Caving river banks

Erosion is always a concern along rivers. In Minneapolis, there was a huge cave-in in 2013 and it has yet to be cleaned-up 2 1/2 years later. Here in central Thailand, river erosion is problematic too. Consider:

A. If you have access to trees along the river and you need some money to survive, you cut down the trees:

2. Then you chop them to bits, light them afire and quickly bury them in a dirt hole with a pipe sticking out of it to keep the smoldery fire going for days. When you dig it up, you have charcoal to sell to your neighbors to use in their small kitchen stoves. Who wants to spend good baht on clean propane when charcoal is available?  3. Then, for reasons I’m yet unable to comprehend, you burn the land down to the dirt. 

4. When rainy season arrives, the adjacent river road has no support on the river bank, so it begins to crack and slide toward the water.

 5. After the bank collapses, the local community must invest its resources in backfilling the washout area, and in some cases installing undoubtedly costly retaining walls.   

So, considering the consequences, there must be pretty good reasons to allow all the chopping and burning. What are they?

Mail call

Our spirits lifted today when we got mail from people who love us back home. Thanks especially to the Magid Harts, who mailed two!! Real paper mail provides something tangible and comforting and we appreciate it a lot. We like Facebook clicks too, but somehow it’s just not the same.

Wat Ban Cha sunrise


The sun just after seven in the morning as it claws its way through smoggy skies. Not a lot of options to avoid the smoke, really; slash-and-burn agriculture gives people the work they need; no funds are available in small towns for recycling programs, and no trash pickup means that your discarded stuff has to go somewhere …

Enter the Police


My friend Ken and I were studying Thai with our Ajaan. A dapper uniformed man strode rapidly into the courtyard, handed his phone to our Ajaan and wordlessly posed for a picture with the foreigners. He attempted an exit but I stopped him and got this picture too. My old privacy-lawyer spidey sense was tingling! Are they building dossiers on us? Most likely not. Just being friendly.