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A Christmas Blog Not Of My Hand



I have a friend of many years who was/is a master trades person.

Some bad luck for him and he sought a diffrent life, first in Ireland and by chance he is now in Thailand.

i know he wont mind me blogging his letter here, it has a very strong message about being content.


I hope you are well, Thank you for your mail, Sorry for the late reply. As you know we have no internet on the farm, so I typed all this onto "Word" so I could send when I got chance. First let me thank you for that lovely meal. Thanks Jeff for trying to sort out that phone system, even though we couldn't make it work.

Where do I begin to tell you about my life over here in Thailand??? I’m sorry but this is going to be a long tale.

I never thought that I would be so busy in my retirement. There are not enough hours in a day to do all that needs to be done. We usually get up around 5-30-6-00 AM as soon as daybreaks, by 8-30 the sun is already too hot for me to do anything outside, how the Thais work all day in the fields amazes me, it would kill me! It always goes dark at 6-30 no matter what month of the year; I do miss the long summer evenings in England.

Whilst I was back in UKJune/ July, Noy harvested her sugar crop on her 23 Rai (about 11 acres) plot. When you cut the sugar down to ground level, you get a second year’s crop from the same roots for free! But this year when it grew again it was diseased, so Noy had it all ploughed back into the land. So much for our bonus crop!!

When I came back over we decided to sow rice on the land, rather than just leave it idle,,,,, the land has to work for you, to make you money.

At the same time we had our 10 Rai plot,,, where I had the pond dug, ploughed again and sowed rice on that as well. We only ever grow rice on that land, as it is divided into paddies that we can flood or drain as required to keep the rice happy.

We were expecting rain to come very soon after sowing, but it never came! We were lucky because we had the pond to pump water onto the land, many farmers nearby were not so lucky and lost their crops through lack of water.

We had our pond dug 5 metresdeep, to stop people netting the pond and stealing our fish. Anyway, needless to say when we pumped the water onto our rice and the water level fell. The ******** came in the night and stole most of our big fish. It seems poaching and stealing fish is a national pastime here. Noys dad built a hut on the edge of the pond where he usually sleeps, so he could look after the fish, but he is 86 and has only got one eye, so they were still able to get our fish,,,,,,,, Anyway, when the rain eventually came, it quickly filled the pond again, and the baby fish that were left are now growing again, thankfully,,,,,,, Jumping ahead to now,,,, we have just had the rice cut on that 10 Rai plot, where the pond is. We got just over one and three quarter tons of good quality rice from that crop so Noy is pleased with that. The good news was that as we drained the paddies prior to cutting, we were able to recover about two and a half thousand small fish that had been pumped onto the land and had been growing with the rice,,,, so now the pond looks healthy with thousands of small fish swimming around,,,, now I’m happy, because by next year they will be big enough to eat. Not that I eat them, it’s just I enjoy the sport of trying to catch them with a fishing rod and line.

Everybody is busy cutting and drying their rice now, so we are just waiting our turn for the rice harvester to find enough time to cut our 23 Rai plot. I don’t think that we will get a large crop from that land as we had to rely on rainfall to water it, as there is no water anywhere near to it. We need to have it cut within the next couple of days or we will lose the rice back into the land. Everything grows VERY quickly here and as soon as crops are ready you have to get them harvested and stored or sold.

Noy is a good farmer and understands the markets well,,, when to store and when to sell, The market is flooded with rice now as everybody brings their rice in, so the rate is low. We will keep our rice in our rice storage hut for about another 3 months until the price goes up again. Most of the local farmers sell their rice straight away to get money to live on, but if you don’t need to sell straight, you get a much better price for it.

Soon after we had planted the rice, it was time to harvest the mansapalang (like sweet potato) that we were growing on our 13 Rai plot, just outside the village. This is the land that I am thinking of building a house on, when I eventually sell Bury New Road. It took nearly a week to bring that crop in; I think there was nearly 85 tons, so that was good.

After it was harvested we sowed a yellow flower on the land, just so we could plough it back into the land for nourishment.

Last month we had that ploughed over two times, and then waited for our delivery of 22 tons of new sugar cane that we bought from the sugar refinery. We have now had all that sugar planted and already it is starting to show shoots. That land is very good land for growing, so we only ever grow sugar or mansapalang, usually 2 years of sugar then we alternate to one year of mansapalang.

We have got another 28 Rai of land that is already growing a good crop of mansapalang that we planted early last year, hopefully that will be ready to harvest next Feb – March.

So I think you can understand that life on the farm is anything but quiet, but I enjoy driving Noys truck over all the farmland, looking after the workers. While Noy looks after the rice crops I am usually able to do a bit of fishing in our pond and enjoy a cool Chang Beer.

Last year I had an extension built on the side of the house as I wanted a workshop and somewhere to store tools and things. Anyway as soon as it was built, Noy decided that it would make a good hair dressing salon. So I lost my workshop, but we gained a new salon. Noy has now sold the Hairdressing salon that she had in Phimai town centre.

