Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ups 'n Downs

An Odd Day at That……

Well it sure was. 

As I sit here at days end…I involuntarily started thinking of the past day and what one… 
would be hard pressed…not to possibly call…an odd day. What was odd you may ask? 
Well for one thing I spoke with a Real Estate girl who hopefully…will find the kind of 
Condo rental that I am looking for.

Yes it’s a small world. I say this because…just in passing I asked my friend and Immigration 
guy Tom…if he knew someone in Real Estate/Apartment finding etc.
Lo and behold… he did know someone…his sister J
I met her in his office and…after about a 15-minute meeting…she now knows what 
I desire in my forthcoming Condo.

After the meeting and…being that I was out anyway…I grabbed a “songteaw” and
headed a little north of Old Chiang Mai to look at a Cond-Hotel (yes you read that right)… 
with the dubious name of “Pacific Mansion” (and no I don’t know the reason for the name). 
Now I’ve done some homework and knew a bit of how the place looked.
I was also aware of the fact that…the Cond-Hotel was being updated. This was and is 
apparently…still true. 

After a short trip…I got to see the place and in a quick synopsis…not what I was looking for…
although the price was about right. Furthermore and according to the desk pu-ying (girl)…
the re-construction (uplifting) “should” be complete in 3 months. This translates from “Tinglish” [Thai/English] to “most likely” …6 months…with a lot of luck!

After a tiresome late morning/early afternoon run-around…I was ready for a bit of relaxation. 
Hey…retirement life is rough you know J.

So…after a quickie-stop off at Tesco-Lotus (another supermarket) I was back into a “songteaw” 
and shortly…back in my room.

Well…my in-room downtime didn’t last long as…‘ol mister stomach started complaining that 
he hadn’t been fed for a few hours…OMG J
OK…it was about that “food-refill-time” anyway but…I decided to take a short walk in a 
different than usual direction and…ended up about a kilometer away. This by the way…
is where the beginning of the “Night Market” takes place every evening. But…guess what….

Like the proverbial “Phoenix Rising” and…out of nowhere was….wait for it J

…Burger King...

Yes my friends…you are reading right.
And not only Burger King…but McDonalds…Pizza Hut and Starbucks…each on an 
opposing corner [see how great American influence is]. Now I ask you…
Can one really resist and/or ignore this. I think not. J

Now those of you who truly know me…know that I would never enter those
“land of lard” doors of a burger joint. This is true!
…That is of course with the exception of today ‘cause today…yes todayyy…J

Burger King was “King and Winner”…and OHHH…SOOO…VERY…GOOOOOD J J
OK…so I was a BAAAD BOY! 
Hey once every decade or so I’m allowed…right? J

So…that was my day and tomorrow…well…we’ll see and…to be sure I will keep 
you apprised of the…Good…Bad and Ugly (well maybe not the ugly J and maybe not even…
the bad J).

The Weather…

Every time I speak to or receive an e-mail from somebody…
I can bet that (in one form of another) the word “weather” pops into the conversation. 
I guess this is normal…do to the fact that…most people will probably (at least the 
ones I know…) never visit Thailand. So with that in mind (OK calm down now…)

Here is the average weather report for this time of year in Chiang Mai…
[9am - 70F and sunny…forecast 85F - with possible mix of sun and showers and 
moderate humidity…(normal)…nice] J

Apartments again (thank goodness for the Internet)…

Lionel…is a newly arrived (or should I say transplanted Expat) friend of mine 
whom I had mentioned in an earlier Blog…went apartment hunting. During one of 
our talking sessions he mentioned the “agency” he is working with re: his hunt.

So where…you may be wondering…might I be going with this?
Well...Lionel gave me the agency’s card and…yes…I had mentally planned 
on visiting them today.

Now when I plan on something…I usually end up “actually” doing what I planned but…
there sitting quietly on my desk was my ‘ol faithful laptop. At this point I thought…
being that I am not actually ready to move and…if worst came to worst I can always 
extend my stay in my resent digs…then where pray tell…am I rushing too? So…
down I sat and ended up at the online site…of the same agency…that
Lionel recommended.  I’m glad I did this…because I found at least 10 probable 
and viable apartments…in a fairly wide price range but…within my range…
got it? Good! J

And now it’s time for me to boogie and get some fresh air. 
And be amongst the denizens of Chiang Mai J

Coming to a screeching halt!

