If you want to know what ROF stands for it is "Retired Old Fart", plus any other word that starts "f" actually I have just turned, so I am not ready for the old farts home yet.
My other life was spent on the Australian navy and being medically discharged, moved from Sydney to Tweed Heads area in northern NSW in 2007. It is very beautiful area of  New South Wales.
But I needed a change and a chance to see other countries.
I have always wanted to see Thailand and being single allowed me to take my time and live here for while and get the true experience of being in another country. I have lived in other countries for short periods of times, so it is nothing new to me.
As my experience with other parts of Thailand is rather limited. I can only write about my experiences here in Chiang Rai. It is gifted with some really beautiful scenery and plenty of good places to go and visit. If you are bit of a coffee nut, well you are in paradise, there are good coffee shops every where.
Why did I move here, well to honest I never intended to stay here for the time that I have. Which is nearly 3 years, as to how much longer I will stay I do not know.
When I first arrived here in Thailand I met an Australian man his Thai wife, just be genuine, smile and treat people with respect. You always going to meet good, not so good and the bad where ever you. Fortunately I have been lucky in meeting a lot of good local people. The locals are nearly always eager to help you and want to know more about you. The biggest problem is the language barrier, not always an easy barrier to solve. Especially since I am lousy with learn another language, I am a bit of a perfectionist and a little shy, so I am not likely to say anything in Thai until I have learned to say properly. Work in progress on that front, but think that also learning about the culture should be just as important. Which would give a far better understanding of the way Thai people think.
I live here on a retirement visa, which you have to renew every year and you have to report to the local immigration office every 90 days.A lot of foreigners have a complain about it, I just put it down to living in another country and do not worry about.

While it is entirely possible we have unknowingly passed each other at the Mall or elsewhere, it is equally possible that we could end up never being in the same place at the same time.  I live a fair distance east in Phayamengrai so I am only in town a few times each week.

Hope you are enjoying you time here in Chiang Rai.  We built our house some ten years ago but before that I lived in Bangkok for thirty years.

Thank your letter, I had a look on the map at your location. I used to go riding with a group farangs on our scooters out your way quite often. We used to leave the Chiang Rai condotel around 9.30am each morning. The reason I stopped as I prefer to ride alone and after moving into a house. Plus being away from that place, I can now relax properly.

I seem to remember a day when I was out riding my bike when I stopped to say hello to three guys on their scooters...

If one riding a red Honda pcx150 and looks like Mosses, that is Aussie. Thai people love him because of his long silver beard and hair, plus he is quite a character. The friend is from Canada, both remind you of couple of retired Tellie Tubbies. Good blokes though.

Those sound like the guys.

With living in Chiang Rai do you miss any of the resources of a metropolitan area like Chiang Mai? Just asking. Then again that depends upon the kind of person you are. But for me I have seen a lack of resources make me look at other locations.

The only thing I really miss about Bangkok is a really nice, high-end, convenient, health club.  The tradeoff living here is that I have a nice trail up to our nearby reservoir and some really great cycling roads that start at my front door.  I was ready for a new phase in my life so made some conscious tradeoffs from city life to country life when we moved to Chiang Rai.

Over the last ten years things have gotten much better in Chiang Rai.  We now have a mall, better restaurants, better roads, better internet and I quite enjoy the drive to Chiang Mai if not too frequent.  My wife has been flying down to Bangkok more often recently and usually adds an extra day for shopping so anything we can’t get here she can pick up there.

If I were single, like I was for the first twenty years, I would still be living in Bangkok and going to the health club everyday.  If you have a really good relationship, loneliness and boredom don’t seem to be an issue.

In Bangkok I lived within walking distance of Central World and Paragon but I gave up that convenience so I could step into my front yard and see things like this.

So Beautiful... thanks for sharing... will save as screensavers...

Wonderful.  dcb

That is really Beautiful, but are we forgetting how it looks during the burning season.

I know Chiang Mai gets some bad winds that carry the smoke during the Myanmar burning season. Does is get up into Chiang Rai too?  If I had a neighbour doing that, I would report it to the city. How can this neighbourly neglect from an adjoining country be remedied? . . . but that's another topic that would merit full treatment from the good writers in these forums. 
PS: i have some interesting pics of my front and back yards in Thailand, but not sure how to load them into this window.  Cheers

Those three shots above were taken in my front yard with an iPhone and are just what it looked like yesterday but everyday is different.

I prefer to accentuate the good rather than dwell on the bad.  For example I think it is great that we don’t have blizzards, hurricanes, volcanos, mass murders and various other bad stuff.  We do get enough flooding to affect the rice crop some years and we get some small earthquakes in the region but not near us.

We do get some smoke but not enough for me to consider moving.  Thais most certainly don't do everything exactly as I might wish but issues like burning are regional problems and picking fights with every one of my neighbors won't solve the problem or make my life better.  For those who prefer to look at the bad stuff...

