Monday, March 23, 2015

Mae Sai - Home for Two Weeks - Spring 2015

Please forgive my spelling and punctuation, I'm a plumber and not an English major. Just read and have fun.
We made it home to Mae Sai. 

We have been gone for over 3 months but have been back for two weeks.  It is nice to be home. 

Now, I hate to start out negative but when we arrived and I walked around the outside of our home I got tears in my eyes.  

Daeng's mother, I'm told, cut the top growth off our palm trees at the side of the house. I have been babying these to get them to grow tall while potted. She did that once before and after a talk she said she would not do it again.

Let's see if I can get positive.  As I walked through the house I only found a couple of things that need attention.  Two of them are plumbing issues and due to age and not misuse. We have the talent to take care of those repairs. 

The family is about the same as we left. That is a good thing. Foey is getting big and keeps looking at me with this puzzled look. Foey is Nuy's daughter. Nuy is Tun and Hlong's daughter Tun and Hlong are Daeng's brother and sister-in law. Yes, you need a scorecard around here. 

As for me, I was happy as I uncovered our pickup truck and both motorbikes and they both started right up.  My motorbike rear tire needed some air but was not completely flat. 

Next biggie is renew my Thai retirement visa. We started a busy morning, breakfast at the Ban Pa Mueat market and then to Bangkok Bank for a letter to immigrations that we have enough money in bank.

Then off to immigration to renew/extend my non-immigrant retirement visa along with obtaining multiple entry status for another year.

Everything went great except my US Passport expires on the 18th of January so they would only grant/extend my visa until that date.

The nice officer said if I renew my passport this summer, come back and she will extend my visa until March 13th, 2016 at no additional cost.

To celebrate we had a big bowl of chicken feet.

March 11th, We are almost back to normal. It’s breakfast at the Ban Pa Mueat Morning market with, going clockwise, tea, coffee, steamed moo (pork), sticky rice and Pa Thong Ko (Thai donut).

I'm now going to the supermarket to buy things like peanut butter.

It is a little smoky this morning as the jungle is on fire. Can you see the sun? 

March 12th, well, it's another wonderful day. Daeng and I got up, had coffee together at home and talked about the three things we have found broken while we were away.

Our friends down the street have a new and interesting business. They buy used items shipped from Japan. They sell most things by how much they weigh. China and glass things are 150 Thai Baht per kilogram. That comes to about $2.10 a US pound.

They are doing well with the business.

The bicycle I liked, one with coaster brake on rear wheel like a beach cruiser, was $77.00 USD. 

By the way, that's how Japan gets rid of their used "stuff", they put it in containers and ship it to Thailand. 
After checking out the 2nd hand stuff, Daeng says: "Many hand stuff"', we stopped at the evening market.

Anyone interested in ant eggs for ant egg soup? 

March 13th, well, a plumber's work is never done. We have a water leak coming from the third floor ceiling into the 2nd floor kitchen.

We had everyone stop using the 3rd floor restroom above it. (We have 5 bathrooms so folks can get along.) The floor is now dry and the leak is still there.

Water is coming out of the other side of the bathroom wall on the third floor. Everything points to a pipe leaking in the wall. 

It is a masonry wall so we are going to try and break out the wall by hand, from the backside, and see if we can save the tiled side. 

When we got into the masonry wall we found the water maybe coming from the base of the squat toilet.

We are going to put this bathroom off limits for a day or two to be sure before we break out anymore cement. 

Anyway, Daeng wants to do some exercise and catch up on here emails.  

That is what she calls "multi-tasking". 

It is time for lunch.  

As a note, about the only thing that Thai folks use chopsticks for is eating the noodles out of noodle soup.

For me, I use a fork and spoon just like I was eating spaghetti. 

They laugh at me.  

Today, Bum graduated from preschool.  

Can you find him in the group picture. 

Bum is Hlong sisters daughter, Bang's, son. I guess that makes me his Uncle.  

