Remote control

As a kid I remember going to visit my gran. It was a two hour drive, mainly using single lane roads winding their way south from Glasgow. Those two hours seemed like the longest journey I could imagine making.

Today it takes two hours to get to the closest big towns or cities, and it feels like

a local trip. Having often driven the 8+ hours to Bangkok, a two hour trip becomes pretty easy.

But as a simple trip to the convenience store to get milk, or even a beer, is a 10km drive, planning becomes important. Twice daily or even daily trips to the shop or the market would quickly negate a good proportion of the benefits to the environment we’ve made by planting so many trees.

Travel isn’t the only thing that changes when you live more remotely.

Our electricity supply comes from a neighbours connection, and the supply isn’t exactly consistent. Lights sometimes dim off and on and fans slow down from time to time. You become more aware of the power you are consuming.

Last week we lost all power in the sockets, although lights were working. It was all down to bad circuit planning from the builder, and luckily a proper sparky lives in the village - something we just learned - and he has since rewired some circuits and allocated more power to better suit our needs.

He’s also helping us connect to the grid. A little project that started today.

The whole episode has made us more conscious of what’s plugged in and what’s using power. Despite the frustration at the time it’s been helpful.

Another thing about living remote is how to continue working as normal. For a few weeks all internet was coming from our phones and without WiFi it’s frightening to see how much data you burn through each day. Video calls, downloading presentations, collaborating on shared documents: it’s all well and good in the office, but it becomes quite expensive when your office is in the middle of a field!

All calls to internet providers asking for fibre or hi-speed connections were rebutted when they found out where we were, even though the villages we can see from the house can get connected.

Eventually we found a router with pre-paid connection of 100 GB of data per

month. It seemed great at first but after less than two weeks we’d used 60 GB. As long as I don’t have any video calls for the rest of the month we’ll be fine. But we are finding ways in which to ration use, to not always be connected, and think that’s also going to help our quality of life.

What’s becoming clearer to me is that this way of life is forcing us to think about reducing energy and reducing waste.

We knew we wanted to cut our use of plastic, although that’s not easy in Thailand. When we found out we have no rubbish collection that sealed it.

We are still working towards it but we’ve got our own bins for plastic, tin/metal, bottles and organic waste. We still have to work out what we are going to do with the plastic, but we can sell bottles locally, metal too, and our organic waste will be composted.

Remote living is definitely having an impact on our lifestyle and the decision we make. Are we in control yet? No. But that will come in time.

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