Well! Hello again! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Where’ve you been? We’re all fine here, except we have been dealing with something called COVID 19. Maybe you’ve heard of it…
We have a lot of catching up to do, and many upcoming blog posts will be out of chronological order. The most exciting thing in our lives right now is that we have started construction on a new house for our little family. We bought 2 rai of rice field, 40m x 80m, from Mai’s cousin in early 2019 and a few months later had another cousin truck in enough soil to raise the level of the land by about 2 or 3 metres above the level of the rice field, which is under water during the growing season. We left the property alone for about 2 years and only visited to plant trees while time and the rains helped compact the soil.
Then COVID came along and bets were off until things settled down. The markets got back to normal early this year and we were on our way. We met with a few architects who showed us some designs, and settled on one that we liked, with a few small changes. It’s a little over 1,100 square feet. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a nice kitchen and a small ‘Buddha Room’ for Mai.
Construction was preceded by a traditional Thai ceremony that takes place when the first post in placed into the ground. The ceremony is to assure good luck and prosperity for the residents. The date for the ceremony was determined by the local monks, because it can’t be any old day. Some days are more auspicious than others. Once the day was settled we had to find someone to perform the ceremony. The local monks were already book (there’s a lot of construction going on) so we brought in an elder from another village who performed the ceremony for us.
Long ago, the posts were wooden. These days they’re concrete. The builders had already been over to excavate the footings that the concrete columns would be placed on, so the site was full of deep holes and the first post was actually a cage of steel reinforcing rod (“rebar”) in the shape of the column.
Everyone went around and tossed coins into the holes before the ceremony. I made sure that each hole had a Canadian Loonie or Twoonie as well! Tied to the posts are small banana trees and a woven wicker fish trap. These are to insure our house is always stocked with plenty of food.
That concludes the ceremony. After that we do what always comes after a Thai ceremony…we eat! Mai and her Mom prepared some simple dishes the night before and we enjoyed them along with plenty of conversation back at her Mom’s house.
Construction has been progressing well. We were originally told that the house would be ready in 10 months. However, we think we’ll be in it sooner than that…maybe more like August as long as the rainy season isn’t too rainy. The plan is to get the walls up and the roof on as soon as possible so they can work inside through the rainy season. The rains have started already, but it hasn’t been enough to slow them down too much.
The house is built off the ground on the columns. That’s a nod to tradition Thai house design, where houses were built 2 or 3 metres above ground to keep everyone dry in the rainy season when rice fields are flooded for the 5 to 6 month growing season. There are still many houses built that way here in town and out in the country. Mai remembers the first house she grew up in was made of woven bamboo, had a thatched roof and was built on stilts.
I will post more photos here as construction progresses and hope some of you will come and see it for yourselves when it and COVID are finished!