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Greetings from Udon Thani, my new home.

I've done it again, retired that is. After much internal conflict and many trips throughout SE Asia I've found my spot to squat, retire that is.
Welcome to my journal documenting my new life in the Isaan area of northeast Thailand.
Its been a long strange trip through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia and China before I finally found home.
Hopefully I'll be able to post regularly on events and trips from Udon to other areas of SE Asia. I will continue to answer any messages left on the page when I can.

Diary Entries

Friday, 19 April 2013

Location: Ao Nang, Thailand

Just completed my move to Ao Nang, Krabi Province, Thailand.
I haven't posted in quite awhile. Unfortunately PlanetRanger isn't iPad friendy for my uploads.
This will be my last entry as I do not intend to re-subscribe.
My Photos and updates can be found on my public FaceBook page.
https://www.facebook.com/carl.manchester?ref=tn...

Monday, 31 December 2012

Location: Udon Thani, Thailand

It's 9:00 am here in the Land of Smiles. We are the morning of New Years Eve and they have just closed off the street in front of my apartment in preparation for this evenings festivities.
The work has begun on the stage that will essentially be on my door steps. They are setting tables and chairs up in the street to handle the overflow from the Kinnarre Restaurant next door. If its anything like last year, the whole neighborhood will be in attendance.
As I've mentioned, I have a ring side seat for the festivities. The celebration will end between 1 and 2 in the morning. As we said in the Army, "You will attend and You will have fun" :)
I'll make another entry with Photos after New Years.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Location: Udon Thani, Thailand

It's been awhile since I’ve posted an update. Not much to say really. Life's routine goes on. I did make a trip to Xi'an China to visit friends. I'll post a couple photos.
I did travel down to the beach at Pattaya for the end of the world parties with friends though. A buddy of mine was going back to the UK so we wanted to send him off in style. Needless to say there were copious amounts of alcohol and friendly women involved. No “X” rated or libelous photos will be posted, sorry...
I'll post a couple tame photos of Pattaya.
Pattaya is a “party” destination for tourists to Thailand and is not one of my favorite places to visit. I'm not a prude by any measure, but the unbridled hedonism is a bit much, even for this old soldier.
I presently have another trip to the beach planned for next month. The trip is going to be to Ao Nang. This has become a lesser known tourist destination and is smaller, more up scale area than most of the other beach destinations in Thailand. It has grown over the years, but gratefully it lacks the highrise hotels and condos found elsewhere.
Ao Nang is just one of the beaches in this area. There are also the beautiful beaches of Railay, Phranang, Noppharat Thara, Klong Muang and Leam Pong in the immediate area.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Location: Udon Thani, Thailand

I just returned from an excursion to Vientiane, pronounced Whenchien; the French really screwed the westernization of the name back during the colonial day of French Indochina. Only the tourists pronounce it phonetically. I came up for an appointment at the US Embassy, but more on that latter. Here's the skinny on my trip.....
It's time for my first extension of my retirement visa here in Thailand. One on the requirements is proof of income. For Americans this is an easier task than for expats from other countries. All we Americans need is a notarized statement of income from our embassy. We fill out a form, pay a fifty dollar fee and attest to the notary that the information is true and correct and voila done deal. Other expats need to provide bank and retirement income statements to verify their income.
I had a choice of traveling to Bangkok by plane spend a couple days in the "Big Mango" or make a much shorter trip up to Vientiane, Laos. It was really a no brainer. Vientiane is much cheaper, smaller and more accommodating than the alternative.
I made the trip with another US expat. We drove forty five minutes to the border, parked in a secure area and took a bus across to the border crossing. The bus ride was 15 baht (50 cents). We exited Thailand with our exit visa stamp, then filled out two forms, paid our thirty five dollars for a 30 day visa to enter Laos.
Had a meal last night at my favorite Italian restaurant in Asia, the Aria next to Wat Mixtay here in Vientiane. This was followed by a few beers. The local brew here is "Beer Lao" and a 640ml bottle was around 2 USD.
The next morning we headed off to the embassy. The total time spent in the embassy getting our statements was about fifteen minutes, and most of that was spent filling out the form.
Next step is to get a copy of the house book and owners ID as proof of residence, make copies of the pertinent pages of my passport. Then fill out the proper Thai form and submit all the documents with three passport size photos along with 1200 baht (40 USD) for the visa extension and 3800 baht (127 USD) for a multi entry/exit stamp. The multi exit/entry allows me to leave and re-enter the Kingdom as many times as I wish during the validity period of visa. This is a good option for those who like to travel to the neighboring countries or back home. Without this you have to apply for exit/re-entry and pay a fee for each trip outside the Kingdom. If you don't make the application, your one year visa becomes void upon exiting Thailand.
Speaking of beer ( I was speaking of beer wasn't I?) had a few last night and planing on more than a few this evening. Beer Lao fresh from the brewery just down the road, and cheap. We're in the hot season here now. Can't really do much walking, so the only option is to sit some where cool and have a cold beverage. It's a tough life, but I'll handle it.
I'll be going back to the US next month for the cooler summer of upstate NY. I plan on visiting family and doing a lot of biking (motor not pedal) with friends. I plan on returning in September. I'll be looking for a place on the coast when I return. I need the serenity of the lapping of waves and the accompanying breezes.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Location: Udon Thani, Thailand

