080329 Thaikarl Thai massage, dentist and whups


lots of new photos in the Picassa gallery for you to see. http://picasaweb.google.com/thaikarl/ThailandJanApr2008

for many years i was a very solid sleeper.  didn't know what a nightmare was, never woke up in the night.  my partners used to tell me i would mumble in my sleep sometimes, but otherwise, i was "dead to the world".  changed somewhat in the last few years.  don't know  why.  i'm much more active in my sleep, occasional nightmares, always  different things.  i talk and even shout in my sleep, and apparently thrash about and sleep in weird positions.  and i will wake up for no apparent reason and lie awake for a while before going back to sleep.  one thing that is very annoying is that i must be doing something in my sleep that throws my spine out of wack.   i'll wake up with very low, middle, or upper back pain and that "out of place" feeling, with the associated muscle tension and cramping.  i don't know what i'm doing to cause it.  Tok said i was sleeping on my  back with my knees  up, and my legs would  fall to the sides, sometimes knocking her and waking her up.  then i'd put my knees together again,  then fall to the sides.  i've been pulling a loop of tied bandanna up over my theighs to keep  my knees together at night to prevent that. what ever i'm  doing, i woke up  the other day with sharp pain and spasms in my lower left back and butt muscles.  if i was sitting down or standing it was okay, but if i moved, walked or when i tried to roll over or skootch over in bed, i couldn't do it.  sharp "poked my funny bone" nerve pains.  made it difficult to climb down the  ladder, or start the  motorbike.  got a little better as the day went on, but only if  i was sitting up or standing.

Tok did some massage for me,  which helped,  but when it was going  for the third  day, she took me to the hospital massage clinic to have a real workup done.  i was in there for 2 hours.  one of  the experienced ladies took over the job because i kept yelping.  thai massage is like acupressure and yoga and torture all in one.  they press with thumbs, elbows, knees, hands and feet.  push your limbs into all sorts of stretching poses and lean on you  some more.  walk on you.  push and pull. just when you think there can't possibly be any other way they can stretch, fold and spindle you, they will come up with another application.  sometimes it's gentle, sometimes it's very hard, sometimes really hard - like when they stand on the back of your thighs and put the other foot on your back.  50kgs of thai women on your back makes an impression.  when she was done, i still couldn't get off the table without wincing, so she went back at it, AND  got hot towels to press on my  spine and tail.   i could get up  without too much aggravation after that.

Tok came back from her massage and going to visit at a school and we went into the Hot Room.  it's a sudatorium (steam room), with herbs in the mix so it smells like it's supposed to be good for you.  i love steam rooms.  40 minutes in there and i was happy as cooked shrimp.  then a shower and we left, feeling like a freshly cooked glass noodle.  and the next morning when i woke up, lo and behold, i  could roll over in bed and get up- carefully mind  you, as i was still sensitive, as it were- but i got up and could walk right away.  amazing.  i have experienced more outright relief from pain, and disjointedness having had good thai massage than any of the standard swedish massage and physical therapy i've had before.  it cost 200 baht for all.  that's $6.50 folks.  for all.

got my all fired up to build a combo shower and steam room behind the house, next to the jars where i shower.  i'm thinking of a stucco'd and tiled walled enclosure, but only 5 feet high, with an insulated foam lid- like a hot tub cover- that hinges off the back.  so when you  want to shower you have am partially  enclosed shower stall, lower than my shoulders and open to the sky.  you still have the outdoor shower feeling.  then for a steam, flip down the lid, drap a rubber curtain over the doorway and fire up  the steamer.  you can sit in the now enclosed steam room.  when finished- fllip the lid back, and shower off.  don't know how i'll make the steam yet.  don't think i want to  spend a bunch of money to buy a commercial steam generator.  but i'll figure something out.

of course, i had to tell tok that the steam room would be AFTER staining the full moon house, and after making a stairs up to the house  to replace the ladder we climb now, and after making the new roof and porch on the back of the  existing house, and after we furbish the new house down in Rayong by the ocean, and after...... you get the idea.

