Unexpected Guest ...

The thick, once sturdy thumb, of a farmer turned academic rubbed incessantly at the arm of the chair. Years of this repetitive tic had left the otherwise impeccable koa wood rocker stained, weathered and aged much like the thumb itself. Suddenly the thumb moved from the rocker to the phone in an action long and anxiously anticipated. The daily ritual was about to begin.

A long series of numbers was then entered. If no mistakes are made and the circuits are not busy my phone soon begins to ring on the other side of the world. I could be almost anywhere at this time of day, but on this occasion I was at home, alone. The wife and her sister had gone off to an aunt’s house for som tam, as if that is anything new. The mother-in-law was off in the fields where she feels most at home.

Shortly before the phone rang the puppy started barking even more fiercely than normal. I reached the front door just in time to stop a young man, I didn’t know, from walking on in. I stepped out the door to stop him entering and quickly took in the scene. His motorcycle was parked outside the gate which was left standing open. With the puppy verbally abusing our “guest” I managed to get the gate closed and continued assessing the situation. In the middle of all this the phone rang. Over the continuing protests of the dog I told my father, rather abruptly, that it was not a good time and I could not talk.

With the phone already in my hand I called my wife to determine who this guy was. I had never seen him before, but that did not negate the possibility of him being family. He new my wife’s name but was too young to have been an old flame. In no way is that kind of thing an issue with us but my mind automatically scans all possible scenarios.

He was obviously under the influence of something that had emboldened him enough to walk up to our house and talk with me asking rather direct questions. He was not aggressive but there was an edginess to his demeanor and in his exaggerated politeness. He appeared pushy and insistent. He did a fair job of speaking Central Thai with me and watched me intently as he greeted me with many a Thai wai. I had the distinct feeling that he could have been easily offended if my actions were not carefully measured.

When I reached my wife by phone she suggested I should get rid of him, but that was easier said than done. I could hear the sister in the background saying don’t tell him where we are. I made up a lie about the family being in Chiang Rai and that I was busy, alone and really couldn’t help him. It took a while to convince him to leave. My language and diplomatic skills were tested and I had to return an excessive number of wais and deal with questions that were really none of his business.

Situations like this can be difficult to assess. I am usually insulated from family and social strife in the village. This was a rare occurrence were I had to deal with someone without any information, background or backup. While that made things more difficult I can’t honestly say I could have handled it any differently because of the chemicals involved. Drugs affect people in unpredictable ways so caution seemed the best path.

I tried to explain to my wife, how my desire not to offend her family or cause her any problems down the road, makes it difficult sometimes to choose the correct action. If as before, I only had to consider myself, it would be much simpler. I finally got an explanation of who the young man was.

He was from a neighboring village, a friend of the sister and was involved with some painting of the house many years ago. His father was a respected teacher but a heavy drinker and ended up having a stroke which has left him unable to move and apparently confined him to home. His mother turned into the village harlot and he has been know to publicly question if there were any men in the village who haven’t slept with her. People pitied him for a while but he has managed to alienate family and friends to the point that nobody wants anything to do with him. I think I can understand their feelings if he is always so pushy and annoying.

Eventually I got around to returning my parents call and explained the situation to my father. His need for our daily telephone session seems great enough that I find it hard to say no, even when it is terribly inconvenient. Ostensibly the calls are for mother’s benefit but seem to do more for my father as mother doesn’t really interact that much.

She just says it is nice to hear my voice and listen to my stories. Not sure how much she understands of what I say but since she doesn’t remember I guess it doesn’t really matter. When she does talk it is usually to repeat the very few things she seems to focus on. I attempt to keep things upbeat and positive. The high-powered Alzheimer's medications seem to reduce the hallucinations and delusions a bit but nothing can remove the cobwebs that cloud her mind.

Trying to reconcile the immediacy of life in the village with the broader, more disperse and less personal online life is sometimes a stretch. Taken separately they seem to lack something but combined they provide an interesting mix of real and virtual, private and public. One seems to feed off the other. Telephones and internet make face to face interaction less urgent but there seems to remain a deep, primal need to be close to someone.

