A future Thai Volleyball star?

Little boys and girls are obviously different and there is always that standard “girls play with dolls and boys play with balls” thing I had heard about and witnessed but even so, I have been surprised at my son, Jacob.

With no encouragement from me, his entire life, apart from food and sleep seems to revolve around tractors, planes, helicopters, cars and balls. Ping Pong balls, Aussie Rules balls but most fun of all is the good old soccer ball as it least it bounces straight! Such a different lot of interests compared to his sisters at the same age.

I remember blogging something similar about him two years ago when he was only just 12 months old.

Kicking the ball with his older cousins is always a great way to spend an afternoon. Well for him anyway!

Kicking the ball with his older cousins is always a great way to spend an afternoon. Well for him anyway!

Sometimes you don't quite connect properly.

Sometimes you don’t quite connect properly.

Yet other times you get the timing perfect and that sweet spot never felt so good.

Yet other times you get the timing perfect and that sweet spot never felt so good.

Volleyball has always been very popular in Thailand but with the recent success of the national women’s team at the Asian Championships where they won the gold medal all of a sudden it seems everyone is playing it.

Jacob watched with interest before deciding it was time to have a go as well.

Get your hands in the right position.

Get your hands in the right position.

Bend your knees and keep your eyes on the ball,

Bend your knees and keep your eyes on the ball,

Whoops, a little too early and over the back it goes.

Whoops, a little too early and over the back it goes.

This is harder then it looks!

This is harder then it looks!


Perhaps I should keep my eyes open?

Perhaps I should keep my eyes open?

Nah, keep them closed. Practise makes perfect!

Nah, keep them closed. Practise makes perfect!

Playing tourist in Ubon Ratchathani

Before we knew it, my brother and his families time in the village had come to an end. We had planned a few days in Ubon Ratchathani before they started their long trip back to Australia.

We took the long way back to Ubon via the Chong Mek border crossing with Laos and lunch at Sirindhorn Dam. I have been there so many times I have lost count but this was the first time my wife had accompanied me. It was great showing her around plus we took a few minutes to check out the accommodation options that are available in the hope that next year we will be able to stay for a few days.

We had tried to book rooms again at T3 House but they were full, as were Sunee Grand so we ended up taking four rooms at Pan House.

The next two days saw my wife and Sister in Law off shopping while my brother and I took care of the seven kids. Unfortunately some sickness with Jacob and then later my niece Abigail but a little dampener on things but we still managed to have a lot of fun.

I took my brother on a 10km run around the old town centre, complete with dozens of hungry dogs before finishing with a traditional Thai breakfast. We took the kids shopping, ten pin bowling and swimming. We ate out at various restaurants and managed some time painting and playing at Tung Sri Muang Park.

Suddenly departure time was upon us and we were waving farewell to them at the airport as they flew out to Bangkok and onto Australia. It was a fabulous time with them, even if there was so much we did not end up getting to do. I guess there is always next time! I will leave you with some photos from the last few days.

Walking along the bridge road to check out the Hydro at Sirindhorn Dam.

Walking along the bridge road to check out the Hydro at Sirindhorn Dam.

Looking down on the Hydro Plant.

Looking down on the Hydro Plant.

This is what we could see.

This is what we could see.

There was time to walk through the beautiful gardens at the lake while heading to a fabulous lunch at the restaurant.

There was time to walk through the beautiful gardens at the lake while heading to a fabulous lunch at the restaurant.

It really is quite an oasis.

It really is quite an oasis.

Painting at Tung Sri Muang Park.

Painting at Tung Sri Muang Park.

Jacob hanging around with his Uncle Paul.

Jacob hanging around with his Uncle Paul.

Jacob pretending he was going to sleep with his cousin Rebekah.

Jacob pretending he was going to sleep with his cousin Rebekah.


Celebrity Farang in Thailand!

Thailand are much more accustomed to foreigners (farang) then they used to be but there are still some isolated parts of Thailand where you can create quite a scene when in your travelling party are four young girls with very white skin, blonde hair and blue eyes!

As I mentioned in my previous blog my brother and sister in law and my four gorgeous nieces were visiting us. Due to the late wet season I thought we should go and check out Huai Luang Waterfall. Once again the friendly national park people took pity on us and the ridiculous dual pricing system that happens in Thailand (tourists can pay up to 10 times more then locals) and we got in at local prices.

