January...


It's been a whirlwind start to the year for us and we're really pleased about the progress made so far.


We have an extremely long list of things to do this year and most of them are what you'd call big, important items. But after the third week in January this is what we've got done.


- Prepared the land for the house builders

- Installed an electricity supply

- Put in a water supply

- Dug house foundations

- Sold our city car

- Bought a pick-up truck

- Got married


If the rest of the year is half as productive as the first few weeks we'll be flying.


The most pleasing thing is none of the above have gone smoothly, but we've been able to deal with each issue and solve it, sometimes by ourselves, more commonly with the help of others. Without doubt, none if this would have been possible without the help and support of our family and friends, particularly those living around our future neighbourhood and community.


Special thanks should go to Roong, Hana's brother's wife, and Sanya, Hana's brother.


Roong pretty much single-handedly organised and catered our wedding. No mean feat when there are around 100 hungry locals joining the occasion. On the eve of the wedding she worked with two teams to prepare all the food, starting in the early afternoon and working through until after midnight. She was back up at 3am to continue preparations for the monks breakfast and setting up the house. She never stopped, and never showed the stress and frustration I've seen highly paid people in Bangkok demonstrate when handling much smaller events. She's remarkable.


The support and respect she had from various family and friends made everything possible. We can't thank them enough for making it a great day. Her daughters Pan and Pen, and their husbands, were also amazing.


Sanya took the lead on electricity and water, but again, it was a family effort and we were the beneficiaries. Pen and Toei, her husband, did a terrific job in preparing 40+ bamboo poles and securing them into an 800m stretch to bring electricity to the land. Sanya hooked up the connection and made it work.


We paid for a water driller to dig a 4-inch hole to 60 m to provide water to the builders, and then the house. After the pump was working it needed securing as an electric water pump sitting freely in the middle of a field may prove too tempting to some people, so electrician Sanya became welder Sanya, and knocked up this little padlocked cage for the water pump, which he had also cemented securely into the base. Not bad work.


Of course, water pressure needed fixed and when we extended the electricity supply to the build site it didn't work, but after a bit more experimentation and problem solving, we were all good.

After blessing the land and the foundations, the builders have been making good progress.


Next week I'll post the schedule of work.

So everything in Kalasin is going well.


In a surprise for us, we also managed to sell and buy cars this weekend. Even on Saturday morning I said to my new wife 'Let's take it easy today and relax'.


By 6pm we were owners of a 2008 Isuzu pick-up truck, and we'd sold our 2014 Honda City. It didn't turn out a relaxing day.


The biggest worry was about getting scammed, as we've already had some attempts at scams coming from our online post to sell the car, and the buyer of the Honda City was less than honest, telling a tall story about wanting to buy the car to disguise the fact he was attempting to flip it and make a profit. He also tried to use our insurance to make a claim before he resold it, then called us angrily saying he wanted his money back when my insurance wasn't going to pay as he wished. Tough luck mister.


As I said, nothing is smooth. And we doubt anything will be over the next couple of years, but the recent past has helped us build some resilience to set-backs. It will help us for the rest of the year and beyond.


We think we got a bit of a 'bargain' on our pick-up though, as it looks like its in good condition. Let's see if that's still the case in 6 months.


Before I go, let me point out Roong, Sanya and Pen.


In the cover photo, Sanya is sitting to the right of Hana, and Roong to the right of Sanya. Behind them is Pen. hat and scarf lady is Hana's mum - another superstar - and the others are aunts and neighbours.


This photo was at breakfast after blessing the foundations. As well as food a bottle if rice wine was finished by each group - the men and women ate separately, but not sure who ate or drank more. I'd say it was a tie.





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