Thailand House Tour – Want to Buy a House in Thailand?

Thailand House Tour Video

This is a 6 Million Thai Baht house. Is it really worth $171,000 USD? Let me know what you think.

I’ve been meaning to do this video for so long now, for years really. Finally I got a fire under my butt, and shot the video yesterday. Took a full day to upload it.

If you’re thinking about buying a house in Thailand, you should see this video. It isn’t going to represent EVERY house in the country, of course, but, I’ve been here for 12 years and I’ve seen many homes – dozens – and they’re all built like this. Every one. I haven’t seen million dollar houses yet, but just at this price level – around 6 million Thai Baht – this is what you can expect.

7 Types of Ants in Your Pants in Thailand

(Page Updated: 30 December 2016)

I woke up last night again with ants forming a trail across my shoulder to get to some Lay’s potato chip remnants that must have been on my shirt and the bed. Seems whenever I watch a movie in bed and have the mandatory 20 baht bag of Lay’s, I wake up with ant bites all over. This has happened four times now and it doesn’t matter how careful I am about eating the chips – the crumbs are still falling somehow.

I am fascinated by the ants. I think it’s because I see humans as the ants of the world. I like watching us to see how we’re dealing with adversity. I watch the ants to see – do they deal with it in the same way or differently? Do they have anything to teach us? So far, the answer is definitely no. But, that doesn’t mean they’re not fascinating to me…

Thais’ ignore the ants. If I wasn’t around, my girlfriend wouldn’t even see them. They don’t bother her. I know this because when we first were dating and she stayed in her own room every time I went to her room there would be parades of ants leading to and from whatever food she had left on her plate on the floor. I watched to see – would she flip out over it like me? Nope. Not a concern at all. If ants aren’t biting her – she could care less what they’re doing. They could take over the apartment and she’d walk around them.

This morning as I got bit by an “Annoying Red Biter” – a smaller one, I realized… there are a lot of different types of ants in Thailand. I know about 7 kinds. I’m sure there are more. Here’s a little about each of the seven I’m aware of so you’ll know… some do damage, some not at all. Some are actually smart!

Sugar Ants or Sweet Ants

These I see at restaurants in the northeast a lot. They are almost microscopic they’re so small. They are a light tan color and no bigger than two heads of a pin. Actually smaller. Hmm, they are small like two periods of a sentence written here. They are very slow and maybe don’t appear to be moving at all they’re so slow. Or, they’re camped out grubbing on some sugar, chocolate, or jelly (jam) of some sort. If you start to kill them they do nothing different that what they were doing before. You can wipe out the entire colony in ten minutes as they keep sending ants right into the bloodbath from the home-base. They haven’t learned that dead ants around them might mean they too might meet the same fate. These are really dumb ants. They are virtually harmless – they don’t bite. At least that’s what the restaurant owner at Choke Dees near Tung C. Muang Park in Ubon told me.

Psycho Black Hyper-Speed Ants

These are psychotic little black ants that are maybe twice the size of the sugar ants described above. They are erratic little cusses that seem to be doing nothing in particular. They run about ‘willy-nilly‘ as my mom and grandmother used to say about us kids when we were little. Willy nilly is running around without any kind of purpose in a random fashion that bugs people. These ants are they same. They run around in short bursts of speed in random directions with no apparent goal. The only time they stop for any length of time is when they’ve come upon a fly or cockroach to eat. They then pool together and drag their food across door thresholds, up and down steps, up walls, etc. It’s so weird to see three ants pulling on one roach antennae like kids doing a tug of war contest. It appears that every ant is pulling a different direction. Sometimes the roach spins in circles until they get coordinated.

These appear to be ridiculously dim ants. If you attempt to squash them they turn into turbo psycho black hyper-speed ants and run in the most bizarre random patterns that your mind cannot duplicate. You cannot guess where they are headed next because their evolution has made them smarter than human beings in this limited area. However, it doesn’t take one long to realize that if you fake like you’re gonna squash one he stops for an instant to decide which way to run from your descending finger. At that point you can squash him. If you happen to squash one of them all the sudden six will appear from thin air and they’ll all be running these crazy patterns that mess with your mind and make you anxious and frantic like you need to kill them all immediately. If you do succeed in killing those six, twenty more will come. And so on. These ants also don’t understand the elementary fact that dead ants around them means they might also end up dead. Eventually you’ll kill a hundred or so before ants stop coming to see what’s up.

Geckos love to stand outside the hole in the floor leading to a nest of these dumb ants because they can eat smorgasbord style until they’re full. They just keep coming out and getting eaten, never smartening up.

These ants do not bite but just by virtue of being so fast they can quickly cover your leg and make you nuts because they are running scatterbrained all over you and giving you the creepy crawlies.

Red Devils

This is the ant I find in bed with me in the middle of the night. The only reason I know it’s in bed with me is that it’s biting from the time it feels warm skin beneath it. They bite immediately – like a centipede – for no apparent reason except they think because we’re warm, we are food. These ants are similar to the fire ants of Florida and the rest of the USA – the ones that migrated from South America so many years back. They are reddish brown, thick, and shiny. They have pincers if you look closely at their mouths. They inject a burning poison when they bite that is similar to a centipede’s sting – though on a much smaller scale. These are larger than the Psycho Black Hyper-Speed ants mostly in thickness, but they’re also longer by maybe half a body length.