Sorry to all my friends who have been following my journal here on Planet Ranger. I let my subscription lapse and just renewed it today.
I have been posting on my Facebook page though.
I'll be posting photos from the last two events latter today. the first is of my trip to Cha-Am, Thailand, about a two/three hour drive south of Bangkok. Small town with an expansive beach and is located just north of the beach tourist mecca, Hua Hin on the Gulf of Thailand.
The second set of photos are from the Sonkran festival here in Udon.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Location: Udon Thani, Thailand

It's chilly right now in Udon, about 63'F, but the sun is shinning brightly and it's a quiet Sunday morning.
I came to a decision yesterday afternoon while having a beer with a friend, I'm going to check out Bangkok. The floods have receded for a while now and the clean up is suppose to be complete. That being said, I plan to access the situation first hand.
I have an airline ticket deal for one way travel to Bangkok from Udon at a cost of thirty dollars. I'll spend a long weekend in the capital and then perhaps head further south to one of the beaches.
Of course after Bangkok it is all up in the air at this point. I'm reverting back to my normal pattern of travel, FBTSOYP (Fly By The Seat Of Your Pants). No fixed travel plan, just pick a direction and go. To be honest, there are a couple of places I'd like to go, but I'll wait to see where the winds takes me.
I'll make my next entry as the odyssey progresses.