Control or Chaos ...

The house has been my pedagogue of late. Lessons have been taught and learned. Chaos is no longer the enemy. Workers and village people are regarded more kindly. I have been touched with a more benevolent air. With a project like this, in a place like this, one could choose to become an obnoxious braggart and social bore but would risk repercussions down the road. In the village, it is far more advisable to be soft-spoken and elusive, yet welcoming and unaffected. We are gracious to our neighbors, treat our workers well and make sure observations of flaws are directed to the contractor, for him to deal with directly.

My wife and I put forth a united front, and in public, I always yield to her. It is best to speak with one voice. In private we discuss things in greater depth and often change our minds on things as the project unfolds and we see how things are working out. What she says in public reflects our joint view, though my contribution is not always clear or on display. My ability to envision interior designs, materials and colors are no match for the wife’s. I bring other talents to the table.

With so many aspects of the house being fleshed out simultaneously there is a very real sense of chaos these days. One wonders how it will ever be brought together into a unified whole. I am confident, however, that through the chaos, we will together, be able to find solutions and compromises that will result in a home that is a true pleasure to live in. This is all so new to me and removed from what life was like for me as a single man.

It is helpful to remember that when my adventures began I was not yet twenty-one and there were no cellphones or internet. In the years before marriage, my life was lived in pursuit of total freedom, control and what I call life experiences. I didn’t want to read about things. I wanted to live them.

On many an occasion I recanted a story to my older brother and received his inevitable rejoinder, “Oh, so-and-so wrote a book about that. You really ought to read it.” To which, the gist of my retort was, that I had already lived it, and experienced it myself, and had little interest in reading someone else’s account. I suppose I could be a bit more charitable in my replies but, brothers will be brothers, and I have little tolerance for normal social niceties, at times. I prefer probing questions and thoughtful discussion of a complicated topic. Fortunately for most, I don’t pontificate all that often.

My wife is very adept at explaining me to others, who find my gauche silence in social settings and lack of social graces on occasions, daunting. She explains that I’m just not good with groups but you can ask me anything and I will attempt an answer. The main caveat being that if you don’t really want to know, then don’t ask, for the answer could be rather longwinded. I love it that my wife knows me so well and seems to love me anyway.

Life has been altered measurably by marriage. It should be evident by now that “marriage” for us is not what most people think of when they hear the word. That is potentially another blog entry, however. Life experiences are still on the menu but are now shared, not solitary. Control is no longer the keyword. Life nowadays is more about the artful management of chaos.

When you are a solitary individual you can control virtually everything. The more people in your life the more chaotic it gets. I am clearly happier and more content these days but feel I have lost the edge I once had. I don’t feel that I have the same mastery of my life. Then again I have learned to surrender, some of myself, to the capable care of my loving wife.

Having been so self-reliant for so long it was no easy task for me to relinquish total control. I am taken aback by the eagerness of some people to surrender control in their lives to various individuals, organizations and beliefs. People online readily advertise their inability to solve problems by asking for help when a few minutes of thought or a, quick google, would make the answer clear and reinforce a sense of self-reliance.

Asking for help is something I have always been averse to. For me it would imply a weakness and vulnerability that I would not feel comfortable showing. That was then and this is now. Where once there was little room for error, I am now part of a team and somebody special always has my back. A nice feeling to be sure, but it leads one to become a bit careless and lazy I think.

It suits both my Machiavellian and private nature to have a wife who’s social manor is highly refined, yet completely natural and applicable to most social settings. Previously it worked to my benefit to allow people to see in me in whatever guise they desired. I did not feel compelled to correct their misconceptions as long as they worked in my favor. Today I find there is more freedom of action, expression and thought, with my lovely wife there to make excuses for me.

I am sometimes asked if I miss my old life or have any regrets about where I am now or where I might be heading. I’m definitely not thrilled with the physical limitations brought on by age. I am happy with who and where I am, though. Past experiences are only of interest as molders of my present day self. There is no sense of nostalgia or regret. It is more of an introspection and evaluation of key events and stages in life. I endeavor to enjoy the journey and live in the moment being thankful for all that I have...

