Thursday, 31 May 2007

Leaky Roof gets Worse

Well it didn't take long to find out the result of our roof work. The first downpour and the water was pouring through the ceiling much worse than ever before. The problem is when the guys go up on the roof to do the work they are putting pressure on all the joints and can actually leave things worse than they started. So we will have to call them back in.

Just had a call from Huwy. Geoff is having one of his parties because today is a Buddha day so all the bars are closed. Guess I will go for a few beers although I don't really fancy it that much at the moment.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Expenses, Expenses

Finally got off my arse and did something about our leaky roof. We called the builders who last repaired it (not the ones who originally built it). What he said is true - the roof slope is just not steep enough. His suggestion was to take a foot off the height of the outer wall so that the whole roof could be rebuilt at a steeper slope. I didn't like that suggestion - it would cost 50,000+ baht for what is just a slow leak. I suggested filling up the gaps in the roof with silicone. That is what he did so we will have to wait and see if it does the job.

These little expenses just keep coming. Yesterday I also got a furniture upholsterer to look at our sofa. The cloth is splitting. We inherited the sofa from the people who sold us the house. It is a good one imported from Germany and apparently cost 200,000 baht. In the end we decided to replace all the cloth on the bottom half of the sofa. It will cost 9,800 baht.

What with normal living and school expenses, all these other things add up. While my finances are currently solid enough, when I think about 20 years of putting Ben and Jenny through school and university I become more and more convinced that I need to earn a little extra money somewhere. This is not easy in Thailand where work options for foreigners are very limited. My current income comes from renting my flat in London and part-time computer work from London. While it lasts this is actually fine but I know the part-time work will come to an end quite soon. It has been going on for five years and I am surprised it has lasted this long.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Went for a Dive

By yesterday I had mostly shaken off my fever so I decided to join Sheldon for a couple of dives at Phi Phi. It has been a long time since I last went for a dive. I do love getting in the water so I don't know why I haven't been for so long. Huwy joined us. Same as me, he has not dived for a few years.

It was a beautiful day. A long 3 hour boat ride out to Phi Phi and we did our two dives at the two little Koh Bida islands. The first dive was a getting back into the swing of it affair. It only took me a minute before I felt comfortable in the water. It was a nice dive down the wall, across a few corals and around the island. Plenty of fish and lots of colour.

The second dive is very similar but at the second island. Unfortunately Huwy quickly had to surface after getting pain in his forehead - probably a burst capilliary. Huwy always seems to suffer misfortune. Once Huwy was away we pushed on with the dive and I thought it was really nice. Lots of fish, nice rock formations, beams of sunlight cutting through the water and to cap it off we saw a lovely big turtle.

A relaxing lounge on the deck for the three hour ride back to Phuket to cap off a very nice day out. It will definitely not be so long before my next dive.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Still Feel Crap

Okay, I have been offline for three days - physically that is. What a pig of a fever plus a pounding headache and sore throat. I really haven't been able to do much. I have spent most of the last days lying down. I have still been doing the school run for Ben (Pon is not a great driver and it is heavy traffic). Even though it is only a 15 minute trip, I have been coming back soaked in sweat and shivering. Basically I have been a bit of a wreck - no idea what it is.

Jenny has also been suffering a fever. I am not sure if it is the same thing as I have. She also has a runny nose which makes it look more like a normal cold. Either way, Jenny and I have been spending a lot of time cuddled up together on the sofa watching TV. Jenny is amenable to a good long cuddle at the best of times so when she is ill she settles down very easily.

Tonight I was going to meet a friend in Patong. His name is Sheldon and he work's for a dive company. He is only back in Phuket for a few days. We were going to meet him in town for a few drinks and possible join him for a dive later in the week. Well the drinks plan has gone out of the window as it would just about kill me. I am feeling a little improved today but still fairly crap. If I can shake this thing off then maybe a dive later in the week is still on the cards.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

I Feel Terrible

Well despite my miserable condition we pushed ahead with my little birthday celebration. Pon is great at organising these parties. Just a few friends and lots of food and drink. I wish I was in a better state to enjoy it. I felt like a bit of a party-pooper which is especially bad when it is your own party.

