, who is visiting our friend, Brian, and took him to the Mae Sa Elephant Camp.  It was a great trip as the elephants are always happy to have there pictures taken hugging and kissing you.  Wayne loved the elephants!

The elephants also love the sugar cane and bananas we feed them.  Daeng and I had stayed right in the camp for two days with the elephants in 2008.  You can read about that two days and what we leaned about the elephant by CLICKING HERE.

Fun, Fun and more Fun with the elephants.

I talked with Daeng and she said she will be on the bus to Chiang Mai today.  I miss her.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Plumber's Bathroom Leaks

Yes, the cobbler's kids need shoes, the mechanic's car wont start and the plumber's bathroom leaks.

As I was sitting in our master bathroom, looking out the window, I noticed water running down the roof of the laundry/outside cooking area.  I tried to use a mirror to see around the corner where the pipes lead to the 3rd floor bathroom but could not see the leak.

Daeng got a ladder out and went onto the roof and took a a picture of where the water was coming from.  Now, in Thailand, the bathroom is a wet room.  What that means is the complete room is built to be wet.  In this bathroom, we put a squat toilet in, against my better judgement.  We did that as the rest of the family said they wanted it.  CLICK HERE to see that story from 2010.

It seems to be the only time the water leaks down onto the roof is when the boys take long showers.  (I can remember the long showers as a young man.) To find where the leak was coming from we started off by spraying lots of water into the toilet.  Yea, no leaks there.  Next we sprayed lots of water into the floor shower drain; yea again.  Then we plugged the floor drain and flooded the complete room to about an inch up the wall.  Yea, no leaks so far.

That leaves only the raised floor to flood.  Almost immediately after spraying water onto the raised floor and behind the squat toilet the water started leaking onto the roof.  That must be it.  We used powered cleanser and brushes and cleaned the area well.  We than put a fan blowing into the room to dry it up.

The next morning we used white "Dap" bathroom caulking, that we had brought from America, and sealed up all the corners including where the box for the squat toilet meets the raised floor.  It looked good.  We put a fan on it overnight to make sure it would dry well.

In the morning, when we tested it, we could see that caulking did not stick in the back along the wall. We think there must have been water still in the cracks where we caulked.  Daeng said that US caulking and Thai tile did not go together.  We laughed but cleaned it all us again, removing the caulking we had just done on the corners at the raised floor.

Again, we put a fan on to run over night and Daeng went to the tile store to buy some fine, red grout to use the next day.

Well, in the morning after breakfast at the Mae Sai morning market and some exercise on the Temple equipment, we got on it and grouted all the corner of the squat toilet box and raised floor.  It was a lot of work using the red grout but it does look good.  We will have to see how it works out when we test it tomorrow.

March 26th update: We flooded the complete bathroom and "Yea, no leakage!"  The Plumber and Little Thai Girl beat the water monster, again!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Black House - Family Outing

We decided it would be fun to do a little family outing.  With Booreang, Daeng's son, we discussed a little trip to Chaing Rai, about 60 km south of us, to see the "Black House" aka "Black Temple" and the more famous "White Temple".

In the past, we had both visited the "White Temple" but felt is was worth seeing, again.  Daeng and I visited the Temple on day two of our month long trip of Northern Thailand in 2009.  For that story just CLICK HERE.

Last year, Daeng was privileged to meet the builder of this Temple.  CLICK HERE for that story.

Boonreang ask us if we could drop him off at his friend in Chiang Rai.  After talking about that, we agreed after visiting the two destinations together, we would drop him off at his friends in the afternoon.

The next day, we left the house about 9:00 AM and made the trip to the Black House in about 40 minutes.  It was pretty easy to find as I had looked at the map before we left home. 

It is more than a Black House as there are about forty (40) building here.  It is not a temple, as many folks call it, but is an Art Museum.  You can read all about the man that built this interesting place at .

Also, there is a nice description of the Black House, Baan Daam in Thai, by CLICKING HERE and going to the Temple and Church section.

After we parked we walked across the road to the biggest building.  It is huge and all built out of wood.  I kidded with Daeng that there must be AA Meetings here as the triangle is the service emblem for Alcoholics Anonymous.

We also laughed about the "out house" which was beautifully done and functional.

We really liked the "bath tub" which would fit in our master bath in Mae Sai.

I had to work at getting Boonreang and Daeng together to take a nice picture of them.  Just as a note: Thai folks don't hug or touch each other very much.

I was able to get this picture of those two.

It was also about this time that Boonreang said he had seen enough and would we drop him off at his friend's.   We have been here for maybe an hour.