Bang Pae Waterfall

This blog page was from 2007. Here's an updated post about Bang Pae Waterfall from November 2012 :

New post about Bang Pae Waterfall

Up in the Northeast of Phuket in a heavily forested area is the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park. To get there, head North on the airport road from Phuket Town and turn right at the Heroine's Monument, then drive around 10km - the entrance to Bang Pae Waterfall on the left side is well signposted. At the entrance to the falls just as you turn off the main road there is an elephant trekking safari - the elephants looked happy and well fed. I swear they posed for photos too. If you want to try elephant trekking this might be a good spot.

Elephant at Bang Pae Safari

As you drive up to the park entrance the roadside is lined with rubber trees as is much of this area of Phuket. Rubber was once very important to the economy of Phuket and indeed it continues to be important. There are also fields of pineapples nearby, but once you hit the park entrance you are in the jungle, baby!

Road to Bang Pae Waterfall

(above) Road through the rubber trees to Bang Pae

The forest is thick and full of sounds from the chirping of insects to the song of the gibbons. The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project is found here. For more information see Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Project and worth a stop for sure.

Gibbon at Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Center

If you walk past the Gibbon Project you see a big sign saying "Bang Pae Waterfall". A winding and (in some parts) quite steep path heads up into the forest following the river. At the bottom there are some picnic tables and a few cheap restaurants too. At several points on the way up there are sections of river where you can jump in - on Saturday it was (as usual) quite busy with locals.

Kid playing at Bang Pae Waterfall

Locals playing at Bang Pae

Bang Pae Waterfall 2007

At the very top is a waterfall of about 15m in height... wow! I wouldn't base your trip to Phuket on a visit to this waterfall, but in combination with the gibbons, a walk in the forest and a drive around this area of Phuket, Bang Pae makes a very nice day out. Also good for getting your kids tired - take them for a walk up the path to the falls and they'll sleep like logs that night!

Bang Pae Waterfall & Gibbon Project - Location Map

View Bang Pae Waterfall and Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in a larger map

Note - I have written a brand new page all about the Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Project.

Shades of things to come...

Yesterday was a revelation for me. I found myself lounging in my comfy chair, music enhancing my mood, in the middle of my soon to be living room. As my gaze drifted from room to room, window to window and view to view a strange feeling came over me. I thought, “So this is what it’s like.” Surrounded by family, friends and workers I felt strangely patriarchal, perusing the scene around me.

Children rolled on the grassy slope by the pond, sometimes coming in the house to scamper from room to room. I remained undisturbed by their screams of joy, being surrounded as I was in my cocoon of iPod generated bliss. The women cooked and gossiped nearby. The men kept their own company, drinking and boasting in another area. All seemed so happy and content. Though I remained separate I nonetheless felt, a part of and responsible for, all that was unfolding before me.

There was even a makeshift beauty station were by my wife was performing facial makeovers. Mainly giving advice and shaping ungainly eyebrows and the like. No doubt her Hollywood training and experience as a professional makeup artist were lost on them. They seemed to be having fun if their smiles and laughter were any gauge.

Our niece and the contractors children seem to get on well and I can see this relationship continuing on well after the house is completed. Not yet completed the house is already taking on its predetermined role of homestead, sanctuary and gathering place for friends and family.

Strangely I found myself remembering my grandfather who died much too early in my life, and his. He was the patriarch of our family and the dairy farm was the gathering place for all during the summer months. I remember him sitting in his big rocker and the odors that emanated from him and the footstool that held his stash of pipes and pipe tobacco. He lorded over his brood and manor, and things were never the same once he was gone. None of his four sons remained on the farm or took on his mantle. I lost touch with my cousins and uncles and aunts over the years and recent efforts to reestablish contact have not been very successful. I guess in truth we are more of a once a year Christmas Card sort of family. At least have become that over the years.

So here I am building my own homestead. Yesterday truly felt like visions of the past and shades of things come...

Back to the Beginning...