I had planned on ending this particular Blog entry with either…something mundane or 
uplifting. This however seems to what is happening in Bangkok and 
many many surrounding areas.

The following is a link with many photos. Unfortunately all the comments are in Thai…
as this is a FB page of a Thai friend. You will however…get a very good idea without 
the comments. That said…about half way through and…as the photos age there are less 
and less flood pics. However if one wants a glimpse into Thai life…
the older pics within the link…will give a very good encapsulated look.

I would say enjoy the pics but…there is nothing uplifting or enjoyable about any of this.
In fact this "fiasco" is NOT over yet as more flooding is expected!

Here is the link…(you'll need to cut 'n paste)

BTW…if anyone feels compelled to say a prayer or even mentally send good thoughts 
to the affected peoples…feel free to do so as any and all is appreciated.

Until next time…

Monday, October 17, 2011

The FEEL of Things J J

After too many years I found a place to get a massage… and WOW what a
massage it was (no not what you’re thinking either).

However before I get into the massage stuff I need to clarify “finding” a
massage place.

You see Chiang Mai has literally hundreds of massage places. Most…
as you can well imagine are good but…like anything else in our world…
there are always a few that don’t “quite make the grade”. This brings me
back to my search.

Even though there are untold numbers of locations that one can get a
Thai massage…most are either located in an open-ended store or
literally "falling" outside the establishment...or outside on the street 
altogether. This is definitely not “my cup of tea”.

Now before I continue…a word about prices.
When I last lived here a few years ago…the price of an hour Thai massage
was somewhere in the vicinity of 100 to 150 Thai Baht. Keep in mind that I’m 
talking primarily in the confines of Old Chiang Mai which by the way is a 
“tourist area”…hence higher prices. Today that same one-hour Thai massage 
ranges from 150 to 200 Thai Baht ($4.85 to $6.50) or higher...
for a Spa type environment.

Now back to my find J.

As I was walking on one of the main streets surrounding the moat...I
passed by a massage parlor (one that I’ve passed many times before)
and being that they weren’t open and I had a couple of things I needed to do…
I promised myself that tomorrow…I would return and treat myself.

Well tomorrow arrived and since the Massage Parlor opened at 11 a.m. and 
of course I was early...I tried to keep myself busy (not easy). Now one needs to 
keep in mind that most that businesses in general are opened 12 hours per day 
7 days per week. Also keep in mind that "posted hours" are usually “suggestions”….
get the picture? J
Anyway…Finally…the time came and my waiting was definitely “Not In Vain!”.

I opened this Blog with a WOW and I repeat myself….WOW J

Madara Massage is everything one 
in Thailand could want and or expect 
in a Thai massage establishment. 
The place is comfortably cool…the 
massage pads and mats are comfortable 
and closed-off too all surroundings by
sound deadening curtains. To enhance 
ones experience…just the right type of 
soothing eastern massage music 
envelops you.

My Thai Masseuse? Well I later found 
out she was employed as a Thai Masseuse 
for all of three (3) months but…one would 
never have guessed as she did an excellent job. 

At the end of the hour…my body was screaming for moreJ… moreJ…more J

But it wasn’t over yet.  Post-massage…
I was offered a cup of green tea and a few cookies (too ehhh….rejuvenate oneself) J

All the above cost me THB200 plus a 20 Baht tip (by the way tipping is
definitely NOT expected) so…even though the 20 Baht is a paltry 65 cents…
she was thrilled.

All told the hour massage cost 220 Thai Baht or about a bit over 7 bucks. J J

By the way….yours truly will be returning to Madara Massage and Kathai 
(pronounced Kah ta-eee) my masseuse...every week hence .

Meeting New People….

Since I’m “in-country” as a sort of “newbie” it helps to widen ones’ friend base.
In this case my friend TC in Cuenca, Ecuador suggested I look up a friend of
his in Chiang Mai (proves this is indeed a small world)…which is exactly what
I did. Now being that TC is (or was) in the entertainment field it came as no
surprise to me that Tom (ta-daa) is also in entertainment. In his case (Tom)
is (was) a professional “global” magician/clown. Needless to say…
Tom is now living in Chiang Mai and yes...he gets to show off his talent or
“schtick” with me as the audience? J J

After a misunderstood meeting place…Tom and I  finally caught up with each 
other. Like I mentioned many times in previous Blogs…friends are an important
factor in life but especially…for single Expats such as myself!
So yes…I’m glad I met Tom (thank you TC) and hopefully our budding 
friendship will continue to blossom. In either case we lunched together at one 
of the main shopping malls here in the Old City and killed a few hours of…
just another day as retirees J.

