Monday, December 28, 2015

Pae and Guy Visit Apartment Construction Site

We were back home this past weekend for a wedding (Congratulations Vincent and Mai) and stopped by the apartment for fifteen minutes.
I love these big black "golf balls", haha. I had previously said that the septic tanks had been buried, but a problem with the neighbor's fence that is in danger of falling into our property caused P'Pong to decide to bury them under the parking lot instead.
It was nice to be on site to see the actual size of things and get a feel for what it looks like in real life.
Pae surveying the work on the first floor
We talked to Dad about the project and looked at the space remaining on our property which will eventually become a parking lot. I talked a lot with Mom about things that come after the construction is finished; things like wi-fi, cable television, water machines, washing machines, closed circuit tv cameras for security, etc. There's a lot of management stuff to be taken care of monthly. Aunt Noot was the first one in the family to build a small apartment. Mom kinda learned these things from Aunt Noot's experience. Now Pae and I will learn from Mom ;)
Guy, still hanging out near the big black golf balls, taking a look at the entirety of the construction to date. You can see the third floor is coming along nicely as the floor itself is already there and now preparing for the ceiling and then the roof.
Most of the workers were off on vacation for the New Year holiday.
These are going to make for some great "before and after" photos. Pae on site.
Happy New Year everybody!!

Third Floor Construction

Quick update on the apartment. The third floor is pretty much the same as the second floor as far as construction of the beams, pilars and the floor. Here are some pictures of the construction.

We are not on site to take photos and depend on pictures from the family or P'Pong. We are happy to get all of the photos that we do get, we couldn't really ask for more.
Scaffolding going up from the second to the third floor. You can see the rebar and cement planks for the beams and floor prepared and staged in the foreground

Preparing to put up the rebar beams
Beams done, floors hardened, pillars ready to be used to hold up the last set of beams and roof.

Our Favorite "Nok"

I was going through some photos from Mom's iPhone and found a couple from when Mom and Dad flew on Pae's Nok Air flight.
I just thought I'd put them up here because I like them ;) I was lucky to fly on one of Pae's flights from Jordan to Thailand once, but that one was many hours. The flight in these photos was just over 45 minutes. These shorter flights are the type that Pae does now that she flies mostly domestic. The domestic routes are no longer than two hours usually...not including delays and aircraft changes.
Mom and Dad (all of us) are very proud of Pae and her career as a flight attendant up to this point. She started at a smaller local airline as a seasonal short-contract flight attendant, flew full service airlines for many years and now is a Purser for Nok Air (Nok air calls them Cabin Leaders rather than Pursers). To see her in action only adds to that feeling of pride and happiness.

Thai Dance at Jim Thompson Farm

While at Jim Thompson Farm, we wandered through a traditional Northeastern Thai village exhibit. There they had dancers on stage so we sat for a few minutes and watched and rested from walking around in the sun.

I took some video of the dancers as I'd never seen this type of Thai dance before. Still not 100% sure of the exact dance, but considering that this was a "Phu Thai" village (of the Phu Thai Tribe), I'm gonna call this "Fawn Phu Thai" which really just means Phu Thai Dance. There are so many types of dances and Pae tells me that you can really make up your own dance and call it what you want and use it for merit making or whatever purpose you want.

In my imagination, after watching this dance, I imagined that they were doing merit making for the rice that they would grow on their farms. After all, the theme of Jim Thompson Farm Tour this year is "Man Mung Boon Khao" or "Rice Merit Making".

I see the long fingers with the little pom pom at the end and I imagine it to be stalks of rice and the dancers are asking for blessings on their fields and harvest. Rice farming is one of the main ways of life in the Northeast. Perhaps the dance is just for tourists, but for me it was a rice dance ;)

p.s. I'm only able to load one video on here and the one I did get up looks blurry. I'll try to put them on Youtube then put a link to them in the comments ;)

Silk Loom at Jim Thompson Farm

Here is a quick video of the silk loom room on the Jim Thompson Farm tour. See if you can see someone enjoying the tour in the video...

