Showing posts with label Blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blogging. Show all posts

A Little Soul Searching

Browsing what is written about Thailand, I often find myself wondering if I live in the same country.  I struggle to find much in common with people I meet these days, unlike when I first arrived here.  Our paths through life bear few similarities, making anything beyond social niceties a struggle.  I know nothing of their work lives, marriages, divorces and grown children.  I receive no government benefits or corporate pension and have no health issues.  I do not struggle with the language or why Thais don’t do things the way they are done in some foreign land never visited.  I eat what is available and do not smoke or drink alcohol.  I do not ogle the women or cheat on my wife.

I arrived young and stupid with time on my side, time to make mistakes and learn through experience.  I learned the language and how to act, across the strata of Thai social classes.  Now I live outside of Chiang Rai and I am doing many of the things I missed out on while living in Bangkok for thirty years.

Today Thailand is sold as a cheap retirement destination for those who find life a struggle back home.  They are frequently narrow minded, critical and burdened with toxic baggage from their difficult lives.  The internet has not made them smarter, quite the contrary.  Information overload seems to send people looking for and finding, supporting anecdotal evidence, that they are correct in their often deluded beliefs.  

To be fair, my path was not common, even in the seventies when I moved here.  Most of the guys I met were retired military from the Vietnam era, which was drawing to a close.  Then there were the expats who came here on the company dime.  Young and inexperienced, I was envious of their salaries, expense accounts, houses, cars, drivers and servants.  I, on the other hand, came here entirely on my own and was not sent by military, government, god or corporation.  I had no job and not a lot of money, just a feeling that this was where I belonged, where I could be me.

In this polarized world we live in today, where the haves and the have-nots are pitted against each other, conflict spills over into the expat community as well.  Those lured here with promises of cheap sex, cheap booze and cheaper living, often find they do not end up living the kingly life they were promised, on five hundred dollars a month.  They end up living the lives of village peasants and resenting both Thais and other foreigners who live more comfortable lives than they do.

Articles are being written about homeless foreigners, living on the streets of Thailand.  Whether due to sexual perversions, drugs, alcohol, greed or stupidity, the blame is never theirs.  Perhaps they would have ended up the same in their own countries, but Thailand can act as a catalyst, revealing what lays just below the surface of modern man.  Without the constraints of western society, to hold the daemons at bay, or keep people from making stupid choices, things can go from bad to worse very rapidly indeed.

I love my life in Chiang Rai on many levels.  I have a wonderful wife who I love dearly, a beautiful and comfortable home with lovely views, loving pets, and more toys than I need.  I love my location which I find just far enough into the hinterlands, to turn a very average but rapidly expanding town, into a lovely place to visit once or twice each week.  

These days it seems the Russians and the Chinese bear the brunt of negative comment in the tourist areas but I have not spent time in those haunts for a very long time, so have no first hand experience and therefore no complaints.  Some bemoan the growth in and around Chiang Rai but again I live far enough away to enjoy the benefits without suffering much in the way of negative fallout.

I suppose one could say my reluctance to be confined by schedules and appointments has lead to more social isolation than I felt in Bangkok.  Thankfully modern technology takes much of the bite out of living far from others.  Surprisingly, I did have a couple of spontaneous encounters recently, which I found quite enjoyable.  Met one guy while walking the dogs, who married a girl in the village and is making plans to move here over the next couple of years.  Again not much in common but a pleasure to talk with.

The other encounter was an online acquaintance who ended up dropping by for a visit when he found out his wife’s village was not far from ours.  They too are in the process, as it were, and expect to take a couple of years to get moved.  It will be interesting to see if either of these guys end up here or not.  I am watching with interest, as a few people I know struggle with retirement and adjusting to this new phase in their lives.

Sometimes plans and reality don’t end up in the same place.  I liken the planing stage of moving here and building a home, to that of the young girl who fantasizes about her wedding day.  So focussed on that day, with no idea how to get there or what comes after, it is a fantasy that almost promises disappointment.  If only more people could close their eyes and imagine what comes after.

I know many people in Chiang Rai, after living here for six years, and enjoy bumping into most of them from time to time when we are in town.  Unfortunately I made the mistake of getting to know some residents of the Rai too well.  Under a veneer of civility lurked darkness and very messy lives.  I see too many people living desperate lives, moving from one calamity to the next as if living beneath a cloud of misfortune.  Close proximity to people with problems can spill over into our own lives so I prefer now to keep my distance.

In the local expat community I have discovered an intolerance in the hearts of some, who otherwise see themselves as good people.  I find it all quite disturbing and it has made me more wary and reluctant to reach out.  I apparently hold unpopular beliefs with regard to friendship and misplaced loyalty.  In my opinion, life is too short to spend with people who do not inspire you, seeking instead to drag you down.

You may have also noticed that I am struggling with this blog and where to go with it.  From time to time I need new inspiration and direction to help maintain my interest in writing.  For some time now I have found myself writing things I never publish.  For now I continue to enjoy my life and corresponding with those of you who write to keep me up to date on your lives.  I continue to post photos on Google+ but only time will tell what the future holds for this blog.

VillageFarang moves to NEX-6, dumping the old S-90

I am presently going through another quiet spell with this blog.  I am still out riding the mt. bike and taking pictures, we even took a lovely day trip around Chiang Rai which included Doi Chaang and Rai Boon Rawd.  The pictures ended up going straight to Google+, instead of stopping by the blog first, however.  I am looking for new direction, or at least new motivation for the blog, but no luck so far.

You can see what I have been up to by going to my Profile Page on Google Plus.

The big news, is that my Canon S-90 was dying on me, and I was getting tired of fixing the dead pixels in my shots, so I recently went out and bought a Sony NEX-6.  The weather was not cooperative yesterday so I only took a couple of test shots around the house and I was blown away by the difference.

It is still grey and wet outside but I am keeping my fingers crossed for this afternoon.  I desperately want to get out on the bike and play with my new toy.

Okay, here are some test shots from my afternoon ride and one view from the house.  As you can see things are very green these days.

Just adding a new shot from the house today.

Something a little more recent.  Fishing.

Chiang Rai's Top Sites

I have updated my Google Map to reflect my favorite places in Chiang Rai.  Take a look.

A Post Trip Review…

When one finally reaches that last leg of a journey, the heart is filled with joy and the anticipation of returning to the ease and comfort of home.  A sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, at having safely completed the journey, washes over you.  It is a heady mix of feelings, with recent events and all the imagery and emotion they conjure still vividly present, while the comforts of home bring forth a sigh of contentment and well-being.