Huwy came round and we watched the FA Cup final together while the Thais spread out in the garden. Huwy is another Man U fan (they really are everywhere). Sadly for him Chelsea beat Man U 1-0 with a goal late in extra time. While I sympathise for him (us Spurs know plenty of disappointment) I couldn't really get excited about the game. It was an awful game and to be honest it is hard to feel positive about either of these two money-bag clubs.

We joined the Thais in the garden and despite the fact that all I really wanted to do was curl up in bed, I actually lasted through to the end at about two in the morning.

So this morning I woke up feeling even worse. Fever, cold shivers, nasty headache, sore throat. I have spent all day curled up in bed or on the sofa and that is where I am going back now.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

It's my Birthday

Yesterday was a great day. I did my computer work in the morning. In the afternoon we picked Ben up from School and went to the Gym. Pon and I exercised while Ben and Jenny messed around in the playroom. After that we went for a walk around Tesco Lotus before going to Oishi in Index Living Mall.

Oishi is a Japanese restaurant that does a buffet for 370 baht a person. You can eat as much sushi and other Japanese food as you can. It is an excellent spread. We found yesterday that they have added a kids play area to the restaurant. This is a massive selling point for parents. Any restaurant that provides the kids somewhere to play is likely to get some patronage from us. A chance to eat your food in peace is an absolute joy.

We ate until we could eat no more and then went for a stroll around Index to walk it off. Ben and Jenny were in great form and ran around laughing and playing. It is great to see them so happy.

We went home tired but happy and put on a movie. Ben loves boats so when he saw The Poseidon at the video shop he insisted on getting it. No school tomorrow so we let Ben and Jenny watch the movie until they fell asleep in our arms. Perfect.

Today is my birthday and would you believe it, I woke up with a dreadful headache. I seem to have a cold. Typical. Pon was going to organise a little BBQ for my birthday with a few friends. The way I feel right now I would happily skip it but Pon has already gone shopping. Hopefully I can shake it off enough by this evening that I can enjoy the do.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Ben Settles into School

Initial impressions of Ben's new school are quite good. There are 30 kids in his class but they have three teachers in the classroom so plenty of attention. The teachers in the lower age group classes are almost all women. Ben's teachers all seem very nice although I can't help noticing some of the teachers in the other classes are stunningly attractive while Ben's are not - still I'm a married man so I shouldn't be thinking about that sort of thing.

The traffic situation has settled down and does not seem to be a problem. Ben has also settled down. He doesn't actually want to go to school but he doesn't cry about it. When I went to collect him yesterday he was feverishly crayoning away. He also now does a lovely wai (Thai greeting). This is one of the strengths of Thai schools - they put a lot of effort into producing well-mannered polite little brats.

I played football again yesterday. It was fun. The French guys formed a team with a bunch of Malaysians. They did not get on and the French gallic temperament was on full show. Lots of drama and arm-waving. Apparently the Malaysians were passing to each other when they should have been giving the ball to the French. The French guys collapsed into sulky-huff mode and we soundly beat them.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Ben's First Day at School

So today my little boy Ben had his first day at a proper school. He is 3 years 9 months and has previously done a couple of months at nursery and summer school. I think those months served him well today as he took it all in his stride. Quite a few of the other kids were crying but Ben was unconcerned about the whole thing.

He is going to Darasamut on the edge of Phuket Town. It is meant to be one of the better schools in Phuket. For the older age groups they offer bi-lingual schooling with western teachers doing the English language lessons.