At least one reader has found me remiss in my role as the promulgator of these pages. He feels that I have not been forthcoming about how one goes about building a house in the middle of a rice field. Now I thought I had covered that on April 2 with “Preparing for the worst.” I understand that from the readers viewpoint it is easier to ask me to repeat myself than to forage through my earlier entries. Maybe this time I can do a better job of summing up the Beginning.

First we spent a couple of years searching for a location that fit all social, visual, romantic, environmental and practical requirements. Those of course will vary greatly from individual to individual. Lets just say we weighed everything (and I mean everything) very carefully. That included views, sun direction, wind patterns and privacy among other things.

We ended up on the fringes of my wife’s home village were we bought 5 Rai of land in my wife’s name since, I can’t own land in Thailand. Made sure all requisite paperwork was in order before signing on the dotted line. Took some time to visualize, what would go where, before finding a guy with back-hoes and dump-trucks to dig a BIG hole.

We went for a 1 Rai pond at 5 meters deep. What came out of that hole was spread 2 meters high over 2 Rai of the property and a road connecting us to the soi. We left it for most of a year to see what havoc the rains would reap. The erosion was about what we expected and we determined the need for additional topsoil and a reinforcing barrier to keep the dirt in place.

While the land settled, we were in Hawaii for 6 months and my wife worked on the design of the floor plan. Later, on our return to Thailand, we found an architect to help us flesh out the rest of the design and determine the structural specifications for what we had conjured up. Finding the contractor was as difficult as finding the architect but we got lucky with both.

After making sure that we were well above the flood line, a total of 32 pilings of 8 meter lengths were put in place to support a massive foundation designed to elevate us an addition meter above the surface of our land. Since then the process has been pretty normal for work in Thailand.

Where locals always ask how much, the Farangs often ask about a completion date and I respond, “Whenever it is finished.” We would rather have it done well than forced into a tight timeframe. We are living within a 5 minute walk of the house while it is being built and we are on site everyday except for our recent trips to Chiang Mai and Bangkok. The last trip to Bangkok was too long, and mistakes were made while we were gone, but they have all been rectified to date.

We chose a location that made connecting to the water mains and the power grid relatively easy. Only needed to cover the length of our 80 meter road and the distance on either end to make a connection. We set a budget for the house but with the knowledge there would be significant overruns. The quoted price of the house is misleading as one needs to consider land purchase, development and landscaping, interior decoration and furnishings. I also budgeted in the cost of the truck as we would need transportation which had been unnecessary while living in Bangkok the last 8 years.

I’d say that sums things up except for the most important element. I would never have been able to pull this off without first being in a long-term relationship with a truly remarkable young woman that I admire and trust and an even longer relationship with Thailand. We have allowed no input from family members and have relied entirely on our own counsel and the advice of professionals.

I have used a great deal of my own local knowledge and self knowledge in this process. If things end up badly, I have no one but myself to blame. If things go well, I plan to give full credit to my wonderful and loving wife for all she has done to design and supervise this project.

Change is a good thing...

It wasn’t a hard rain but it persisted throughout the night and well into the morning. Our workers are transported in the back of a pickup truck from a neighboring village, so when it is raining they take the day off. That left only the live-in couple, patiently and methodically laying those large Granito tiles in the living room. I loaded up my new camping chair, my camera, water and my Nano and spent the day sitting in the living room enjoying the views and watching the artisans at work. As soothing melodies wafted over me through my earbuds, I found myself thinking back on how we had gotten to this stage in the process.

There have been many changes along the way. The first major change took place only after the prefab concrete slabs were laid on our massive foundation. It was our first chance to walk through the physical space of the house. It was immediately apparent, to both of us, that the combination of the kitchen and living room area made for a remarkable space. It didn’t take long to realize the planned wall between them had to go. We had been thinking security in the design phase and wanted to separate the kitchen, one bedroom and a bathroom from the rest of the house. The idea being that someone could stay in that end of the house when we were out of town. Easy choice, out with the wall.