Thursday, 09 February 2012

Location: Udon Thani, Thailand

Well I haven't added any entries in a few days so here's some extremely boring info on my life in Thailand.
My normal routine is pretty mundane. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I start at 6am with a trip to the gym at the local University. I usually spend half an hour on the upper torso machines followed by a half hour on the elliptic strider for my cardio. The cost for using the facilities is 30 baht a day, that's about a dollar.
After the gym it's home to shower and grab breakfast. Breakfast is usually Kow Thom Gai, a rice soup with a chicken base, lemon grass, roasted garlic, minced green onions and spices. It's a light breakfast, but extremely flavorful.
After breakfast, I watch news for about two hours. I usually rotate between FOX, BBC, Asia News (Singapore) and Aljazerra.
Then it's out for a cup of tea with 3 or 4 of my Brit friends followed by about two hours of socializing and commentary on world events and Thai gossip. We usually take lunch together and then have a stroll downtown and coffee at a cafe, and yes watching and talking about the local beauties play a role in the days activities.
The only other routine I have is my periodic afternoon walk around one of the lakes in the area sometimes followed by a massage. The massage is a comfort that I never would have thought myself indulging in, but life is strange and massages are inexpensive at 3-4 dollars an hour. Before the question arises in your minds, these are authentic Thai massages. They may be exotic but not of the erotic bent. In the words of the song, One Night In Bangkok, "I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine". Although, in an effort of full disclosure the erotic kind are well represented here in Udon, or so I'm told....
Time for the most boring part for most of you now. As you know, I like to find out the history of the areas I visit. Here's some background I found on Udon Thani Rajabhat University where I use the gym.
It was originally established on November 1, 1923. The original name was "Teacher Training School in Agriculture Udon Thani" and offered a two-year certificate program to the various provinces in the area. In 1930, it was officially changed to "Teacher Training School for Men"and later on for "Women" offering a two-year certificate program in general subjects. In 1958, it was renamed "Udon Thani Teachers' Training School" and was up-graded to be "Udon Thani Teachers' College" on February 29, 1960.
Based on the Teachers' College Act of 1975, Udon Thani Teachers' College came under the control of the Ministry of Education and was allowed to offer bachelor degree programs in various fields. Because of the diverse programs of study and the prevention of misunderstanding of its roles and functions, His Majesty King Bhumibhol Adulyadej graciously bestowed the new prestigious name "Rajabhat Institute" (Rajabhat = the people of the King) to Teachers' Colleges nationwide together with his personal royal seal as the university emblem on February 14, 1992. Since then, those representing Rajabhat Institute Udon Thani, had put in their collective effort to develop the institute to become the higher education institution for community development and now offers Associate, Bachelor, Master and Doctoral Degrees to the general public.
In 2003, a remarkable change occurred when the Rajabhat University Act was passed and officially approved. Therefore, Udon Thani Rajabhat Institute has legally assumed it's university status and on June 15, 2004 assumed the new name "Udon Thani Rajabhat University" (UDRU) under Commission on Higher Education.
Udon Thani Rajabhat University consists of five degree offering faculties and a School of Graduate Studies. The five faculties are Education, Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, General Management Sciences, and Technology.
UDRU offer degree programs at the diploma, bachelor, master, and doctoral levels in many of the above listed fields.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Location: Udon Thani, Thailand

Had an uncomfortable day yesterday and a restless night last night, but feel much better today. I passed a small kidney stone this morning and all is good. The last time I passed a stone was in 2010 when I was in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Three days n pain and the nearest decent hospital was 4 hours by car. the area was beautiful though.
http://www.sihanoukville-cambodia.com/about-sih...
I posted some photos given to me by a local biker of the Bike Weekend here in Udon.
I'm in the planning stage for my next trip, so stay tuned.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Location: Udon Thani, Thailand

Just a short update on the weekend.
I missed the Bike weekend. I thought it was Saturday and Sunday...I was wrong. It started Friday and ended Saturday evening.
When it rained on Saturday, I thought no biggie, I'll go on Sunday. Big surprise when I got to the area. The tables and chairs were stacked and the tents were being taken down.
The day wasn't a total loss though. I went the next road over to UD Town, an open air mall. The shops are enclosed and air-conditioned, but the center courtyard is open and has a series of streams and fountains.
The area was decorated for Chinese New Year and I took some photos that are posted.
I'll see if I can get some photos of the Bikes from local friends to post latter.
That it for now in LOS.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Location: Udon Thani, Thailand

As I write this it is 2:30 Saturday afternoon in Udon, 86'F and a light rain is falling. A front has finally moved in though Vietnam and across southern Laos from the South China Sea. They have been predicting rain for the last two days and it's finally here. It's not monsoon season, this is just a front that will stick around for a day or two and move on. It's actually a nice change from the ever sunny days we've been having since November.
The down side of the rain today is twofold. First today and tomorrow is Bike weekend here in Udon. Bikers have descended from the region to show off their iron steeds and party. The rain will put off all but the serious bike enthusiasts.
Second, this is Chinese New Year weekend with New Year Day falling on Monday. Almost all celebrations will be conducted out of doors.
No matter, I'll attend and have photos to post of both events.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Location: Udon Thani, Thailand