Ben is in Anoobahn 1 - that is the first year of schooling in Thailand. This is followed by Anoobahn 2 & 3, then 6 years of Primary education (Prathom 1 to 6) followed by 6 years of Secondary education (Mattayom 1 to 6) . If you want to know more take a look at Phuket School Information.

Anoobahn is just like pre-school - it is mostly drawing and playing with toys.

I think Darasamut will be Ben and Jenny's long term school but I haven't made up my mind for sure. We will see how Anoobahn goes. This morning was traffic chaos around the school and it took us 20 minutes just to get in (and another 20 minutes to find Ben's class). If it is like that everyday it will drive me nuts. Hopefully after the first few days the traffic will settle down. I couldn't face doing that traffic jam for the next 20 years.

Darasamut has a good reputation but if it turns out we don't like it then the next most likely option in our price range is Kajon Kiet School. It is also a bi-lingual school with a good reputation. It a little further to drive but probably doesn't have the same traffic problems so wouldn't take any longer.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Party at Geoff's

Yesterday I got a call from Huwy. He has been a friend of mine here for a few years now and recently moved to my housing estate so he is also a neighbour. He told me we had been invited to a party at Geoff's house.

Geoff is a millionnaire. His parties involve as much free beer as you can drink. He has a nice house with swimming pool and maids to serve the drinks. So generally his parties are a good thing but it is certain that you end up staggering drunk.

I decided to play football in Patong first. It was an okay game. There are a load of French guys playing at the moment and because no-one else wants to play with them we put them all on the same side. We beat them 5-3.

Then I went to Geoff's party. It was only a small affair with a few guests. San Miguel Light is my current beer of choice. I am not a big fan of any of the beers in Thailand but you have to drink something and San Miguel Light is easy to knock back so I waded in with gusto.

Yesterday was also the last day of the English football season so we watched that while supping Geoff's beer. Spurs got a 2-1 win against Man City which guaranteed us european football next year and had the added bonus of gaining us fifth place again.

So I woke up this morning with a stunning hangover and vague memories of getting home. But what joy when I opened the fridge - a great big cornish pasty was waiting me. I remembered I had cadged it from Geoff the night before.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Nothing Special

Spurs ground out an important draw against Blackburn. Now we only need to draw at home against Man City on the last day of the season to make sure we qualify for the uefa cup.

Gil has returned to Nigeria but he is determined this will be his last trip. He wants to find a job closer to Thailand so he can spend more time with his wife (Daeng). We went to visit his wife last night - she is good friends with my wife Pon. Our two toddlers love playing around Their house because it is somewhere different to explore and they have two dogs to play with. Pon and Daeng got fairly hammered on Thai whisky while I had a few beers and watched Football Focus on ESPN.

Pon and I are now exercising every other day and I feel better for it already. It is psychological as much as anything. I am used to doing plenty of exercise so when I go through periods of not doing any I start to feel bloated and unfit. Well I do like my food and beer and that intake remains the same whether I am exercising or not.

There is nothing special going on at the moment. May is always a wet month so it is not easy to do trips. Still I am sure something interesting will come up - it always does.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Leaky Roof

It is May and that is traditionally the start of the rainy season in Phuket. This year is no different - it is pouring down.

We had our back balcony converted into a childrens bedroom a couple of years ago. The roof couldn't withstand the monsoon deluge. There were only a few slow dripping leaks but when it rains like buckets for hours on end those slow dripping leaks add up to a lot of water. It soaks through the ceiling and slowly becomes an unpleasant fungusy mess.

In the end we had no choice but to take the whole roof off and replace it. It only cost 30,000 baht which when you think about the amount of labour and materials involved - is a bargain. Well it would be a bargain if it had worked.

We did it halfway through last years rainy season and it looked good. We had no more leaks. Unfortunately this year's first truly heavy downfall and the water is leaking through the roof again. I woke up to find the light fixture hanging by its wires and a huge puddle of water on the floor.

