Chiang Mai, Thailand

Saturday January 17th

This Saturday trip was back to San Kampaeng market, via Bo Sang village, another good handcrafted goods place, with a huge procession in both places, they have a festival on for three days.

The Prime Minister's sister was walking though the market, to be followed by the Queen in a couple of weeks.

Loads more fish for the tank, I think we need two separate ones now, Thailand rice fields have produced a wonderful array of slow moving wonderfully beautiful fish but I think they are getting a bit scared when in with the big ones, we shall see, at least we've got the big ones surviving now. Almost wherever you walk around Thailand there are huge pottery flasks about a metre in size containing these fish, open to the world in gardens and outside shops, each one it's own sustainable ecosystem.

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Tuesday January 20th

Realistic price for rented two up two down terraced house outside Chiang Mai in a protected estate with swimming pool... £100 a month, 7000 baht.

Saturday January 24th

I have to mention the chickens today now that bird flu has reached global awarness, about 100 million years since it first appeared. My feeling is this is another thing like SARS not to worry about in practice, but having experienced one of the great viruses that has been around in the UK last year, when one in four of the population in a corner of England had it at the same time, it does make me wonder a little.

In practice there are chickens everywhere in Thailand but there is even more rice, and it would take the latter to go wrong for us to have a problem here. But effects on tourism and the reputation of a possible 3 month cover-up (not so much change there) might be more interesting. I note more hits than ever on my flights site so no signs yet.

Today we sat by the rice fields in view of palm trees and the mountains and watched our village football team. I didn't realise the significance of this so didn't mention it last week. It was a wonderful match then, clearly outmatched by the other side but coming back from 2-0 down to win makes you wonder. Well we bribed them today and put up 100 baht, £1.40, between the team per goal and they got a 3-0 win. Enough for a half a bottle of whisky each. So if you see Chimplee as an international football team, remember us all, or perhaps we have as much chance as a chicken in Thailand.



Me and our village, Chimplee, football team



Me and Fa

Sunday January 25th

We lost the football on the golden goal, so that's the end of that.

It was the Queen's 72nd birthday yesterday, highly significant for Buddhists because it's the completion of the sixth twelve year cycle or something. 672 sky divers jumped out of aeroplanes over Bangkok, a record, and a good few landing in trees or going away on stretchers! The Queen herself was apparently visiting our local handicraft market up here in San Kampaeng.

Tuesday January 27th

There's a child with the Avian Flu just north of Chiang Mai (Mae Rim) and another with it just south of Chiang Mai (Chom Thong), so we're right in the middle of it, whatever is going to happen. It isn't looking good for the chickens at Mon's house...

Saturday January 31st

The San Patong Report:

Avian flu has reached San Patong. Someone died of it a few miles away in Lamphun. Definitely less chickens walking around! The flocks have all been restricted to bamboo-fenced areas in every garden with wood or cloth netting around them to reduce the air flow presumably, not an exact science! Ironically I think the chickens will be living longer than usual, because no one is eating them. For birds closer to known infections it's not so good, even ostriches are being culled. The Prime Minister was on TV eating chicken again. He has moved from a luxury Bangkok restaurant to KFC, but with their careful chicken policies I'll only believe it when he eats random chicken from a random village in Thailand!

The football cup final of our little region went as expected, plenty of very drunk people from the whisky embellished with a few real Muay Thai boxing fights. So it didn't matter not getting to the final, perhaps no one knows who won any more.

If you walk through our Chimplee team's area, and along the lane through the village that is 90% Mon's family you get to endless rice fields, most of which are now onions, irrigated in a similar way. The eternal streams of water I now realise are on different levels, with the natural looking streams crossing over each other occasionally. In my travels it is the fourth most relaxing place on Earth I can think of, you can see only two other houses there, both Mon's family. A plot of land looks to be coming on sale next to one of those streams, surrounded by the fields to the far distance and a mountain range occupying half the horizon. It's about the average size of a teraced or semi-detached house in England with a garden that seems to go back a long way. Expected asking price: £550!


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