We deliberately choose a week day to avoid the crowds so imagine our disappointment when we arrived in the car park to find at least a dozen huge tourist coaches each carrying more then 50 students each!

This is what it looks like from the top of the stairs and then again from the bottom. As you can see, there were quite a few people around.

Huai Luang waterfall Thailand

Huai Luang waterfall Thailand

Huai Luang waterfall Thailand

It wasn’t long before the students soon starting singing the seaseme street song:

One Of These Things (Is Not Like The Others)
One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Well, not quite – but you get my drift right?

It started off nicely enough with my nieces thinking it was pretty cool being so popular.

It started off nicely enough with my nieces thinking it was pretty cool being so popular.

But soon it started getting bigger and bigger and a little crazy.

But soon it started getting bigger and bigger and a little crazy.

After almost 10 minutes and hundreds of photos later it was showing no signs of letting up.

After almost 10 minutes and hundreds of photos later it was showing no signs of letting up.

I mentioned to the girls that this is what it is like to be a celebrity. To imagine this every time you went out in public. To always try to keep your call. To try and maintain a normal life. Impossible!

Eventually they decided that enough was enough and just started to ignore the calls to pose. Not that it stopped them from standing around and watching these strange creatures from another planet country.

A farang celebrity in Thailand

Don’t get me wrong, we all had a blast and it was a real eye opener for the kids. Most of the time the kids showed respect but eventually enough was enough so we decided to head further down stream to get away from the paparazzi and some much needed peace and quiet. An interesting but still lovely day trip.

Huai Luang waterfall Thailand

Foreigners at Huai Luang waterfall Thailand


Visitors to our Thai village

My brother and his family were not arriving until about 6pm but I decided to head into Ubon early anyway. I checked into T3, set up my office and managed to knock over about six solid hours of computer work using the much more reliable internet at T3 then the very poor substitute I have back in the village.

I only took one quick break all afternoon to grab a snack.

My afternoon snack from Indochine, a Vietnamese restaurant located only 100m from the T3 hotel in Ubon Ratchathani.

My afternoon snack from Indochine, a Vietnamese restaurant located only 100m from the T3 hotel in Ubon Ratchathani.

I was on my way to the airport when they rang, asking where I was as they had arrived a few minutes early. I put the foot down and 90 seconds later I pulled up out the front where they were all waiting. The kids were stoked when I told them that they were allowed to ride in the back with all the luggage. A real shame I forgot to take a photo.

Back to T3 to show them to their rooms before we hit the streets of Ubon looking for a feed. We ended up at a very popular place on Sapahsit Road that opens late in the afternoon but never seems to close until around the time that the sun comes up. We created quite a scene walking in with four gorgeous blonde kids in tow! Lots of yummy Thai food was consumed before it was back to the hotel for some sleep.

My brother and his family tucking into some Thai food in Ubon.

My brother and his family tucking into some Thai food in Ubon.

The next morning we my brother and I went off to pick up their hire car for the next 8 days. Via Balcony Kiss for a coffee of course! I have previously talked about Jay Jay here on my blog but that was all about hiring a motorbike in Ubon Ratchathani. They now also do cars and once again we got excellent service, a good price and a great car. I can highly recommend them.

Once the car was sorted it was back to pick up the others, a quick visit to Tesco and then the drive back to the village. My kids were very excited to welcome them to their house. They had been talking about this moment for years. It wasn’t very long before the visitors had worked out where things were and had made themselves at home.

Rebekah was the most adventurous early on at trying out new things and attempting to play with the shell shocked local kids.

Rebekah was the most adventurous early on at trying out new things and attempting to play with the shell shocked local kids.

That night, after dinner and showers the kids decided to put on a show for the adults. Some of it was quite funny.

Farang kids in Thailand playing

Farang kids in Thailand playing

Kids at Attention

Kids at Attention

The next few days disappeared quickly. A lot of the time was spent just hanging out around the house and village but a few trips were taken as well. The weather was very cool so just the one swim was had at the river.

Last year I blogged about cooking damper over the coals and it was a lot of fun so we did again this year. With the cool weather the cooking was not only fun but kept the kids warm as well.

Kids cooking damper in Thailand over coals

Their trip coincided with a Sunday so we took them to the little local church that we had found the previous holiday. It is conveniently located next to the only 7/11 for 40 kms so an ice cream just had to be bought. Talk about taking up all the room!