March 15th,  I thought that I had tried everything here. Well, I ate something for breakfast that I had not eaten in the past.
It was pig's ears. The taste was normal for pork but the inside of the ear was very chewy.

Another day in the Land of Smiles. 

 Well, after two days of the third floor south side bathroom not being used, the water Leak is still there. So, while everyone went to church this morning we turned off the water to this part of the house, removed one wall faucet and a plug to find out what way the pipes run.

Then we drilled a small hole in the wall to exactly reference the piping on the back of this tiles wall. By the way, my measurements, without the pilot hole, was only about 3 inches off. Like my friend and teacher, Merle Cage, always said: "3 inches would make a difference on the end of your nose."

We marked out the piping so we would know where to diamond saw cut and open the wall.

We did install a shutoff valve in the water pipe that feeds this third floor bathroom. We shut off that bathroom water supply to see if the water stops leaking from the ceiling first as breaking out this masonry will be a chore.

Tomorrow is another day. 

March 16th, Here is something a little different for breakfast. It is sugar, like cotton candy, rolled up it what looks like a flour tortilla but made out of rice. It is very sweet.

We are having coffee and sweets before driving south 60 km to arrange to have joint lubricant shot into my knee again.

We made the hour drive to the hospital in Chiang Rai without incident. Daeng had her blood pressure taken for the fun of it. I had my knees and hips x-rayed.

I then had a shot of what I call joint lubricant shot into my right knee. We were going to put 50 mg into the knee at one time but the first 25 mg hurt so much we, the doctor and I, agreed to do the other 25 mg next week.

We were out of there in 2 hours with a total cost, including x-rays, doctor and drugs for shot next week of $212.00 USD.

Clowning around I got Daeng to put her arm in the blood pressure machine.  She was afraid of it. 

Time for barbecued chicken lunch on the way home. 

We stopped at the fruit wholesalers in Chiang Rai to buy pineapple, melons and watermelons.

Then it was lunch at the best, in our opinion, chicken place in Thailand.

My knee feels pretty good this morning so we are going to go to the post office, shopping at Tesco, Bangkok Bank for some money and then Toyota Dealer to renew our pickup truck's registration.

Daeng's brother from Chiang Rai came by so we had to do pictures.

That is Nuy in a glamor shot.

When we get back we may start to break out wall to repair leaking pipe. We'll see how we feel then. 

Morning went well except nobody loves us as we did not have any mail at the post office from the last four months.

Although paper items are usually pretty high priced here, we did buy 40 rolls of bathroom tissue at Makro for 109 THB about $3.35 USD.

The Toyota Dealer renewed our pickup truck's registration for a year at the cost of 2,180 THB, about $67.00 USD. It has 4,820 kilometers, 2995 US miles, on it and it's one year old the 27th. We are very happy we bought this vehicle. We love the diesel engine and the automatic transmission. For miles per gallon we are getting about 28.4 US miles per US gallon.

We were also pleased as our full coverage insurance went down about a hundred dollars even though we had a claim last year. This years premium is $614 USD.

The dealership did charge us 200 THB, about $6 USD to do the work but it is well worth it as DMV is 60 km south and usually long, long lines.

We think it is time for a nap. We can work on the pipes tomorrow. 

March 18th,  Well, although this is not one of our fun jobs we figured we should get at this water leak.

A few days ago we had marked the wall to be broken out. It's on the third floor so we lugged the saw, grinder, rotor hammer and hand tools up yesterday. This morning I got busy, cut out the wall and chiseled out the brick and cement.

I did pretty good and only broke the tile at the very top of the riser.We turned the water back on to find a leak coming from a fitting at the very top.

Lucky for us it is the easiest one to replace.

We replaced the elbow and cleaned up. We will wait an hour or so to allow the solvent cement to set up before we can turn the water back on.

We kept our fingers crossed and when we turned on the water there were no visible leaks.  

We will leave the wall open for a few days, just in case.

I cut a new tile to repair the area I broke. It is a little different color but should look okay with the valve coming out through it.

We will leave it all open for a few days to be sure there are no other leaks.

