Monday, March 31, 2014

Road Trip to Chiang Mai March 31, 2014

We had a fun and exciting road trip to Chiang Mai.  We do not get up very early but we had coffee and packed for the 3-4 day road trip. 

When we went downstair, Daeng said: "Look, you were wrong, Nuy is doing something for the family."  Sure enough, she was cooking breakfast for the whole gang.  

We kidded around about eating all the time and her weight.  She told me: "In three months I won't have a big belly and you'll still be fat!"  It was good to see her happy. 

We put everything in our new pick-up and headed south. When we went through the first check point it was about 11:00 AM so we decided to stop and have an early lunch of barbecued chicken, som-tom papaya salad and sticky rice. 

They now also have fresh frog.  No, I'm not going to say: "Tastes Like Chicken". 

After lunch we drove down route number 1, through Chiang Rai and made the turn off onto route 118 to Chiang Mai.  About 19 kilometers more we stopped at Charin Gardens for some sweets.  They have great cheese cake and pies.  We met the owner who lived for many years in San Diego, California.  Yes, it is a small world. 

I think of Charin Gardens as the halfway point between our home in Mae Sai and Chiang Mai

By the way, Chiang Rai is a City and a Province, very similar to New York, New York.   We live in the City (District) of Mae Sai in the Province of Chiang Rai.

I might add our new Toyota pick-up with the 2.5L diesel engine ran great on the mountain roads. We were able to pass trucks and buses on the hills without any need for more power.  

About 50 kilometers up the road through the mountains we came across a big jungle fire. We don't know if it was a controlled burn off but it was big and scary.  

We made it safely to the Mawin Hotel.  It is a nice little hotel on the river about 100 meters from the Duke's Steakhouse and about 300 meters from the meeting I like to attend. 

After we checked in I went over to the Raintree Center to a meeting of English speaking friends.  After the meeting I was very tired so I came back to the hotel, took a shower and went to bed without dinner.

When I miss dinner, you know I'm tired.  It was a good trip. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Wow, Busy Day and I'm Tired March 30, 2014

I didn't sleep well last night and then woke up at 3:10 AM.  The reason I didn't sleep well is I'm now the bad guy in the family because I told a family member that they need to help out.  She is about six months pregnant, not getting along with her boyfriend, so she has been staying here with us.  All she does is eat and sleep.  She does nothing to help around the house. She just hangs out and eats, that's all. She is also getting very fat.  

Anyway, after asking her to get two cardboard boxes from her Dad and she saying: "I don't want to."  I told her how I feel.  We care about her but we did not make her pregnant.  This should be a happy time for her Dad and Mom but instead she is a burden as she does almost nothing to help out.  Asking her to get two cardboard boxes from her Dad to help us was not asking a lot.  "I don't want to." was not a good response.

Most Thais don't tell you how there really feel, they just stuff it and go on.  Sooo, I'm the bad guy for telling the truth.  

I got dressed at about 4:00 AM and went to the big Mae Sai morning market.  I bought a kilograms of old newspapers for 20 THB (60 US cents) to use while painting and had coffee and Pa Thong Ko at our favorite spot.  They are great folks. We kid them because he is Muslim and she is Buddhist. They have two great kids, also. 

You can see her making coffee in a video on the last half of a story I wrote last year on April 13th, just CLICK HERE.  She always says: "Thank you, thank you very much."

I might also add, he made me what I call a Muslim Taco. It is like a tortilla with a bean paste and a little olive oil on top.  I think they taste very good.   I know, I'm not PC.

I also took a picture of the chicken lady cleaning the heads of the chickens with a tooth brush. She and I both laughed. 

I left the morning market about 6:30 AM but on the way home there was a road block to allow this huge Buddha to be moved on the road.

To show you how large this Buddha is I took a telephoto of the man that is sitting on the shoulder of Buddha.   I think he is lookout for electrical and telephone wires. 

It did not take long for them to clear the intersection and I continued home.  

My goal today is to add some laundry shut off valves for the two washing machines on that side of the laundry area so we can install a free standing sink on the right hand side of the washers.  I unhooked everything and moved them away from the wall.  

I got busy marking and cutting the existing pipes.  I must be back in good graces as I was told to come have breakfast with the family before they went to church.  It was an interesting breakfast with fried chicken and
onions, boiled and then fried eggs, rice, vegetables and ant egg soup.