These ants love food that people like. I think it’s the fat, though they eat just about anything. Chicken, Lay’s chips, banana cupcakes from Tesco… all appear to be favorites. I don’t think they like fruit and veggies. Oh, I’ve seen about a hundred thousand of them cover a nest of chicken eggs – forcing the hen away as they devoured scraps of chicken placenta left from the recent hatchlings. These are the ants that will always be in your garbage if you leave the bag outside for ten minutes.

Their bites hurt initially and then the pain disappears for a few hours. Then, usually at night for some weird reason, the spot they bit will start to itch intensely, driving some people to insanity if they have more than ten bites or so. Usually small red bumps will form. Later, in a day or so the red bumps will get a white dot on the top – this is, I think, your white blood cells that went in to fight the poison. Eventually your body wins and the red bumps go away. Some, like me – scratch them off. I have seen some Thai kids with horrible scars all over their legs where I think these ants got them repeatedly and the kids must be allergic to them or something. You’ve likely seen Thai people with horrible bug bite scars on their legs too if you’ve been here any length of time.

These ants are slow moving and fairly smart. If they see friends dying around them they’ll stop sending in others to be slaughtered.

Large Black Biters

These are like the regular black ants you might see in your country. Large, about twice as big as the Red Devil and not moving erratically. They appear to be on a mission of some sort. They don’t attack people at first opportunity like Red Devils but if you start killing them they’ll latch onto your skin and bite. They don’t hurt as much as the Red Devils, but after ten bites or so you’ll get aggravated and exterminate them all. These are fairly smart ants that run and hide when their friends start dying. I don’t see these ants very often.

Large Red 180’s

I call them 180’s because this is what their ant IQ appears to be. I look at the Red Devils as having a 100 IQ – normal in the ant kingdom. They understand death around them means death to themselves and they scat. The Psycho Black Hyper-Speed ants come in at around 80 IQ. The Sugar Ants don’t have an IQ – they are dumb like mud. The Large Black Biters are at 100 also as they demonstrate some basic intelligence regarding fearing death.

Why are these large red ants called 180’s? To me these are the smartest and coolest ants in Thailand. In fact, these ants rival mice in their intelligence. They can usually be seen outside walking along a fence or tree. They prefer outdoors – as I do. That’s smart to start with. Outdoors is where ants belong – on the ground and climbing trees. I’ve not seen these ants indoors here in Thailand – ever. They understand humans live indoors and don’t want ants living with them. Again, smart.

These ants if you look at them closely have heads and eyes. Yes I know, all ants do. But you can differentiate their heads and eyes. Not only that, but they will LOOK AT YOU and check you out if you get a finger or nose close enough. They’ll stop their marching and look up at you. If they can grab on to your nose they will so don’t get too close. You’ll be able to make eye-contact with these ants, which is a natural sign of intelligence. Isn’t it? I think so. It’s a sign of something. These ants have a personality. At least in my mind they do.

I like to give these ants tests. I do little experiments with them because I want to see what they do when faced with hardship. If they are marching in a procession across a fence in the back I will throw up a barrier to where they need to go and see how long it takes them to come up with another plan. They are fast. They check things out before walking over or through them. They are cautious about walking through tubes and other things laid in their paths. In the end they come up with a variety of ways to get around the barrier. They’ll go over it, around it and through it. They are very smart for the ant kingdom.

Large Red 180’s video experiment >

 

If I kill one and watch the rest. They go over to it, verify it’s dead and start telling everyone there was a friend killed over there. The entire march stops and the ants congregate until someone decides the new path to take. They alter the path so nobody else gets whacked. These are SMART ants. They don’t stop unless there is a bloodbath and you kill fifty ants or more. Then they’ll find a new path altogether – far away from the old one.

These ants will bite in self-defense. They are territorial. Meaning… if you play with their nest they will quickly cover your arm with two or three hundred of them and bite you all at once. They don’t hurt much, not even as much as the Annoying Red Biters which are much smaller.

Their nest is the coolest thing about these ants. I have no understanding how they do it as it seems impossible. They like certain leafy trees for their nests. Somehow, and I’ve seen them do it but it still doesn’t make sense, they bend the leaves together into a sort of sphere… but not really round. Let’s say into a pocket sort of. They then seal the ends of the leaves with spit or something that is like glue. When they’re finished there is a pocket of leaves – hollow on the inside. This is where the eggs are stored. The nests are covered on the outside with ants that look at you as you approach. They try to grab onto you so don’t get too close. Inside the nest are developing ant egg larvae. These larvae are edible. In fact, here is a short video of me eating some at a restaurant in Isaan a long time ago. A woman came selling the ant eggs in a bag. I bought 10 baht worth. I mixed them with some soup as I wasn’t sure what I was in for. They weren’t bad. A little acidic flavor is all I can really say about the taste. It wasn’t offensive, but not worth 10 baht a handful either.

 
Eating Large Red 180’s Eggs in my Soup video >

Thai people collect the nests of these ants since they can sell the eggs for 10 baht a handful. At least to farangs that don’t have a clue how much to pay for them they can. If you’re wondering how these ants get an IQ rating of 180 if they are dumb enough to let humans harvest their eggs for consumption it’s because the scales are different. An ant IQ of 180 means a human IQ of about 50. See? lol. Anyway – these are the coolest ants and if you get a chance stick your face down within a couple inches and watch them watching you watching them.