We need to clean up all the dust from sawing and breaking out the masonry. 

Then it will be shower time as the temperature right now is 101 F. 

March 19th, The sun was shining through the smoke as I left for the Mae Sai morning market.

The market was busy as usual and I had coffee at our friends Pa Thong Ko shop.

Bought a dirt digging tool and came home. Life is good.

I still think "coffee to go" in plastic bags is funny. 

I was sore from breaking out the masonry wall so took it easy the rest of the day. 

I did add some fertaizer to the 8 potted palm trees beside our home. 

Here is a sweet breakfast, coffee, mango and sweet sticky rice. 

Daeng had my most comfortable shoes I have repaired. I laughed as the repair was 90 THB ($2.77 USD). I put in new insoles we brought from the USA at $8.62. The shoes we bought here, used for 200 THB or $6.15 USD.

Economically the math does not work out but it is impossible to buy my shoe size except in the tourist areas of Thailand. AND they are the most comfortable shoe I own.

 As I said, Yesterday I felt sore from breaking out the masonry wall and repairing the piping the day before. It is a sign of old age or not enough exercise.

This morning I felt pretty good so I put in the new tile to repair the area I broke.

I am doing this reversed of what we would go in the USA. In California we would repair the wall and then do the tile on the wall. Here I am doing the finished tile first and then lay up brick to repair the wall.

It should work okay, even with a different colored tile that will accentuate the valve placement. And I'm sticking to that story. 

At about 2:00 PM and the temperature is 102F. The real feel temperature is 110F. The weather report is rain chance of 40 to 69% this week, starting Sunday. We need the rain to clear the air of smoke! 

March 21st,  Going to be a busy Saturday, morning market, lay up bricks in wall, take Hong's bicycle for new tires, and shopping at Tesco.

The Ban Pa Mueat market kids are doing well and growing up fast. 

We bought some sticky rice on the way home from the market.

We then mixed us some mortar, wet down the wall along with some bricks and laid up the hole we made in the wall.

We will render the wall tomorrow with a rough coat of cement. I am not good enough to do it in one coat. 

I pulled our pickup truck out and finished installing the windshield camera.  With the drivers here it is a good idea to have a video if there is ever an accident.

We loaded up the bicycle and stopped at Makro and Tesco to get the things we needed.

For some reason the bicycle repair shop was closed so we just went and had some chicken feet soup. 

Here is a new Thai drink. I'm told it tickles on the way down. 

I did not have the courage to drink it. 

The car insurance company called and asked if they could come to our home and take pictures of our pickup truck. We said: "Of Course."

A nice fellow came by and filled out a form and took some pictures. He commented: "It looks like new." 

Since the bicycle repair shop, that Daeng usually does business with, was closed we stopped by our neighbor for advice.

We started looking at bicycles he had and ended up buying two. A beach cruiser with a coaster brake for me and another cruiser type for Daeng.

Coaster brake bicycles are hard to find in this part of the world.

Because we are neighbors and very friendly, he sold both bicycles to us for 3,200 THB, a little less than $100 USD.

We rode them home. My tires were a little soft so I was breathing hard when we got home. And I'm sticking with the soft tire story. 

March 22nd,  We got busy and put a rendering coat of cement on the wall.

I did pretty well with Daeng's help. By the way, I love this "Bite Me" t-shirt that sister Diane gave me. 

One more coat to finish the masonry part and it will be ready, after a few days, to put a coat of primer on it.

While we were in the mood we also grouted in the tile that we installed were I broke out the tile while chiseling out the old masonry.

We think not a bad job for a plumber.

We'll install the valve tomorrow and that bathroom will be business as usual. 

It’s now time for a little picnic lunch at home. Clockwise from the top: burn you face off sauce, small fish, BBQ chicken, sweet sauce, bamboo salad and coconut juice in the red container.

Then it's shower and nap time.  

We have been home in Mae Sai for two weeks. It is nice to be back.  We have a lot more to do and still a lot of fun to be had.