When it rains it pours…

So now that my list of “new” friends has at least started…well…
the list keeps on a growin’.

I had met Lionel briefly in Cuenca. Well Lionel is Chiang Mai and in fact 
living in the same Hotel/Guesthouse that I am currently occupying. So…I have 
someone to show the “ins ‘n outs” (teacher that I am J) of this town.  
Lionel is (as too be expected) not sure if he is in fact going to stay in LOS as...
this is a completely new and alien environment for him. Anyway…time will tell and 
for the moment…like I mentioned earlier I’m somewhat of a guide to Mr. L J

Anyway my friends…that’s ‘bout all for now from the other side of the world J
Until next time…enjoy…enjoy…enjoy J J

Moving Update: 

Unfortunately…it ain’t happenin’. At least…not to the previously mentioned location. 
Apparently…the woman that was going to rent the place to me is being forced to leave 
her current address (where she also has her Law Practice) and…
needs her house for her personal/business use. 
Oh well…easy come easy go and…the search continues.

In a way...I’m happy as I really did not want to be located so far from 
Chiang Mai City proper…so I’m looking at this in a positive light J

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Woman...Food & A Roof Over Ones Head

The PRIM thing…
On again…then off again…but not sure. Now…maybe on.
As of our last on-line contact today (Oct 4)…it seems she lost her cellphone.
Anyway looks like things may get back on whatever track things may have been on.
We’ll see!

Otherwise things are basically at a standstill. Being sans motorbike (i.e. wheels) makes things
a bit harder. However I am getting a good bit of exercise via walking…
which BTW is a good thing! I do however have my eye on a somewhat expensive 
(for Thailand) toy i.e motorbike.


…after all one needs to have a way to get around town and it’s environs.

What can I say that I haven’t already said in the past?
I AM LOVIN’ IT!                     

After Ecuador with (on average) its bland uninspiring food… my mouth and yes…
the rest of me is…how can I put this…ecstasy might be a bit much as a descriptive word but…
damn close too it J.

Along this same train of thought i.e. food…the abundance of Thai restaurants 
(plus whatever type of food one may desire) in Chiang Mai (and I’m assuming 
country-wide) is mind-boggling. That said…they are ALL good. So fear not…
if and or when you come to visit or stay here…finding affordable (if not downright cheap
food is definitely “not a hardship”. Keeping in mind that the average Thai restaurants 
as a whole…are nothing to look at. However (at least as I see it)…one does not go to a 
restaurant in Chiang Mai…solely for its ambiance. Yes…you can find upscale restaurants 
and yes…they have good Thai food along with the high-end look and high prices 
(some might even rival the higher prices of first world standards). 
That said…personally…give me a small local restaurant (some may even go so far as to 
call it a “dive”) without any of the aforementioned “ambience”…and I can almost assure 
you that…your taste buds will be…happy happy happy J J.

To give you an idea of what I am trying to convey to you…the following is what I had 
for lunch on this average day. Yes it was simple…
in a non-descript restaurant and ohhh so very good J :
One bowl of "Kao Soy Moo" (pronounced…cow soy moo) which is (and you have your 
choice of meats) soup with minced or sometimes sliced pork…fried thin noodles…
soft noodles (think wide(ish) pasta) in which one adds…wide-sliced onions and …
not sure of the name’s a green vegetable. This goes into your soup and according to 
your taste…one would also add various spices that are placed on the table 
(add a little at a time ‘cause you may be adding some really heavy spices and not know it).

In addition to the "Kow Soy Moo" was…
One dish of  “Morning Glory” which is an actual green “thin leafy” plant. 
Nuts and other spices are added and of course one can always add the provided table spices…
as I did. This on top of some white rice…yummyJ

Normally I would have had a beer with lunch but today was bottled water…which by the way…
actually complimented the other dishes in a cleansing sort of way.
Cost for this delicious and I might add…healthy lunch was THB90 or US$2.89.         
No tip and NONE expected (another plus)J

MOVING (One Mo’ Time J)
After listening to my friend Vivien (of Vivien & Roger) and…she setting this up…
well today I looked at a house (yes I said house) for rent in a neighborhood that can only 
be called “an outlying area” of Chiang Mai City. The area is known as Hang Dong 
(that’s pronounced Haang Daahng).