For a while one is busy with routines of post trip recovery and cleanup.  For me it is not long, it seems, before memories of the open road come flooding back with sometimes confusing results.  Of course I am glad to be home but the comfort of this place provides fertile ground for daydreams, reliving highlights and provoking a thirst for more.  I find myself longing for another adventure while I am yet to catch up from the last one.  Sounds greedy I suppose, always wanting more, when I already have so much.

I know I need to get back on the mountain bike but the recent climb in temperature and my post trip blues leave me lacking in motivation.  It was good I had time to write most of the blog report on the road, otherwise this post trip funk may have dulled my desire and that window of opportunity for writing could have past unheeded.  While I am aware a more proactive approach would quickly banish this emotional malaise, there is a part of me which enjoys wallowing in it, so I linger for a time examining my feelings and making little effort to curtail them.

On first glance one sees but a calm reflective surface, like a lake devoid of even the slightest breeze or disturbance.  Deep in the heart of that lake there is, however, a turbulent ebb and flow of emotion, mostly joyful but punctuated at times with melancholy, as I contemplate what the future holds for me and others.  I have chosen the path not of activist or provocateur but of observer and chronicler of what I see and feel.

Consciously stepping away from the negativity of those who warn of the pitfalls and foibles of life in Thailand, I try to write of other things.  I never know what will inspire the next post, and that is not always a comfortable place to be, but I guess it is part of what keeps it interesting for me.  So until inspiration next comes knocking upon my door, I hope you all have your own adventures be they big or small, and have enjoyed traveling with me on my recent road trip.

300 Posts and Still Blogging…

Typically reaching a milestone, even one a trivial as 300 posts, would have me examining the blog and moaning about my lack of motivation or direction.  As fate would have it, I have already done that quite recently.  So clearly I need to find some other way of marking the occasion.

Today I find myself at home again, playing househusband and servant to Cookie and our other four legged family members.  My wife is taking that last of her final exams and will no doubt go out for lunch to celebrate with her classmates.  Now that we both have iPhones, she is texting me more often using her favorite apps.  “I arrived safely.” or “Going in to take my test now.”, things of that nature pop up on the screen from time to time.

Speaking of iPhones, I only kept the iPhone 4 roughly a week.  One of my wife’s classmates jokingly suggested she sell the old phone her and get me a new one.  Well, to make a short story even shorter, that is what we did in the end.  Now we both have a new iPhone 5.

I am pretty sure we are taking a road trip later this week but with my wife cramming for finals we have put off any detailed planning.

Pause ll,

Writing of this post was interrupted yesterday, by a call and invitation to join my wife and a few of her friends for a movie in Chiang Rai.  This was one of those few occasions when it was convenient to have my own transportation since she had the car.  (I am still considering selling the Ninja 650, however, since it hardly gets ridden.)  After a shower, closing up the house and seeing to Cookie’s needs, putting on my gear and inspecting the seldom used Ninja 650, I zipped into town and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon with wife and friends.

Of course I could have opted to stay at home but I have learned to read the signs and usually know when to accept an invitation and when to decline.  Sometimes you are invited because you are there and it would be considered rude not to extend an invitation.  On those occasions it is perhaps best to decline by offering a polite excuse. 

Whether my wife really wanted me there or simply wanted to do something nice for me, to make up for the time she spends away from me, I don’t know.  I do know that when she makes the effort to mention something, even in passing, there is often more to it than idle chitchat.  So I pay attention to the signs, understanding that ignoring them comes at some peril.

I now have an idea where my wife wants to go on our pending road trip and it looks like I will have the opportunity to drive some of the same amazing backcountry roads we found a couple years ago, Road Trip, as well as pickup a few we missed.  I’m thinking of reversing the previous route and heading first to Nan, then taking the scenic route all the way to Chiang Khan before continuing on to a few other places she wants to go.  Sounds like a very long drive but it also sounds like my kind of fun and a great test for the new SUV.

As an afterthought I have decided to include a few shots from my last Mt. bike ride.
Under the bridge next to the Ing River.

The first bridge of the day.

Rice ready for harvest.

Rice just planted in the next field over.

Adding a little color and perspective.

Blocking the flow to make fishing easier.

The second bridge of the day.

Irrigating the rice fields.

Young rubber wood trees near home.

Rethinking The Blog for 2013 ...

So there are plenty of people blogging about tourism, sex, dating, politics, the weird and whacky, retirement, and of course how cheep, cheep, cheep, living in Thailand is.  None of those topics are of any real interest to me and as I have stated before there is no desire on my part to write a how to guide on anything.

From the feedback on this year’s opener, I am thinking of revisiting something I did more of early on.  Instead of looking outward for big events and big pictures perhaps it is time to focus once again on the little things, a bit closer to home.  While searching the horizon for a new direction, I was reminded that my readers might be looking for something a little more intimate.  Perhaps a simple look into the daily pulse of a life in Thailand, far removed from Bangkok and the well traveled tourist areas, is something I could devote more time to this year.

Take today for example, I awoke to an internet that simply would not stay connected.  In a matter of seconds, my router would dropout and start trying to connect again.  Sometimes these things self correct but not on this occasion.  I have found over time, that when calling the TOT service center it is easier to select the Thai assistant over the English speaking one, and that is what I did this morning.  Within half and hour things were back to normal, which is far from spectacular, but at least things work again.

While waiting I drank coffee, the last of the beans a visiting New Zealand friend who owns a coffee shop and roasts and blends his own coffee, gave me.  As I enjoyed his unique blend, I played around with setting up my new hand-me-down iPhone 4, after resetting it to clean out all my wife’s settings and content.  You see, yesterday I got my wife a new iPhone 5 while we were in town.  Since she uses her phone a lot more than I do, it only makes sense that she have the latest model, besides even the 4 is a step up from what I have been using.

Today was also time for Cookie’s weekly swim with the fish, followed by a thorough shampoo and blow-dry.  Later, after we got Cookie all cleaned up and smelling great again, I though a little about going for a ride but got caught up in searching out new Mt. Bike routes on Google Maps.  It took much longer than I planned but think I have a doable route to tryout tomorrow.

We take Cookie to a vet in town for her shots but there are five other dogs, not all ours, and a two cats that we take care of by having a couple of local vets drop by the house to administer shots.  They have now come and gone.  It is not always easy to round them up but still it is much easier than taking them somewhere in the car.  Cookie is used to cars but the others aren’t.

The sprinkler system has been acting up lately so the guy who installed it finally showed up to have a look and take the sprinkler heads home to work on.  My wife and I walked Cookie after feeding her and as usual our three outdoor dogs accompanied us on most of our walk.  They often stop and wait for us at home, after the first round.  As we walk the 400 meters to the end of the soi with Cookie on a leash, the others roam free as usual, making for interesting viewing as we cross the territorial boundaries of the other dogs who live in the connecting sois and houses along the way.

