NEW YEAR’S Resolution and the bird

For our New Year’s resolution I decided that Julee and I would eat only one piece of fruit for the first week of January. The picture is me—straining—to hold the jackfruit long enough to get a photo and my beautiful wife. It is from one of our trees at our little farm.

Dannie, Julee and a Jackfruit1

Many times I sit by my small pond to think and to watch nature. Lately I’ve had a Kingfisher come and visit, but was never able to get a picture of it. It always showed me his beautiful orange breast, but when he flies to capture a small fish he is a magnificent iridescent blue.

On Christmas day he joined me at the pond and waited until I ran back to grab my camera and then posed for a few pictures. This time he showed me his back and front. This Kingfisher is very small. Most Kingfisher I see are twice his size. Enjoy.

Kingfisher1Kingfisher

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Riding the Rollercoaster Flood in Thailand

It's no fun living in water.

Croc moving in.

Flowering Pip tree outside my house- just a bit of beauty

This whining, complaining or whatever you’d like to call it to others is something new for me. I read a lot of very good blogs where the writer pores out their feelings and bad experiences and I admire them for it, but it’s not something I do well.

I’m tired of this flood and it’s beginning to get to me and I’m safe in the mountains. I really shouldn’t worry about possessions and I do try to put it in the back of my mind. Of course my wife is worried as well. Our house in Pathum Thani had survived so far. It’s right in the middle of some of the heavy flooding. Places like Klongs 1 through 8, Rangsit, Klong Luang and Lam Luk Ka are in the news every day and night.

We were there a day before the dike broke for Klong 5 and there were constant sirens and loudspeakers warning of what was coming. After a week of this we left to go back to the farm. My wife had our little house built 15 years ago and we’ve never had a problem with flooding. We’ve lived in it for the past 8 years.

We went to the farm and the waters came. We couldn’t get in touch with anyone and we were told all the roads were closed into the area. Now, I can take water damage, clean up an all the other things that go with flooding. But the ups and downs of hope and despair aren’t as easy. When our area becomes the track they play on TV between shows I start the worry over and over again. Mostly about our neighbors.

A few days ago my wife’s cousin made a trip to see our house. She lives a few miles away and the waters hadn’t reached her house. We learned that the small area where our house is was still out of the water. We were excited. Then two days ago she called and said her house was now flooded. We worried. Today my wife finally was able to get through to our next door neighbor. Water filled our street but it was not getting in our house. We had added dirt and footings to raise it 3 feet above the ground level when it was built. All but 1 house on our street was built that way. We were happy.

Last night the government put in emergency control of our area for the next two days. There was a new release of water from the north and no one is allowed into our area. We worry.

In Thailand the water gates to dams, canals and other flood control methods are controlled be the local government and the PM can only ask them not to release water or let it in. The local areas try to insure there will be enough water for planting and people during the dry season. Now, it seems, they hold the water until it gets too high and then release it all at once with no regard or pattern. There really needs to be federal control in these situations.

Thailand is also the largest breeder of crocodiles in the world and you guessed it—many of these farms have flooded and the crocs have escaped just to add to the fun. So now the giant lizards around our house may have some company.

Enough about my petty woes. Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering and it’s not going to stop for at least 6 more weeks. I really hurt for those people. The dry season has arrived here at the farm but it’s still raining in Bangkok. Please pray for the people of Southeast Asia. This is my last flood report—unless something really bad happens, lol—until we are able to return to our house. Next week you’ll read about the Writer who stayed with rubber tree farmers. Thank you for reading.

I’d like to add that most of the pictures I put up were not taken by me. Every time I was in the rushing waters my camera was either at home or I was concentrating on staying alive.

The Dragons of Thailand

Dragon of ThailandDragon of Thailand

                                                                                                    Photos by Dannie

I worry that some of what I write about while living in Thailand will give you pause to visit. I do love it here and my wee tales are taken over seven years of living and many visits before. Keep in mind that I am a Southern country boy and roam the fields and forest. I see things most westerners are smart enough not to look for.

If you come here you will not be disappointed in the beauty, magic, food and people of the Land of Smiles.

I chuckle at the title of this post. I was going to name it, Beast of Thailand, but that brings to mind animals –mammals roaming the land. You will see few wild mammals unless you visit the zoo or natural reserves.

Normal life, living in the country, is made up of birds, ants, lizards, snakes and of course dogs and cats. The variety is endless; not all good but all amazing.

We have a small house in Pathum Thani—a suburb of Bangkok and the area is known to have some large water monitor lizards- the likes you thought only lived on the island of Komodo. The good news is they are very shy. The bad news is they are big and look prehistoric.

