There are words we hold inside and words we can’t conceal – 17th-22nd March 2018

Five exhausting days down. Early starts, late nights, big digs and frequent fights. Building a house isn’t stressful, right? Even though I’m not physically doing the building there’s much to consider every day and without the local language, it’s an extra stress on Amy to translate and sometimes even decipher, as she doesn’t know some of the correct words and phrases for things in either language.

Language and its meaning have become an issue from time to time as, from what I can feel, Thai is quite vague about things and, of course, English likes to be precise. Words like soon, here, now, not sure and the ubiquitous yes and no can all be interpreted in many ways.

Amy has gotten used to the more precise language of English but I’ve noticed her falling back into vaguer terms which in the end frustrates me.  Sometimes, she’ll get annoyed when Thai people do the same to her too.  When it is other people, such as the workers building our house or Amy’s friends trying to arrange things etc then it doesn’t bother me too much but somehow when it’s Amy doing it to me and then she gets frustrated with me then it can escalate quickly depending on the moods we’ve woken up with.  (This paragraph seems vague to me now on re-reading so maybe I’m adapting too!)

This week those moods have been tested by many things. The set of workers who have been here for two months have moved to a new site, dismantling their temporary shacks. We (Amy and her mum really) organised a big meal and beer and juice for their last night but that morning we had to run around to fix up a few things that the workers had broken or messed up that by lunchtime Amy and I were both getting hangry with each other.

Finally, we got some lunch and slowly our moods improved particularly after our builder dropped by and tried to help out with fixing things. Late afternoon soon came and we both couldn’t wait to start on a cold beer and we prepared tables, chairs and food.

Although most of the workers are Burmese and don’t speak Thai, and none of them speaks any English, we’ve come to know and appreciate each other whilst working together here.  We can see that they are not professionals and they are doing their best, they work really hard in pretty rough conditions.  If we look closely at their work we can see things aren’t straight or haven’t been done quite to the standard we might expect in the west, or the standard we might actually desire.  We have to accept that you get what you pay for and this is what we can afford right now.

Honestly, we really do appreciate the work they’ve done and it was great to see their happy faces as we tried to talk with each other. We found out that they are all from Yangon and only get back home once every 2 years and it’s a three-day bus ride. We told them that we could understand how they feel, being displaced in another country. Amy has to chastise some of her friends who sometimes make derogatory comments about foreign labour ‘taking our jobs’. Yes, it’s the same here as anywhere else in the world. She reminds them that she was in the same situation for ten years in Australia and had to face the same kind of intolerance from people too.

After a few days of stress, we were somewhat more relieved at the arrival of some doors and windows. Even though we don’t have them all yet it gave us a small sense of security and a feeling that this is ours. Despite all the minor faults here and there, most of which can be fixed, we can see our home becoming more real. Now, if we can just get the final doors put in, maybe we can stop the rats and hairy worms from invading.

Talking of visitors a local dog decided to drop by and christened our new driveway gate before continuing on his way. A cat seems to have left its mark in our dining room too, something we’ll have to clean up smell-wise before we move our two in here and they decide to start doing the same thing.

This dog certainly made an impression.

We also need to start investigating what types of trees to plant to entice more birds to come and visit, in the hope that they eat more of the bugs that are hanging around. We’re on a big learning curve with the garden and due to its size just taking care of it is very time-consuming. Currently, watering takes a couple of hours. Yesterday I borrowed Amy’s dad’s strimmer, called a lawn mower here, and set about attacking the weeds and long grass that have sprouted pretty much everywhere. The strimmer uses a metal blade and our land is littered with hidden rocks and stones and I didn’t even make it halfway before the blades got messed up and the internal rotor decided it had had enough of my heavy-handedness and the thing fell apart. Looks like an easy fix but only for someone who knows what they are doing, ie. not me.

Luckily, many things seem to grow easily here. I mean, besides the weeds. Check out the size of our first mango below.

“Don’t forget to keep your head to the ground.”


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