All the posturing, bluffing and barking that goes on is quite entertaining to me.  Then again, I like dogs and don’t expect them to act like people.  I find it necessary to watch what signals I send out as our three males can become emboldened by the wrong tone or gesture on my part.  By now all the personalities are well known and all I need to do is encourage them to move along after they have done their doggy thing. 

Even with Cookie on a leash, the grownups are afraid of her but unlike their parents the little children in the soi often run up to Cookie and give her a big hug.  Big, being the operative word since she is much bigger than they are.  Come to think of it that is something I don’t have a picture of, but the fading light at that time of day is not conducive to action shots, at least not with my camera.

With the sun having set, perhaps it is time to put this to bed and think about that ride I am planning for tomorrow.

A New Year, The World Didn't End, Now What? ...

This unusually slow start to my blogging year does not bode well.  Finishing off last year with just under 50 posts, I didn’t even rack up one a week.  With my best year hitting 70 and my worst 28, I guess I should be happy here in the middle ground.  This year more than most, I find myself questioning what I am doing and why.  All I need is a glimpse of the path ahead to get me started but things are a blur at the moment.

Even at the best of times, my attention is strewn over a broad unmeasured expanse.  Focus and concentration don’t seem to be things that come easily or naturally to me.  My preference is to channel surf or set my attention to wide-angle in an attempt to capture as much input as possible.

Don’t get me wrong, this tendency of mine has served me well over the course of my life, but there are drawbacks.  While most things come easily to me, and I excel up to a point, I often fall short of the level of excellence that would truly satisfy me.

Take my online activity for example.  This blog is at the genesis of my online life but I now find myself scattered over Google+, Facebook, Twitter and various forums.  It started with the written word but I now find myself torn between words and images.  It is all but impossible to excel in one area without neglecting the other and I find it impossible to choose.

Words no longer demand, with untempered urgency, to be etched upon the page.  With new ideas lacking, it becomes a struggle at times to find the words and I often resort to the easier option of posting pictures.  Image searches are directing an increasing amount of traffic to the blog, something I have mixed feelings about.  With roughly 2200 accounts including Village Farang in their circles on Google+, my images now arguably garner more attention than my words and response time is much quicker.

One would expect that level of attention to bring some sense of accomplishment but it only serves to accentuate my own dissatisfaction at the quality of my images.  I despair at the shortcomings of my camera and my often clumsy attempts to maneuver through the complicated procedures of processing raw data into something resembling the image that exists in my head.

Some might expect my move from city living to country life would have made it easier to focus, with fewer perceived distractions.  I have found, however, one simply tunes into different frequencies and the bandwidth remains as full as ever.

I can’t recall with any clarity what I envisioned country life would be like, when we started down this new path.  I think I knew my life would not be the same as others who live in this village but I don’t think I could have known how different it would be.  This blog has taken me down an interesting and varied path as well, but I find myself at a fork in the road and unable to move forward or choose a direction.  For now I bask in the joy of living and ponder how best to share with others.

Here are a few shots of a new place we were taken to up in the hills near Chiang Rai.  Here we shared a meal with friends who will soon be returning to New Zealand.

Five Years Later ...

It has been five years since we moved into this house, which in the goodness of time became our beloved home.  I have heard some argue that a house is little more than a shelter but for me it is so much more.  While comfort and convenience do come into play, they are but practical things that do not touch the deeper reaches of ones soul.  It is not so much the modern conveniences that are incorporated in the house, or even the size or the shape that are of importance to me.  It is more about how I relate to the space, both indoors and out, and how it all makes me feel.  Of course I can’t speak for others, but I believe our physical surroundings play a major role in our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.  Surely living in concrete or wooden boxes, commuting in metal boxes and working in cubicles exacts a heavy price on the human spirit.

After rereading what I have written in the past about adjusting to life in Chiang Rai, and the phases one goes through, I found most of it still holds true five years on.  It is still a work in progress, ever evolving and changing as I believe life is meant to be.  Some activities have been tried and discarded, not likely to be revisited.  Some friendships have foundered as our paths have diverged.  As I continue to meet more people, and the circle of people I interact with in casual social settings grows, inversely I seem to be retreating from involvement with the more taxing sorts of relationships.

So many people live such messy lives and I don’t wish to be put in a position of cleaning up their messes.  Much of my tolerance of other’s lifestyles and choices is predicated on them not messing up mine.  While I am not inclined to force others to do things my way, I do equally resist modifying how I live to suit others.  I have often been too accommodating in the early stages of new relationships, leading to difficulties down the road when I start to draw lines, differentiating things I will and will not do to maintain a relationship.

With physical proximity not playing a part, due to my chosen place of abode, it does not feel compelling nor practical to limit my friendships to those who live in Chiang Rai.  The demographics of the local expat community, spur me on even further to cast a wider net in pursuit of likeminded individuals or people I find innately more interesting.  This blog has played a major role in connecting me to the kind of people I enjoy corresponding with, and when circumstances allow, meeting when they visit the area.

Sometimes I serve a passing role in the lives of those who dream of living in Thailand and enjoy reading about others who have already done it.  I play my part and then, at the appropriate time, fade into the sunset.  There are still others who from time to time drop me a line to let me know how they are doing.  Not much need to ask about my life, as much of it finds its way into the prose and imagery of this blog.  I choose to share part of my life in this more public format but I understand there is much that is better confined to emails or phone calls and I also relish those opportunities to interact on a more personal level.

For me it is perhaps a bonus that we don’t live next door to each other and do not feel the need to interact or correspond daily.  I have never been good with routines or a regimented lifestyle.  Give me freedom and spontaneity any day, over monotony and repetition, fixed to the relentless ticking of a clock.

As expected this has turned out to be my wife’s year, as opposed to mine.  Most things have revolved around her university schedule, weekend classes and midweek homework.  Her levels of independence and self confidence have grown over the year, as she has learned to drive on own and do her homework with no assistance from me.  Her first term’s, 4 A’s and a B+, were entirely hers and reflect her own accomplishments.  She has taken her role as class leader seriously and developed socially as well as personally, to a noticeable degree.

For many years the core of our relationship was companionship and our enjoyment of spending time together.  Being older and more experienced I, more often than not, took the lead in sharing my world with her as we spent time traveling, working out in health clubs and partaking of Western food, music, television and movies.  Having lived in Thailand nearly as long as she has, we do not fall into the typical pattern of Thai-Farang relationships where the husband doesn’t speak Thai and is so often dependent on the wife as translator and guide.