It's pretty amazing how silk is made. The "thread" is so fine. Much of the silk threads come from silk worms raised by local "farmers"

Something I found interesting, from the Jim Thompson Farm website,

The Company has an active program of propagating hybrid silkworm eggs of a high standard and quality for distribution to the thousands of villages throughout the Northeastern (Isan). The silkworm eggs are packaged in the batches of 18,000 eggs and carefully transported to distribution centers where the villagers take delivery. In a matter of days the eggs hatch and the rearing cycle begins. After a few weeks the villagers can opt to sell the fresh cocoons or reel the cocoons into skeins to sell to Jim Thompson. Both the traditional golden yellow Thai silk cocoons and the Chinese hybrid white cocoons can be reared by the villagers depending on their skills and the village environment.

Second Floor Construction

Construction of the second floor started almost instantly after the first floor cement was poured. Here are some photos of the work that was done (finished already) on the second floor.
A combination of cheap tree trunks (really) and two by fours makes up the scaffolding. I'm not sure if they use actual trees for scaffolding back home in the U.S. but that's what I've always seen here.
All of the rebar is being laid our for the beams and the pillars to hold up the third floor. To the right is the bathrooms, center the actual apartment room and the left is the walkway area. This photo is facing the road (front) and the temple across the street.
A more "artistic" photo taken from the first floor up through the scaffolding of the unfinished second floor bu P'Neung (Pae's big brother) who is helping with the project.
More rebar in the bathroom. WHen we first went to the construction site, we noticed a worker making small, tiny round pieces of cement (seen in this photo). We had no idea what they were, the worker just told us they were "luk pbun" which, to me translated to "tiny cement" haha. Reading more about construction and the use of rebar, it turns out that they are used to keep the rebar a certain distance away from the bottom of whatever the rebar is on top of. Structural integrity? I'm pretty sure that's what these "luk pbun" are for in this photo.
The forms are around the rebar for the beams. Soon they would pour the cement.
This large "hole" that sticks out from the living areas of the apartments is where the stairwell will eventually go up three floors.
Don't forget the hole for the toilet ;) From this blue pipe to the beam on the far end is the size of one bathroom and a "patio" area for hanging clothes and the air conditioning unit.
From the front to the back
Pouring the cement in the forms to make the beams
Working hard in the Thai heat
A deserved break after taking off the forms. You can see that the bathroom side is finished. Now for the living area and the walkways.

Cement slabs cover everything before cement is poured. You can also see in this photo, the 90 degree angled forms on the left. They are just starting to put the forms around the vertical rebar pillars from the second to third floor.

Forms ready for pouring cement, walkway rebar laid. Stairwell area.
Pour that cement!!

Cement has been poured in the pillars already, next is to lay rebar on the cement slabs and pour the cement, both living area and walkways
P'Pong, P'Neung and Dad have been sending Pae and me a steady flow of photos of the progress of the construction. Right now is the New Year holiday and the workers are slowly disappearing to their families for the holiday.

Pae and I just got back from a site visit. The third floor is started and probably will be finished pouring the cement after New Year. Photos forthcoming of our quick 15 minute site visit.

Flora Park and Jim Thompson Farm Panoramas

Panoramic pictures get no love, so here are some that I took at Khao Yai this past week. You have to click on the photo (on a laptop at least) to get the full size photo. I think they are nice ;)
Panorama of the main garden at Flora Park
Jim Thompsom Farm, rows and rows of flowers
Fields of yellow and purple flowers

Cosmo fields separated by two rows of trees and a road for the tour trolleys. The double row of trees gave us the feeling of Nami Island in Korea...just much hotter and greener than when we visited there back in 2008 (?)
Haha, this is one of a cosmo field but the sun was so directly in my face that I used my umbrella to block the sun. So, the umbrella is in every part of the panorama. Note that panorama photos end up bending as they can be almost 180 degrees of landscape! So, the dirt road in this photo is actually straight, not bent as it appears ;) Giant fields of flowers here.

Weekend trip to Khao Yai and Pak Chong (Wang Nam Kiew)

This past weekend, Pae and I planned out a quick roady up to Khao Yai. We decided to take Bubble for a night up about three hours from Bangkok, where I have run 4 races (TNF and Khao Yai Trail Marathon) several times.

The day driving up was a Saturday and driving was fine until we hit the outskirts of Khao Yai, which is a uppy, wind-y (not to be confused with windy) road with a lot of cement trucks and other larger vehicles trying to share two to three lanes. Normally it is slow going through the cement factory area, but on this day they had closed a lane for making a new u-turn bridge, so traffic was crawling. The positive taken out of this extra time in traffic was that it was nice to see that they were making the u-turn bridges as middle of the road u-turns are the cause of many accidents and traffic deaths here every year.