i don't remember if i mentioned that i  went to the dentist the last week.  walked in, no appointment, no waiting, straight to the chair.  she checked my teeth- no cavities (yah!) did a through cleaning job, and told me she could fix the diastema (space between my two front teeth) with overlays, caps, or braces.  I'll wait on that one.  kind of  like my gap.  i can whistle thru it.  had it filled with porcelin overlays once.  looked different for sure, but it messed with my speaking, i couldn't whistle, and i couldn't squirt water between my teeth.  one of the overlays broke off when i bit to hard on a sharpie cap, which restored the proper function.  oh, the checkup and cleaning cost 500 baht.  $15.00

and, the previous email was a  reply to an email i  got from my friend pattie. after i told the story about the tea kettle and such i thought it would be good to post the message, but i was too quick to hit send and forgot to change the subject line to "thaikarl" and didn't explain that it was a reply that i made into a thaikarll post.  solly bout that.  cause a bit of  confusion for a few folks, but i had 10 replies to that message.  a record i think.  i answer every reply to any of my messages.

and, and and.  i have a line on an available used car i can acquire on the "not-so-easy-but-still-a-payment-plan" option.  so wonders abound.

did you know that Buddhism is an atheist religion? and it's not really a religion? It's more of a  practice?  they don't "worship" the Budda, they HONOR him for being the one who showed the way.  but they won't allow women to be monks, and they have some other practices that i i'm not so enamored of, so  i'm a leaner, not a joiner.

tomorrow we are going to take some bedding and other stuff to the new house in Rayong,  and see what's happening with the electric and water hookups.  we're going down in Mots truck.  and i can go by a bookstore in Pattaya on the way  back, because i am on my last book.  the horror!

Today is a good day.... to be HAPPY!
Nu and Tok

Read my Thailand adventure ::: http://www.thaicountrylife.com


Re: return trip

Oh dear Karl

I hate to even mention the subject but when indeed are you planning to return ? sorry I am sure you don not want your Thai mindframe being polluted with such thoughts but there we are I have said it ..............

PS I hope you have enjoyed cups of tea from your new kettle !

oh yes

the prospect of return is always lingering.  of course, it's easier to dismiss it when there are 90, or 60 days before it has to happen.  when it gets down to the last lunar month before i fly out, it starts looming, where before it was a "yeah later" concept.  i note the lunar month, because you can actually see the moon here every night it is up, and when the time gets short, i think "oh, i won't see that moon phase here next time it comes around"  don't mind a whole lot, but i do have my druthers, and they are here, not there of course.

i do look forward to the day i actually buy a one-way ticket home, have a decent length visa arrangement, and really don't know when i have to buy a ticket back.  but that is not today, so i return to seattle:


probably take a couple of days relax, then i have to hustle.  my van is in sad shape running wise, and i have to sort that out or find another vehicle too use, because i do have work waiting for me, but i have to be able to get there,  and all that jazz.

{ed. note:  pattie gave me a very nice stainless, ceramic coated, whistling tea kettle as a wedding present to bring with me this trip}

I presented the kettle to tok and mama.  made some tea and was joyous.  then i noticed it had been put in the cabinet, and they were using the same old aluminum pot to boil water in.m  so i put the kettle back out near the stove.  and it went into the closet again.  i told them that it was okay to use it, that was what the present from you was for.  they had put it away because it was a "nice thing".  you put the nice things in the cabinet to use god knows when, and use the ordinary stuff, that they have been using everyday forever, to do well, ordinary things, like boil water.  so i told them, naw naw, the kettle was a present so you  don't have to use the aluminum pot to boil in, because the aluminum is not so good for your health.  and now they use it all the time.  but they still cook stuff in aluminum.  i got them a stainless steel wok last year, which they do use, as i 'confiscated' the old aluminum one and used it to mix up  some paint, so it's no good for cooking-  ever.

this is a long answer to a short question i know. but here it  is.