Annoying Red Biters

These are red ants that are smaller than the Red Devils and that bite, though they don’t hurt near as much as the Red Devils. It’s amazing that an ant of this size can hurt at all but if you try an experiment where you put one on the back of your hand and watch him bite and try not to kill him as he sinks into your skin you’ll have quite an appreciation for the amount of pain this tiny little thing can cause you. Multiply that by ten or a hundred like when you get them on your towel you’re drying off with after a shower – like I have before and you’ll understand why they’re annoying. Get one or two on your privates – like I have – and again, you’ll have a real appreciation, understanding, and some learning will have taken place. You’ll likely never again pick up a towel after a shower without checking for these pests. Guys, try to explain to your spouse or partner that the swollen red bump on your privates was caused by an ant. No fun.

These ants are dumb but not profoundly dumb. I’m assigning them an IQ of 90. They do alter their course if some are killed. They choose a new course, but it’s so close to the old path that the entire population could almost be wiped out. I say almost because these are slow ants that have secret hiding places for their nest. I’ve never seen where a nest is for these ants. They appear to live everywhere and call nowhere home. You can never get rid of all of these ants as they are on the walls, floor, doors, in the beds, on the tables, in the restroom… they are everywhere. They are prolific and hardy because there appears to be no actual nest that you can wipe out. These are ANNOYING because they are always around.

Little Black Bastards

The small black thick ones that bite are the worst you’ll likely encounter in Thailand as they like to come in the house. These ants hurt more than the Red Devils, hence they are called Little Black Bastards. These are about the same size as the Red Devils, but maybe a bit smaller even. They are deep black and shiny. They have a large head and pincers to bite with. They move slowly which is good as they usually can’t cover you before you notice being bit. I’ve not had many encounters with these here in Thailand but I do remember being bitten and wondering – was it that ANT that just bit down on me or a crab? It was seriously much more painful than any other ant I’ve ever been bit by. These ants are not to be messed with. Kill them and kill them fast. Kill them completely. Kill them until the last one. Kill them until you are satisfied there are none in your house. Just kill them, whatever you do, kill them.

Big Red Hellfires

These are found in the jungle mostly, I’ve not seen any inside homes. These are massive red biting ants that burn more than the Red Devils and hurt more than the Black Bastards. These are ants from Hell. Thai people call them fire ants. I’ve only seen these a couple times out in the wild, but my Thai friend has been bitten by them. They HURT!

Those are the 7 types of ants I know about here in Thailand. Are there more? Probably hundreds more. Thailand is really a great place if you love wildlife. Stop looking at the nightlife and look at the wildlife!

Thailand World Record King Cobra

4 Meter King Cobra in Thailand Caught by Thai Guy(Last updated: 29 December 2016)

I was watching this video I took (below) of a local guy with a 4 meter long King Cobra he caught in someone’s house. For about the fifteenth time I compared the tail of that one with the tail of one that crossed the road behind me and went into the bushes before I could react (or breathe).

The one I saw had a tail that was easily twice as thick as this cobra’s tail. Of that I’m absolutely sure. Now, could the snake have been sick and had an abnormally thick tail that didn’t mesh with how long it was? I don’t know. Maybe. I think not, but maybe – a slight chance.

The other possibility is that the King cobra I saw was a fekking GIANT cobra in excess of the world record which is 5.85 meters (over 19 feet).

Here is my Info Fact Sheet for the King Cobra at my snake site >

How much in excess? This thing must have been 30 feet. I know that sounds ridiculous. It’s absurd for me to say it. I only know what I saw. What I saw was the last 2 meters of the snake when I turned around. My heart stopped. I’ve seen 5 meter kings before, and many 4 meter kings. This king dwarfed them.

I know you’re probably thinking it’s a case of mistaken identity, but the only other snake in Thailand that gets that big are the pythons. This looked nothing like the Burmese or Reticulated pythons. Nothing like them. It was exactly like the king’s tail. I’ve no doubt of identity.

The reason I was on that mountain was to look for snakes. King cobras especially, but I didn’t really expect to see one crossing the road. I was stopped, debating whether to walk through the rubber plantation, but the vegetation was quite high on the path and I don’t like to walk there since I’m usually in my shorts and sports sandals. I prefer the open area a bit.

I turned around to look up the road for snakes because I had been facing one direction for a while. As I did my heart jumped into my throat and I couldn’t breathe. There, behind me, was this mutant king cobra that had just crossed the road and slipped into the thick bushes and I just got to watch the tail disappear over about 3 seconds of time.

I went over to the bushes and peered in – looking for movement – but saw none. I sure as hell wasn’t going on the rubber tree plantation path anymore but I did pry the bushes for an open spot to see the snake. I didn’t see it. It took a few minutes for my breathing to get back to normal – which is odd for me. It was quite a surprise though, and when I realized it dwarfed the biggest 5m kings I’ve ever seen – it was tough to confront the reality. I probably just saw the biggest king cobra in existence.

Now, how in the world could a king cobra grow so damn big?

Kings grow largest in Malaysia – so the history has shown. Malaysia is right next to Southern Thailand.

Range of King Cobra habitation worldwide
King Cobras are found in the red areas.

The city guys that catch the cobras – like the guy below – drop them all off here at this mountain. They catch 20-50 snakes per week, many of them giant kings or pythons.

King cobras exist on a diet of almost exclusively – other snakes. Even other kings. They eat pythons, kings, rat snakes, red-tailed racers, all kinds of snakes the snake guys catch and let go on this mountain.