We got near the area where I run TNF in time to go see the sunflower fields, one of the main reasons we went to this particular weekend. Acres and acres of bright yellow sunflowers, smiling brightly at the sun overhead...FAIL!!!
Week or so late?
 Hahaha, unfortunately we got there and the fields were shriveled and brown rather than yellow. We, along with other cars that trickled in and out of the area, stopped to plan our next move...during the planning and rerouting, I hopped out and snapped some photos. I'm sure the fields will soon be burned or turned under to make way for the winter crops...I wonder if they will harvest the sunflowers for seeds? I'm guessing not.
Anticlimax to our four hour drive
We left the sunflower fields and decided that it was time to get headed towards our hotel. We drove following google maps and really got all turned around. Usually I have a good idea of where we are and what general direction we need to go...this time, I had no clue and was really relying on the family navigator (Pae) to get us where we needed to go. Internet being what it is out in the sticks, lagged something fierce and it was hard to get good directions from google or the iPhone maps app.
Not sure really what to think about this pinky stroller thing!

Along the way to the hotel was a place in Wang Nam Kiew that we went to a few years ago. Basically a garden with lots of flowers.
We hoped that Bubble could go inside with us and were lucky that they rented out dog strollers!
Bubble and Mommy at Flora Park
Bubble wasn't allowed to get out of the stroller, but we took him out every now and then for photos. Wouldn't want all of the dogs digging holes in their garden ;)
Family at Flora Park

"This stroller thing isn't half bad"
We did eventually arrive at our hotel, checked in, dropped our stuff at the room and went to the hotel restaurant for food. We got a small hotel room at a tiny winery. It was one of the few places that allowed pets to stay.
Mommy's favorite flower
The room ended up being about three feet wider than our bed!! Hahaha, quite small, but other than Pae smashing her leg on the bed in the dark when we first got to the room, it served its purpose; a place to sleep. The dinner was large and the red wine made at the winery was really good. Didn't buy any to bring home with us though as it was a little pricey ;)
Village Farm & Winery- Dogs welcome

The funniest thing occurred to us as we sat there. Have we been here before??? Sitting in the restaurant for breakfast, looking out over the small vineyard in front of the hotel, we thought to look in our Facebook photos for back when we went to Khao Yai with Mom and Dad.
A photo from our 2013 family trip to Khao Yai. Same vineyard in this photo from a stop along thee road is the same place Pae and I slept during our trip this year ;)
Sure enough, same place. We had stopped there for wine tasting and to look at the vineyard. It must have been on the tourist sites a couple years ago, so we stopped by ;)
Same exact spot this year ;)
After checking out of our hotel, we drove an hour or so to a garden touristy spot called Jim Thompson Farm. Jim Thompson is famous here in Thailand.
He was an American G.I., spy, architect and most importantly as far as Thailand is concerned, he was a businessman. He first came to Thailand during the Second World War as a military man. Eventually he settled down here and started a silk business. His company (Thai Silk Company) ended up revitalizing a dying Thai silk industry.

So, if you ever come to Thailand, you can visit his home in Bangkok or the Jim Thompsom Farm in Khao Yai. There are also factories in Korat where his old company relocated to sometime after his disappearance in 1967.

Jim Thompson Farm even has a working silk making factory for tourists to stand and watch the workers make silk. Very interesting to watch and try to figure out how it all works!!

The flowers were beautiful and there were acres and acres of them. There were fields that went on forever of cosmos. Bubble was actually able to walk around as pets were allowed. He got nice and dusty and tired from all of the walking, although he got held plenty as you can probably see from these photos, haha!
These are only a few of the photos we took at Jim Thompsom Farm, and other places also. The hard part about having a dog full of energy and with a short attention span is that it's nearly impossible to get him to hold still for a photo! So, we have tons of photos with a white streak for a head or just with him not even facing the camera. He seemed to enjoy driving the fake wooden tractor with Daddy though ;)
I'll end the post with one of my favorite photos. There were woven decorations hanging from the trees and I asked Pae to pose under them. Bubble was very interested in the hangy thingies and I got this photo. I think it's cute ;)
I'll post a couple videos if I can make the video function work ;)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

We call her P'Lek

December 20th was a sad day for the family as P'Lek, the family German Shepard, passed quietly into Doggy Heaven. Earlier in the week she had been bumped/hit by a truck, but it seemed like she was gonna be fine. She hung on and really tried to get better for many days, even to the point where Pae's mom had a small "wheelchair" made for her so she would be more mobile since the accident had made her back legs painful for her to move.