080318 Thaikarl - monday, tuesday? what day is this?

now that we have broadband, it's easier to post pictures.  have a look in the picassa gallery.

i'm reminded of the FUGS song Nothing.  not that dreary, mind you, but the days are kind of blurred together.  have no idea what day of the week it is most of the time.  i get up after Tok does, have coffee and breakfast, read my book, check email, surf internet, take a shower and dress.  might be 11am, might be 1 pm by then.  in the afternoons, maybe i'll fix something - like the bedroom door that won't close, or a broken light, or mess with my shower thang - i did install a circuit breaker switch  up  underneath the roof.  i went to pull apart the plugs one day and got a little zap.  i don't like those 220 volt zaps.  I couldn't find a double pole double throw switch except for a circuit breaker switch, so i used one.  now there is for sure no electricity going to the plugs for the shower pump when the switch is off.- or maybe i'll take a nap or read some more. then it's lunch, then dinner, then night time again, shower and bed.  some days we goto to town to buy food and things. some days we goto the open market in the village. and that's pretty much it....

we are waiting for word from this housing area that the water and electric have been turned on. then we will make a trip down there to check on it, do the house inspection to see if they need to fix anything.  Tok has ambition to bring down some bedding and a few things to make the place start to be live able, kitchen stuff and the like.  THEN there will be something to do.  There are a zillion projects i could be working on around the house here, but they all pretty  much require buying materials and or tools, which has to wait till next time.

we're sliding into the hot part of the year. april is the hottest month in thailand, and there is little rain yet to bring relief.  dust and smoke inhabits the air.  at night,  when the cars go by on the big road, you can see the air in the headlight beams, like a thin fog.  the tobacco harvest and processing is pretty much finished.  they are going to grow corn in the  fields out back now.  and later, when the rains come, rice.  when it gets this warm in the afternoons, i'll start sweating.  the ceiling fan up here in the bedroom doesn't help much.  it just blows the hot air from beneath the roof down up you.  i find if i stay still, then that's what i'm going to continue to do-  languish.  the trick is to get up and get moving, then the tupor falls away and energy  for motion appears.  but first,  you  have to get over that hump, that hot gravity  that  makes you want to be just a lump in the hammock.  beats being cold, damp and wet anyday.  at least for me.

the late afternoons are delicious.  the big heat wafts away, the sun is softened by the haze it is falling into, and the light relaxes and becomes golden and coppery.  i love the tropics.

gorgeous the life!
Nu and Tok
Read my Thailand adventure ::: http://www.thaicountrylife.com


08031 Thaikarl - meeting market, water and house pics and DSL!

several people asked for more pictures of the house.  i uploaded to the Picassa Gallery.  The name of the new  house is unsettled as of yet.  we have to go down there next week to get the inspection done, and make sure there water and electric are all hooked up.

monday night is the meeting marked in lomsak.  meeting markets are ad hoc markets that appear in towns and villages on a regular schedule.  the one in lonsak is in a big empty field next to the HomePro store.  the pickups full of merchandise show  up in the morning, set up tables, racks and covers, unpack all their stuff - cloths, glasess, household stuff, tools, jewlery, food.. everything.  the prices are usually a little lower than they are in town for pretty much the same stuff.  i talked Tok into going monday.  i've not gone  since i've been home, as it's easy to start spending money there.  but i had a plan for tok.  i  knew if i took her there she would see a shirt or dress that she really liked and i could get it for her.  if i told her "lets goto the  meeting market so i can buy you a dress" she wouldn't go, saying she didn't need anything.  so i said i wanted to get a cloth to wipe off my guitar strings - which i did need btw.

there was a bloom of ants that night.  zillions of flying ants swarming around the compact florescent lites they string up over the merchandise.  i mean hundreds of winged things shucking and fluttering around every  lamp.  gets in your face and hair.  we were looking at a new clock for downstairs and the lady nicely turned off the  lamp in front of us.  500 flying ants immediately swarmed 5 feet over to the next lamp.  some guys were standing in their booth with  electric fans, blowing the critters away with fan wind.  other nights, there are no bugs.  just depends on what's popping out to spawn that particular night.

