Try to relax me now but then again, Oh no! Isn’t it good? – 23rd-29th March 2018

Damn, I’m running out of energy.  Early mornings of digging earth, shovelling stones, wheelbarrowing stones through wet clay, moving concrete blocks from one end of the garden to the other, these things are catching up with me.  Amy jokes that it’s like an everyday episode of the Biggest Loser and I hope that it can at least result in some weight loss.  We generally only work until about 10am when the sun breaks through the cloudy haze and starts to sear flesh.  If we are not running around on errands or furniture shopping we can get a couple of hours in from about 5pm when heat tends to dissipate somewhat.

I’m trying to keep my promise to never complain about the heat here and, in fact, most of the time it doesn’t bother me too much, certainly not to complain or moan about.  But it is energy sapping.  I’m at 3-4 showers a day at the moment.  Any effort in the garden is almost instantly rewarded with wet clothes and it’s important to cover up as much skin as possible.  The biggest pain is when bending down to pick out weeds and sweat pours over my glasses, which I’ve also managed to drop on concrete and scratch the supposedly scratch proof lenses.  The next biggest pain is standing upright again and feeling dizzy for a few seconds.

We arrived at our house at about 8.30am this morning, with Amy’s parents driving up too.  We had a small hornet’s nest to get rid of and Dad was going to show me the correct way to use the metal bladed strimmer, which appeared to be just not to use near anything that might smash the blades, which is unfortunately not that many places on our land but at least he got some long grass and weeds cut.  However, as soon as we arrived I was so exhausted I fell asleep for 3 hours, despite all the noise going on around the house and garden.

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We’ve started buying various bits of furniture that we need now that we are close to the end of the house build.  We won’t get them delivered until we’re absolutely sure everything that needs fixing is fixed and that seems to be delaying us a bit and it looks like I may not even get to live here before I head off for my course in Chiang Mai.

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I’m supposed to be doing a pre-course task before attending but I’ve just been too tired and time consumed with everything else.  This weekend we are driving to Chiang Mai to meet Sydney friends Lekky, Steve and Lena, along with Jessica and her dad.  We’ll drive back to Chiang Rai with Jessica and her dad the following day and then drive up to the Myanmar border the day after and see what goodies we can buy there.  I’ll be driving mostly though I hope I can get Amy to drive on Sunday so I can watch the AFL on my phone.

I’ve had to pay for the AFL app access along with VPN subscription to be able to watch the games but in the end, it seemed to be the easiest option.  There are a couple of Aussie bars in the city that screen the games but they don’t open until 5pm and the early games are already halfway through by then.  Plus I like to have a beer and relax when watching and don’t want to have to drive the 20kms or so home afterwards.  Damn, I can’t wait to sit down on our new lounge with a beer from our new fridge, watching football, overlooking the sun setting over the mountains out the back window, the smell of Amy’s delicious cooking wafting from our kitchen.  It can happen one day, right?

I have more to write but it’s going to have to wait. There are no more 1994 entries scheduled to post either, not until I get more free time to write them up which might not be until the end of May.

What a lovely place to be, what a lovely place to be.

 

 

 

Well, I’m standing here what do I see? A big nothing, threatening me – 12th-16th March 2018

Back with the ants.  Life seems to be involving them in one way or another as each day passes.  I guess we gotta share this place.

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Another visitor we will be sharing time with.

One dinner time, as Amy was preparing some fabulous dish that I forget now as it’s not really relevant to this story, she told me to serve myself and heat up some rice from the fridge.  I grabbed the container and a plate and went to the table, plied the lid off and saw little black dots on the rice which looked like it may have been mould.  I decided to wait.  In Amy’s parent’s house copious amounts of rice and made daily, whether it’s used or not, some kept out, some in the fridge and a fresh lot in the rice cooker.

I called out to Amy and said there was ‘black stuff’ in the rice.  She asked if it was mould, I said maybe or maybe ant eggs.  She came to have a look and declared it was just tiny ants.  That’s ok then.  I picked around the black bits as best I could.  Amy estimates she would have probably eaten well over 10,000 ants by accident in her lifetime.

The following night Amy’s dad offered me red ant eggs with veggies to which I declined.  I also spied the tub of rice from the fridge and noticed that one of the tiny ants in there was still moving.  I bet those things can live all the way through your body.

The ants are everywhere in Amy’s parent’s house, anywhere where some form of food can be found, though not sure what’s in the bathroom that entices them, maybe flecks of toothpaste and dead skin.  I’m wondering how we can keep them out of our house.

Which leads me to the second ant story.  As I was watering the garden I’ve been pulling out weeds, loosening the ground with water so I can pull up as much of the roots as possible.  I find this strangely satisfying.  I’ve been careful to look out for snakes and other little beasties and then I came across an ant’s nest, less than ten feet from our kitchen.

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The ants were possibly disturbed by my watering but were running around in a bit of a tizzy, some of the carrying stuff that I couldn’t quite make out.  I went and told Amy about the nest and she didn’t think much of it at the time saying if we need to we can get rid of them with ‘chemicals’.

So I went back to watering and weeding, noticing that the ant action had died down mostly, with just a few scattered wanderers scurrying about.  That was when I felt an almighty sting on my finger as I was pulling up a weed.  I let go the weed and pulled up my hand to find one of these little bastards attached to my finger.  I quickly brushed it off as the pain intensified and I wondered if I needed to go to the hospital or something serious like that.

I pissed and moaned for a bit and carried on watering and after a while, the pain subsided.  It did make me think though that if a bunch of these ants had decided to climb up inside my shirt or shoes, that would be something a little more worrying and potentially dangerous.