From what I have been told about 30% of the smoke in Chiang Mai comes from Myanmar and a large portion of the smoke coming from Thailand. The large company's encourage farmers to grow corn. Unfortunately the farmers don't have the means to clear the field's after the growing season. So the farmer's burn off the fields instead of clearing the fields. On top of that corn burn off includes large particulates, which creates the smoke and health hazard. From what I've been told.

Once, during the burning season, I flew over to Vientiane, Laos. The plane reached an altitude of about 17,000 feet. That smoke was up to 17,000 feet.

Again, as I have been told - Chiang Mai sits in a valley. That presents the typical problem of creating a pocket until winds can pick up and clear the area. Unfortunately with Chiang Mai that could take two months, or more.

Yes, that too.  Is there an alternative to this annual scenario?   dcb

For years nobody talked about the seven to eight million rai of corn in the North, mainly contracted out by major Thai corporations.  At least that is being talked about now.  In the North, there is lowland burning of the rice stubble, burning of leaves and branches after the fruit orchards have been harvested and trimmed, the corn of corse, and burning of the litter on the forest floor to promote mushrooms and to aid in harvesting wild animals for the dinner table.

Meteorological conditions are also very important with inversion layers trapping the smoke part of the year.  Burning goes on throughout the year but wind and rain help to clear the air part of the time.  The bigger particles are the most dramatic but it is the tiny particles which do the most damage to our health as they penetrate deeper into our bodies.

Some people are all about being punitive and punishing poor farmers but it isn’t that simple when considering social realities.  One could probably make a dent by taking on the corporations but they are very powerful.  Things do get better in Thailand eventually but it often takes generations.  For now we need to find ways to adapt just as one does with the seasons in other regions.

You exist as one very articulate and powerful voice among thousands with the same concern. Perhaps in numbers Thais and others all together could simply find a new way of doing the same old same old but preserve our collective health as well. One huge petition aimed directly at the corporate bosses by name could make a difference. Are we getting off topic? No, not yet. This is all about life in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai . . . would that be part of the Golden Triangle area?   dcb

Wow, that is some good information,thanks for sharing. I don't think most people blame the farmers, these days you would hope  people would look at the whole picture. But it doesn't take long to to realize how wealth is made in Thailand,on the backs of the poor. The poor are the slaves to the rich in this country. I try my best to stay out of politics in this country. My own country has many of its own problems. I believe the best someone can do. Is try to help one person at a time, you have so many people that need help,but be careful to make sure your help gets to the right place. Patrick

Technically the Golden Triangle is north of Chiang Rai around the Chiang Saen area.  That is where Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Thailand converge.

There is a lovely stretch of road (Route 1263) which runs from Khun Yuam to Mae Chaem and then on to the 1192 which takes you to the western entrance to Doi Inthanon National Park near Chiang Mai.  It is an extremely remote area but vast tracts have been planted with corn.  It is amazing to see an entire mountainside planted with corn and one wonders how people even manage to walk on that steep slope let alone farm it.  The fields and what is left over from removing the corn form the cob is all burned and the smoke drifts over to Chiang Mai if the wind is right.  Here is a shot I took of this otherwise remote and beautiful area of Northern Thailand.

We're learning a lot here. The northern terrain is beautiful -- a wonderful place to live -- yet that burning season still poses a health problem. To add to the issue of the burning season, here is a short informative article on why corn fields are burned after harvest: … harvesting  . . .  So, there are positive alternatives to burning, but taking heavy equipment into the mountains such as what Villagefarang has shown us in this last photo would not be feasible for several reasons. Sadly, big business trumps the other cards. Here is an excerpt that describes some uses of the corn that is not used for human consumption -- This excerpt is a general description and not specific to but I assume relevant to the scenario in Thailand:  "Not always but more than likely the corn in question is yellow dent corn. Dent corn feeds livestock, fuels cars, and makes plastics, starches, adhesives, and a huge array of other products." So, it is difficult to argue with production and the cost effective burning method; however, with modern science and public petition, perhaps we can still remain optimistic that a more healthy solution exists.  dcb

There actually is a solution to the burning, without using punitive or police action. If one could archive the Chiang Mai Ex Pat's Club, possibly last November, one could find a write up an organization that has come up with a solution. Not only that but a plan for expansion of development within the communities, for and by the communities. The usual problem is the seed money to get the program off the ground. From what I understand the government is not in a position to provide the seed money.

The plan is to burn the corn left overs at a very high temperature, leaving something like carbon stalks that can be used either as charcoal or fertilizer. I might have been snoozing for that segment. Another part of the program is to provide means for small electrical plants for some of the village areas. They said something about smaller villages not having electricity 24/7. The electricity could be used for temperature control for storage of crops giving farmers a greater choice for growing different crops.

It also seems that the big corporations are against this program because it takes their control away from the farmers. Presently they manipulate the market, of course to their benefit.

It's a very interesting topic.

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