I think it is only a slow leak but what happens is the water has only one easy outlet from the ceiling and that is down the small hole for the electrical wires into the light. The light filled with water until the weight was too much and the fittings gave way.

Now I am going to wait and see for a few days. Almost certainly we are going to have to deal with the problem but at the moment I don't want to face it.

Not to worry. Today I am going to play football in Patong (if the rains hold off) and tonight Spurs play again so I will be staying up late.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Another Good Day

I am in a good mood today. I was up until 4am watching Spurs play at Charlton. Spurs won and that always puts me in a good mood. I am a big Spurs fan and never miss a game. Last night we won 1-0. It was always going to be a tough game as Charlton needed to win to avoid relegation - nevermind Charlton. Spurs needed to win to help us qualify for the Uefa Cup and we are now almost there.

In the meantime I have joined a Gym. I have always been into fitness but it is difficult to find the time with the family , work, etc. So I have to make it easy for myself. I have joined a Gym just up the road and close to my son's new school. Now we can drop him off for school and go and exercise. The gym is called Easy Fitness and is quite nice. 15,000 baht got us 6 months membership for the wife and me.

Monday, 7 May 2007

BBQ at Gil's House

Yesterday was a nice day ( we have a lot of nice days ). First my football team played against the teachers team from the British International School (beautiful school and a lovely football pitch). We play this game every few weeks. My team is formed from a rag-tag bunch of ex-pats who play a regular game on the big pitch by Patong Beach.

We are actually better than we look (or should be considering our age). We have beaten the teachers every time so far and yesterday was no exception. We beat them 4-0. The team played well and I played well, capping it all off with a nice goal. I really am too old for this game but I still love playing and I can still put in a respectable performance.

In the evening we went to a small party at a good friend's house. His name is Gil and he comes from Israel. He is also a longterm resident of Phuket and married to a Thai. He works offshore in Nigeria for 10 week stretches and only gets 3 weeks off. It is a job that he is starting to hate - not surprising since there are kidnappings on a daily basis out there.

Gil is a great guy. He is mostly happy and easy going. There is one big exception. He is a rabid Man U fan and whenever they are playing he turns into a ranting, gibbering tazmanian devil. He doesn't realise it but he is the worst type of Man U fan. The sort that give all Man U fans such a bad reputation. He thinks Man U fans have it tough, he turns on his own team whenever the game is proving difficult, he believes everybody is against Man U, he genuinely believes referees are biased against them, etc. Yesterday Man U had to beat Man City to take a huge step towards the Premiership title. Man U won 1-0 and were mostly comfortable. That didn't stop Gil from screaming abuse at the TV, turning on their manager and most of their players, jumping up and down and throwing peanuts around. I am used to it and couldn't help laughing. His wife's family was there and looked a little uncomfortable.

The game finished and Gil turned back into the normal affable bloke he is for the rest of the time. We had a good BBQ and a few beers. Our two little toddlers always love these events and played themselves to exhaustion. It was a late night for them but it doesn't do them any harm now and then.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

My First Post

My first ever blog!

Where do I start. Well this blog will mostly be for me. I sometimes wish I had kept a diary - it would just be nice to be able to look back and be reminded of things I have long forgotten. Well never too late to start and a blog seems the perfect way to do it. Just my own little diary but open to the world.

So I will start with an introduction. My name is Jim. I am English but I live in Phuket, Thailand. I have a wife (Pon), two children (Ben and Jenny) and two step children (Chem and Boo). It is a good life. A great place to live and a lovely family.

I am a computer programmer. My work is based in England but I have the good fortune that I can do most of it over the internet so I can base myself in this beautiful part of the world. Living here is much cheaper than in England so I don't even have to work full time. So I have plenty of time for trips to the beach or travelling around this fantastic country.

I really do like Thailand. It is a great place to live. So much to do and see and so different. While the country is beautiful, it is the people who really make it. They are eccentric, strange, sometimes frustrating but almost always fun.

So there it is. I have started my blog.