This giant king became a giant from eating the abundant snakes all over this mountain.

If any herpetologists want to come and look for this snake – I will show you where – and I’ll also go with you because I wouldn’t miss the chance of seeing someone catch it.

Calling all herpetologists interested in searching for a world record snake…


Here is the ThaiPulse Thailand Snake FAQ ->

Here is my Thailand Snakes Site (adding to it constantly) ->

Video of 4 meter king I shot with my cell phone:

Here are two more videos of big King Cobras in Thailand:

Big King with Open Gate ->

King Eats Red-tailed Racer ->

Best Place to Buy Nikon Camera – Thailand or Malaysia?

(Last updated: 29 December 2016)

It takes me a LONG time to finally buy tech items especially. I research relentlessly the top products for whatever I’m considering buying. Reason being, I hate to buy the wrong thing. It’s safe to say that besides buying a 1980 MG Convertible on Oahu in 1985, I’ve made no purchases fueled by emotion since.

I had a Nikon D70s digital camera for a while here in Thailand. Can’t remember where I bought it – I think “Big Camera” in the mall in Phuket. I sold it when I needed cash, and have done with Sony cameras since. I’ve bought six or seven Sony cameras like the DSC-s90, DSC-h10, DSC-h20, and so on. Some of them I have bought multiples of. The fate they all succumbed to was humidity destroying the system board or the LCD screens. The more expensive cameras – over 10,000 THB – I sent to the Sony service centers in Phuket to see how much it would be for repairs. It was always 7,000 THB or more, which meant it was better in the long run to toss out the broken camera and buy a new one. Those Sony cameras seem to last two to three years in the humidity of Thailand. That is disappointing, and yet I wasn’t all that dissatisfied because I kept buying them. They are amazing cameras… in particular, the DSC-H10 was my favorite. Anyway…

I started looking for Nikon cameras again. I also looked briefly at Canon. I did have the Canon 550D for a while, during the birth of our daughter, but I didn’t like the images. The light balance was always off. I sold it weeks after our baby girl was born.

Recently I looked at the Canon 5d Mark IV, Canon 7D, Canon 1000D, 1100D, 600D. Canon has gone far ahead of Nikon in the digital video functionality of their DSLR’s and I thought for a while I’d be buying a Canon 7D for that reason. I have since quit that idea and will have a separate video camera instead. A DSLR takes great photos but is a big pain for shooting a lot of video. I’d rather have something good for video and a camera that is great at photos. That meant, back to Nikon DSLR’s.

I looked at the D300s, D3, D700, D7000, D5100, and the D3100. Any of them take great photos. Problem is – I wanted something weather proof… meaning – sealed against the elements somewhat. The d7000, D3, and D300s, and D700, were all weather sealed. Of these, the D7000 was the latest model. It got GREAT reviews everywhere, and some like Ken Rockwell, call it the best camera Nikon makes.

If you’ve bought cameras in Thailand before you know that the prices start at something outrageous – about $100 more than you’ll find the same thing for in America, but, you can’t get the ones in America for less than about $200 more because you’ll be paying customs fees and shipping with insurance. Looked at that way – it makes sense just to pay the price and buy your cameras in Thailand.

However, there is a cheap alternative – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I flew over for a visa run from Thailand and found prices for Nikon cameras to be really decent. For example…

Buy a Nikon D7000 at Ampang Park Mall in Kuala Lumpur for just 3050 Ringgit (body only). I have yet to find a body only selling in Thailand – but I am not close to Bangkok where I’m sure they offer this. Not sure what the price is, but I did try to get one through Big Camera in Phuket and they told me 36,000 THB (~$1,200 USD).

Buy a Nikon D7000 with the kit lens – 18-105mm for just 3,800 RM in KL, Malaysia. In Thailand at Big Camera or “Digital Camera World Wide Image” for 49,000 THB. (Update – prices are MUCH less now, and the cameras are still amazing, despite other higher-end gear on the market.)

Buy a Nikon D3100 body for just 1,600 RM in Kuala Lumpur, or a kit for just 2050 RM. In Thailand you’ll pay 26,000 THB in Phuket’s Big Camera, and just 20,000 THB in Sisaket at the Big Camera at Big C.

I mentioned in another post that a Nikon store in KLCC in Kuala Lumpur had the newest – unreleased – Nikon AW100 already – and had 4 of them for sale. I grabbed one of the camouflage style AW100’s and love it. These cameras are not supposed to be released for another week past the date they had them in stock at the store.

Kuala Lumpur is a great place to buy electronics. The guy at the Nikon store told me that some tourists travel from Singapore and buy cameras in Kuala Lumpur, as they save on taxes. Everything tech is duty-free in Kuala Lumpur. They don’t charge tax at all. Amazing, right?

If you’re going to buy a few items – it makes sense to travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to get them. Thailand is very expensive for electronics like DSLR cameras. Big Camera is outrageous – and they don’t seem to drop the prices much. The same price for 1.5 years on the Nikon D7000 – as I remember.

I made contact with 2 shops that I trust in Kuala Lumpur… meaning, I trust them enough to send them cash through bank to bank transfer – and they send me the cameras. If you are in the market for big money items – either travel to KL or find a place you trust enough to send them to TH for you.

Hope this helps someone in the same boat.

The State of Cats and Dogs in Thailand

Soi dog in Thailand - a sad state of affairs.

One of the first things I noticed when arriving in Thailand 12 yrs ago was the sheer number of stray cats and dogs running around.

