140124 Thaikarl - Back from paradise, into the maw


back in seattle i am.  talk about hitting the ground running!  new boat to suss out, welcome back calls, transfer title on boat and get insurance, oh crap, tabs on car expired - oh need emissions test too, work to do at school, painting job to start on vashon island, call to come help out up in la conner, have to find another marina, have to meet with old owners of the boat to learn what all these switches and valves and pumps goto,  jet-lag (always worse going east), falling asleep at 9pm one night, awake till 5am the next night, car insurance due, hosting expiring, coho ho ho web page to revise, help man the booth at the boat show this weekend, thousands of photos from this trip to sort, storage rent way over-due, people i want to see, lender letters to get out, where's my cables for my other computer, worried a little about my wife who is now living all by herself on the property back home, and... and...

and a couple of days ago i was laying on a hot floor in the bath-house in Seoul korea taking a nice warm nap. big sigh.

but i'm not bored! and all the activity softens the "missing home" hang-over.

Gorgeous the life!


hows this for going fast??? (somewhere over the pacific)



140115 Thaikarl - Time compresses when the flight is near


only a few more days in paradise.  one month in thailand is far too short. but i am grateful to be here at all.  and already sad to have to be leaving.

our internet was up/down/up/down for the last couple weeks.  then i decided that i'd had it with this slow assed computer and took it to the shop for more memory.  why i didn't upgrade it when i got here, i don't know. so between that, and trying to get all my jobs done, i've been busy.

we've done a lot of things around the house - took down the tamarind stand and brought all the materials into the yard.  swept and raked almost the whole property.  re-routed a water line that was installed thru an iron frame - you couldn't move the frame without breaking the pipe.  bought another cabinet to store my guitars and such where it will be out of the way till my next trip home, shopping and more shopping - gifts, goodies for the boat.  We spend three days down south of Petchabun at a Tam Bun party.  Yesterday we had to drive to Pitsanolok (two hour drive up into the mountains) to get an extension of my visa, i only needed 4 days and they gave me until march... can't use it. wah.  we went to the meeting markets, the fairs.  today we went to the beautiful temple up on the mountain, where they are building another temple, with buddas sitting in each others laps. very beautiful up there.  the mosaic and tile work is amazing.

but now it's time to start packing it all into two 21kg bags and a carry-on.  the last days home are always so compressed.  there's a sense of "this might be your last look at this for a while".  i begin to feel the anxiety of departure.  i morn the things i didn't get to do, didn't get to see.  i feel such a strong connection to the women i sleep next to here, and i know i have to stretch the cord across thousands of miles of ocean again.  i will miss the food, the warmth of the sun and the people, the mountains and the countryside.  i'll even miss my eternal bafflement over what people are saying and what the signs say.  even still, seattle is good.  i have some good friends there, and very supportive people.  there's a boat waiting for me, and there's still a lot to do on the Grey Ghost (Jeffs boat).  seattle is where i am able to work and support my thai country life, and all that i means to me.  it's like the saying: "no matter where you go, there you are"

i've made a few posts to the tumblr:  http://thaicountrylife.tumblr.com/  that's where i'm post pix and bits that don't make it into these posts.



140109 Thaikarl - bangkok closed? imagine that


i'm having to delay my departure from the land of smiles.  it appears the current crop of protesters are going to "shut down the city" on the 13th.  my wife and step-daughter were worried about going into the city at that time.  not because of danger, more because it's likely to be a pain to get around.  Teri's university, which we planned to visit, is not far from the bus station where they will have populist roadblocks.  and our favorite hotel is two blocks away from one of the main protest areas.  so to give it time to settle a bit, i rebooked for the 20th.

i booked on expedia/orbitz etc a few times in the past.  never again.  sure, save a few bucks on the ticket, but good luck trying to get them on the phone, and forget about changing your flight.  korean air (my favorite) always answers the phone with minimal holding time, they changed my flight twice this time, for free (since i'm still in the same ticketing schedule)

i'm happy to be spending a few more days here, but i really do have to get back to the states.  i've got to get to work!  i have a boat to get ready, loans to pay off, and Teri's university fees are coming up quick.  all good though.

our internet has been out for a few days, and we went south to Tam bun for a couple days.   i'll get caught up today, tomorrow.