Kids eating ice cream on the steps on a 7/11

One afternoon we had a little free entertainment right behind our house with a few rounds of cock fighting taking place. I was surprised that Ariya seem pretty interested in watching but not really anyone else.

Cock fighting in a Thai village

The next (and last) photo for this entry shows some of the kids at a waterfall. It was an interesting day with the kids become celebrities for an hour but I am going to save that for a separate blog coming very soon…

Thai waterfall


Back in Ubon Ratchathani

After a great three days in Bangkok with family it was time to head to Ubon. Both girls had been sick the day before and while Marisah was a lot better Ariya was still under the weather. The taxi ride wasn’t much fun for her and just as we pulled into Don Muang airport her stomach gave way.

As I had most of the luggage (5 bags) it was quite an effort trying to deal with Ariya plus get us through the night mare that is the Don Muang bag scan and check in system. Eventually we were on our flight and made it to Ubon with only one more vomit!

Due to the girls sickness Seerung and I had decided it would be best if we rested up the night in Ubon before she came and picked us up the following morning.We caught a taxi to the T3 hotel and took our usual connecting rooms on the 4th floor. Both girls had a sleep that afternoon and when the woke they were feeling much better so we went out for an early dinner before heading back to the hotel. More sleep and by the morning we were raring to go.

After waking we packed our bags before walking down to a favourite coffee shop of ours, Balcony Kiss. Unfortunately the coffee had changed and so had the food (there was none) but we still enjoyed the cool morning sitting outside with my coffee and the girls juice. I walked down the street a little and found some kebabs and sticky rice for us all to much on for breakfast.

After a long wait eventually Seerung showed up with the car and Jacob and a nice mini reunion was had! It was then back to T3 to pick up the bags and check out then onto Central for some shopping before heading home to the village.

It is always a great feeling being back in my tojo ute pick-up making the drive over the rough dirt roads back to my second home. It was lovely to see everyone again and to notice that once again my in laws had done an excellent job looking after the house and garden.

The next few days were spent catching up with all the rellies as well as settling into the slower pace that is Village life. Before too long though it was time to head back to Ubon to pick up my brother and his family for part two of their time with us.


Hanging with the cousins in Bangkok

As I mentioned in my previous post, my brother Paul, his wife Anne and their four daughters were on their way to Bangkok. My kids were so excited and so that morning organising breakfast and packing everything up in out hotel went very quickly.

We left the Oaks on Sathorn for a very quick taxi ride down the road to where we were going to spend the next three nights, The Chatrium Residence Sathorn. We had booked this quite a while ago when Paul first booked their tickets. We had stayed in their sister property The Chatrium Riverside three years previously and had been very impressed.

My review of the Chatrium Residence Sathorn.

My review of the Chatrium Residence Sathorn.

We were unable to check in straight away so left all our bags in the lobby and hopped into another taxi to take us to the airport. We had enough time to have a quick lunch before suddenly the family had arrived. Many hugs and laughter and then logistics were discussed on how to get 3 adults, 6 kids and a pile of bags back to the hotel! We took two taxis and arrived almost at the same time about an hour later.

Without going into a blow by blow account of the three days we spent together I will say that it was a wonderful time. Bangkok can really sap your energy and with so many kids it can be tiring but watching them play and laugh together in a different country was a real treat.

The kids on their first afternoon together eating ice cream on the streets of Bangkok.

The kids on their first afternoon together eating ice cream on the streets of Bangkok.

To summarise though, that first afternoon we went out for lunch followed by a swim at the hotel. The evening Paul and I went out for some take away street food which we ate back in the hotel.

The second day was a taxi ride to Silom road to exchange money then a walk to the sky train and a train ride over the river towards the Mall Tha Pra. Here we let the kids run wild in the playground for ages before having lunch and doing some shopping. Back to hotel for more swimming and then out for dinner.

The third day was a real disappointment for my kids as they woke up unwell. I am glad I kept them home even if they weren’t. They missed out on watching a movie and going ice skating with their cousins.

The following morning it was time to say a brief goodbye. They were heading up north to visit their children that they sponsor through Compassion Australia (a great organisation) while we were heading east to Ubon Ratchathani to await their arrival there in about a weeks time.