I wrote a little bit about ant eggs in some other stories. CLICK HERE to read those stories.

In any case, this is what the soup with the ant eggs looks like.  The white part is the ant eggs.  No, I'm not going to say: "Tastes like chicken."

Daeng got up and went to vote. That's correct, vote on a Sunday.  It is a local election and Daeng wanted to vote for the local representative that she knows.  She says she thinks he will help the people of the area, named Moo 8, better than anyone else.

When she got back she made me a cup of coffee and helped me finish the plumbing work.

She also
cleaned out an area in the floor that was broken so we can patch the concrete today, also. 

We work good together.  

I caulked the top of the piping on the wall so it would not collect dirt.  After the caulking cures I will put a coat of paint on the piping.

Daeng and I mixed some concrete up and patched the hole.  I think it looks pretty good for a plumber. 

The caulking needed more time to cure before painting so I put a coat of red oxide primer on the rolling door for this area of the house.  We are going to paint all the metal gates and security doors a red walnut color.  It need two coats of primer before we pain the enamel. 

I then painted the piping the same color it was before and we moved and hooked up the washing machines and tested.  Everything worked correctly with no leaks.  

We still have to buy and install the sink but that's another day.

Tomorrow we are headed to the City of Chiang Mai for some fun and shopping.  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Another Medical Research Day and Shopping!

We woke up together this morning.  We had coffee and fruit together and talked about things.  Daeng told me the gas burner was not working in the outside kitchen.  I went down and looked at it.  It needed replacing.  I had to laugh as Daeng's Mother already had a pot of hot water going the old fashion way. 

We also talked about the double shop house next door as the owner put up a big sign yesterday saying: "For Sale or Rent".  It is in Thai, of course.  We're told they want 6.5 million Thai Baht for it.  The problem with it is it is bombed out inside.  The last person there took everything with them when they moved out.  Yes, everything including the light fixtures, the sinks, the toilets, everything.

I went to answer some emails and found we did not have any internet.  I tried all the trouble shooting stuff and my laptop told me it was the provider.  In any case, we got on my motorbike and went to CAT, the provide, on the way to the medical clinic.  The guard on duty at the gate said they were closed on Saturday.  I took a picture of the front door with my telephoto setting to see if there was a telephone number on the door.  I am about 40 meters away, at the fence, and you can see my reflection in the glass door.

We hopped back on the motorbike and headed to the medical clinic to have the stitch removed from my head where the doctor removed one of the four bumps on my head.  We got there about 40 minutes early so we just kind of wondered around the place.  We did stuff like weighed ourselves and found out how tall we were.  

Daeng weighs 54.7 kilograms and I was 116. 2 kilograms. She is 155 cm tall and they ran us out of the area before I could see how tall I am today.  We felt like kids doing things that we should not be doing. 

The nurse took my blood pressure and it was high, 155/85.  I told her it was because of her beauty so she took it again and it was 138/78.  We both laughed. 

We had to wait about 40 minutes more and the doctor came in.  

We went into a little treatment area and she looked at all the areas that she removed the cysts. She said they all looked good.

She removed the one stitch that she had put in where she removed the largest cyst.  

We laughed about the surgical lighting.  

The charge today was 150 THB, about $4.67 USD. That was 60 THB for the doctor and 90 THB for the hospital clinic. That's correct, they had to split the $4.67 in a 40/60 percent split.  It makes my heart go pitter-patter.  We love Thailand. 

Well, onward to shopping for a new gas double burner for the outdoor cooking area.  We stopped at a place right by the hospital clinic and looked as some.  

We then went home and picked up Hlong for a little trip to the house they have a few miles out of town.  We picked up a metal table there.

We stopped at this big, new home center named HOME SHOW.  They have a lot of nice things but I thought the pricing was higher then the older places in town, like HOME MART. 

We stopped at another place that sold gas appliances but they did not really have what we wanted.  We went back to the place by the clinic and bought a new cabinet, double burner cook top with a chrome finished cabinet.  We also bought a new LPG regulator and two meter of gashose. Total cost was 4,250 THB, about $133 USD. 

Then home and installed it so it is ridged and level. Making it level in this outside cooking area is a little tricky as the floor slops to the gate.  Anyway, we did it and it looks good and works great.  

