Yes I know that I have been lazy with this blog (again) and that it has been a while since I wrote anything here. That was partly because I had nothing to write about, contrary to what some people think life as an expat in the exotic orient is not full of wonderful experiences every day. Many days are the same as they are worldwide …go shopping at the supermarket, stay home and do the housework, chill out on the sofa watching TV ….
The most “exciting” thing I’ve done since my last update was the annual trek out to Immigration, wearing long trousers, a collared shirt and good shoes for the one day of the year that I have to, to get approval for another years extension of stay stamped into my passport.
The other reason was our move from Bangkok to my girlfriend’s home town in rural Ubon Ratchathani province ! Which is actually why I have been silent for the last month or so, what with packing stuff up and being offline for the last week before moving out …Cheap Charlie me was reluctant to pay a month’s internet bill for one week’s usage 🙂
And then the house where we are staying, belonging to one of her family, has been empty for some time so we had about a week’s worth of cleaning to do before bothering about such luxuries as internet access here.
The actual move was painless, all our stuff was packed into boxes and suitcases well in advance, the pickup driver arrived early for the overnight delivery to Ubon (7000baht door to door) while we stayed at a hotel for the night and flew up the next morning. Picked up at the Ubon airport by one of the sisters, we arrived to find that one of her other sisters had opened the house for the driver and our boxes and cases were neatly stacked away 🙂
The house is, shall we say, rather “Thai” ….gaudy tiles on the floor, a semi enclosed basic kitchen, squat toilet, and thai-style bathroom with a big tub of cold water for washing ! Actually the water is not really that cold, with the ambient temperature at least mid twenties that’s as cold as the water gets and in this hot weather cold water feels pretty good ! We will be building our own home eventually, I can live with this place for a while …. I’ve stayed in worse places when working in outback Oz !
It is lacking in storage so we had to make a trip into Ubon city to buy some shelving racks and other odds and ends at Dohome, a large DIY/hardware store. I’ve seen some big Bunnings hardware stores in Australia but this was easily at least 3 times larger. You would have to take a packed lunch to see it all ! In the same trip we went into the Ubon immigration office to do the formalities about changing address, something that is supposed to be done within 24 hours but what they don’t know won’t hurt them… I have to give a big thumbs up to the staff there, a lot friendlier than the sourpusses at Chaeng Wattana in Bangkok.
When we got around to internet access we went with True’s 899 baht package offering 200/100Mbps internet plus a basic cable TV package, mainly all the usual Thai free to air channels plus some Thai language specials and a smattering of English language channels, mainly 24 hour news. I was mildly excited to see it included Australia Plus until I checked it’s program guide and saw it too was mainly news and current affairs nowadays with a dose of Home and Away thrown in …. no thanks. The True girl did try and get us to upgrade to their 1999฿ Platinum package with lots of foreign English Language shows but no thanks, I can …ahem … obtain as many movies and tv series online as I have time to watch.
I was n’t really expecting to get the advertised speeds, but I am rather happy that we are getting around 75/50Mbps here in the rural countryside (which is about twice as fast as 3BB were giving us in Bangkok) plus the cable tv, for less than we were paying in Bangkok for internet alone.
So what’s the area like ? We are living on the edge of town, so we are woken by the roosters crowing and the tractors plowing the rice paddies ready for the planting soon but that’s better than the sound of young kids racing their motorbikes down our Bangkok soi. The town is about 30 kms north of Ubon Ratchathani city, so not too far from the big smoke . It’s the center of the district administrative area so has all the local government offices, a high school, a small hospital, a medium sized Tesco Express supermarket plus the usual market in town. Oh, and three 7/11s ! One in each of the big gas stations at each end of town, plus a third in the middle of town. 7/11s are a benchmark of progress, aren’t they ? maybe not…….
While I enjoyed living in Bangkok for nearly 5 years I was getting bored with it lately, and if you have read some of my epic road trip around Australia you will know that I am not a big city fellow normally so I think that I will enjoy living here, especially once we get our house built. Exactly when that will be is up in the air, and largely dependent on the AU$/Th฿ exchange rate which is not looking too good at the moment 😦
Anyway, that almost brings me up to date. This weekend just gone was the town’s Bun Bang Fai, or Rocket Festival. Not as big as some of the other ones, like Yasothon’s famous festival, but still a highlight of the local year. I have plenty of photos to share of that but not right now, this post is long enough already. Coming soon though. Promise !