This is similar but a lot more upscale…compared to the last place I lived in during my 
previous years in Thailand. 

The house is in a “manned gated-community” and is two levels with marble and wood 
(depending on the room) floors, lots and lots of windows providing an open-air look...
two (2) kitchens (one Thai style)...3 bedrooms…3 baths… a good size living room and 
dining room, an open office area…storage area…balcony off master bedroom...
a decent sized grassy area surrounding the house with a covered patio for BBQing and a 
covered car-park…and it’s furnished (nicely).

The Moo Bahn (village) also has available and free to all residents...a swimming pool and
an enclosed physical fitness area.

Being that Vivien is good friends with the owner (a Thai attorney)…well she talked her 
into reducing the rental price from THB20,000 p. mo to THB10,000 p. mo. That’s…
$647.00 down to $323.00 a month with by the deposit or security payments.
The carrying cost...of course excludes electric and water which carries an approximate
 price tag of maybe $20 bucks for the month. Internet and cable prices are an unknown 
factor…at this point but is “not” exorbitant.

So…yes…even though it’s further from town that I would like…
I’ve decided to take it J.

At first I said I would move in on or about the 18th of this month however…after thinking a bit…
I’ve decided to wait until the beginning of next month (November
This way I don’t have to feel rushed as…I think...being "rushed"...
is against the law in Thailand J J J

That’s ‘bout it for now folks so...until next time…enjoy the moment J

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Mixed Bag

Making It Legal….

I know the sub-title above may be somewhat misleading but I bet…it got your attention.  
As you may guess (or maybe not) this had to do with my entry into Thailand and my 
continuing stay here.

Now normally when a visitor comes to Thailand they have “in-hand”…
a return ticket back to whatever country they originally came from or….a ticket showing 
onward travel. I being me of course…had none of the above and yes my heart was in my 
mouth and…my brain was working overtime trying to come up with a reasonable answer 
for immigration control if indeed quareed. Thankfully…my fears were unfounded and 
I passed through Thai Immigration with no problems what-so-ever J

My immigration fears however did not completely abate. This do to the fact that…
two (2) weeks into my staying in Thailand I had to now apply (via Thai Immigration
for a three (3) month extension to my existing visa.

Now normally this is not a big deal but…being a cautious kind of guy J…I sought and 
found assistance to my problematic minds train of thought.

My assistance came via the help of a Thai acquaintance of mine (from my previous time 
in Thailand) who has over the years…donated his time in assisting the Thai Immigration 
office in various venues. Subsequently…Tom (his nickname) has many “solid” contacts 
within this organization.

Anyway after meeting with Tom at his office and handing over needed documentation we 
once again met yesterday at Thai Immigration where all I was needed for was signing a 
few pages. Otherwise I waited about a half hour outside “in the shade” for Tom to appear 
with hopefully (I say this ‘cause one never knows until the deed is done) my now updated 
passport and extended visa. Thankfully…it went smoothly and off we went.

So now…I am once again legal (if not tender…sorry could not pass that up JJ) at least  
for the next few months…when I get to do this “all over again”.
After that I’m good for a year J

On a more general but serious note…

the Northern Province of Thailand (which BTW includes Chiang Mai)…is experiencing 
some major flooding do to some abnormally high amounts of rain.  Yes…it is still rainy 
season but thankfully near its end.

One must however…understand that Thailand (especially the Northern tier) receives what 
is commonly known as localized squalls (sometimes heavy---think “Monsoon” heavy). 
Personally…except for one nights’ view from my window…I have  been lucky and have 
not experienced this rain. Also and lucky….Chiang Mai proper has not experienced any 
flooding at all…but it has come close. This…especially in and around the Ping River 
(this being the main waterway) in and around Chiang Mai.

OK…enough of the foul-weather stuff!

On a personal front…

Being single and…having experienced a wayyyy tooo long period of the single life while 
in Ecuador…I set out to find someone here in Chiang Mai. Yes I am looking for someone 
of the Thai Female Persuasion. As I am not a “bar-type” person nor am I generally a 
“night-person” I sought assistance in this exercise by a couple of on-line dating services. 
The response was high (sometimes too high) but the type of person I was looking for was 
somewhat low.

This is when I found “Prim”. 