Some modifications took more thought and planning. The roof span looked a little scary so we put in additional support and then realized the planned ceiling material was still way too heavy. I mean it was 3 times as heave as the standard ceiling material. A little back and forth between the architect and the contractor and us, led to a change in materials. That left us with a pile of wood panelling with no planned use. We arrived at the idea of using it to panel the upper reaches of the living room walls. 

With nearly seven meters of height to work with we were able to create an unexpected but wonderful effect in our main living space. I also came up with the idea of a lighting box that will run the entire length of the room and divide the upper and lower sections. The clear view windows at the top of the wall were changed to glass blocks. Being on the South side they still provide diffused light to the room while being stronger and better insulating. The views out the living room and bedroom windows are good enough that I doubt we would have been looking up at a skylight very much anyway.

Change is often affected by circumstances beyond our control or simple mistakes made in planning or execution. Do you give up, completely redo it or find a way to make what you have work? We have no hard and fast rules but always seem to know what to do when change presents itself. It is all very much like the art of living. You dream, you plan, you prepare, you act. Some things go well somethings don’t. Opportunities present themselves and we make choices. Some good, some bad.

Some people are whiners and others are blamers. Others live and learn, grow and prosper, making the best of their options in life. No, life isn’t fair. People are not afforded equal portions of looks, intelligence, potential, money or opportunity. A good long look in the mirror, might help to establish a base point from which to develop realistic expectations. From what I have seen that is just too  harsh and rational for most people to deal with. We prefer to think that we can be or do anything in life, when in truth, reality is far more limiting.

As for the house, there have been far too many changes to count. Sure I would like to take more credit for how things are turning out. The main credit due, however, is our ability to deal with change. Many of the best aspects of the house were not planned per say. We adapted to the materials available and the circumstances that presented. So from my perspective change in a good thing...

Karon Beach

The Phuket blog has tended to steer clear of the main beaches in favour of quieter places, but since I work at Karon beach, I can make an exception! The 3 most developed beaches in Phuket are Patong beach (super crowded, though does have a few nice bits nearby like Tri Trang and Paradise beach and has some good hotels of course), Kata beach (quite relaxed, but most of the beach road is taken up with Club Med), and Karon, which is between the two and not bad at all. Let's talk about Karon Beach...

Karon Beach, Phuket

(above) Karon Beach

Most websites will tell you the same thing - Karon beach is Phuket's "second most developed" beach, but is quite spread out with many resorts along the beach road, generally does not feel too crowded, it much cleaner and neater than Patong and the sand is squeaky - I read this and thought "yeh, right", but the dry sand does squeak, it's true! The beach is long and open (if you want a pretty curving bay, then try Kata or Naiharn). In some places there is shade, in other places the beach is hot - but of course you can find beach chairs with umbrellas everywhere in the high season. Karon Beach is more than 3km from end to end.

My Karon Beach Hotel Recommendations
Full List of Karon Beach Hotels (at agoda.com)

Parasailing at Sunset, Karon Beach, Phuket

(above) Sunset parasailing at Karon Beach

Unlike parts of Patong, there is virtually no development right on the beach. For much of the length of Karon beach, there is a road, a path for walking, some greenery and a canal in between the beach and the hotels. Only hotels right on the beach are the Beyond Resort, Marina Phuket and Ruam Thep Inn (south end) and an odd little place called "In On The Beach" at the north end. The beach is quite green, the sand is clean and fine and from most hotels you are no more than a few minutes from the water. Just note one thing please - in low season, the waves here can be quite big. Every year people drown off the beaches in Phuket, and Karon is the worst - if you see big waves and red flags, please use your hotel pool for swimming, thanks.

Karon Beach. Perfect Morning.

(above) Calm clear waters at Karon Beach in the high season (photo taken in March 2012)

Karon beach is about an hour from the airport, 15 minutes from Patong or 10 minutes from Chalong Jetty. If you like a quiet beach, but some nightlife, Karon is ideal - you can head into Patong in the night - Karon has a few bars, but nothing serious. It does tend to be more of a family beach, and the accommodation reflects this. Most of the beach road is taken up with resorts - some huge like the Hilton or Thavorn Beach resort, some a bit smaller like Karon Princess or Karonburi. Cross the road and you're at the beach! Off the beach road there is a profusion of small hotels and guesthouses like Karon Place, Bamboo House, Casa Brazil, Pineapple Guesthouse - many, many options and all just a few minutes from the beach. Just about any kind of room you want can be found around Karon - from 200 Baht dorm rooms to 5 star luxury. Some hotel links at the end of this page, or I suggest that you check Agoda.com for lots of hotel information and rates or look at my suggested Karon beach hotels.