Daeng sent him to get a drink and we talked.  Daeng kept defending him but I stated the whole purpose of this outing was to be together.  Dropping him off at his friend's was not being together.

Daeng and I walked through some of the other parts of the museum and took a picture of this huge pan.  We don't know if it is meant to be a Big Wok or a Gold Pan.  In any case, it was big.

Well, for Daeng's and my relationship, I conceded and said we would drop him off at his friend's house.  We met Boonreang at the car and left the Black House heading toward Chiang Rai.  When we got to the outskirts of Chiang Rai I was told to pull over and drop Boonreang off there at a street corner.

I objected as, for his safety, I wanted to know where he was going and meet his friend.  Daeng told me I was being over protective and he was okay. 

Well, so much for a family outing.  I felt he just manipulated us to get a free ride to see his friend and did not want to be with us.  I got my teenie-wenie feeling hurt.   I hope my feelings that something is just not right, is wrong.  More will be revealed.

I told Daeng that I was upset at this set of events and used the same words that she had used for her son not wanting to go to the "White Temple" with us.  "No, I won't want to go as I have seen the White Temple before."  I also explained again that this was to have been a Family Outing.

We did take a drive and stopped to see some furniture for sale that I spotted beside the road.  I liked the chairs and love seat but Daeng thought that 18,000 THB (a little over $600 USD) was to much money.  I'm sure she was correct about that.

After our drive, we decided we would rather sleep in our own bed than a hotel bed.  On the way home we stopped at the Ban Pa Mueat market and bought a kilogram of steamed pork.  We went back to our home and eat it with the rest of the family, Toon, Hloug and Kit.  That is Daeng's brother, sister-in-law and nephew.

Tomorrow we have to be the plumbers as we have a water leak from one of the third floor restrooms.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Church & Birthday

Sunday was a very relaxed day.  We started off with coffee and Pa Thong Ko, Thai version of the American donut, at the Mae Sai morning market.

After a shower at home we dressed for church at Rev. Sunit's Church.  Today is also his birthday and his wife's is tomorrow. 

It was a nice service with a type of election for the person to take care of the money matters as well as care of the church, I think.  I still only understand a small amount of the Thai language.

At the end of the service, after wishing the birthday pair much happiness, the congregation voted for one of the four nominated.  Peter, our friend in the stripped shirt won by a land slide.  I did not vote but I think that was a good choice as he runs a large, established, furniture store here in Mae Sai.

After the service we all eat together and I sang "Happy Birthday" to the birthday folks.  Everyone laughed at me, which was a good thing.

Daeng's sister-in-law, Hlong did a lot of the cooling so the noodle soap dish was very tasty. 

It was also great to to see Pastor Lota.  He is looking good and doing well.  He has been spending his time at ChildLife and the new church school in Burma.  You can read a story about visiting that church by CLICKING HERE.

In the afternoon, I took a nap and Daeng went to the Temple Sauna.

Life is good!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chiang Rai - Dentist, Ice Plant & FUN

We had a fun trip to the dentist in Chiang Rai, about 60 Km south of our home here in Mae Sai.  Why does "Fun" and "Dentist" not seem to go together correctly?

We left around 11:30 AM and stopped at the chicken place by our friend Peter's house.  Peter is from Australia and has retired here in Northern Thailand.  It is good for both of us to talk in English as there are only a few folks around this part of Thailand that can understand us.

We picked up the bar-be-cued chicken along with some stick rice and vegetables and eat together in Peter's patio.  Peter mentioned the new ice factory just a little ways from him.  It was a coincidental as Daeng's son, Boonreang, has stopped going to school about three weeks ago and is working part time at an ice factory.

After we said our goodbyes to Peter we drove around the corner and stopped at the new ice factory.  They are still building it but the lady knew of Daeng and showed us around a little.  From what I'm told Boonreang works on a team that provides ice for large events like marriages and funerals. 

They come in the late afternoon, get everything ready for the next day, sleep in a little house in front and then leave very early in the morning and set up the coolers and ice for the event.   The coolers are huge.  You can see the blue one behind Daeng in the picture above. After the event is over they clear everything, load it on the truck and bring it back.  It makes for a long, hard day but with a fun crew.

I'm happy that he is doing something constructive as I was very worried about him dropping out of school.  I explained to him that I did not like school when I was his age so I stopped going after High School and did okay working for a living.  We hope he can find a career that he likes.  I have found that if people like what they are doing they do well.

We also stopped at the little house in the front which Daeng kept calling the "Gift Shop".  I thought it was a shop you could buy gifts but what it really is a "Gift Shop"; that is a shop that makes gifts.  They make them here but don't sell anything retail.