Decided to take a short ride around Udon this afternoon while the apartment was being cleaned. The weather has been sunny and in the lower 80's. I explored some more of the side sios (streets) a little further out from the apartment. I cruised around Nong Prajeck park and decided that was old news so I motored over to Nong Bua park.
Nong Bua has a very colorful temple and pillar shrine and I thought a Tuesday afternoon would be a perfect time to visit without the crowds of the evening. I was right, i had the place almost entirely to myself. I've posted a couple photos to show the vibrant colors.
The temple was getting ready for the Chinese New Year Celebration the 23rd of January.
I'll post more on this celebration as we get closer to the date.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Location: Udon Thani, Thailand

Here are some interesting observations for those of you who may consider retiring overseas. Remember, you need to "live" in a location to get the real cost and flavor of a location, not just "tour" it. Many tourist destinations make poor choices to retire to.

First, the cost of being a tourist anywhere in the world has nothing to do with the cost of living in that place. Not in Syracuse, Panama City, Paris, Chiang Mai, Kuala Lumpur or anywhere else.

Second, it's impossible to talk about the cost of living in any country on earth. Is the United States an expensive place to live today? Are we talking about Stowe or Ojo Caliente? The same thin-sliced thinking must be applied when considering any other country, too. Is Thailand cheap? Bangkok is more expensive than Chiang Mai, but Udon Thani is cheaper still. Location, location, location.

Third, how you live has everything to do with your cost of living. You have to compare your total cost of living in one place versus the total cost of living in another. You can't try to make a determination as to the relative cost of living somewhere based on the costs of just a few items.

Fourth, being a tourist is not he same as being a resident. Tourists come to see things, buy things, and have fun. A resident "lives" day to day in the same environment. You can't expect to be entertained each and every day. The area you retire to must have something to keep you busy on a day to day basis. I've seen too many westerners here drink themselves into a stupor daily. Most end up going home for medical reasons.

Fifth, perhaps another option would to be a perpetual traveler, spending a month in one area then moving on to the next. Keeping the experience fresh and engaging. Perhaps finding a home base to travel from, but not encumbering yourself with all the trappings of a true "home". In the words of Jack Kerouac, "if you own a rug, you own too much".

Some are tourists, some are homebodies and some are perpetual travelers. So the bottom line is you have make an honest evaluation of the person you are. There is no "right" type of person, you are who you are and if you try to be what you're not or try to change a person into something they're not, you're setting yourself up for nothing but grief and disappointment.

Over and out from the land of smiles (LOS).


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Recent Messages

From Andy
Good to see some activity again on your site. Hope all is well as the year end draws nigh... See you in 6 months
Response: Ill try it make entries weekly or as the situation dictaes. its cold here this morning, 66*F and 43% humidity. Brrr...
I'll see you in June. Have a Happy New Year.
From Dennis aka Gam Dang
I taught English at the former Wittiarai Kroo Udorn as well as the Wittiya in Udorn as a GI in the early 70s. Have searched maps of Udorn as well as printed references to it online to no avail until I stumbled across your blog. Thanks for posting on a subject beyond typical ex-pat concerns.

Dennis
Response: Sorry I havent had any recent posts.
I was stationed in Korat 1969-1971 with U.S. Army Aviation.
I'll send you an email.
From Larry M. Shedd
If you stumble into Ban Don Wai stop and say hello. You should have my cell #.
Response: Thanks Larry. Heading to Nong Khai for the Coronation weekend, then down to Bangkok for income statement to renew retirement visa. Back to the states the end of June for two months, so it would probably be after September before I head down your way.
From Pawn
Do you think you can make it to Chiang Mai for Chinese New Year?
We are having a big celebration and i would like you to meet my family.
Response: Hi Pawn,
I'll send you an email.
Carl
From Linda
That is exactly what kept me teaching for 35 years!!!!
Response: I doff my hat to you me lady.
I love doing it a few hours a week, but I don't think i could do it well as a career.
From Linda
What a wonderful thing you are doing.There is nothing worse than children suffering. I am sure they love you for being there for them.
Response: To be honest, I'm not doing much. I show up, give them some attention and tutor. I have to admit it's brings tears to my eyes every time the children greet me as "teacher" with smiles that could melt the coldest heart.
From john and tami
hey big man...hope all is well. sorry i did not send wishes on the holiday's but you know we could only wish you well anytime. miss you and can't wait for you to get back here for some laugh's and drink's..... john and tami
Response: I'll be back the end of June for a couple months. I had a good Christmas and New Years, hope you and Tammi did as well. Love you both, see you when the summer arrives.
From Linda
Happy New Year! Hope this year brings much happiness. I am looking forward to happy times. Brad and Chrissy are getting married in May. That will take up much of my time. Wish you could be here, Miss you.
Response: Thanks for the New Years wishes. Perhaps next year New Year in Panama ???????
May is a little too early for my return, but give them both my love and best wishes for a great life together.
From Tim
Hi Carl,