This way to the beach (at Karon Beach, Phuket)

(above) The beach is easy to find :)

Similarly, there are plenty of eating options around Karon beach. The resorts have some nice restaurants, there are steakhouses like Buffalo Steakhouse or Angus O'Tools, there is seafood galore and also many small family restaurants for Thai food. If you want good, cheap local food get off the beach road and look along "Patak Road" (the back road), where you can find where the locals eat.. yes, there are locals here - fishing folk mostly, and you still see fishermen at the beach, or longtail boats going out fishing. These days, many of the local families now run guesthouses or restaurants rather than relying totally on fishing for a living.

Karon Circle at the north end of the beach road features a large statue depicting local people involved in the four main traditional industries of Phuket – farming, rubber, fishing and tin mining. Tin made Phuket rich (try to visit the Tin mining museum), fishing continues to be important (I suggest you check out the fishing port on the east side of Phuket town on the way to Koh Sirey) and many areas of Phuket are still covered with rubber plantations, including in the hills above Karon.

Statue at Karon Circle

(above) Statue on Karon circle

Monk at Karon Temple

(above) Monk at Karon Temple

Karon has no single "center" really. There is the area near the circle (north end of the beach) which is most developed and has several quieter side streets with lots of small hotels and restaurants, and there is the area around Karon Plaza near the Phuket Orchid resort (south end of the beach) which also has many guesthouses and places to eat and is only 10 minutes walk from Kata beach too. The Aroona Karon area about half way along the beach is nice and features the Old Phuket Hotel.

Karon Beach is a nice place to stay. Developed, yes, but it has been done quite neatly, certainly if compared to Patong. Accommodation for everyone from luxury seekers to backpackers, and a great base for exploring Phuket. Lots of cars and bikes for rent enabling you to go and check out other beaches nearby (Kata, Naiharn, Rawai) or places like Karon Viewpoint (from where you can see Kata Noi, Kata and Karon beaches - see below), Phromthep Cape, Chalong Temple and much more!

Sunset at Phuket Viewpoint

(above) Karon Viewpoint

More Karon Beach Information

Sunrise Divers - PADI Dive Center
Karon Temple
Karon Temple Market (Tuesday and Saturday)
Karon Beach Hotels

Some Recommended Accommodation @ Karon Beach

Centara Grand Beach Resort
Old Phuket Hotel
CC Hideaway Hotel
Pacific Club Resort
Marina Phuket Resort
Pineapple Guesthouse
Karon Princess
Phuket Island View

Return Trip ... Bangkok to Chiang Rai

Door to door, 814 kilometers in 10 hours. I knocked off one full hour on the return trip yesterday. Maybe I was just that much more anxious, to get home and out of the big city. I really enjoy the stretch through the forest on highway 103. Almost as much as I dislike those rough stretches on highway 11. It is a real show, however.

Drivers weaving left and right in a vain effort to avoid the punishing road conditions. Drivers in the opposing lane forced off the road to avoid head on collisions with those single minded drivers, determined to pass on blind curves or dodge potholes. One van was spending much time on the asphalt shoulder while a big bus was straddling the center line. So I had the pleasure of dealing with the gaping holes in the road as well as the slalom like maneuvers of the other drivers.

The truck was much heavier on the way back and it made the ride much smoother! That is probably common knowledge to most truck owners but was a new experience for me. We brought back many household items that might not survive a shipping company, more clothes and all the stuff we bought for the house. Bangkok Home Pro is nothing like Home Mart in Chiang Rai.