I guess I hadn’t realized how much control I exerted over our relationship, until my wife started taking more control over her own life.  This whole process has been eyeopening and educational, for me as well as her.  I am not always comfortable with this evolutionary process but I understand it needs to happen.  I am considerably older than her and the chances are she will find it necessary to make do without me at some point.

Though her schooling has contributed to us spending more time doing things separately, the dogs and the house are probably more responsible in their own way.  With less of it, I relish even more the time we are able to spend together.  Hopefully we will find time to travel together, one of my favorite things, during her next school break.

This morning, in addition to the heavy fog, there was a distinct chill in the air.  This is our first, and somewhat late to arrive, wintery morning of the year.  I am sitting in the car, under a tree, waiting for my wife with the windows down, something I don’t often do.  From time to time a tiny leaf drifts in through the window, as I write to the sound of the birds in the trees and the occasional footsteps and murmuring of students walking to and from class.  There is something about a university campus that is both calming and stimulating at the same time.  Wrap it all up in a cool winter morning in Northern Thailand and I am quite enjoying waiting for my wife today.

It has been a very long time since we enjoyed Sunday Brunch at the Meridien but with her class ending early today, we will be able to enjoy one of our favorite dining experiences later this morning.  Apparently class is over and she is on her way so I had best sign off and focus my attention on her.

Apologies for Neglecting the Blog ...

While I continue to ride my mountain bike and take pictures, posting them on Google Plus, Facebook and ThaiVisa, I have struggled with where I should take this blog.  If anything, there has been too much to write about and I have found it difficult to focus on any one thing long enough to get it on the page.  Endless distractions and my attention is diverted again and again toward something more interesting or more pressing.  Without a vision of where I want the blog to go from here I often resort to posting pictures, which is the easy way out, but perhaps better suited to Google Plus.

My wife has been doing exceptionally well with her university classes but that leaves me playing househusband on the weekends, cleaning the house, doing the dishes and feeding the dogs.  We have a new car, after nearly a year long wait, and sold the old truck with remarkable ease.  In contrast, unfortunately, our gardener’s husband died, suddenly and unexpectedly a few days ago, so we are still in the midst of the multi day funeral and all that entails.

After a week or two of hazy uninspiring days we have once again been blessed by beautiful skies, after the heavy morning fog burns off, that is.  The trails are no longer muddy or rutted, the bike is performing better than ever with the recent upgrades and I have gotten some amazing photographs while losing a few pounds along the way.  Presently I have plans to upgrade my bike frame, after new models come out at the end of the year, moving my recent upgrades to the new frame.  I am still uncertain how I will feel about riding the motorcycle this winter.  I seem to be getting much more from the mountain bike for the time being.

Two regular readers are now in Chiang Mai and another has recently retired to a town not far from Chiang Rai and even closer to our village.  Phone calls sometimes replace writing as a distraction these days.  The recent forum drama has subsided after a few members managed to get themselves banned from posting, and a brief spell where all comments were subject to moderation before being posted.

While the somewhat idillic life I write about stands in stark contrast to the often messy and troubled existence of many here in the Rai, the thing I find most disturbing, is the use of that contrast, not as a source of motivation and inspiration, but as a justification to openly ridicule and deride both me and my online persona.  It strikes me as odd that one would willingly take on the label of village idiot or serial underachiever, brandishing it as a badge of honor, while condemning those who have orchestrated a smoother less troubled path through life.  Taking pride in ones triumphs seems to have been replaced by boasting of one failures and shortcomings, in some circles.  I find this phenomenon strange indeed though I suppose it is instructive to be reminded of the darkness which envelopes the lives of some.

I am still making plans for my annual pilgrimage to visit my aging parents.  All aspects of this trip are much more up in the air than usual, which may lead to a trip somewhat different from past years.  Once again I will find myself traveling alone as my wife stays home to take care of the house and dogs, while continuing to attend classes.  I didn’t feel that I could put off the trip until her next school break.  The swirling torrent of thoughts and emotions that engulf all stages of my preparation, travel and return do not seem to abate with time or repetition.  Each year, each trip seems more torturous than the last and stands out as one of the very few unpleasant facets of my life.

I am of a generation dealing with the sometimes slow and painful decline of our parents.  The denial of death and wanton pursuit of longevity seems at times to have lead to greater suffering as people hang on longer and longer, lingering in some twilight-zone, devoid of the joys of living while resisting and denying the inevitability of death.  Through modern living we have so successfully removed ourselves from the natural rhythms of existence that we seem ill equipped to deal with our own mortality or the mortality of others.  Watching my parents is affecting my life view as is living here in this rural village in Thailand.  I feel lucky to have made the transition to a simpler yet richer life when I did.  I see life so differently than I did living in Bangkok for so many years.

I would like to say I will be writing more in the coming day, but I really don’t know.  Perhaps the long hours of travel, or what I encounter and feel while in Hawaii, will cause me to shutdown rather than motivate me to write.  I guess only time will tell.

Here are some recent shots to help end on a more positive note.

A Busy June in the Rai...

Birthday, anniversary, driver’s license, vehicle registrations and insurance, 90 day report of residence, the wife enrolling at a local university and various projects around the house.  I have also had several blog posts floating around in my head but have been unable to focus on any one of them long enough to get anything published.  There is method to my madness, however, so allow me to elaborate.

As a child I always felt blessed to have Christmas and my birthday evenly space across the calendar, unlike my brother who had them both crammed into the same month.  By the time I got around to getting married, at 45 years of age, I was astute enough to see the advantages of having birthday and anniversary on the same day.  Birthdays are hard to forget, no matter how hard you try.  As perfect as that would have been, we didn’t have all the required paperwork prepared on that day and had to come back later in the month.  At least we managed to get our anniversary is in the same month as my birthday.

As a matter of practicality we have tended to make major purchases around our birthdays, which are only a month apart, and designate them as birthday gifts.  For me that included things like my mountain bike, motorcycle and truck.  My wife’s list is too long and unmanageable to cover here.  Okay not particularly romantic but it works for us.

So here is the rundown for the month of June.  I turn 58 this month and have long since ceased to recognize that person in the mirror.  Though we have been together for 15 years, we have been married for 13 as of this month.  Wonderful and happy years I might add.  My driver’s license needed renewal after 5 years and we have been thinking of replacing our 5 year old truck with something new but there is still a backlog of vehicle orders due to last year’s events in Japan and Bangkok.

My wife enjoyed her recent volunteer teaching, so has decided to go back to school herself, which I support as a good idea.  With the rainy season upon us it is a good time to plant trees in the front field we had filled in earlier this year, so that project is ongoing.  With the air again breathable I am trying to get out a bit more on the mountain bike and walking more with my wife and Cookie but I still find it a little too hot to start running again.  I will have to get back to that soon.