tok did find a cute blouse, with color threads over white and sparkly things.  a whole $5.00 and i picked up a couple of other little things.  i told tok my trick for getting her there to buy something for  her.  she thought that was pretty silly.  but she wore the blouse the next day,and looked mighty cute in it.

warm today.  well, okay, it was kinda hot.  i was sweating even.  so what did i  do? go  out digging in the ditch of course.  had to move some of the muck out  of the channel, as our grey water from the sink and shower and all that drains out to the ditch - where the pond used to be.  but the slope wasn't right, and the water was backing  up some and getting a bit rotton.  so i dug out the slope in the little ditch to get the water down to the main ditch.

we went into tow later.  follow up appointment with the doctor at the clinic.  lots of people there ahead of us, so we did some 7-11 shopping for green bun and yogurt, and i walked  back to the clinic to wait while tok did the food shopping in the market.  when i finallay  saw the doctor, he listened to my breathing and told me he didn't hear any more wheezing, so i'm back on top again.  and he said, that because i was well now,  and he didn't have to prescribe any more medications that there was no charge for the visit.  imagine that.

it hasn't rained since i've been here.  one rain when we were in bangkok.  a big rain, killed some of the tobacco in the fields where the ground was low. but otherwise, dry here.  and with all the work on the road, grading, dirt dumping, cars and trucks diverted to the packed dirt sides of the road there is vast clouds of dust that rise in the air, and coat everything.  we don't usually open the windows of the house, because the dust gets in so much.  tok has to dust and mop every single day to try to keep up with it.  not good for her because she'll get hives and feel lousy if she gets to much dust.

and wonders of wonders! we got DSL broadband internet installed today! wooo hoo!  but it gets really warm up here in our bedroom house where the computer is, so you can't sit up here for  that long.  it's just nice to check mail and a bit of news and information without waiting and waiting for dial up or packet data connections.  and another monthly bill.
gorgeous the life!
Nu and Tok


080309 Thaikarl - Got my shower thang working

american that i am, i'm used to taking a shower where the water comes out of a pipe over head.  scooping up a bowl of water from a vat and splashing it on my body is alright, that's the way most thai's and a few billion other  people in the world get washed. i'm also used to hot water.  we don't have running water, and of course, we don't have hot water.  so i decided to work something out.

i  prefer to shower outside behind the  house in the open air.  at night,  under the stars it's just wonderful.  in the morning, showering in the sun is a delight. there are a couple of big water jars back there.  we keep them filled for backup water in case the well pump fails, and i use the water in the jars to wash.

we bought a submersible pump for the  waterfall.  it will lift water in  a hose above my head.  but we used that for the water fall.  i bought another pump last visit, but it was smaller, and wouldn't lift the water above my  waist.  so we put that one in one of the big lotus flower and fish tanks in front of the house as a fountain.

we i landed in Bangkok, we went to  jatucheck market, and i bought a submersible  pump that was even bigger than the first one.  my first installation was simply a length of plastic hose connected to the pump and strung up on some ropes over head.  it worked, but it was a little sloppy.  so i rebuilt it the other day.

i made an extension cord that runs from inside the house out to the jars, and hooked it over a piece of bamboo i tied to the pipe that has the TV antenna on top.  then i tied some PVC pipe to the antenna pipe, with a couple of fittings.  when i want to use the shower, i take the lid off the jar, pull out the short piece of hose with a stub of PVC stuck on the end, and plug it into the PVC elbow at the bottom.  the water runs up thru  a section of pipe, to another elbow, that extends over the jar. a piece of clear tubing hangs down from there.  plug in the plump, i have running water.  so i don't waste water down the train when i'm not rinsing or wetting, i move the pipe over so that the stream falls  back into the jar.  when i want water for wetting me,  i pull on the end and direct the stream my way.  works great!  a bit of noise from  the  pump, but it works.

