Chiang Mai, Thailand

Saturday January 3rd 2004

Today's Saturday family day was taking 4 children up into the hills where the elephants used to be at Mae Wang. It's beautiful hill country with terraced farming and passing a farm that belongs to some relations of Mon that claims on it's sign 'the world's best environment' whatever that means.

The evening was a huge fun fair with Mon and I and 4 children.

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Mae Wang

Mon cooking at her family house

Mon's family: Jo, a friend, Fa, mum, cousin, dad

Me and Mon's family

Mon's family house

House on the lane

At the fun fair, Fa, Mon and me

Two brothers and Jo

Fa likes the music, and Mon

Fa dancing

Mon and Fa

Sunday Januay 4th

Feeling the need for a bit of good luck, Mon wanted to go to the temple, so on our way back from the village we asked a monk to bless us, lots of pouring and throwing of water and a cat the same saffron colour as the monk walked around us twice so that should be us set up for the week.

The main temple there has an old monk who died 2 years ago in some kind of mummified or embalmed state (there is very little weather here which might help) and his head completely covered in gold.

Monday January 5th

I've joined 12 anonymous governments and Israel by installing OpenOffice, a free open source software compatible with Microsoft Office. It runs a complicated spreadsheet with no significant problem. Last time I heard Microsoft made half their profits from Office. Oops!

Tuesday January 6th

A car driving near miss, two huge cows crossing the dark highway at night. Avoided them and a motorcycle, so the monk's luck is working.

Friday January 16th

I really want to move back to the old Chiang Mai walled and moated area which is great for cycling, and more of the backpacking environment and central to everything. But it will be hard to find a good place to stay to match the condo, so I'm not so sure.

The big house idea isn't quite happening yet, but when I eventually get a car that might change. I heard last night of 4 bedroom houses 30 minutes from Chiang Mai for 2500 baht (£35 a month)!

Alternative projects are (depending on a substantial income this year!)...

• Getting a car for Mon in the meantime to save rental costs, she may as well be on a monthly purchase anyway, no extra money.

• Rebuilding Mon's family house to make it a modern Thai house, practical, healthier and good looking though not so wonderfully traditional as it is now, for £2100 total. Target, October, before it gets cooler again (the problem with the old house).

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