• อนุกูล


140103 Thaikarl - Mai Mee!


i had some things to do in town.  Tok was busy with the tamarind stand, so i dug out my helmet - there's police checkpoints on because of new years- got the keys and headed into town.  man, it felt good to be driving a motorbike again.  even if it's not a real motorcycle.  it's one of those newer Honda Clik!s  twist and go (no gear shifting) 90cc motorbikes with step through frame like a scooter, but has 16" wheels.  rapidly reminded that i had to get in motorbike mode, scan the ground ahead for bumps, holes, sand on asphalt and other hazards.  and to be aware of slow farm vehicles in the bike lane, faster bikes coming up behind, slower bikes ahead, people going the wrong way on the road, trucks and cars whizzing past my elbow at 100kph and other vehicles from bicycles to 10 wheel trucks appearing out of side roads suddenly. and to be mindful of driving on the left side of the road.  turning at an intersection takes some thought, as you need to turn into the proper lane going another direction. 

since Tok and i are almost always together when we go anywhere, i always have a little bit of the feeling like mom let me take the car out all by myself and i want to drive to fast and free range... I can go anywhere i want to go!  but that's just the feeling.  i had a list of things to get done.  i needed to find a young guy named Tam about an art project, goto the glass shop, go make an appointment with my dentist, find some green bun, change some money, and get electrical stuff for my boat at the tent market.

an expression you hear often when you go looking for a specific item is "Mai Mee" which means "Not Here"  actually, 'here' in thai is 'Nee' so they might be sayin Mai Nee, but it sounds like Mee, with an em.  Mee with an "M" might be "Lom Sak language"- which exists.  [every now and then Tok will say a word is "Lom Sak language"  I learned on my early trips that "Pai nai" means "where go" or "where are you going" but in Bangkok they say "Penai".  I kept hearing people around here say "Pa dai" and i asked Tok what that means, she says it's Lom Sak Language for "where you going?"  no wonder learning Thai is hard], but lets go with what i think i hear, which is "Mai Mee" = "not here"

i went to the electric shop where the boy works.  he wasn't there. "Mai Mee". i tried to ask the three other people there, but they didn't understand me.  i even imitated his curious slouching stance.  nothing.  when i imitated drawing on my hand, they pointed me up the block. saying "Hanin". so i figured Tam was up the block at a place called Hanin.  no idea where that was or what it means.  but i walked all the way to the main intersection.  nothing leapt out at me.  the honda mechanics on the corner asked if i need help - in english.  i said i was looking for "Hanin" and they pointed me back down the block.  Hanin was an electronics parts store.  i tried to ask about the boy, got a chorus of "Mai Mee"'s from the four ladies in the shop.  gave that one up.  went back to the electric shop and remembered i had a photo of him on my iPhone.  showed them that and woo hoo, they got it.  but it was more Mai Mee.  they said "Mao"  which means drunk or something close to that.  gathered that he'd been partying for new years and wasn't at work today.  okay.

without talking to Tam, i had not enough information to goto the glass shop.  so i went to three different 7-11's (they are like starbucks, all over the place) for green bun...
 Mai Mee

So i went to my dentists.  there wasn't anybody in the waiting room and nobody in the chairs.  there was a women - an assistant, and an older man.  i did the "tooth cleaning" pantomime, got "Mai Mee"  the old man said "gin koaw" so i figured out the dentist was off eating dinner.  i tried to ask if i could come in tommow, pointing at the calendar, wristwatch motions etc.  got a lot of response, but no clear understanding.  so i went outside.  remembered i had a Thai dictionary on my iPhone (love that phone) showed her the word for "tomorrow" and "cleaning" but it didn't go off to well.  later i realized i was showing her the "Tomorrow" that means 'something in the far future' not the word that means 'tomorrow-next day'  eef.  so nothing worked out there.

since i was doing so well so far, i thought i would at least score a couple of scoops of "Ma now" or lime ice cream that i like.  went to a dealer near the market that us usually there.  guess what?  Mai Mee.  ah, but there is another one inside the public market.  GOOOOOOOAAAALLL!

