Topics for a Short Attention Span

June 1, 2013

Normally I come up with an idea for a posting and I write about what I am thinking and what might help any prospective retirees to Thailand. Lately with the heat my attention span is about the same as my one year old grandson’s. So I’ll write some short pieces on stuff I have been thinking about with the hopes that the weather will break and the rainy season will soon be upon us.

Big Bikes

In the last month at least 3 Expats here in Thailand have died riding large, rented motorcycles. Two died in crashes on Phuket when one lost control on a 1,000 cc motorcycle and another failed to negotiate a sharp curve on his big bike. Both were going at excessive speed and neither even made it to a hospital.

The latest was a Russian visitor in Jomtien who was weaving in and out of traffic at very high speed on a 750 cc Kawasaki. As he came around a car he hit a motorcycle taxi (the taxi driver is okay). This sent the Russian flying over his handle bars. He was going so fast that when his body struck a light pole he came away in two pieces, splitting him right in half. It was the first time I remember that a Thai newspaper story of an accident refused to show pictures as being too graphic. If you have ever seen the front pages here then you will know how bad this accident must have been.

I have often written about driving in Thailand with warnings about how dangerous it can be unless we take serious precautions, like driving slowly, being aware that those around you may do things you are not ready for, and definitely never driving under-the-influence.

But now there is one more danger we must be aware of, the big bikes that are for rent, especially in places frequented by Expat visitors. Most visitors have no idea how to drive in Thai traffic, most also have never driven a motorcycle before, and almost none have any idea how powerful and fast these big bikes are.

Please be aware of how dangerous these big bikes can be. They are much too powerful in the hands of an inexperienced driver or one who may be alcohol disabled. I know a number of big-bikers here and they are usually very responsible and handle their bikes with considerable skill. This is not always the case with newbies here who have little or no experience with the larger cc motorcycles.

I love the freedom of driving a motorcycle here and I drive one almost every day, a nicely sized Honda Dream 125 cc; a perfect bike for Thai streets. I don’t drink (my lifetime quota for alcohol was used up way back in my 30s) and I keep my highest speeds between 55 and 60 kph.

If you choose to drive, choose a bike that you can control, drive slowly, be aware of the crazy conditions here, and please do it sober. I want to keep all my readers safe.


 Another birthday

My birthday is in a few days. Sixty-seven years old. Wow!

I have been thinking about if there is any significance in that number. Sixty is big deal here as it means that you have completed your 5th cycle (A cycle is a 12-year span coinciding with the Chinese zodiac). Sixty-two was when I first got Social Security. Sixty-four is cool since it was made special by the Beatles song “When I’m 64”, Will you still need me?  Will you still feed me? And at 65 I got Medicare (fat good that will do me while I am living abroad).

But what about 67? The only thing significant about this year that I can think of is that 67 is a prime number. Coincidentally, this is also my 67th blog posting.  Oh, one more thing.  Sixty-seven, and I’m still here. In my eyes that is pretty significant.

Still here!

Still here!

Coffee update

I mentioned that I have tried drinking coffee for the first time. The other day I had a morning coffee and later in the day I had one of those real tasty Thai ice coffees. Big mistake.

After having two doses of caffeine in a day I went that whole night without a minute of sleep. Seriously, not one minute.

I am usually a great sleeper and normally have “instant sleep”. I once tested myself and found that I average about 30 seconds from the time my head hits the pillow until I am asleep.

So insomnia was something quite new to me. This was the first time I went a whole night without sleep when there wasn’t alcohol, drugs, or a woman involved.

No more than one caffeine dose per day after this.

Fish Update

Remember that snake head fish that was struggling in the few inches of water left in the canal behind my house?  Well, to paraphrase Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch, “It’s demised, it’s passed on, it’s no more, it has ceased to be, it’s expired and gone to meet its maker. It is an ex-fish.” My gardener with his trusty fishing crossbow made sure he did the deed when I wasn’t around. I am sure it made for a tasty meal.

Weight loss update

A while ago I wrote about my weight loss program. I was successful – to a point. I have gained back about half the weight I lost but I feel great. I think I am at the weight my body wants to be – 80 kilos or about 176 lbs. Occasionally I gain a few extra pounds but I have found a really good way to get them off again. I stop drinking soft drinks. I am basically addicted to them, the sugary kind – not aspartame which is poisonous to me. But when I stop drinking soft drinks I almost automatically lose about 2 kilos within a few days. Boy, I wish I drank beer. I could probably lose about 10 kilos just by cutting that out.

And when I need a little incentive to keep the weight off I just Google “People of Wal-Mart” and see what I am missing not living back in the Good ol’ U.S. of A.