Just this past month we’ve had four dogs and four cats coming to the house sporadically to eat whatever we put out for the one sick cat, and the the one sick dog we feed whenever they show up. The dog has started to gain weight and is looking quite a bit better. Last week the cat disappeared, never to return.

I might know what happened to the sick cat. It was emaciated and full of bugs. When we tried to touch it, it was very defensive. I just decided to feed it and give it a safe place to stay on the porch in a box, but to let it die as it would naturally. It’s a sort of Buddhist concept I’ve come to after some years.

So, what happened to it?

It was the second day that I hadn’t seen it. It was very near death, probably would have died within two or three days. Our neighbor next door, a retired police chief, was outside – I smelled the harsh cigarette smoke. I was looking for my raincoat around the porch, and I heard a couple noises and the old man grunting something under his breath. Now, it could have been anything, and I have no proof of what happened, but it sounded like maybe he was kicking the cat real hard. I think probably he killed it, and tossed it over the back wall. He has about fifteen bird cages around his house, and the cats from the entire neighborhood are always coming by to stare at them through the cages.

We have a problem with a big dog that comes up our soi every now and then, terrorizing the other dogs on the street who are behind fences. The dogs go absolutely insane for a while as this huge dog goes up to each fence and aggravates the dogs – whipping them up into a frenzy, before he trots over to the next gate – making sure to hit every single home that has dogs.

My neighbor was outside once as I threw a bamboo stick at this dog, and he told me – better to kill it. He made a motion like he’d shoot it if he could. I wouldn’t want him to kill it – but it’d be nice to be able to call the police or animal control and have them do something about the dog. He comes at all hours of the night, causing havoc.

So, the fact that my neighbor would kill that dog that made me think. Surely he’d kick a sickly cat to death because he hated cats looking at his birds all the time.

Makes sense, right?

What is the State of Cats and Dogs in Thailand?

They’re all over and they are not really cared for. Very few people fix their dogs or cats, so there are fresh litters year round. There are more roadkill cats and dogs than you can count. If a cat or dog has a litter, sometimes the owner will stick the puppies or kittens in a big rice bag, drive it far away from their own home, and drop it off in the street. On a number of occasions I’ve seen puppies climbing out of rice bags onto the highway where they were being run over one-by-one.

Others are less cruel, and just take the puppies to the nearest Buddhist temple where they drop them off to whatever end. What happens is there are dozens of dogs at the temple then, all of them territorial and fighting each other for any scraps visitors or residents of the temple give them.

Strays are everywhere. I was looking for snakes one time on a mountain road just on the outside of town, when a pack of around 40-50 dogs started after me! They were about 50 feet away, but I picked up a big stick and started swinging it crazily. That helped, they advanced slower than they were initially. Then I found rocks and hurled them as far as I could at them, this worked like magic – one by one they broke off the chase, and turned around to find something better to do. If that hadn’t of worked, I would have been climbing a tree and spending a couple hours up there!

I’ve stopped to take a look at stray puppies a few times. They are invariably absolutely COVERED with fleas – hundreds on each pup. I usually buy some ice cold water and bathe them down in that, the fleas sort of freeze up and they wash away. It’s a very temporary solution, but each of us that encounters strays in this country have to come to a decision for themselves – what all can and will you do for each and every one of them?

What Do I Do?

If we see a sick dog or cat, we’ll offer it food, water, milk, anything we have to see if we can get it to start coming to our home. We provide a fairly safe place for it, big dogs can’t get through our gate, but smaller dogs and cats can at will.

If we see healthy cats coming to eat the food on our porch, we’ll yell and clap hands to get them away. We’re not a zoo, and there are plenty of cats and dogs which are well fed and will take any sort of food in a dish they can find.

If we see a really sick cat or dog, we might take it to the vet. This cat that started coming here was within days of death already, and too defensive to get close to. I decided it wasn’t worth the effort. In a way, it’s sad to make a decision like that, right? I just decided, that cat won’t get the health care it needs at the vet down the street.

On the other hand, vet care costs money, and we sure as hell can’t pay to take care of and fix every cat and dog we see running around with a problem.

Stray Cat Surprise

Stray Thailand cat named Smushy.

Couple weeks ago we had what I guess is, a stroke of good luck. My wife was outside on the porch and she heard meowing coming from under the car. When she checked, there was this tiny Siamese cat kitten under there.

We pulled it out and looked for an adult cat or person combing the neighborhood looking for their kitten. Didn’t find what I hoped to find. My wife and daughter were already naming the cat. I don’t even believe in keeping any animals – and yet, I didn’t have much of a choice. We now have a tiny kitten that literally owns the house and does what it wants – all day, all night.

If you come to Thailand to stay for any length of time, and you’re an animal lover, you’ll need to come to a decision about which cats and dogs you help, and which you don’t. Unless you start a foundation for Soi dog and cat rescue, there’s not much you can really do. The problem is overwhelming.

If you live in Thailand now, what do you do about stray cats and dogs? Anything?

New 2016 MacBook Pro Line – Who Are They For?

The new MacBook Pros have just been announced. Traditionally, the Pro line has been for developers, content producers… writers, video editors, photographers, DJs… and yet they just dorked the keyboard substantially. The keyboard is completely different, and it sucks much worse than the MacBook Pro keyboards did prior to this update.

What they did was use a similar keyboard as the MacBook 12″ notebook they released about two years ago.