Those are cement boards under the legs.  They will last almost forever. 

As I was getting ready to take a shower, the son of the owner of the double shop house next door called.  He told me his name was "Mack", who he was and asked if we wanted to buy the place.  I explained that I would but could only offer him 3.5 million Thai Baht (about $109,000 USD) as there is nothing on the inside, not even a toilet and the drain piping needed to be re-piped just like ours needed.  

You can read about us replacing the drain system by CLICKING HERE

We talked for a while and I again told him I would be willing to give his Mother 3.5 MTB.  He said he would tell his mother.

I told Daeng of our conversation and she said he had called her also.  We said about the same thing so our stories were together.  We will see what happens but 6.5 MTB is way to much for that property.  

By the way, you can see our home listing by CLICKING HERE

Tomorrow we plan on doing little plumbing while the laundry area is closed on Sunday. 

On Monday it's a little road trip to Chiang Mai for a couple of days. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Broken Glass Door & Medical Research 03-28

We slept late, until 7:10 AM, as last night the glass man came to adjust one of the glass doors that keeps hitting the metal threshold piece.  It was the left hand door. 

To shorten this story, he broke the glass in the door so he had to take the door and replace the glass.  He, at the same time, repaired and adjusted the right hand door. 

He also made a glass top for our new bamboo table. That all kept us up a little late. He felt very bad and only charged us 500 THB, a little less than $16 USD.  That is correct, he replaced the glass in this big glass door on the left and made a glass top for our table for less than $16 USD.  I gave him twice that much and said: "Thank You, Very Much!"

When he left we washed all the glass in that area, showered and went to bed around midnight. 

This morning, after we had some coffee and got around, we hopped on Daeng's motorbike and headed to the hospital clinic for the shots in my knees.  

My blood pressure was a little high, maybe because of all the pretty nurses. I'm just saying.  Check out the nurses eyes watching me. Just click on any picture and it will get bigger. 

They took me into a little treatment room and cleaned up my knees.  Daeng went in with me.  I had to wait on the table for about 20 minutes for the doctor to come in.

I laughed at Daeng as now that she has a smart phone, she plays games, all the time.

The doctor came in and I told him how the doctor in the USA does the shots and he explained that as long as he gets it in the correct area the medicine will flood that area anyway. 

I felt a little pain on the first shot into my left knee but the right shot was just a little prick.  

That is what the doctor said when I had my vasectomy: "A little prick."  I said: "Come on Doc, you don't have to say that, it's cold in here."  He said: "I talking about the shot."

Anyway, so far, so good with the injections.  We waited at the cashier and the bill was within a US dollar of what was quoted last week.  Nice going guys!  Total for these two treatments was $206.05.  

I use my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card for major item here as Chase has the best exchange rates and on this card there is no foreign exchange fees.  Example of rates: Chase on this transaction is 32.47+ THB per USD. Bangkok Bank best rate (TT) is 32.39 THB per USD this morning.  That doesn't sound like much but you can have lunch for the difference. 

Also, in the USA they only do a series of 3 weeks treatment.  Here, the paperwork with the medicine says up to 5 weeks injections.  

Tomorrow I have the stitch removed from my scalp.  WLT! (We Love Thailand!) 

I'm going to take it easy the rest of today, maybe even a nap!

My note on Obamacare: It looks like when you consider my insurance premiums and my co-pays, I can just pay cash here and still have great medical care for less money.  I'm just saying. 

More research to follow!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Busy Having Fun - Another Road Trip March 27, 2014

We have been very busy having fun.

On Sunday night it rained very hard for a couple of hours.  Daeng went onto the roof and started cleaning the ceramic tile.  She got about a third more of it cleaned.  I'm sorry I could not get a picture of her in her rain suit and shower cap. 

Monday morning the sky was very clear as the rain had cleaned most of the smoke from the jungle fires.  Daeng and her niece, Nuy, went to buy food at the morning market.  I'm told some of the family is coming into town for a day or so. 

When they got back from the market, Daeng and Hlong, our sister-in-law did some cooking.  Daeng also does some fun things with food.

One of the things she does is make hats.

Which one looks better in the Thai grapefruit hat, Daeng or Bum.

That is Bum's Mother, Bang, in the picture with Daeng and Bum.  