The big project that was going on was the "bottle girls" were recycling small, glass bottles to be reused.  What they do is for several days they soak the bottles in big concrete tubs and then they, in an assemble line style, remove the labels and clean the bottles sparkly clean. 

I don't know what was going back into the bottles but they were all laughing and having fun.

After we said: "Good-Bye" we drove the rest of the way to Chiang Rai and checked into the Diamond Park Inn Hotel, right in town.  It is a nice hotel with plenty of safe, well lite parking and is close to the Night Bazaar and the dentist's office.

We took a little nap, showered and drove over to the dentist's office for Daeng's 6:00 PM appointment; yep, 6:00 PM on a Friday night.  For the last month or two, Daeng some times has been having a little pain from her back tooth.  She had some periodontal work done in this area a few years ago by this same dentist.

When the dentist came out to get her we all laughed because on Tuesday she sat next to Daeng on the plane from Bangkok but we did not recogniser her.  She said she laughed, inside, at us as Daeng and I were kidding about things in English and she speaks and understands English.  It is a small world!

After an x-ray and exam she stated that Daeng needs "Root Planning" on her back tooth.   We said okay and she gave Daeng a shot so she would not have any pain and proceeded to treat her.  I watched and it was a lot of work.  She also showed me part of what she removed. Daeng was in the chair for over 45 minutes to do the root planning.

When she was finished she showed us a book with some pictures to let us know exactly what she had done.  The pictures made everything understandable.

By the way, the total charge was 1,700 Thai Baht (about $56.00 US Dollars).  I'm very happy that Daeng could wait until we got here as I am sure it would have been hundreds of dollars in California.

Daeng felt pretty good so we went to the "Night Bazaar", eat some Thai food and split a home made ice cream, banana split.  By the way, here they just call "Thai Food" by the name of "food".

After a good nights sleep we met our Canadian friend, Charlie, at Jan's Coffee Shop. We had coffee and brought each other up to current speed with all our lives.  Jan is Charlie's girlfriend, as well.

We had a good drive back to Mae Sai and Daeng is playing Bingo with the neighborhood ladies while I'm writing this blog.

Life is Good!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sunshine, Friends & Fun, Fun, Fun!

Well, we made it to our home on the Myanmar (Burma) border.  Everything was just like we left it.  Daeng's brother Tun and his wife, Hlong keep everything in good condition.  It is a lot to take care of with 9 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, 2 inside kitchens and outside cooking area. Half of the home is dark, Teak flooring so it shows any dust and has to be cleaned every day or two to look nice. 

Our five day stay in Bangkok was fun as there is a lot of diversity at the largest city in Thailand.  I think the populations of greater Bangkok is around twelve million folks.  There is lots of food with every kind of food you can think of; yes, even McDonald's.

Across the road from our room is a biker bar that has reserved spaces for Harley-Davis Motorcycles.  Yep, Harley riders get treated special here, as well.
On another day we met our friend "Boonma", Mark Roger from New York, near his guesthouse at Khaosan Road.  Khaosan road is by the huge "Chao Phraya River".  This area has turned into an upscale sheik shopping area.
We had to laugh as the old lady that was minding the booth where we took the picture of Daeng holding the shirt got mad at us because we did not buy the shirt after taking the picture.  I guest we get grumpy when we get old.
We all laughed about that!  We had to visit a Temple and ring the bells.  Everyone that visits Thailand needs to do that several times.  Over the years we have probably rang a few hundred temple bells, maybe a thousand.
It is fun to see how loud you can make the bells ring.  Ringing the bells three times after each prayer is supposed to bring the prayer to life.  We rang them really hard.
There are lots of animals on the streets in Bangkok, dogs, cats, lizards, rats, etc.  Some are bigger than others. 
Speaking of looking for food, we like to eat in a little place called "Food Land" on Soi 5 off Sukhamvit Road.  It is a counter seated place with Western and Thai food.
It is very clean, prices are good and the staff is friendly. Another name for the place is "Took Lae Dee" which translated  to English means "Cheap and Good".  An American Breakfast of two eggs, bacon, two toast, orange or pineapple juice and coffee is 54 Thai Baht (about $1.80 US).
It is also a large western style market that has just about anything you would want.  We buy black pepper there as whole black pepper is hard to find in Thai markets.
After a couple days of resting and shopping, for some reason they just don't got together, we made the 1 hour and 10 minute trip to north to Chiang Rai.  We picked up our rented Nissan March and drove the 59 Km to our home in Mae Sai.
It was nice to pick up some things for the house at Tesco Lotus, a large western style shopping market.  We also had an ice cream cone at KFC. 
In the morning, we had a little Thai breakfast at the morning market.  It consisted of fish, a river fish with almost no bone, sticky rice, coffee and tea, all served on banana leaf.
Than to Bangkok Bank for a letter that says I have more that 800,000 THB in the bank for over 90 days.  Onward to The Thai Immigration Office to renew my retirement visa. That went very well and I now can come and go into and out of Thailand any time I want to for the next year ending March 13, 2014.
Tomorrow we are driving to Chiang Rai as Daeng has a dentist appointment at 6:00 PM with a dentist that specializes in periodontal problems.  Deang is okay but sometimes has a shooting pain in one of her back teeth.  We want to make sure it does not become a big problem.
Life is good!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Made it to Bangkok - Our Winter in California