On a not so pleasant note, I had a couple of basal cell carcinomas removed last month with a note from the lab that they were fully excised.  With my family history there are sure to be more in my future.

Surely I am forgetting something but I will stop here and submit this as my excuse for not doing more on the blog this month.

Anonymity and Blogging ...

Replying to a comment about anonymous blogging, I soon realized the subject deserved something more than a throwaway answer in the comments section.  I have been busy and distracted by other things but the idea for this post continued to linger on the periphery of my thoughts until now.

I began this blog five years ago, with a good dose of trepidation.  Who would I be, what would I write about, would I enjoy it, would I be any good at it and how would people respond to what I wrote?  Perhaps there would be lynch mobs sent to track me down or hackers trying to steal my identity.  I struggled with finding a nom de plume that I felt comfortable with, something representative of who I was becoming not who I was.

I began writing under the name Village Farang and eventually registered the .com.  Gradually Village Farang spread across the breadth of social media and I now prefer using VF to my real name. In time I developed a voice and became confident in my own ability to deal with a range of commenters, both supporters and detractors.  Righty or wrongly I surmised that I would be okay as long as I did not include personal and identifying information about myself or others. 

Like others, I had read articles about identity theft and wanted to err on the side of caution.  Then one day it struck me that I have a cousin with the same first and last name, who is a public figure in the form of a regional anchor on a rightwing news station.  It could be argued I suppose, that being on the more pugnacious, authoritarian and mainstream side of our societal divide is safer for him.  Yet his name and face are on the airwaves and the internet without any ill effects for him or his family that I know of.  Perhaps I was just being paranoid.

Slowly people living in Chiang Rai or the surrounding area began to contact me.  Reluctantly at first I began to meet people and let them merge the name with a face.  One colorful character, who was among the first, later enjoyed displaying his breadth of knowledge by outing me at public gatherings where we were both in attendance.  I ended up having mixed emotions about those outbursts.

Over time it became a losing battle, trying to remain anonymous.  People knew my face and formed an opinion of me either through what they read or the person they met.  Which one came first appeared to have some bearing on that opinion, I observed with interest.  In time pictures found their way to the blog.

Now I am quite comfortable with who I am and don’t mind people knowing that I am VF.  It is not like I am ashamed of anything I post.  I fear anonymity often serves no greater purpose than to embolden those who wish to inflict suffering upon others.  I have come to view Village Farang as a nickname or descriptive handle that relates more of who I am than my given name.

One benefit of being recognized as VF is exemplified by a chance encounter the other day.  The wife and I drove into town to run some errands.  Nothing urgent, more like excuses for us to make the drive.  After three stops we ended up at what I call the Mall.  We had a wonderful lunch at Fuji, making a point of trying new things on the menu.  Afterwards we went to Starbucks, me for coffee and my wife for some dessert.  Standing in line a gentleman approached with a warm and generous smile on his face.  He introduced himself with his online name and volunteered positive remarks about my blog.  Of course I knew instantly who he was and remembered past correspondence we had shared on a forum we are both members of.

After exchanging brief pleasantries, I carried my tray out into Starbuck’s mall seating area to find my wife.  As luck would have it the gentleman’s wife was seated at the next table, so when he returned with their drinks we pushed our tables together to facilitate conversation.  A good Thai friend of ours also happened by so we made room for him as well.  It was one of those lovely spontaneous encounters that I enjoy so much and something that would not have happened without VF’s help.

While it is regrettable that some individuals have developed an unfavorable image of VF, I feel it often has more to do with their own demons or a difference of opinion than anything of real substance.  Beside there are very few of them.  So now I find it hard to disguise my joy and satisfaction when I am recognized as VF, facilitating contact with a wider breadth of humanity.  I am glad to be out of the blogger closet of anonymity.

Blogging About Thailand ...

One would assume most first time readers of this blog stumbled upon it while doing a search related to Thailand.  As pictures have grown to be a more significant part of the blog, image searches also bring viewer here.  Whether they read after viewing the image they were looking for, is anyone’s guess.

Now that I have a presence on Google+ my images are more accessible to the 1500+ individuals who have me in their circles.  There, people are not typically searching for anything to do with Thailand but are looking for interesting photographs.

I would guess that many if not most of those first time Thai searches would be focussed on relationship topics, to put it politely, and touristy things like where to go, what to do and see, where to stay or how to get there, and of course how much things cost.  Politicos and news buffs are often intrigued by what plays out in the world and local new of Thailand and search for additional sources.  Buddhism perhaps attracts some though one suspects it is the more worldly and carnal things of Thailand that attract more searches.

Having been bitten by the Thailand bug, the search for many might then trend toward how to live here with your new “true love” or how to get her back to your own country.  Many find Thailand late in life after some life-altering event such as being put out to pasture from their career, divorce or even more tragically the passing of their lifelong partner.  For them, retirement and cost of living, may be forefront in their minds and searches.

Clearly this blog does not deal directly with any of these interest absorbing topics and has me questioning how relevant my blog is in a Thai oriented search.  As much as I might like to appeal to a broader range of readers and not be limited to this small niche market of Thailand, and all the negative imagery that accompanies it, the truth is that I am who I am because of living in Thailand for so many years.  There is no denying the influence Thailand has had on me nor that my daily life is painted on the exotic canvas that is Northern Thailand.

I would find it difficult to blog about most high interest topics about Thailand because I am no longer interested in or current on those subjects.  Dredging up what things were like 20 or 30 years ago and trying to relate them to the up-to-the-minute detail of the modern digital world, holds no practical value for me or the reader I would assume.

I seem to remember a post early on, where a female reader asked me what it was about Thai culture that kept me in Thailand, or something to that effect.  I believe I told her it had little or nothing to do with Thai culture and was all about my lifestyle.  To be fair my early years here in Thailand were spent pealing away the onionskin of Thai culture and insinuating myself into every strata of Thai social class I could.  At some point you simply internalize what you have learned and no longer focus on it so much.  As a child it takes great effort and focus on your feet and the ground below them to keep upright.  Later in life running is effortless and one is able to traverse difficult terrain with little thought.  One does need to go through the learning process but I suppose some move on to other tasks while others get stuck.
I guess this blog ends up being a personal journal written by someone who just happens to reside in Thailand.  The telling of my tale can sometimes draw distant people closer to Thailand and to me as a writer.  I truly relish the many relationships that have developed here over the years.  An interesting flip-side is that my blog can, on occasion, drive a wedge between me and other residents of Chiang Rai or Thailand.  They may see themselves in my words and personalize what is meant to be a generalized discussion of a relevant topic.