Bum, his real nickname is Bom, is a real cutie but spoiled rotten. If he does not get his own way he cries and gets his way to shut him up.  I have tried to explain what is happening with his but I'm not Thai and it is different here. 

It has been very busy at the border crossing with lots of stuff moving back and forth into and out of Myanmar (Burma). 

I have been getting the metal doors and gates ready to paint.  I used a 4" grinder with a wire cup and cleaned off most of the rust.  I will use a good primer on the rested areas.  

We are going to change the color from gray to a red walnut color.  I had bought a large can of oil based enamel of the color and kind of paint  we liked about three years ago.  

I went to Home Mart Paint Center and they don't carry it any more as folks here don't like the oil base as it is harder to work with than water based enamels.  Also, the folks don't like it as it takes longer to dry. 

We had to drive about 30 kilometers south to another large paint shop to get the same paint and color. The price had gone up some and it is now about $29.00 USD a gallon.

Today we took a little road trip to Chiang Rai, about 60 km south of us.  Tun, Daeng's brother, had to go to the government hospital there to see the doctor and make sure his home Peritoneal Dialysis is working okay.

We drove over to our friend Jan's Coffee Shop. She was finished selling for the day as she starts out at around 3:00 AM.  It is almost 11:00 AM now and she was getting ready to close.

She has a very neat coffee shop with a tree growing right in the center.  The tree keeps it nice and cool, also.

We talked with Jan until a little after 1:00 PM when Hlong called and said they were finished.  We picked them up and Tun said everything was good and there was No Charge today.

We headed back with a little side trip to Tun and Daeng's brother in his Akha village just north of the Mae Fah University.  

Usually he is taking care of his cows but today he was home.  We talked and he gave Tun some dried leaves that he could make tea and will give him energy and keep him awake.  That got my attention, of course.   Akha Meth Tea, I'm sure there is a market.  I think I need to do some research. 

He wanted to give us some dried frogs but we were able to decline the gift in a manor that he could save face.  I think Daeng told him to keep them and we would come down and eat with the family someday.

He did give me something really cool.  It is an clothing iron that you put charcoal in it to make it hot.   

It is in beautiful shape.  I am going to clean it up and put it on my desk.  

We took a family picture and headed home.  

It was a great road trip.

Tomorrow is my first shot into my knees of Sodium Hyaluronate.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

We Worked on the Roof Today March 23, 2014

The bamboo poles that we installed on the roof four years ago, to hold clothes lines to dry clothes for the laundry, have cracked and need replacement.  

The laundry is closed today, Sunday, as the whole family goes to church.  We thought that would be a good day to do the work.  

As for me working on Sunday, I believe the Lord helps the folks that try to help themselves.  Also, if it's okay for the preachers and priests to work on Sunday, it's good enough for me.  I'm just saying.  

I got up around 6:00 AM, had coffee and toast and started carrying all the tools and new screws and fastners to the roof.  I did it in three trips up three flights of stairs. It's good exercise. 

We already had four of the wooden post on the roof, from the other day when they delivered the bamboo chairs and table, so I got to work.  

Daeng joined me around 8:30 AM.  The first four post that we had worked very well.  We talked it over and decided to change all the bamboo posts.  

Daeng went over the the wood guys and bought the six more posts but they would not deliver them today.  I went over with our new pick-up truck and got them.  It's good to have a pick-up.  

We spent the next four hours changing all the posts and installing the galvanized wire that they hang the clothes on.  I had some wire but we needed over 60 meters of wire.  Daeng went to Home Mart and got it.  

I am amazed at some of the costs here.  The wooden posts were a little over $1.00 USD each and the wire was about $3.00 USD.  We used about a dollars worth of new screws and concrete fasteners.  Total project cost around $14.00.  

Daeng and I work really great together, also.  Here is a great selfie of us.  It was done with a ten second timer and I caught her off balance for this great picture. 

Daeng just brought me a plate of brown rice, fried broccoli and two eggs over easy on top.  She also cut up some of the 16 pounds of pineapple that we bought on our road trip a few days ago.  The pineapple is very sweet. 

Thanks, dare ling.  That's a joke as "dare ling", loosely pronounced,  in Thai means "monkey butt".  She called me that for almost tow years before someone told me what it means in translation.