The original idea was to flip the back seat up and fill the cab from floor to ceiling with things that needed to stay dry. The rest would be relegated to the relatively short bed of our 4 door truck. Did you notice that I said, original idea? In typical Thai fashion, someone invited themselves to a free ride home. Since it was my wife’s sister, I knew better than to make too big a deal out of it. My wife doesn’t allow her family to impose on me much so I figure if she wants her sister to have a chance to ride in the new truck, then I can be man enough to go with the flow.

I don’t let things slide completely, however, so I pointed out how it was going to modify our packing and hauling plans considerably and add to my driving stress. We (my wife) adjusted by getting a new cover and some more plastic bags to assure that nothing in the back would be ruined by the rain. Wouldn’t you know it? It hardly even sprinkled and it made me look like a big wuss, a worrier and anti family. Being me, however, I would rather be over prepared than to be caught with my pants down, so to speak. Afterward I dutifully acknowledged that she had been right and I was just a big worry wort.

We arrived home around sunset and headed to the house site, first thing. True to form they had managed to screw things up while we were gone. My wife was very upset and had a fitful nights sleep. I figure these things happen and you simply sort them out. Does no good telling her that though. That doesn’t keep me from trying, however. In the end I simply try to comfort her and not add to her stress level. This morning she called the contractor and seems to be feeling better after expressing her disappointment. I assured her that everything will work out, just like with all the other little changes and modifications we have made.

She tries so hard to make everything perfect and puts way too much pressure on herself, sometimes. I never, give her a hard time, about anything and try to be supportive and understanding and reinforce her many gifts. Indirectly, however, I do add to her stress level by setting a rather high standard. She will struggle with something and only come to me when she figures it can’t be done. Then I usually sort it out with such ease that I’m sure it must be difficult for her on some level.

She proudly and affectionately, acknowledges her husbands “big brain” (as she calls it) and ability to understand and fix things. See thanks me for sharing and teaching her so much about life but that doesn’t stop her feeling irritated with me at the same time. I can understand her feelings well and honestly don’t know if I could handle “me” as well as she does.

Anyway it is good to be home and I am very sure the wife won’t be going anywhere else until all the work on the house is finished.

Below are a few Bangkok views I call looking for green in the city.

Road Trip...Chiang Rai to Bangkok

Door to door, 814 kilometers in 11 hours. I Googled the route to find a back way out of the village without having to go through town. According to my odometer, Google and I only had about a 10 kilometer and one hour difference of opinion. They said 825 @ 12 hours. The five car pileup on Rangsit did bring us to a stop for a while or our time would have been better. We had a few bad spells of rain where we couldn’t see anything and slowed to a crawl with headlights, fog-lights and warning lights on full, to be seen and not hit.

Most of the route was better than I remembered. Last time was maybe 8 years ago. Some stretches of Highway 11 were terrible, however. The concrete is all broken up and they have tried to put a little asphalt into the gaps. The two materials don’t work well together and it seems to make things worse. The big tires helped some on those sections but it was still very rough.

I refuse to drive in the city so the truck is parked until we pack things up to return to the village. It is good to see friends and shop and eat in restaurants and check on the condo. After facials, massage, sauna and jacuzzi at the health club, lots of shopping, a movie in those big recliner chairs at Paragon and visiting friends and family we are starting to tire of the city. The truth is we miss the countryside. We worry about the house and dogs so I’m sure we will be out of here, soon as we can.

We do have a few more things to get done but are making progress. In the midst of all this I have been revisiting “the struggle” and trying a different take on it. With regards to blogging I figure there are 4 basic types of people. Those who read and write blogs, those who read only, those who write only and those who have little or no interest at all in blogs. I fit neatly into the write only category. When people make comments, I will, out of respect and guilt go read their blogs or have a look at their websites.

The truth is I stopped reading anything having to do with Thailand many years ago. There just isn’t anything out there that doesn’t rehash what I already know or have experienced myself. I can’t generate much interest in reruns, so to speak. I guess there are people out there who are stuck in a rut and continue to read about the same thing their whole lives. Like the guy who is fixated on war or a nationalistic view of history and reads and rereads books and articles that support his views. Their are also people who are looking for someone to lead or guide them through life. They often fall victim to unscrupulous gurus and charlatans, who are more than willing to shepherd the sheep of the world.