She was with Pae's family for 13 years or since Pae was a senior in high school. She was especially close to Pae's mom, following her around all of the time, waiting for her to come home from work and waiting at the end of the road for her car after the work day was finished. She would go exercise with mom and just hang anywhere near mom throughout the day, every day.
So gentle for a larger dog

13 years is near the top end of the life expectancy for a German Shepard, so she lived a long life, full of love from her humans and from her doggy brothers and sisters (of the Shi Tzu variety).
Someone is coming to try to get some food or some loving ;)

I never saw her name spelled out in Thai or English. It is pronounced "Lek" but I have heard family call her "A'Lek" so it could have been Alex or some variation of that.

We call her P'Lek.

She is in a better place and condition now. No more painful hind leg joints. She will be playing with her brothers and sisters and perhaps even BunBun who she got to meet on one or two occasions ;)

For now, the family mourns the loss of a big, furry family member. See you again someday Lek. We miss you.

"Foundation" and First Floor

We've been lucky so far with our contractor, P'Pong. He is a friend of P'Neung and has been very professional and helpful so far during the planning, bank details and actual updating of the construction progress. Nearly all of the photos I post for the apartment have come from him in the way of updates.
Note the "pillars" are still just a bunch of rebar all folded up together.

Pae and I are in Bangkok, but the apartment is being built back home, so we are not there on a daily basis to keep an eye on construction or to deal with problems as they arise. Mom and Dad have been doing most of that along with P'Neung.
Filling the "longy thingies", part of the foundation of the first floor, with cement

After the First Pillar Ceremony, the workers started almost immediately preparing the are for the foundation. Before that, of course, all of the cement was poured to make all of the pillars that would support the second floor.
The "forms" are secured around the rebar and prepared for the pouring of cement to form the pillars or columns

P'Pong sent photos as each little step of the first floor was underway and completed. We've been getting a few pictures  from him daily at the end of the day basically.
 It was fun to see the forms go around the rebar and then when they took the forms off there was a pillar ;)
Note that the "longy thingies" are our of their forms and solid cement now

I like looking at the way they placed plumbing pipes and stuff like that, knowing that eventually they will be covered in cement or sand or something, probably never to be seen again. Now, all of this is from a non-engineering understanding person. No construction experience other than toting dry wall to construction sites (they don't use dry wall here). So when I say "foundation" or "form" or especially "longy thingies" I really am just making up my own words ;)
Meanwhile, the septic tanks were buried and the plumbing pipes all arranged
 I have (since starting this post) done a tiny bit of research and found that there is such thing as a "wooden form" which is put around the rebar to shape the columns when the cement is poured. The "longy thingies" are in fact referred to as concrete strip "footings" on some of the construction sites I came across.

Forms removed and the pillars look great. Preparing to pour cement for the floor
Putting rebar in the bathroom side of the apartment first floor.

I like this photo because it shows the entire width of the project. Far left is what will be the walkway in front of each room. Center is where the rooms will be (about 3x3?) and the far right is the back "patio" and bathroom. You can see the plumbing coming out of the ground for toilet (big blue pipes) and the sink/drains (small blue pipes) In this photo they have poured the walkways and are working on the central portion.
Very simple, very small rooms. A family couldn't live in one comfortably, but there is a need for this small, dormitory-type housing especially considering there is a small college campus and a major mall both nearby.
 Well, that's it for the first floor preparations. It was all done quite quickly. The plan (and contract) was for 45 days, but it must have only taken 20 days total to finish, even less actually. This matters as our loan with the bank is based on construction milestones...meaning that we get partial amounts of the loan as certain milestones are met (first floor, second floor, etc.) So, if our contractor finishes early (faster than stated in the contract with contractor and between the bank and us) and the money is not available...haha, so we've had to do some legwork to try to get the bank to release the money to us so we could pay P'Pong. Smooth otherwise.

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