An undesired side-effect to be sure, but nothing to bring about a major change in the way I view life in general, the way I live my own life or what I write about.  Its a big world out there and I cannot possibly take into account every possible interpretation of what I write.  I cannot guess at what sensitivities and triggers lurk in the delicate egos of those who struggle with their sometimes difficult relationship with Thailand.  At first reading sometimes my words leave the reader feeling uncomfortable only to realize, much later, they were well intended and could have been beneficial if heeded.

I am no fan of aggression or vulgarity but grudgingly accept there can and will be casualties as a result of brutal honesty.  I can accept that some are put off and no longer seek out my company but I can be but honest and truthful with myself and others.

The Waiting Game ...

Sometimes I find myself waiting.  Take the other day for example, I was wandering around the Chiang Rai Mall as I call it, waiting for my wife who was having a treatment at a popular skin clinic.  I dare say my wife spends far less time waiting on me than I do on her.  That is a good thing I suppose, as I am much better at waiting than she is.

Now we all have our own little ways of coping with the wait.  Some read a book, or a newspaper, listen to music on their iPod, play games, use Facebook or chat on their iPhone.  In Thailand another option comes to mind as one can always find a foot massage or Thai massage, even in a mall.  I prefer to get lost in my own thoughts.  Sure I can’t help but notice what is going on around me and I can read volumes in the faces and interactions that unfold in social settings.  Still the main focus of my attention is inward.

I guess you could say I am no longer at a time in my life where I seek to read, absorb or explore the thoughts of others.  This is a time to form, explore and record my own thoughts and ideas.  For some there is no higher goal than to follow someone else.  Granted there were times in my past when I was taken somewhere I may not have discovered on my own. 

I was shown a door or two I hadn’t previously known existed but I walked through them on my own.  The idea of the modern GPS unit barking out detailed commands that keep me on a narrow path, guiding me to an unwavering destination, I find frightening.  An occasional wrong turn is what keeps life fresh and surprising. 

Some strive to build a life resembling a tower with one brick or accomplishment placed upon another reaching higher and higher.  As long as circumstances don’t cause it to come tumbling down, crushing us and perhaps others in the process, then one can claim to be the proud owner of that towering edifice. 

I imagine my own life to be more like a small stream following the contours of the earth as it meanders from its place of conception to its final resting place.  Will that will be a dry and desolate place or will I add a drop or two indistinguishable from the other drops that make up a more sizable body of water?  Most likely I will leave a faint path that will fade with time and eventually leave no mark at all.

Sometimes I ponder topics to write about and in the process of working through the ideas get to the end and realize I am not really all that interested in writing them down.  Before things would gnaw at me until I put it on the page.  Now it feels as though it is me who is gnawing on an idea trying to make something out of it.

Sometimes I find waiting is just another word for procrastination and putting off things we are afraid to do or just too lazy to do.  I was waiting for our pollution to get to an acceptable level so I could resume outdoor exercise.  At first the waiting was excruciating as my body ached to be outdoors.  After making the adjustment to being indoors and inactive it was hard to get started again when the weather changed.

Sometimes I suppose, waiting is the prudent thing to do.  Waiting for the light to turn green is clearly safer than the alternative.  Waiting for things to be just right, however, often leads to inertia and a wasted life spent dreaming of someday that never arrives.  I started writing this post thinking it was going to be about something different.  As I have waited for the main topic to come up the words have steadily crept down the page leaving me little room to expand on my original idea.

I thought I would be writing today about something more Thai in focus or dealing with my relationship to Thailand but I find that harder to do the longer I live here and the longer I pen this blog.  While other bloggers might focus on the minutia of all things uniquely and strangely Thai, I find that Thailand is simply the backdrop for my life and not the focus of it.

So now I am thinking perhaps I should wait for another day to ponder the Thainess of my blog.  After all I am good at waiting and perhaps by waiting I can find better words with which to express myself on what might be a fuzzy subject.

An Ergonomic Chair for Village Farang ...

Sitting here writing today finds this writer much more comfy than usual.  Though comfort was not the driving force in my search of a replacement chair it is clearly a welcome consequence of that search.  Observing my father’s deteriorating physical condition and noticing my own lax posture, at least in part due to my aging chair, put me on the path of something ergonomic.  I wanted support in all the right places and infinite adjustability.  I also wanted mesh on both the seat and back for temperature control.  Yes, I wanted it to look good too.

When we moved into this house our furniture focus was on the big ticket items, so with little thought I opted for an affordable chair with an office like appearance and function.  I had no inkling at the time that I would be spending so much time seated, as I am at this moment, here in front of the computer.

As with so many of my purchases, the first chair turned out to be a starter chair.  Without the experience of the first chair I wouldn’t have had such a clear idea of what I wanted this time.  Knowing what you want and finding it here in Chiang Rai is seldom part of the same story.   Online the search is complicated not by the lack of choice but by too much.  In the end I went for something that was readily available in Bangkok with easy shipping by post.

Purchased on Thursday by trustingly depositing money into their account, the chair arrived on Saturday.  When the local postoffice called I was already in Chiang Rai for the day, with no chance of returning home before their closing time.  That left me with no option but to wait until today to go pick it up.  I had been over the specs countless times and looked at the pictures but truthfully I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Considering the cost, even with a negotiated 30% discount, my expectations should have been quite lofty but I have found one has less chance of being disappointed if one manages expectations.

So I am still fiddling with the lumbar support and tilt functions to see what works best but I have to say I am very happy with my new VF throne.  It looks like it is going to take Cookie a little longer to feel comfortable sharing her space with this new interloper.  She has only known that one chair and it had been well and truly personalized during her puppy days, with the undercarriage serving as a chew-toy.

I feel like I should be apologizing for not writing lately but this seasonal burning has blocked more than my view of the horizon.  I have a few ideas floating around in my head but can’t seem to get them onto the page.  Anyway here are a few more photos of my new chair.

Rereading My Blog ...

Recently finished rereading my blog.  I manage to correct a ton of errors but I’m quite sure there are many more.  Updated some of the older pictures to correspond in size to more recent ones, as they were in a smaller format.  I noticed a big difference in what was produced by different cameras and by the photographer for that matter.  Tried my best to put labels on all my posts to facilitate browsing my content.  (Someone recently suggested I should also label all my photos on Google+.)  Since my writing is all over the place, I found labeling very difficult.  Blogger has added a pop-out toolbar on the right side of the blog, reinstating some of the functions lost when I moved to Dynamic Views.  To the best of my memory this summarizes recent blog activity.

In a way I regret not rereading all the comments as they add so much to the content and it would have been fun to be reminded of readers who have moved on to other things.  There was just so much to read and being unable to edit comments it just seemed easier to stick to the editable content of my blog.  Admittedly at times I found myself scanning instead of proofreading, out of laziness one would presume.  Anyway, it was an interesting time trying to recall what was going on at the time of writing and why I chose to write what I did.  I haven’t done so yet but there are several posts that could be removed without being noticed.