Long sleeves update

Last time I mentioned that I have taken to wearing long sleeves when out in the sun. Well, as I have found out once again, there is a very good Thai solution to a Thai problem. I was walking through my favorite outdoor market yesterday, the huge Saturday market at Sanpatong, a little south of Chiang Mai, when I came across an interesting article of clothing. Sleeves. They were selling sleeves, in all colors and patterns, 15 baht.

They are sort of like the arm equivalent of those leg warmers that were made so popular from my favorite bad movie Flashdance.

Then I realized, lots of the people I saw wearing t-shirts with long sleeve shirts underneath (which I thought must be quite hot) were really just wearing a t-shirt and these sleeves. Cleaver these Thais. So I bought a couple of pairs and I am hooked. I can wear my cool Seattle Seahawks t-shirt and slip on these sleeves and with my floppy hat I can protect myself from the sun shooting those death rays at me all day.

It is my belief that since I started covering up from the sun, the skin problems I have had for years (an itch so bad that it makes the thought of blowing ones brains out a logical solution the problem) have all but gone away. Itch free for the first time in memory.

It is probably true that we are a large contributor to most of our own problems, social, emotional, environmental, and health ones included. That means a simple lifestyle change (sleeves blocking out the sun’s UV rays in my case, drinking fewer soft drinks is another) might be all we need to do to make things lots better.

If we are doing something the same way over and over again and it isn’t working out for us, maybe the solution is to do it differently. Anyone want to talk about the solutions to global climate change?

Electric bill update

I said in an earlier post that I would get back to you and let you know what my electric bill was after using my air conditioner almost every night, and lots of times during the day, for the month of April. I was quite apprehensive about what it would be and if I would have to take a part-time job to pay the bill.

Well, we just got the bill, 3,100 baht. The month before, the bill was 1,700 baht. The difference after running the air conditioner was 1,400 baht or about $35.00. Looks like I will be able to survive the hot season and I won’t have to look for that part-time job after all.

Excuse me while I go turn on the air conditioner again.

Note: Since I have planted well over 200 trees on my property (lovingly named The Shire) I think I probably still have a negative carbon footprint even if I use the air conditioner.

The Shire - with its negative   carbon footprint

The Shire – with its negative
carbon footprint

11 Responses to “Topics for a Short Attention Span”

  1. Ki said

    Another excellent article! Very funny about the coffee.:)

  2. TMac said

    Hugh, Congratulations on your upcoming 67th birthday. You look great! You still have many more years of writing interesting articles. Best in health, TMac

  3. Kris said

    I always look forward to your posts, Hugh. Any thoughts about how Obamacare might affect US expats living overseas? Will we be exempt from the required insurance coverage?

  4. Eric said

    Happy Birthday Hugh! Another interesting read.. I started consuming coffee at the tender age of 5 or 6 years old because back then my granny used to prepare home made coffee everyday and stored them in a flask.. now after drinking coffee even late at night, i dont have any problem falling asleep. You can say that I am immune to coffee!


  5. Ken C. said

    I am also sensitive to the sun [although dark complected] and used “Pearl Izumi” brand arm sleeves that are marketed to bicyclists or runners. I’ve mostly switched to long-sleeved shirts, but, considering Thailand’s heat, will probably use arm sleeves when we visit there later this year.

    If you avoid the sun as much as I do, you might have your doctor test you for Vitamin D deficiency. Even though I was taking a multiple vitamin, our doc put me on Vit D 2000 units [I also use sun screen on my face & arms].

    Neat blog post. Congratulations on 67!

    Ken C.

  6. mike said

    Hugh really appreciate the update on cost. Happy birthday! Mike in Taipei

  7. belated birthday to you, hugh.

    enjoy reading your latest post. ^_^

  8. Barb A said

    Hello Hugh –
    Over about a week’s time I’ve read all your blog entries from oldest to most recent. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I’ve found it fascinating and informative as my husband and I think about retiring in Chiang Mai. I especially like yourclear positive voice and your ability to keep finding joy in your daily life there.

    My main concern about moving to Thailand has to do with making friends there with other women and couples. Even when moving from one place to another in the US it has taken a long time to get past feeling isolated and alone and start having real friendships. I am not nearly as outgoing as I’d like to be. With the cultural and language differences, I wonder how I’d get to know Thai women, and with the relative scarcity of female expats, I wonder how I’d meet and connect with them as well. I haven’t found blogs by retired expat women who might give me some insight on this. Perhaps you may know some expat women there who might share about their experiences when they first came to Thailand in terms of building friendships?

    Thanks, Hugh.

    Barb A.

  9. Pat Teepatiganond said

    Congratulation and welcome to the 67 club, Hugh.
    I am too thinking moving back to Thailand.

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