The challenge for me is to find something of interest that is new to me. Even more difficult for me is to find people who I can respect or find interesting in some way. I don’t fit neatly into any standard group or category of people. As I have stated before, I have no need for or interest in religions, gods, magic or vices. My wife and I are not violent or aggressive, don’t smoke, drink, gamble, swear or compete with others. We are faithful to each other and don’t fight or have fits of anger.

Due to age and experience I do take the mentoring role in our relationship. She has a great deal of freedom and responsibility in our relationship, however, and I take great pride in her accomplishments. She is a great companion and there is still a good portion of lust after 10 years. In comparison most people we meet fall far short. As for lifestyle we probably have more in common with the more religious but find their dependence on their beliefs and evangelical nature a bit tedious.

So why would anyone read my blog? Who would be looking for it to begin with? The answer seems rather obvious when I look at the question, now. So what to do? I find writing this a good mental exercise while living in such a remote location. It is also quite therapeutic and cathartic to write things down and there is a belief that family and friends might have a look from time to time to see what is going on in our lives. There is also, I guess, the hope that one day a kindred spirit might happen upon my ramblings...

Buying a House in Phuket - Real Estate in Phuket

I have been living in Phuket since 1999, and after a couple of years renting several apartments and houses, then starting a family it was time to buy a house. We (my wife and I) already knew the areas we liked in Phuket and spent many days driving around looking at houses for sale and even went to a house auction for repossessed properties! Since we have a family, we had to compromise on location - a hillside villa is not idea when a toddler might decide to crawl off the balcony, and although we liked the Rawai / Naiharn area, we though it was just a little remote. We were already living in the Kathu area which is close to Phuket town, close to hospitals, close to shopping and markets, close to golf courses (if you like golf) etc.. so that was where we ended up buying our house.

Phuket is a great place to live. I don't write this blog for a living, I write it because I really like Phuket! We like living here and after many years in our own house we feel very comfortable. Phuket has a local life, great food, festivals and traditions, and also has the tourist scene. You can get just about anything you need here. You can live close to the "action" or you can live off the beaten track. Up to You - it's all out there waiting.

Siam Real Estate

Want to live in Phuket? Contact Siam Real Estate

I have met Richard, the owner of Siam Real Estate, a couple of times socially. Enough time to have a chat about land and houses and prices - he talks straight, doesn't try to bull**it anyone and has an experienced business brain. He has worked hard and Siam Real Estate is now one of the largest companies on the island. If you want advice about buying a house - I'd say that's the place to go.

Buying a House in Phuket - Useful Links

Siam Real Estate - Contact Information
Buying a Property - why choose Siam Real Estate? (apart from the fact that I recommend them!)
Siam Real Estate - Home Page

New Property
Luxury Property in Phuket
Condos and Apartments
Villas and Houses
Current Phuket Special Offers

Phuket Real Estate - Frequently Asked Questions
Legal Advice for Buyers

Villa and Condo Rentals (often a better deal than a hotel!)

Holiday Rentals in Phuket
Long Term Rentals in Phuket

If you have visited Phuket and are thinking of renting or buying a house here - either to retire, or just to use as a holiday home, there are so many options you may not know where to start. You are welcome to contact me - please leave a message on my Facebook Page - I'll answer your message or I can forward your email to Siam Real Estate so they can contact you (I mean, I know Phuket very well, but they know rather more than me about houses!). Check some of the links above to Siam Real Estate web site allowing you to explore different areas of Phuket and look for that ideal dream house!

Siam Real Estate have also introduced a couple of very nice offers to help you to buy in Thailand during these "uncertain economic times" - see the links below for details:

Airfare Refund Offer

Last word of advice - take your time looking at houses - Phuket is a big place and there are hundreds upon hundreds of houses for sale. The house you are looking for is probably here somewhere!

More Useful Info on Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Recommended Phuket Hotels
Phuket Beaches
Phuket Tours - Book with My Friends!