Later, Amy saw a picture I took of the ants and proclaimed ‘Oh those ones are nasty – we need to get rid of them’.  We’re looking for ‘chemicals’ now.

PS – the feature picture isn’t connected to this post.  It was taken when I managed to duck out from Amy’s parent’s house on my pushbike.  I enjoy just riding around the small sois (streets) nearby and getting lost before finding my way again.

 

 

In the garden, the roses have no thorns – 16th-19th February 2018

Not yet hungover, still wobbly and happily void of any stresses involved with departing my home country of the last 24 years, Thai Airways does its usual job of safe and stylish delivery.  In between meals and bouts of sleep, I observe the passenger in front of me constantly annoying the hostess and interrupting her as she talks and serves others.  Finally, she firmly tells him he has to wait his turn.

I tried to watch the new Blade Runner movie but this surely wasn’t the right environment.  Much more satisfied with the mindless comedy of Thor: Ragnarok.  Pretty sure I was still drunk at the time of arrival in Bangkok where the queues for transfer were horribly long but still, I didn’t care as other foreigners stood by and shook their heads.  “Welcome to my country” as Amy sarcastically often says.

The short flight to Chiang Rai is not of any particular note except for the Sumo who steadily waddles on the plane and listens to something on his headphones.  I’d like to think it’s the latest grindcore release or something equally zen.

Just my luck, I get stopped at customs, where no one ever gets stopped and they pick out the new iPhone I bought for Amy as a surprise, at duty-free in Sydney.  They want me to pay tax on it.  Apparently, you can bring stuff in without tax if the value is under 20,000 baht and this is over.  I plead with them that I have just relocated from Australia and this is how I am welcomed to Thailand.  I tell them my wife will be furious if she knows I had to pay tax on the gift.  I look at them puppy-eyed.  They discount the tax rate for me but it’s then I realise I only have 500 baht on me anyway.  I offer it to them but they seem unimpressed.  They look over my shoulder and ask ‘Is that your wife?’  Amy is waiting just beyond the doors with a curious look on her face as the officers her invite her inside.

Some discussions later we end up paying the tax and told that it was just unlucky they decided to check my bag.  It’s also apparent that if the phone had been unpacked and in my pocket, no one would have noticed either.

Welcome to Thailand, indeed.

Next day the hangover finally kicks in, added to by the approach of a cold, no doubt initiated by the last night of drinking and talking which caused me to almost lose my voice.  Now the coughing starts.

Both our cats are confused to see me again but we soon make up when I start feeding them.  Whoever feeds them is their favourite, always.  We are all camped in a bedroom in Amy’s parent’s house.  A place that is her childhood home and we’ve often stayed here on our previous travels but is not quite comfortable for us as we don’t know where their things are, and all our things are stored in the multitude of boxes piled high in the living room.

We head off to visit our house, the first time I have seen it in person.  Now I can appreciate the dimensions of each space, yet can’t imagine it as a home just yet.  It won’t be long now and we can start filling it with the things that make it homely.

I start my life as a gardener today, breaking up big clumps of clay and watering all the various plants and trees still left growing which includes durian, ten lime trees, jackfruit (already with one big fruit almost ready), papayas, Thai chillies and multiple frangipanis.  We’ve also ordered 5 Jacaranda trees that we hope will grow and blossom at the front of our land and attract visitors should we run some business from there.  A small reminder of Australia too.

We pick up some drinks for the workers at the local store where I’m introduced to the shopkeeper.  May as well start the village gossip at the source.  I hope we’ll become good friends in the future.

The workers live in temporary tin sheds they have built alongside our house and we are doing little extra things for them to keep them content and happy to work for us.  They are not quite used to some of the designs and plans that we have so we need to explain things often and carefully for them.  They are very hardworking men and women, mostly from Burma, though legally working I’m told.  One wife is fairly heavily pregnant and presumably (hopefully) not doing any heavy work but maybe preparing meals for everyone.  Despite their poor accommodation they still have a TV and satellite dish rigged up to keep up with their favourite shows or maybe the EPL.

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Despite our tiredness and my now constant coughing, dad (father-in-law) decides we must all go out to the new fish restaurant to welcome me here.  I try to partake accordingly but between us, we only manage three bottles of beer.  The food isn’t as good as some other places we have tried in the past and the service was still going through a teething period.  There’s a big lake out front with attractive table settings but in the evening it’s a constant battle with mosquitos, which would spoil things somewhat.  I still have to invest in repellents and appropriate clothing, luckily those things are very cheap here.

Both our nights are fitfully slept as I cough myself and Amy awake but we stirred at 6am to get to our house again before it gets too hot.  I set about the watering, almost completely covered head to toe from the oncoming sun.  Next, I need to invest in some wellington boots as my runners get covered in muddy clay.  It takes about an hour and a half to water everything and I start dreaming of automatic water systems.  One day, one day.

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The temperature is good in the morning and stays reasonable for the rest of the day.  I, however, have to retire with medicine for a nice siesta.

The siesta soon became a full nights sleep, again, broken often by coughing.  But we’re up and at them at 6am again stopping off at a little shop that has been running for 45 years with just a slim menu involving tea, coffee, toast and eggs.  It’s brilliant and cheap but doesn’t do enough for me as we get to our house and Amy does some supervising and I fall back asleep on a deck chair on the terrace.  I have nice dreams and awake delirious before driving back home and sleeping even more, until it is time for us get prepared for our next little journey to the UK, to farewell my mother and catch up with family and friends.