Sunday, March 9, 2014

23 Nong Ki

Making progress on the house upcountry...


An interesting week.

I sketched out my ideas onto square paper. It is a combination of apartments I lived in. Suan Phinit Place next to Kukrit's House in Bangkok - my first home in Thailand. A penthouse in Ho Chi Minh City that overlooked the Reunification Place. And this place on Sukhumvit Soi 31. I'm thinking it should work. Then I lifted a standard traditional vernacular Thai house plan from the internet and wedded them.

Progress since. Had a good drink and then got rather slaughtered in Cosmos and then Madrid down in Pat Pong with my lawyer who's sorting out the house papers. We seemed to have the complete district of inequity to ourselves. I think the tourists have been scared off by the recent street protests. Did we care? Of course not. San Miguel at 100THB a bottle, a meandering chat and no hassle from "where-you-flom" "you handsome man" dorises.

Three steps are now under way in the legal process. One, get the 'chanotes' sorted (the land titles, ownership of the land). This looks like it will be ticked off by April / Songkhran. Two, draw up the lease agreement between me and Boomers. This was a fun part of the evening. Me and Ben discussing and losing it over what sort of things to include in the lease.

For example, whether we should allow the lease to be nullified should I take too much ecstasy and parade naked around the village on Tuesday and Wedensday mornings.

What if I bought a permanent residency status and became a right wing ultra-royalist member of parliament, set up a protest site in my garden and decided only me should get voting rights on the use of the village water supply. What if I went senile and decided to open a night market, massage parlour and English pub in the access lane down the side of my rai. Whether we should allow the lease to be nullified if the school next door decided to open a night market, massage parlour and an English pub in the access lane down the side of my rai.

What would happen if I married a mad bint who axed me to death in order to inherit the complete set of non stick saucepans, the room with the flat screen TV and my entire Scalextric collection. Should we include a 'ghost appearance clause?' What would happen if Boomer's son turned into a looper, fell in love with a French rugby player and attempted the butter scene from Last Tango in Paris on the patio?

Legalities can be so much more interesting with a couple dozen San Miguels swishing around my belly.

Legal step three, get one of Ben's assistants to go up and check details with the land registry.

That was Wednesday, I think. On Thursday (or was it Friday?), (and what did happen to Thursday if it was Friday) it came off the rails. Just a tad.

I was introduced to the designer who had done one of Boomer's mates houses in Bangkok. Crikey O'Reilly. Boomer's mate had planned her house to cost around 50 million baht (that's around 1.2 million pounds in old money) and the many builders she used kept mucking up. The costs ran to, wait for it, 100 million baht. And the guy we met helped her sort out all the problems. I will not be spending 100 million baht. If I do I expect more than a few builders to be running off. 100 million. What on earth... I'd buy an everlasting round the world holiday for 100 million.

100 million aside. Designer Guy donned a flamboyant, posh and, I noticed, straw hat. Weird shoes and he was sockless. Chino type loose trousers (as architects do) and a little tartan shirt over a whiter than white tee shirt vest. Hey ho. I couldn't seem him pushing a wheelbarrow.

Des Guy wanted to design the house, design the perimeter wall, look at the earth, smell the earth, feel the earth, be the earth, whisk me through a concept for the interiors, assess the feng shui and microclimates for the plants, dangle a crystal over my energy fields and engage in a philosophical debate with those who constructed the Aswan Damn for tip top advice to create an outdoor Jacuzzi and plunge pool while not upsetting the River God. Possibly plonk a Machu Pichu up above my rooflines.

To be honest, he probably didn't. But I'd started to turn off after I noticed he wasn't wearing socks and was completely shut down by the time he began suggesting the interior design costs would be as high as the groundwork and the build. Grand Design? Grand bollocks, matie.

I tried to describe my fantasies of the low cost cleanliness of a Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Pavilion, and Le Corbusier's machines for living in. I struggled to present a vision of a single lone but not lonely self-actualizing man, wearing Levi 501s and a tailor made black shirt from Raja's tailors same as I've had for the last fifteen years, being and reading content in a white and beautifully clean box maybe, though only maybe, with a beechwood skirting board. For mental stimulation a Matisse, a Picasso, a pair of North Korean social realist posters hung on the wall, Hans Zimmer smashing out through the NAD power amp and into the Phase speakers, an African tribal sculpture serene and royal on a waist high concrete plinth. Brands Hatch laid out on the white marble floor with my James Hunt and Nikki Lauder Scalextric cars whizzing around the chicanes.

But Hat Man wasn't getting any of it.

Therefore Hat Man wasn't getting any of my cheque. Final quote, 22,000 THB per square metre, of which he would keep 50% for his fee. Sawasdee to that one, pal. Have a laugh.

Previously, I had had a quote from an English outfit specializing in Isaan builds for around 15,000 baht per metre for design, project management and construction with basic fitting. People had said that was high, yet they also suggested it may be worth it for quality, peace of mind and ease of process. I'll keep that one on the list methinks. Alanthebuilder dot com. He sounds like he could be from an episode of Trumpton.



After boozing on Wednesday and getting confused on Friday, the weekend got back on finding new tracks.

This morning I had a chat with a bloke who seemed to have got a hassle free as is possible plan and process going. He's the golfing mate of my cycling mate (are you following this?). He's kept the excitement of making your own place, having started in November and getting ready to move in before Songkhran.

He found an industrial building type engineer and project manager (through his wife). Engineer Man organized the plan/designs and the build itself while Golfing Partner Man arranged the purchasing and payment of materials as instructed by Engineer Man.



I'm hopeful I can get an appointment with the fellah - and that I can ask him to consider a build in Buri Ram. Engineer eh? I could ask him about exposed Carnegie steel rails running through the living spaces, that could be fun.

Aye. Watching Kevin McCloud on BBC Knowledge will never be the same again. Thank heavens he hasn't donned a little straw hat.

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That's the place there. The green surrounding the yellow. No coast for hundreds of miles, but instead a sea of iron rich clay. Norfolk meets Asia. With the heat turned up to 110.

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