You can tell I am struggling with my writing when I revert to blogging about the blog or posting nothing but pictures.  We had a little rain this morning so perhaps this smoky soup we have been living with for weeks will thin out a bit.  Being unable to go outdoors to do the things I love is taking its toll on my physical wellbeing and overall disposition.  I still have to walk the dogs but that is about it.  I somehow don’t think we have seen the end of the burning season, though today is a little better.

New Year's Eve with 2012 hours away ...

For those of you who have been with me for a while, expectations might be for an agonizing post about where I have been, as I lament a lack of visibility into the coming year.  Where is the blog going, why do I blog and what path might I follow, no doubt would spring to mind.  I am surprised to find that I actually have a vision for 2012.

It is all falling into place and seems to make so much sense.  The first two years were about building the house and the long process of moving in and turning it into a home with a string of projects.  To some extent those projects continue today but at a much more relaxed pace.  Later attention was focused on our social life, primarily exploring the expat community that exists here in the Rai.  This last year has been one of consolidation as we sorted through what was important to us and allotted our time accordingly.

Admittedly I exerted more than my fair share of influence over the navigation process, as I was in the driver’s seat both literally and figuratively.  With my wife finally taking to driving on her own, the impetus coming from my trip to Hawaii, she has gained more independence and confidence to do her own thing.  Her iPhone has freed her from our computer, allowing her to interact in a way that is more natural for her.  Nearly constant interaction with friends on Facebook has expanded her circle of friends, reinforced her Thainess and tickled her creativity bone.

After being joined at the hip for so many years it is with mixed feelings that I watch my wife refine her own style and venture down her own path a little more.  I try to support her while keeping in check any impulses I might have to be excessively protective.  While age has never been an issue with us, it is nevertheless important for me to remember our age difference, when it has a bearing on our growth and development as individuals.  I do ask questions to help gauge my wife’s interest and commitment to projects she is considering but leave the final call to her.

If anything my wife has too many interests and finds it difficult to narrow things down enough to keep life manageable.  Fortunately the days and hours she volunteers at the local school are flexible.  Her expressed desire to further her education and get a teaching degree is admirable and potentially beneficial on many levels.

If it has not become clear yet, 2012 is shaping up to be “the year of my lovely wife” and the continued expansion of our Thai connections here in the Rai.  Having been through what one might call a Farang phase it is now time for a Thai phase.  I have had my turn, so now it is my wife’s turn.  As yet I am not certain how her being busier and away from home more often will affect my schedule.  Perhaps we will need a little more structure to make sure everything gets done.  Then again being spontaneous and going with the flow might continue to work best for us.

Not being burdened with my usual angst over the coming year has put me in a very mellow state of mind, perfect for ushering in the New Year.  Wanting to share some pictures today I finally settled on the Chiang Rai Flower Festival now in progress and a shot of a few of my wife’s students that I snapped during an impromptu visit to her class on the Ninja.

Christmas Day in the Rai ...

Yes, Thailand celebrates Santa in all his commercial glory.  To the point that our favorite lunch venue is sold out and we are forced to staying in on this cold and grey winter day.  So much for our going with the flow and not planning things far enough in advance.  The upside is, my wife is preparing a special meal just for the two of us, though I am sure Cookie will get a bite or two.  So there is time today for thought and reflection.

I am not what you would call driven or goal oriented in my pursuit of happiness and the good life.  I do not traverse life’s highways and byways astride an iron rail with relentless determination that takes me from point A to point B without deviation.  Think of me more as raptor soaring through the sky, searching out updrafts to stay airborne with as little effort as possible.  I am already where I want to be, so there is no need to point myself steadfastly in one particular direction.  Maybe just drift a bit higher to broaden my view and expand my horizon.  My style is to take advantage of opportunities that present, not to cling to the past or fear change but I do keep track of the choices I make and the reasons for making them.

This is the time of year when we think back on what has transpired over the last year and prepare to turn the page and start anew.  I have turned, or had turned for me, many pages during this last year and no doubt will turn many more in the year ahead.  I have turned the page on the hash, the expat club, the potluck, early mornings at the coffee shop, group motorcycle rides and surely a few other things that don’t spring to mind at the moment.  For now we have an ever expanding circle of friends though some have wondered off along the way, perhaps having found more satisfaction elsewhere.  I have focused more on my own fitness, the happiness of my family and doing things I enjoy.

There have been those who found it difficult to understand, that Village Farang for me, was like a character in a play of my own imagining.  He was distinct and different from me in important ways. Over time those differences that existed early on, have all but disappeared as the two melded into one.  Village Farang has taken me on a journey of discovery through writing.  Some may write what they know, paraphrase others, or journal events with facts and figures.  When I write, really write, it becomes a journey of discovery for me.  Occasionally I know exactly what I am going to say before I begin writing and those are often the occasions when I don’t bother.  Really what is the point if it is already clear and I have worked through everything in my head before I start.

I am often surprised by what VF writes and he has taught me a lot about life and about myself.  With wonder I try to imagine where the words come from and how a turn of phrase found its way on to the page.  At times I didn’t know I knew certain things until I read them on the page in front of me, written in a way that is VF’s alone.  At first VF was an alter ego freed by anonymity to express himself with abandon.  As the gap between VF and myself narrowed, I began to guard my own identity less closely.  There was a gradual coming out as it were, to the point that many now know my face, especially here in the Rai.  In the interest of cyber security certain things are never divulged but I am no longer reluctant to be known as Village Farang, online or in person.

My wife and I have had some very productive discussions of late, covering where we have been and some options for where we might be going, both short term and long.  With age this kind of pondering seems to hold more urgency and gravity.  We feel it is important to communicate and not let things drift, especially when you sense a transition is in the offing.  Someone talked my wife into volunteering as an English teacher at a local school and now they are encouraging her to get a teaching degree to backup her already impressive grasp of the English language.  She seems happy and this looks like a path worth exploring.

I am contemplating doing more strenuous things that she might not be interested in and are therefore better done alone.  After the New Year I am considering a multi day motorcycle adventure back in the direction of Pai, for example.  I will try to get my visa taken care of early to allow more time for the many things we still want to do during the remainder of this wonderful season of action and adventure.

It is all I can do to restrain myself when I overhear others ponder how to fill their time when they retire or fantasize about moving to Thailand.  Often for us there just aren’t enough hours in a day, or days in a week.  I guess we all live our lives differently.  For me the main shift has been from focussing on a world distant and vague, to one that is present, immediate and real.  In a way I have turned to the micro setting on the camera.  I read volumes in the faces around me.  The world overflows with sights, sounds, smells, the exhilarating dance of life and what sometimes feels like a headlong rush toward death.  The mind is never idle no matter how relaxed the body may appear.