Nobody liked that one, and yet they just changed the entire MacBook line to use this junk keyboard.

Anyway – that’s my main take on it because that is most important part of the entire update. Sure the new MacBook Pros hav ethe new Touch Bar. It’s cool. That doesn’t even matter because the keyboard is so dorked.

Have a look at the video.

Will YOU be buying one of the new MacBook Pros?

Are you pissed that they are getting rid of the MacBook Air line instead of just throwing a retina screen on it?

Is there another computer you’re considering instead for your next upgrade?

Our 6 Million Thai Baht Home in Thailand

Thai traditional wooden house.
I’d be willing to bet, a traditional Thai wooden house is built better than our $200K home we live in now.

We rent. Let me make that perfectly clear. There isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell we’d ever buy a home here. I honestly think, after a little internet study, I could BUILD a home better than any I’ve ever seen here.

Ok, I haven’t seen it all, but we must have lived in about 20 homes in Thailand over the last 12 years.

I’d estimate the quality of home building in the country to be around 20% of what it is in America.

I was a real estate agent with Century 21 in Tampa for a short while. During that time I also got certified as a Home Inspector. I’ve seen lots of houses. I’ve inspected many houses in the US. So, I know a little bit about what goes into a decent home construction.

If I could say ONE good thing about Thai home construction (and that’s literally ALL I could say), it’s that they sure know how to put tile floors in.

That’s it. I haven’t seen anything else impressive in 12 yrs. Sure, we haven’t lived in million dollar homes. I’m not comparing that level of construction. But, if I were, I suspect that the same issues would apply with our $200,000 USD home here in Thailand.

Where should I start?

Water leakage. There isn’t a roof in the COUNTRY that repels water 100%. I just haven’t seen it. Sure there’s wind here. Sure there’s heavy rains. Still, come on. Roofs here are like my 30 THB plastic raincoat that leaks water from four places. We have had leaks in every house we rented. If you have a home here, your roof leaks too. I just couldn’t imagine it being any other way. It’s the norm here, and Thais don’t even get too upset about it. In fact, we told our landlord about a year ago that her roof leaked. She came, had a look, judged it to be no big deal, and we haven’t had the maintenance guys here yet. We literally had water dripping out of our recessed light over the kitchen sink. Water dripped straight OUT OF IT, and it wasn’t a big enough problem to fix right away. Just gives you some idea.

Electricity… Every single light switch in this house, and our last twenty, had issues eventually. This house was brand new when we moved in. The switches worked for a while. Now, after just 18 months, they are deteriorating quickly. What happens, at least in some of them, because I saw an electrician clean some out at one of our old places, is that termites get in and chew through the concrete, dropping tiny bits into the electronic switches, and this fouls them up. It’s like someone dropping sand into your engine… eventually it seizes up, right? Same with light switches. Within a couple of years, most won’t work and they all need cleaning or replacing. Why they haven’t made termite proof switch receptacles, I can’t guess.

Light Bulbs Dying. Constantly. We have 32 recessed light bulbs in our ceiling downstairs and 12 outside. A quick check shows just 28 out of 44 lights working. There is no way in the world these lights have seen 10,000 hours of use, so I suspect something wrong with the electrical grid or the wiring here, or something. Is it possible that power fluctuations would pop lights? I think so. So far, my computer has been OK. Probably something to do with that bulbous rectangular doo-dad on the cord that plugs into the wall. Need to ask my electrician buddy Wayne that one. Noted.

Slippery Tiles. Not really a construction issue, but jesus god, when wet, the tiles on any part of your floor will send your feet sliding out from under you and a cracked-tailbone is waiting for you. I used to slip regularly, but now I just walk in my house like I’m on ice-skates, never knowing when exactly I’m going to hit a wet or even damp part of tile that sends me on my ass. To my credit, it has probably been a couple months since I had a good slip. Do be careful.

Structural Integrity? I have no idea. Everything is concrete, so it isn’t likely that could all be dorked up – could it? I haven’t had a house fall in on us yet. I have seen big cracks in concrete on the second floor of our last place, which didn’t seem to grow at all during our two year stay, so I think that’s typical of concrete construction.

Finishing. There isn’t any. It’s just as if kids had a go at it. Really. From far away, it looks OK. If you get close, you’ll be horrified. I’ve seen paint, varnish, putty, silicone gel, concrete, grouting, and everything else (is there anything else?) left sloppily on floors and walls, furniture, windows, etc. It’s an absolute horrorshow.

Anybody have any success stories?

Did I just choose twenty places to live which all sucked, by accident?

Anyone want to redeem Thai home builders?

7 Things I STILL Don’t Understand About Thailand

After 12 years, I’ve pretty well got this place dialed. But I still have some problems that I just cannot get over. Here are some of them.