As usual, I loved all the pictures and stories. I'm so glad you're out having fun and seeing new things. all is well here. Take care my friend.

Tim
Response: Tim, glad to hear from you. hope your holidays were great. see you next summer.
From Tish
Hey Carl!
Hope you had a Merry Christmas and celebrate the New Year to the fullest! Glad you’re having the time of your life over there but NEXT time you come home we need to see MORE of you, mister. haha!
Love,
Tish
Response: My holiday were good, Christmas was a little depressing though. Missed the family. hopefully i can have Missie and Shawn visit next year.
From SHAWN
hey dad i forgot that you do this planet ranger. Talked to Andy and he said check it out. We hadn't heard from u and got nervous. Dad this is amzing.I love the fact that u living life to the fullest, you deserve to enjoy life after working so hard your whole life. I love you dad.
Response: Thanks Shawn, I hope you and the family have a wonderful Christmas. I'll be sending a present by Western Union for you. I'll text/email the MTCN # later.
Love,
Dad
From Andy
Good to see your posting again. This one is quite interesting, not that the rest aren't. We would love to see this sight when we visit.(if crossing borders isn't too involved) I remember seeing photos on your computer.
Nice to hear you could share your visit as well as your beer. Hope you will be able to spend the upcoming holidays with your fellow expats.You are and will be missed.Merry Christmas!
Response: Yo Bro,
I really miss friends and family during this time of year. Who knows, maybe next year I'll be visiting Panama for the holidays.....
Merry Christmas, set out a drink for me.
Carl
From linda
Good to hear from you again. Thank you for history lesson. I never really paid much attention to the history of that area. I remember taking a history course in college but it may have been before thewar protests over here.We have been having a very mild winter(well doesnt start until tomorrow) so far. No snow to speak of. Temperatures warm for this time of year. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and very Happy New Year. Think about you often.
Response: Hi Linda,
Thanks for the message. I hope you and Andy have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
Miss both of you, have a toddy for me.
Love,
Carl
From Tish
Carl - incredibly interesting... I sure hope you’re taking a ton of pictures because I’d love to see the “jars”... you hear from Pawn - sounds like you enjoyed her company... :)