Now, whenever Noy is not on the land, she opens the hairdressing salon and is quickly busy with customers wanting their hair cut. All the older ladies will only have their hair cut by Noy and will wait weeks on end if we are busy on the farm. Now that we have the new salon more and more of the younger girls are becoming regular customers also.

Yes, life is good over here. When it’s not too busy we usually manage to get into Phimai, our nearest town, two or three times a week for a meal and a drink with the other expatts that live over here, plenty of good CHEAP restaurants in town, a good steak meal all inc is around £2- £3, Noys meals are about 30 Pence and as she is teetotal it doesn’t cost a fortune. We usually get into Korat, which is a big city, about once a fortnight, to get anything not available locally. There is a big shopping mall, a bit like our Trafford Centre along with a Makro, Tesco Lotus, Big “C” and many other retail parks.

I’ve been over here 5 months already, and am hoping not to return to UKtill Feb 10th next year. After 3 months over here I had to do a “Visa Run” to get a new visa in my passport for another 90 days (3 months) so we went up to Cambodia for a couple of days. After getting my visa we stayed in a nearby town called Buriram where there are many expatts bars and restaurants.

My one year visa from UKexpired 2 weeks ago so we had to do another visa run even though my last one hadn’t run out. This time we were busy on the farm, so we didn’t stay over.

When we have brought our last crop of rice in hopefully in the next few days,,,,,, maybe it will get a bit quieter and we will have time to relax a bit.

In my front garden we have banana trees growing and two of them have big bunches of bananas that will be ready for eating in about 4 weeks time. We have got about 6 Pappaya trees growing all bearing fruit and a lime tree with 2 limes growing on it. We have about 6 pineapple trees but I’ve no idea when they will bear fruit. Around our pond we have planted about 20 coco nut trees, numerous banana trees and many fruit trees that we never see in England, all will be bearing fruit within a couple of years.

In EnglandI could barely exist on the small amount of pension that I receive, but over here I can live like a king. I think the weather plays an important part in keeping me healthy,,,,, Within 2 days of being back over here my swollen feet had gone back to normal, I don’t have any aches or pains through arthritis, no problems with my asthma and no problems with my blood pressure because there is no stress here, we don’t have a letter box and we don’t have a postman,,,, so we don’t get any bills!!

Our mains water is 30 Pence per month and our bottled drinking water about the same. A bottle of gas for cooking costs £4 and lasts about 9 months; our electric bill is about £3 per month. No Heating bills to worry about. £20 fills the truck with gasoline that lasts a week or more depending where we go. Car tax is £12 per year. Car Insurance about £14 per year. There are NO rates or any other taxes to pay No National Insurance. I get 3 months supply of all the medicines that I usually get from Englandfor £20 from our local hospital. No TV licence no Satellite and NO ****IN TAXMAN to worry about.

So, yes, life is very good here. It’s nice to know that every day is going to be a nice day weather wise, when you put washing on the line it is bone dry within the hour

Now is our cool season but just looking at our thermometer it’s still 87Fand it’s 10-30 pm at night. During the daytime it is usually around 100F, too hot for me, but it sure beats being cold.

Obviously there are negatives over here, but the good things always make up for any shortfalls. The standard of driving here is terrible, very few people actually have a driving licence, and those that have a licence have usually paid for it rather than passing a test, as such corruption is a major problem. The police set up check points with the sole purpose of collecting money to make up their wages, the good side is that you can get away with anything if you pay the policeman the equivalent of £2 ,,,,, No ticket no endorsements. Nobody has a clue about road safety, nobody knows that when its dark you need to turn your lights on, I think there must be a contest going, to see how many years they can drive without putting them on ,,,, I’m not joking, it really is scary when you come flying up behind a BIG wagon crawling along with no lights on in pitch black of night because there are few street lights working. The school buses have kids hanging off the sides, usually with 10-15 happily sitting on the roof of the bus SCARY!! The law over here is that the driver of a motorbike is supposed to wear a helmet, but when there are usually 4-5 people on that motorbike and the person on the front is usually a passenger, with the rider being in second place??? Nobody wears a helmet except when they see a checkpoint. At least driving a truck you are more likely to survive than if you were riding a motorbike. In saying that, I ride a motorbike on the farm, and in the village, and feel perfectly safe, though I am VERY wary if I go on any main roads.

The electrics over here are VERY dangerous nobody has any sort of qualifications. Wires just get twisted together, lives joined to neutrals, in our farm house the live wire is Black at the front of the house, but it is White at the back of the house???

The one thing I miss over here is decent internet connection. We have no phone lines to our village so we have to rely on a 3G dongle,,,,,,, trouble is we don’t have any 3G network anywhere near, but the don’t tell you that when you’re buying it. The rest of the world is already on 4G, yet Thailand is still deciding which Internet provider shall get the contract for 3G !!! ??? Most of the time we have no signal at all even for a mobile phone, which is not good.

Ok. Enough for now, my fingers are aching with typing.

As soon as I find time I will put some pictures together so you will understand what I’m trying to show you about life over here.

Take Care Love Ray xxx

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