PROBLEMS I HAVE IN THAILAND

  1. Tailgaters. It is probably never going to change, but I keep hoping. I really don’t like driving the car, the motorbike is so much easier in many respects.
  2. Waitresses that don’t listen. If you go tot he same restaurant over and over, and get the same thing most of the time, the waitress will see you and know what you want before you open your mouth. She won’t listen to your order, she’ll just give you what you’ve always ordered before.
  3. Buses Keep Flipping Over. Overnight buses, white vans, and taxis all drive too fast to be safe for conditions. Some make no adjustment when it’s raining. So, we have buses crashing all the time – flipping. Burning. You couldn’t pay me to take an overnight bus in this country.
  4. Wildlife Exploitation. Thais just don’t seem concerned about this on any level. It takes foreigners moving here to accomplish anything. Edwin Wiek is really doing an incredible job for elephants, slow loris, bears, gibbons, tigers, and many other species who have gone neglected for decades.
  5. Bad Coffee. Come on man… Starbucks should be Starbucks and taste exactly the same wherever I order a Grande Latte with two extra shots. Starbucks is the only coffee I can stand, so when it’s bad, it is a very bad day indeed.
  6. Random Restaurant – Store Hours. Small restaurants, which is what we eat at most often, are closed on a whim. It can be a Monday one week, and Thursday the next. Friday? Yep. Any day I want to eat at a particular restaurant, it can be closed. I used to try to remember which restaurants closed on which day. The days change all the time! Stores are the same, but for the most part the convenience stores owned by a family, are open all the time because they must not be making much money at all.
  7. Why Is the Beer So Bad? I have yet to find a beer I like in the country. Beerlao is damn good if you can get it within a month or two of bottling, and without having sat in the blazing sun on an airconditionless truck.
  8. Enter Yours Here – add to comments.

Oops, no comments. Not sure where they went. Disappeared with one of my WordPress plugins.

If you send in yours, I’ll post them below.


From Alex Sanders –  Alex Sanders

Thanks for the article.
Well, here are my major gripes:
#1 Dual pricing (i know, falangs must pay more, but, come on, still a bitter aftertaste, i’m not feeling that at all);
#2 Still don’t know what’s better: saving your/other ppl’s face or telling the truth (i always speak my mind, but the face dilemma kills me all the time);
#3 Safety standards suck big time (everywhere in the country; for instance, elec. cables + running water.. etc… yeah, the buses, bikes… you name it…);
#4 Driving in Thailand, yes, unbelievable (red lights shouldn’t be confined to the red light districts only, better see more working red traffic lights and drivers playing by the rules rather than those sleazy areas;
#5 Sewers jammed with trash and garbage hence flooding in towns (get it fixed already);
#6 Lots of yaba/cocaine/marijuana dealers in the evening time and onward asking you if you need ‘one’;
#7 Good old scams for any taste and budget (this one i do understand, though… but, come on, do something already)…

Provided that i have more time to think about it, i could go a bit deeper and come up with more of what I’m just not feeling, if you want me to :)

Granted, there’s way more of what i do like about Thailand, so hopefully that ‘good part’ outweighs the bad one.

Sisaket, Thailand – Isaan Through and Through

Young boy monk in Sisaket, ThailandI’ve not spent a lot of time in Sisaket, Thailand, maybe a 4-5 months or so, in total. Sisaket is a province and a town. The town is located west of Ubon Ratchathani in the Isaan area of Thailand. “Isaan” is what the northeast area of the Thailand is known as.

In the summers the temperature is blistering hot. The Songkran Water Throwing festival is seriously appreciated during this time. They should throw water for all of April, May and June because it is like a desert during these months. Even on into July and August you don’t want to leave your flip-flop sandals at the outside of a temple you’re visiting because if you need to walk across the ground that has been brightly lit by the sun for a couple hours you’re going to be dancing your way towards some shade in a hurry! In the winters it can be COLD. Riding the motorbike in Isaan after 10pm on a winter’s night can get below the freezing point with the windchill. Frequently during the winters at night it’s possible to breath out fog.

Sisaket town is smaller than Ubon Ratchathani and doesn’t have near as many shopping outlets available. There is one small mall in town called, “Soon Heng” with a supermarket, theaters, bookstore, KFC chicken, and MD’s Sukiyaki (like MK’s), a coffee shop and a donut shop, plenty of karaoke booths, a place for kids to play and a small food court.

All around Sisaket seems to be a market. The entire town is like one big market. You can find tents and small shops selling fruit and every kind of food and clothes. But, uhm, no farang food like pizza and spaghetti. One would need to go an hour east to Ubon’s “Risotto” restaurant to find the closest quality pizza and spaghetti.

Sisaket has a train station and a bus station. The train will get you anywhere in Thailand as it goes through Nakhon Ratchisma (Korat) as well as Bangkok. There are air conditioned and fan-cooled coaches. Overnight trains to Bangkok are comfortable as you can sleep for 10 hours and when you wake up, you’re there! Cost of an air-conditioned sleeper seat would be around 600 baht (in 2007).

Everyone seems to know each other in Sisaket. I remember a couple years ago I was at an outdoor market with my friend who is from Sisaket (born there) and she had her back turned to traffic, but someone KNEW it was her as they drove by in a truck and stopped to chat with her. How they knew it was her we haven’t the slightest idea except that everyone knows everyone.

As a foreigner in Sisaket I was treated really well. There are many Thai people that want to practice their English with me and laugh when they see me. Some stare. Some point. Some say, “Mommy, farang!”. There’s no ill-intention, just curious people. A long time ago during the Vietnam war they saw quite a few soldiers from America around, but we’re scarce now. As I said in the review of Ubon Ratchathani, there are about 1% of Thailand’s visitors having a look at Isaan. Isaan is a big place covering many provinces. Ubon is the largest province. If 1/20th out of the 1% of visitors to Thailand are going to Ubon, then about 1/500th of 1% are visiting Sisaket.

Last time I was in Sisaket I don’t remember seeing any farang (western) tourists or residents. I was there for almost a week – and it was just me and the lovely Isaan people.