I was riding my motorcycle along the canals that border the rice fields near my house and two lizards came out onto the road. Of course I stopped and consider turning around but I had never seen anything so big- in the lizard department. At first I thought they might have been crocs (crocodiles) but from 20 feet away I could see they weren’t. Both were longer than the road was wide—at least 9 feet- and they only gave me a glance.  They simply crossed the road and into another canal. Afterwards, I wished I had brought my camera. At the time I was just relieved they took no real notice of me.

Since that encounter I have seen a number of them, but only in the 5 foot range. All either running away or just not noticing. I have never heard of anyone being hurt by these large beast.

The water monitor has two names is Thai—neither make any sense to me. One is the proper name which in translation means, body of money- body of gold. The other is a very vulgar term but when speaking of the lizards it is okay to say. I won’t tell you what it is—it could get you in real trouble if used at the wrong time.

One other quick story about these lizards. I was walking the dogs through the brush and bushes along a narrow cattle trail. We were going to walk the dikes of a nearby rice patty. The dogs were ranging ahead when I heard them bark and then I heard what sounded like a horse or at least something heavy was running and coming my way, fast. I had only my trusty bamboo walking stick and nowhere to run so I prepared to meet whatever was coming down the narrow path.

A large seven foot monitor lizard burst around the corner heading straight at me—woo hoo, says I. Actually those weren’t the exact words that came out of my mouth.

At about ten feet away the lizard saw me and veered off the path—thank goodness. No telling what I would have done to the poor beast if I fell on him in a dead faint. They are quite shy you know.

I will continue my world of Beast of Thailand on another post. Wait until I tell you about the snakes and ants I’ve encountered. I do hope you enjoy these true tales. The life here does give plenty of fodder for writing.

The photos were taken from my upstairs balcony. That monitor lizard was only 4 or five feet long and small of body.

Wild Elephants and the Camera Flash

Road through Khow Yai

                                                                                                                           Photo by Kawpodmd

 

 

Wild Elephants and the Camera Flash

I sometime take the long way—time-wise- to get back to our little farm or return to Bangkok. We travel over the mountains in Khow Yai National Park. The park has 60 kilometers of a winding mountain two lane road that goes from one side of the mountain range to the other side. The view is a tropical jungle of giant smooth barked trees with orchids growing high in their branches, sloping mountains and raging streams. There’s also a stretch that runs along the ridge tops with open glades where any kind of jungle animals can be seen. Deer no bigger than a dog, Red Stags, Great Hornbill’s standing 2 feet tall, more monkeys than anyone wants to see and the mighty elephants.

Elephants are Julee’s and my favorite. It’s hard for me to imagine something so big living free in Thailand. It only happens in the national parks.

We usually travel across the mountains near sunset because that’s when the elephants come out of the jungle to walk the road to move to a new spot. They’re really smart using the roadway—so much easier than crashing through the jungle. But it’s not often that we get to see them.

We were traveling down the mountain near a cascading river and it was almost completely dark. I saw something big ahead and slowed. It was a massive elephant and she was leading the way to a new feeding ground. I stopped and another car behind stopped 50 yards back and we turned our headlights off but left the parking lights on.

My wife loves elephants but is also terrified of them. By now you probably know I’m too dumb to be afraid.

Out of the dark marched a line of giant pachyderms in a slow easy pace. They were only two feet from the truck as they passed by. To my great delight there were two babies in the middle of the line and their trunks reached out inquisitively to sample everything around. The others kept close watch but allowed them to bounce and play as they passed by.

I grabbed my camera and held it up until my beautiful wife threatened me with her knife-like finger. I started to say something, but that too was taboo. So I settled back to enjoy the spectacle without recording it. I watched a giant’s trunk reach out to examine the back of our truck and that’s when I remembered we had a basket of mangoes fresh picked from out farm. The elephant merely passed on by. I didn’t mention the mango part until we were home. Thank goodness.

To be that close- I had rolled down the window and we could hear them breathe, smell them and hear the squeaks from the babies.  To be that close was something akin to a perfect moment for Julee and me. To her it was more than perfect even in her fear. Elephants have a special place in the heart of every Thai. We see trained elephants often but to see them free is very special.

I found out later from a ranger that the camera trick was—in his words—stupid! A number of cars are damaged every year by elephants merely brushing up against them but with babies—Don’t do that! Lesson learned until my next opportunity. We counted eighteen elephants in the herd and the ranger said that was the largest he had heard of. What a privilege to view them.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this little true story. If you like my writing you should try my fictions. You will enjoy them—I’m sure!