Merry Christmas, my friend, and I hope that your New Year brings you safe and happy travels!
Tish
Response: Hi Tish,
We visited three of the sites on the Plain of Jars. I'll post some more photos later.
Going to spend Christmas Day with a veteran friend and his family up near Laos in a small village.
Pawn has invited me for New Years week to Chiang Mai. haven't decided yet on going there or heading down to the beach for the week.
Have a Merry Christmas,
Carl
From Keith Conroy
Hi Carl. I saw your name on the bulletin board here..at MS Kennedy. I just started working here a month ago. I'm in Test Engineering with Ken Ballschmeider & his crew. I figure at 62 I'm too young to retire.
Response: Hi Keith,
I often thought that I would work the rest of my life because I loved what I was doing. Then I started to watch many folks I knew pass on. I decided that I had too many things left to do and see before I checked out. So here I am living my dreams instead of dreaming my life away.
Talk with Andy Rudd in test for retirement ideas abroad.
Latter,
Carl
From
Hey Carl,
Saw a movie recently you might enjoy. "Bitter/Sweet". Filmed there and mentions Chaing Mai. Deals with the coffee industry. Not the worst flik I've seen. Ck it out if you can.
Have a contract on Linda's house, but have hit a snag. If we can resolve same, I'll be retired in less than 90 days. PRAY FOR US!!!!!!
Response: I'll check out the movie if it's released over here.
I'm pulling for you both, hope the sale goes through.
From john andtami
not sure what day there ...but just wanted to thank you again for all you have done to make this country the greatest and safest on earth....our hats are off to you and all other vets both living and decesed. thank you brother...... miss you and can't wait to see you again....be safe. john
Response: Thanks brother. I'll see you in June 2012.
From Linda
Hi Carl, Glad things are going well for you. We still are in Syracuse! Houses aren't moving. The market is pretty bad right now. People are selling houses for less than they are worth. Economy in bad shape. THANK YOU Mr. Obama!!! Will most likely spend another winter here. : ( Take care.
Linda
Response: Looks like Panama is another year away.....
From andy
C''mon man!! Hand the camera to someone and send us some pix of you on your new ride!!!!
Response: I'll post some new photos today.
From Marcie Brushaber
Glad for the update. Was just going to ask if you were affected by the flooding. Some people we know are going to Chiang Mai in March. I looked it up on a map, but I don't know what the driving time would be.
Response: Hi Marcie,
It's about a 14 hour drive from Udon. The drive is about 670km up into the twisting roads of the mountains.
Panorama of Chiang Mai Flooding, 2011, starting at PanTip Plaza at the south end of the night bazzar. 
http://xzyte360.com/cmflood/
Carl
From Dave Burrows
What's up Brother? I found ya...Sorry i missed the going away party Carl.....Gayle's B-Day was the same day, and we did nothing.....God i was a bit angry to tell ya the trueth! But Carl stay dry, at least as much as ya can... The Sporty will be running in the spring to Carl! I love ya man, and you take care!
Response: Glad I hear from ya. I'll be back in June with my knees in the breeze.
From Andy
glad to see you made it back safely.
youre missing NOTHING here weatherwise. hasnt stopped raining since you left! Missy called me last night(tues) wanting to contact you. Dont think it was too important,but contact her when you can.Signing off 4 now from the LOR(land of rain)
Response: Thanks Andy, I'll call after I set up a local mobile phone account.
From Marcie Brushaber
Hope you have a good trip back today:)
Response: I've arrived back in Thailand. I'm tired, but OK.
Give my love to the family,carl
From Bill Garwood
hello from Ca.

Forgive me My friend, I have not been in touch in quite a while.

I was so surprised to find you had gone a walk a bout. If I may ask, What happened? I thought you were Very happy, married, etc.

I have retired from the Army in 2006 after a quick trip to Iraq in 04-05 I now run a Recycle program on Fort Hunter Liggett, ca about 7 miles from home.

Nice work, I was retired fro about 8 months...Sooo Boooored!!

We are going up north to look around Montana, see what's there, thinking of moving...hate politics in Ca. among other things.

Write soon brother Take care
God Bless Bill, wild, one each OD green
Response: Wild Bill,
I've sent you a private email.
Latter,
Carl
From Marcie Brushaber
Hi Carl,
We have a lot of pictures to send you. I didn't get any cards sent out Christmas before last so it was a real fat envelope that got returned to us with your old address on it. Now I have even more to add to it. If you happen to get a chance to come out Arkansas way while you are here in the states we would love to see you. My parents live 20 miles away so if you would prefer a more peaceful place to stay (no 7, 5, or 3 year old boys) with a large pond and dock for fishing that would be an option also. Be warned though, the big fish all have names and are not for dinner. Luckily they don't seem to mind being caught with barbless hooks.
Response: Not doing too much traveling. Missie had two strokes, my SUV is out of commission and the lodge has burned down. Susan isn't paying the mortgage on the lodge so I'm stuck with the balance. Other than that things are great... Well I know I won't ever be given more than I can handle, but I think I'm close. I'm staying with friends in Clay, NY until the end of August. I'll be returning to Thailand then. I'll email you my temporary address. Looked at Jeff's Facebook, the boys are getting big. I've never seen the youngest. Take care.