Passing the 3 year mark in Thailand and embarking on the 4th year, who said that being retired, especially in Thailand, would be boring? Some said that I wouldn’t cope but it’s been an easy combination of me slowing down, having a new found activity in my part time role and keeping occupied with our Thailand living & exploring. My days are more than full and I am starting to wonder how to keep up – well not really!
There has been a few Facebook posts from myself and from the Honorary Consul page that shared a few activities but thought I might try to capture some of what we have been up to lately. While not greatly exciting or adventurous it has been fun and highlights our Chiang Mai living. So where to start? The weather? – it is middle of summer, very hot, dry and with the burning season winding down the sky’s are generally clear – this way the sun can bake you and temperatures often hit 39-42. Pleasant and cooler mornings and evenings without the sun are most enjoyable for outdoors activities.
These days some of life has become more routine and has fallen into a comfortable pattern. After years of travel and being on the go it is honest to say that enjoying our home, the pets and a more tranquil existence is very satisfying at the moment. Gardening, grass cutting, car washing and house cleaning are busy tasks along with movie watching, reading and time on the computer. How did I ever have time to work?
Waking up to warm weather and getting out early to take the dog for some exercise is a daily occurrence. Once awake Lex is looking to go out with me on the bike to explore the new smells and markings of dogs around the housing estate or nearby country roads. Getting out before the sun gets too high in the sky this time of year is the goal to avoid the scorching sun. This reminds me, its time for the annual vet check up and vaccinations for the dog and cats – next week!
After the morning exercise and some garden tidy up & watering its time for a coffee and opening the office. Now going to the office here in Chiang Mai has taken on a most comfortable and relaxing approach to work. It’s wonderful to be relaxed in shorts, change the “office sign” to open and sit down for a coffee, check out and respond to emails and phone calls as well as browsing the news. We are visited on occasion by our local patrol police – Consulate security! With the choice of a couple locations around the house, being in the garden or the back kitchen, I believe I have a most pleasant and fitting office environment – best work place I have ever had.
April has been a month of house maintenance and repairs – oh the joys of having a house! We have seen the plumber, the hot water & shower repair guys. Ever since moving into our house the master bedroom shower has never worked correctly with low pressure and getting the water to heat up was a variable challenge. We had a few different people look at the system but it was never fixed correctly. Finally we tracked down the shower fixture and the hot water system specialists to attend the house together and sort out the problem. We also called the plumber who did the house installations and the three worked to track down and resolve the problem. There was a piece of builders plastic rubbish in one of the supply lines that had limited the water flow and pressure to the system – 3 years later a perfect “rain shower” is now available.
The security system back up battery also came to a life cycle end so the Bosh people came to resolve that. The kitchen ceiling fan has a 3 speed controller that seems to malfunction after any power outage. We recently had our favorite electrician replace the controller unit for 500 THB and then another storm and the controller was not working again. We now know that with any power outage the wall switch needs to be turned off so when it comes back on there is no electricity surge to the unit. One more time and 500 THB should finally sort this issue out.
I don’t like flat tires – who does, but it seems with our housing estate still under construction that there are inevitable nails and sharp objects that find their way into our tires, from time to time. Once again we were off to our trusty tire repair shop to get a puncher repair. Always great service and quick & costs of about $15. Also saw some wheel rims that I think would look great on the Isuzu MUX? Reminder to self – maybe a present for me!
It was also time for my repair check-up? The 3 month PCa follow-up blood test was due so it was off to the clinic at a local hospital where I get these done. These tests days and waiting for the results are always an anxious time – is it good or is it bad? The staff are always friendly, helpful and email me the results. I am delighted that the nurses seem excellent at taking blood as for the past few times I have not felt the needle at all. They are always very careful and gentle with not even a pin prick felling. A day later the email arrived and the results show the PSA blood count has again risen – while only a minimal amount, it continues on it’s upward trend. After a prostatectomy there is not meant to be a rise in PSA, so these results are not what I had hoped for. Next test toward the end of June 17 before seeing my urologist in Bangkok around the middle of July – to see what the next steps might be.
On the social side we managed to attend a Chiang Mai Ballet School performance which was very entertaining and offered some contemporary dance pieces as well. The Kad Theater in Chiang Mai offers a great venue for such shows. It was a bit of a formal affair as the pictures show. The school is run by a lady who is also the Honorary Consul for Peru and the representative of Australian Dance in Thailand (there is a separate post about this event).
We also ventured out to a small village in Pa Sang district about 30 minutes drive south of where we live to check out an OTOP fair as this village specialises in weaving, cloth and unique clothes. I was on the look out for some formal Lanna (northern Thai) dress shirts. We found some nice styles and colors and ordered 2 to be made in my size – large farang build. Its always nice to venture out of town and into the rural part of Thailand to enjoy local food, culture and experiences. We browsed the many stalls, sampled some local food and chatted with a few of the locals. We enjoyed a return trip a few weeks later to the owners house/factory in the same small village to pick up the custom made shirts – happy with the results. It was a pleasant visit in the rural area, sitting under a tree in her yard with ice water, a Thai dog as my friend and chatting about her business and desire of one of her daughter to do her masters degree in Australia.
Ace had traveled home in April to Nakhon Phanom to support his mother in hearing the results of court matter. On his return he had to attend a local temple to give thanks for his mothers recent success in a family court case – an offering of garlands of jasmine to the Buddha. Its a lovely temple, Doi Khum. sitting on the hills overlooking Chiang Mai and always offers great views of the valley and surroundings hills. Ace has found a favorite pineapple vendor in town we stop by usually once a week to get fresh pineapple’s at a very cheap price. As always we are either eating out or buying take away to bring home to share with Lex. We often head to Kad Suen Khaw shopping center near us to get Vietnamese take away or some other delight from the restaurants or food court. While we do cook at home occasionally during the hot summer months it seems easier, convenient and reasonable to take advantage of the many street food offerings.
April is Thai new years so this month saw the very unusual but very exciting water festival celebrated in full swing in Chiang Mai. There are lots of blog posts about this festival so no need for me to go on too much about it. The Thai New Year’s Day is 13 April every year, but the holiday period includes 14–15 April as well. The word “Songkran” comes from a Sanskrit word meaning transformation or change.
The Songkran celebration is rich with symbolic traditions. Mornings begin with merit-making. Visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks is commonly practiced. On this specific occasion, performing water pouring on Buddha statues is considered an iconic ritual for this holiday. It represents purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck. As a festival of unity, people who have moved away usually return home to their loved ones and elders. As a way to show respect, younger people often practice water pouring over the palms of elders’ hands. Paying reverence to ancestors is also an important part of Songkran tradition. The area around the moat in Chiang Mai see’s lots of activity and is the place to participate.
The holiday is best known for its water festival which is mostly celebrated by younger people. Major streets are closed to traffic, and are used as arenas for water fights. Celebrants, young and old, participate in this tradition by splashing water on each other. Traditional parades are held and in some venues “Miss Songkran” is crowned and where contestants are clothed in traditional Thai dress. You can see some very big water pistols in use along with trucks with full 45 gallons drums of water to splash on passersby. We have participated in other years but not this one – stayed out of the way of the water other than getting the car wet when coming and going from home.
So there you have a snapshot of life and activities here in Chiang Mai for us recently. There was involvement in my new role as well but you can see more about that on the Honorary Consul blog (see the menu).