i even figured out how to get some hot water.  so easy.  totally solar.  there is a long transparent 2 inch hose that runs from the pump to the back of the  house.  when we need water to fill the  jars, we turn on the pump and drag the hose around.  when the coils of the hose sit on the ground in the morning, the standing water in the hose sit in the sun, and the water  heats up.  if i wait until later, like around 11am, the hose has been in the sun for a few hours.  i put the end of the hose in a No. 16 blue bucket and turn on the pump.  when the bucket is full, that is just about the all the water that has been in the sun, what follows has been underground and is cool.  so i stop the pump when the bucket is full, and i  have a bucket of hot  water.  some days's it's so hot, i have to add cold water to it before i use it.  after i've got myself all wet bowling out the hot water, the cooler water from the jar is refreshing, and not nearly as shocking to the system as using only  the jar water.  of course,  when i shower at night, no hot water.  sometimes Tok will heat up a pot of water for me on the propane stove if it's a cold night.  but most nights, i just deal with it.

i have an idea to just get a bunch of 2 inch PVC pipe and string it together so it goes back and forth back and forth, and put it on top of the tin roof behind the house.  if i fill it at night, it will get nice and toasty hot in the morning.  might even retain some heat into  the evening.  but cheap as PVC pipe is, it's an extravagance that the budget doesn't permit this time.  but NEXT trip, for sure.

of course, everybody  else showers from the big jar in the bathroom like normal people.  they wouldn't mind running water, but then we'd have to buy an automatic pump, and pay more electricity, and string pipes and all that.  why spend  the money?  a bowl and a jar full of well water does the job.

when it rains, i prefer to channel the run-off from the roof to fill my jars with.  the water from the  well is very hard water.  when it dries on the tiles in the bathroom there is a classic hard water scale that builds up.  but it's only rained once since i've been here.  there  was a big rain when we were in Bangkok last month,  but we missed it.  dry season it  is.

Improvise and rule your world!  as my dad taught me.

Read my Thailand adventure ::: http://www.thaicountrylife.com


080308 Thaikarl - a new house!

we have bought a house in south east thailand!  it's nothing fancy, or even that cool actually - but it's ours!
we had gone down to sattahip to visit some friends of Tok last month, and they told us about these houses.  they are a housing authority of  thailand project.  i didn't have the cash for the down payment and to hook up the utilities, but thanks to a generous wedding present from my dad and his wife, we closed the deal.

as you can see from the pictures, our house is one of several hundred, all alike: two bedrooms upstairs, bathroom, front room, porch, a little bit of dirt around the house, and a fence all round.  made of stucco, with jalousy windows.  does have running water tho.  some of  the residents have started fixing up their houses, putting in plants, grass, tile, walling in the porch to make another room, extending the porch with a roof to enlarge and shade the out door area.  all possibilities in the future.  i still have to finish fixing up our house her in lomsak.  still needs staining, we still have to climb a latter to get to our room etc....   all in good time.

one of the features of the house, well not the house exactly, but the location, is that the ocean is about 2km away!  and there is substantial town nearby, and a lot of other cool things to see and do in the area also.  for us it will be kind of a vacation/alternate house for us.  we can go down there to relax and goto the ocean.  tok has several friends in the greater area she can visit with.  we are not far from islands that promise some good places for scuba diving.

primary reason is it will be  a  disposable asset for  tok and i.  should anything happen to me, this house can be rented out or sold to provide tok and family some support.  for 12,000 dollars i couldn't buy an outhouse in the states.  secondary reason is it's close to the ocean.  did i mention it's close to the  ocean?  reason enough!  and should any of my friends and family like to adventure over here, they have a house to at little or no expense.

hmmm, so now i have to get back to the states to earn up the return travel expenses, the wedding next november, house payments, remodeling, minor furnishings for the new house and not to mention replacing my tired old van and and and.... no boredom in my future that's for sure!

Nu and Tok
Read my Thailand adventure ::: http://www.thaicountrylife.com