Sisaket towns people really enjoy having foreigners around. Some think we bring them good luck. Others, that we bring money. Others still, that we will marry their daughter or other relations! There’s no shortage of beautiful girls here, but most that are of working age have moved on to Bangkok or somewhere else to earn money. Girls in high school can be frequently seen, but those of college age are pretty rare. There is a Rajabhat University in Sisaket, though I think it must be much smaller than the one in Ubon Ratchathani. Ubon is kind of a college town considering they have Rajabhat, Ubon Ratchathani University, Polytechnic, and a lot of technical schools.

Young Buddhist monks at temple in Sisaket

There are many elephants walking around at night. Here is a short video of a very small baby elephant that is paraded through the street. The owners take the food with them and get people to pay to feed the elephant. Kind of sad I guess, but elephants like to walk I think. This one I saw a month ago is really cute, but when the guy realized I wasn’t paying to feed it, he quickly moved on.

On the road going towards Surin is a golf driving range, though I’m not sure there is a place to play golf since I’m not a player.

There are 4 public parks that can be seen. One very large park is very special and was built in honor of the present King’s mother. The name of this park is, “Soowan Som Det”. It is a BEAUTIFUL park with many lakes filled with large catfish and Tilapia (Nile Perch) that can be fed for 10 baht for a bag of fish-food pellets.

During March and April the yellow trees called in Thai, “Dok Koon”, are blooming along with some purple flowered trees. There is another tree with flowers called, “Lum Duan” that suffuses great areas of the park with the most incredible smell – like a woman’s perfume. The first few times I smelled it as I ran around I thought that a woman must have just ridden through on her motorbike or something. I never imagined that the smell could be a flower because it is exactly like a perfume someone might purchase in a beauty store. The people of Sisaket have a big festival during the time these flowers are blooming in March. The park at that time is filled with hundreds (thousands?) of people dancing, eating, playing sports, selling their products and showing their artwork.

There is a small zoo in this park where you will find deer, hippos, alliagators, birds of every sort, peacocks, turtles, a vulture, snakes, lizards and water monitors. There is one group of animals with genetical anomalies here which is sad to see. One was a cow with another cow growing out of it’s right shoulder area. Three or four legs can be plainly seen coming out of the shoulder region and there are other bones under the skin that give the cow a distorted appearance. Next to the cow is a buffalo with a malformed jaw and another buffalo missing a leg. It’s quite sad to see. Especially sad was that the cow with the deformity was a male and seemed to be horny for the female cow that was in the same pen. I kept telling him not to mate, it’s going to be nothing but bad news, but I think eventually he’s going to be able to pull it off successfully. There will be another addition to the zoo’s genetic wonders section if that happens.

The other parks are very small and don’t have many trees for shade. The weather during summer is very hot in Sisaket, I can’t stress that enough! Bring a hat and water with you wherever you go, you’ll need it.

There are a couple hotels in the city that tourists should have a look at. The best one, is probably “The NorthEast Hotel” which is located on Sisumung Road near Wat Luang. The rate is about 600 baht per night and there is no discount for multiple days or weeks staying. It’s a new hotel with a coffee shop and free internet broadband place close to it. The rooms are all air-conditioned and clean. I didn’t stay there, but went and had a look at the room. I stayed at a hotel that is near the train station called, “Prompeeman Hotel” for 500 baht per night for a fan room. The sheets were incredibly disgusting and so I took some from the maids cart which were brand new and I re-did my bed with those. Maybe better to stay at the “NorthEast Hotel” for the cleanliness factor. There are numerous nightclub type establishments off the lobby area of the Prompeeman hotel and it seems like the one happening spot for night time activities if you are into that.

There is a bus station that can get you anywhere with air-conditioned or fan buses. Across the street is a night club – the largest in Sisaket, and called, “Nona”. I’ve not been there, but a friend said it resembles “The Rock” nightclub in the base of the “Nevada Hotel” in Ubon Ratchathani.

Sisaket has many temples in the area of the city and surrounding. There is a temple right outside the city about 5 kilometers called, “Wat Prathat Ruang”. If you visit there you can ring many of the bells and gongs in the temple for good luck. Great fun! Other temples are on the way to Surin and some have ancient ruins that are part of the Khmer dynasty. I have some photos here of an old brown-stoned temple on the way to Surin that was really nice.

This will sound funny, but when I was at that temple I went in to look at the Buddhist amulets for necklaces and other things they were selling. There was an odd man behind the counter whose eyes were wide and hazy, almost like he was blind, but he got around the office OK. He was missing his front two teeth. When he saw me said, “Florida” about 8 times until I understood what he was saying. I’m from Florida. I told him. He just shook his head and said, “child”. Then he said, “boy”. It was so strange. I’d never met him and he’d never have met anyone that I knew. I have a son in Florida that I think about everyday and that I miss a lot. He’s always on my mind. This guy picked it up immediately. Very odd.

Khmer Buddhist temple, Sisaket, Thailand

Anyway… so, Sisaket is a very quiet town that is safe and a great place to relax if you want to unwind from Pattaya, Bangkok, or some other high-energy area of Thailand.

Don’t forget to try the ant-eggs. Women carry them around the city in clear plastic bags – they appear to be queen ants by the hundred that they chilled to stop the development. They are big, juicy, and a unique taste that you’ve likely not found elsewhere.

Sisaket, Thailand… is Isaan personified.