With that let me recall those famous words, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Quotes about blogging

I am doing this exercise of coming up with at least ten funny quotes about a topic... any topic.
My first choice for the topic was... Blogging.
Let me know how funny they are.
  1. I like the blogger profiles that start with 'Hmm.. How can I tell about myself in just hundred words.' They are easy to read - just fifty words long.
  2. And then there are some profiles that start with 'I am unique.' Then the blogger lists Star wars as his favorite movie.
  3. And then some profiles go, 'For me, Blogging is cathartic'. Their posts are just a verbal diarrhea.
  4. The questions 'What should I wear?' and 'What should I blog about?' beg the same answer - Nobody cares.
  5. 'Blogging is a very lonely act.' I said. 'Sure. But it is a very enjoyable act.' He said. I gave him a Playboy. He has not posted for last six months.
  6. Most bloggers just give back to the society what they got from it - SHIT.
  7. All blogs have one faithful reader at least - Google bot.
  8. When I see a blog that is not updated for a year, I search for the epilogue.
  9. Have a picture in your posts. They will tend to stay in your blog till it loads at least.
  10. When somebody introduces himself as 'I am a blogger.' I get irritated. I breathe. But I don't advertise it introducing myself as  'I am a breather'.
  11. A novice blogger knows he can write about anything. A verteran blogger realizes he shouldn't.
Do you have a funny line about blogging! Drop a comment.
Liked this exercise? Try a similar one in your blog too. And drop a link in the comments.

My Latest Blog Insights ...

I have previously acknowledged that I am a writer, not a reader, of blogs.  The exception to this rule comes from following the links to my reader’s profile pages, when they leave comments.  I’m curious, some might say nosy, and want to learn what I can about my readers.  Of course many commenters are anonymous or only have an identity for sign-in purposes, with no content associated with their identity.  Occasionally I stumble across something interesting, however.

Seldom do I find the content of other blogs new or interesting.  Looking past the content, I have on occasion seen something in the person and taken an interest in a blogger, following their development to see how well they adapt to their new lives.  Some depend heavily on other likeminded bloggers, for what often resembles a support group.  Many have a short-lived presence online lacking in either talent or temperament, but a few have gone on to do quite well for themselves.  Many of the new guys are so predictable and repetitious in what they write.  It is sadly humorous, the way they take themselves so seriously and lack the ability to come up with anything new or to deal gracefully with their detractors.

Recently something quite extraordinary happen to me.  One link led to another link and I found myself actually reading and following someones blog for a brief period.  Strangely it was a female biker’s blog.  She was on a road trip and posting when she could, at the end of the day.  She had paired up with another guy, not her husband which I found interesting, and hit the road in the Pacific Northwest.  Being me, I had to analyze my own interest in this blog.  First there were beautiful pictures that reminded me of trips the wife and I have taken on the back roads of the West Coast and parts of Canada near the boarder.  That must have triggered within me some nostalgia and identification with the content.

Being a biker of sorts myself, and never having ridden in the States, it got me imagining what that might be like.  Her perspective as a female rider, a slightly less testosterone laden account of the ride and the day, was new and refreshing to me.  The immediacy of the report, as it was written and posted during the ride and not after, helped to make me feel part of the ride.  At times I could almost see the sky, smell the trees, feel the cold wind and the fatigue at the end of the day.  I found myself looking forward to her next post.  Of course when the trip was over and the content returned to fashion, lipstick, tampons and other packing necessities, I lost interest.

The act of finding content in a blog that grabbed me and held my attention, however briefly, got me thinking.  In a comparative look at my television viewing patterns, I seem to be drawn to first person accounts of wilderness adventures.  They are all the more interesting if they are in areas I have visited previously or have an interest in going one day.  Might that not be applicable to my own blog?  People reading for glimpses of their past or a wished for future.  That could explain in part the interest some take in the writer, as well.  Perhaps these same readers go elsewhere for the nuts and bolts, how to stuff, but come here for the imagery of what life might be like for them at some point.

That would also explain why some Chiang Rai residents are less than enthused by my blog.  After all, they are already here and living their own life in the Rai.  I am derided for being too vain and personal in my presentation, even the word narcissistic has been used to describe me.  For the less educated and simple minded residents, my words are too fancy as they prefer a more folksy turn of phrase.  Oddly enough one of my very first supporters was a fellow writer and resident of the Rai.  His critique and words of encouragement as a writer, played an important part in getting me through the first awkward stages of my writing.  Some have great difficulty understanding or accepting there are important differences between Village Farang and his creator and are apparently unforgiving if VF’s words inadvertently touch a nerve.

For those who like backstories, my interest in writing and the online world is relatively new.  When my wife finished her studies at a makeup academy in the Hollywood/Burbank area, I was looking for ways to support her work as a makeup artist.  I knew a photographer, who though primarily a corporate and interior type, did use makeup artists when there were models in his shots.  Being slightly homophobic, he jumped at the chance to get away for the prima donnas and transexual histrionics of those who control much of the makeup business in Bangkok, and work with my wife instead.  He also gave me pointers and introduced me to Go Daddy, domain names and the like.  Being an Apple guy, however, I went for iWeb and a .mac account to set up an online portfolio for my wife’s work.  The iWeb templates were easy enough for me as a beginner to deal with.

He also took a brief interest in my blog when we moved to Chiang Rai and I was first thinking about how to set it up and start it off.  After a vain attempt to get me to sound more like him, he seemed to loose interest as I went merrily down my own path.  While my blog seems to have played a part in the distance that has developed between some friends over the years, in the case of the photographer it was more about going down different paths and a badly handled breakup where the wife and I stayed friends with the female side of the equation.

Looking back I may have benefitted from doing more research and reading other blogs before starting my own.  My rationale at the time was that I wanted to work on a clean slate and not be tempted to copy what someone else had done.  Seems pretty silly looking back on it but we cannot change the past, just learn from it.  I have even been tempted to go back and rewrite some of my early posts with my present insights but have kept them as a record of my progress or lack there of.

There are of course many types of blogs and bloggers.  Some of us personal bloggers can be quite temperamental and react badly to any suggestions or critique of either content or presentation.  New bloggers of our ilk often say they only write for themselves and don’t care what others think.  If that were true they would no doubt keep a private journal and forgo the public humiliation of an online blog.  Perhaps like me they will look back and cringe at some of what they have written but find it within themselves to accept their own shortcomings and revel in their continued growth.  Anyway, this is where I seem to stand at the moment on the topic of blogging.