Well, after 18 1/2 hours in the air we made it to Bangkok.  Everything is okay but with the usual hassles with getting to our room for a little nap.

First thing that happens is the taxi driver, who was supposed to take us to see a few hotels we had not stayed in before, decided he had another fare that was more important then us so he just told us: "This is as far as I'm taking you."  He took our bags out of the taxi and demanded we pay him.  Daeng paid him the meter fare with no tip, of course.  Oh, shit, here we are "at the curb, again".

From along side the road, I called the "Di" Guest House on Soi 4, in the Sukhamvit Road area.  I told the lady that answered the telephone we had stayed with them before and did she have room for us for the next five (5) nights?  She ask me how much we usually paid for the room.  I told her 900 Thai Baht a night.  She said: "Okay, I'll book the room for you at 900 THB."

We walked down the street from where the taxi driver had dropped us off.  When we got to Sukhamvit Road we got a taxi that took us to the "Di" Guest House.

When we checked in at the desk, the same lady I talked to on the telephone told us the room was 990 THB.  I should be used to folks in tourist areas doing this kind of thing but I still told her that was not right as she told us 900 Thai Baht was the rate on the telephone.  By the way, it's not the money, I just hate being blatantly lied to as 90 THB is only about $3.00 US Dollars a night.

I walked next door to the "White Orchid II" Guest House and the lady at the desk knew us.  She said she would put us in the front room on the second floor for 800 THB a night.  It is a very nice clean room with a window that looks out the front, Free WiFi, Air Conditioning, Refrigerator, HD English TV, hot water, safe,etc.  The Guest House is staffed by nice folks, as well.

We did have a problem, a year or so ago, with the owner of the "White Orchid II" booking us for a room and then when we got there at 4:00 in the morning they had no room for us.  I had to remember not to cut off my nose to spite my face.  That's is what my Grand-Mother taught me, anyway.

We walked back to the "Di" Guest House, thanked the lady and told her we were going to stay next door.  She shook her head in a manor that said she understood.

We had a nice winter in California.  The weather was mild and no major events.  We like it when it's peaceful and calm. 

Daeng and I celebrated our birthdays, together.  Now that she is 40 years old, I told her I was going to trade her in for 2 twenty year old girls.

She put her hands on her hips, looked me right in the eyes and said: "You're not wired for 220!"

Christmas time with the family is always a good time.  My Mother is still holding up okay but can't stand or walk.  She also requires 24 hour nursing care. 

Daeng loves to wrap and fix packages and she is extremity talented, also.

It was also nice to give the gifts we had shopped for and brought back from Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand.  You can read of that story by CLICKING HERE.

The chess set was a big hit!

We enjoyed being with friends and celebrating the lives we live today. 

Birthday cake is also great, even at 7:00 AM!

We did some work over the last three months and made enough money to spend the spring in Thailand. 

We also scrapped the two Ford trucks that we built new in 1988.  They lasted 25 years.  I found myself having some emotional feeling over them.  Bye, bye trucks!  You did lots of work over the 400,000 miles. 

I will miss the roominess of having my office in the cab and the space in the cargo area for over 1,100 plumbing, heating and air conditioning parts plus tools. 

I won't miss the buying gasoline as they averaged 6-7 miles per gallon.

The Chevrolet HHR we bought gets 22-30 MPG.

In February, we started the process of selling our business, DIAL ONE Cooling, Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. to our friend MOUNIR FRANCOIS NOUJAIM aka: "Moonie".

I have known and worked with Moonie for over 25 years and know he will do a great job of carrying the company forward.

Ron Brown, our accountant and friend, will continue to work on the agreement so we can complete everything at the end of this summer.  Daeng and I plan on working the summer when we return in early June.

I'll write more when we get settled at our home in Mae Sai.  We leave Bangkok on Tuesday and fly the 600 miles north to Chiang Rai.  We will then rent a car for the next two months and drive the 40 Km to our home. ‏