I went to the bank in Big C supermarket.  Changing a random 60$ US i had in my bag.  That worked okay, except they didnt' like the twenty dollar bill "too dirty" and wouldn't exchange that.  No green bun at Big C either.

i sure wish i could get the hang of learning even basic thai.  it just doesn't stick in my brain.  i worked really hard to learn how the numbers work, but i still get them messed up.  every numeral has a name. you don't say "twenty thousand baht", you say "Song Mun Baht"- meaning two ten thousands baht. try to do math with that!   i'll keep trying tho.  but when i free range, i'm painfully aware how much my english speaking wife carries me around.

but it's all fun.  not their fault i can't talk, or understand either.

buzzing back on the motorbike, i had to be especially vigilant.  schools were getting out, so there were a lot more motorbikes, and stopped cars picking up kids.  i was so focused on driving and sucking in the awesomeness of the countryside wizzing by that i went right passed the tent market where i was going to buy the electrical stuff.

Mai pen Lai = doesn't matter

oh well.  Mai Mee.


121331 - Thaikarl - New Years Eve in rural Thailand


Hope every one has a happy and good new year.  we're a day ahead (15 hours from Pacific time), so it's almost gone over here.

Most everyone gets a long holiday at new years.  out here in the country, that means that all the kids are off school, and the people who work off in other places come home for the long weekend.  which also means many people, especially the younger folks, crank up their 10,000 watt stereos and blast away.  the guys next door were playing thai pop music with so much bass the windows in the bedroom house were literally rattling.  then they'd turn it down, then an song they liked would come on and they'd crank it up again.  i went out on the porch to try to see what kind of machinery they were using to pound out all those decibels, and it was coming from someone's car!

tonight tok and i went to the fair at the monument park down the road.  the usual booths with cloths, shoes, cds and videos, and lots of food.  stuff you find at most fairs.  i bought a few stands of LED strip lights for the boat that would cost five times as much in the states.

we're home now, Tok has already gone to sleep.  Teri is watching TV on her computer- they stream the TV stations online here- and i'm up on the computer.  The people who own the big nice house up the road about 500 meters are having a party.  of course, they have a huge sound system, and they are singing karaoke.  you can hear every word and drumbeat, like it was in the next room.  none of this "quiet at 10pm" stuff.  well, it is new years after all.

there's fireworks going off randomly.  sometimes huge BANG!s that rattle windows and startle you.  

Tok has been spending all day at the tamarind stand, and will for the next four days, til the new years tourists slack off.  she's doing fairly good business.  strange way they do things.  there's 5 stands lined up right next to each other beside the road.  all selling  the same thing- tamarind in all it's varieties.  there are groups of stands every kilometer or so on the roads away from the  mountains.  people stop, sample the tamarind, buy a bag and head off.  why they stop here, and not at the previous 5 groups of stands i have no idea.  i don't get a sense that the vendors are hard-core competing with each other.  the customers seem to choose whose stand they stop in front of, and that stand gets the sale.  the next car might stop at the beginning of the row, the next at the end.  more amazing is the economics of doing the business.  Tok had to go to the government office and pay them something like 3 dollars for a permit to put a stand on the governments roadside.  that's it.  no inspectors.  no other permits.  sales tax collected- zero. (as far as i know)  you want to do a little business for a short time, just do it. (ouuuu, the current karaoke singer has a horrible voice, way off key)  she had to pay rent an awning that has metal poles and canvas roof (a common business round here, renting awnings and plastic chairs) and pay for some workers to make a bamboo pole floor and all.  she'll keep all the bamboo and wood poles after she closes down.  the whole thing is made with a few nails and a lot of twisted wire holding it together, so it will come down easily.  (much better singer up now... well, maybe not :-)

since i've been here over a week, i'm naturally sliding into my normal night owl mode.  when first get here, it's easy to go to sleep at 8pm when tok does, and get up before the sunrise.  by my natural internal clock starts to manifest itself, and i stay up later, and sleep later.  slept in til 8am this morning!  when i was here for six months last time i was home, i slide into 3am to 10 am.  harder to do in the spring time (april is the hottest month in thailand) cause the sun comes up, beats on the house, and it turns into an oven inside by 9 am.  the neighbors behind us went to live somewhere else, and his fighting chickens are gone, so i don't have roosters starting to crow right outside the window before dawn anymore.  that's different.  their kids are still living there it seems.  the property has become really trashy, and the big shed where he kept his chicken stuff is all falling apart.  i'm hoping that the bank will repo the house and we can buy the house and land for cheap someday.  after i pay off the boat.

big explosions going off everywhere, must be time.  yep, my iPhone just rolled over to 00:00

nappy hoo year!


"I am i that is me, but not you"   - Zeno America Das Leben ist ein langsamer Tod!
 visit http://www.thaicountrylife.com •••••••• อนุกูล