At this stage of the game I won’t even attempt to guess about any sort of future ‘cause it is 
simply way too early in what I can only call a “budding” relationship.

I will however say this…
We met for coffee (this lasted about an hour and a half)…and from what I could tell we 
indeed “hit it off”.  We have a “real” date set for next Wednesday eveningJ
Here is just a little info on Prim for those that are interested...
(if your not…too bad J).

She is 45…pretty….intelligent…speaks English (quite well)...divorced with two adult 
children (both professionals and live in different cities)…is employed by the Thai 
Government as an inspector…owns a 1 or 2 year old new model car…is currently living 
in the city of Lamphun (pronounced Lampoon) but moving to Chiang May next month…
like in the very beginning!

So…my life is looking and moving upwards slowly but surely.

I know that waiting for my next Blog can be an excruciating experience for some (LOL) 
but…hey such is life.

And on that note and until next time…have a wonderful and happy day J J

Friday, September 23, 2011


It never seems to fail…

When I first checked into my current digs at The Lanna Hotel…I said to myself…
hey this is nice …centrally located…and “everything”…down to a full buffet International 
breakfast is included. So even though at first glance…the THB11000 ($358) cost for the 
month seemed high for Chiang Mai…well it really wasn’t.

Considering the fact that the above cost included a decent sized room…cable TV…wi-fi…
refrigerator…a comfy king-sized bed…a modern bathroom with amenities…daily maid 
service and topped off with Daily Breakfast Buffet…well I still feel that there is something 

There are…actually a couple of things missing…what you ask?     
Well…once in awhile I do like to prepare a meal or two (as opposed to eating out all the time)
so a cooktop at the very least would be nice. If one has a cooking area then a sink would be 
not only useful…but helpful…right?

The other item that would really be appreciated…would be a balcony of some sort.
This incidentally would most likely…not be used often as it’s usually too warm (hot?). 
But in the evening… definitely!

Now the other “side of the coin” would be…to fall back on my original plan…
this being…to rent a Condo.

The upside…is that there is a fair to goodly chance that…for less money…one can 
expect in most cases....a swimming pool, and usually a gym on the premises…plus the 
above mentioned amenities…(yes for about $300).  This incidentally...
would not include the monthly cost of those amenities (which can add up).

The big downside is that one must sign a lease of varying length…which will determine 
the amount of deposit (and rent amount) one must make. I have found one place that I do favor…
but I would need to layout the first…last…and one additional month security. So…
that is 3 months rent paid up front…and that my friends…is a very big chunk of change when 
one is living on Social Security.

Now I’m not complaining but…one needs to manage monies that are available without 
breaking the bank…so to speak!

So…for now yours truly is in a bit of a quandary.
Do I stay where I am and know what I have...or...
do I start too seriously begin my search for a condo? Hmmmmm!!!

To tell you the truth…I’m leaning towards staying put.
At least I know that I have a fixed amount to pay every month (with no guesswork)…
no lease and no multiple month payouts!
So….the only thing I can say now is…”I’m Not Sure” soooo….stay tuned J

In Search of a Coffee Shop:

Yes…and as you most likely have seen in my posted photos…we have Starbucks in 
Chiang Mai and yes…like everywhere else on this planet Starbucks is not inexpensive!

Anyway today I took a small walk…in the opposite direction from the other days walk…
specifically to give some of my business to Wawee Coffee. Now Wawee Coffee is a fairly 
large chain in these parts (and probably elsewhere). The coffee is very good (if not better than Starbucks) and also costs a bit less. J

What I like about this particular Wawee Coffee is that for the patrons (like myself) who...
like sipping “al fresco”…they have “misters” which lend a very nice and cooling atmosphere 
while sitting in the shaded areas…very relaxing J

As you can see in the following pics…this Wawee Coffee…although almost dead-center of 
Old Chiang Mai City…is part of a small shopping area that includes a “green” sitting area 
of it’s own. One can get quite used to enjoying this town J

Sorry...but for some reason my downloaded pic files are being rejected. 
Hopefully the next Blog it'll be nicer to me :(

So my friends that is about all from this "far eastern country" known as  the “Land of Smiles“...
i.e Thailand.

Oh one other thing

hopefully I will have some “new” news..regarding meeting a new friend of the 
Female (Thai) persuasion. I’ve so far...been in contact via the Internet and spoke with 
her over the phone (yes she speaks pretty good English). So…
more on this as it develops J

‘till next time J