Laptop fixes and Thai village life

9:09pm 28th December 2005
Well its been a while since my last entry, I am typing this on my newly refurbished laptop, which I refurbished myself. The problems I was having was that the fan kept seizing up, causing the CPU to overheat. This in turn caused the Speed Step feature to constantly throttle down the CPU to prevent chip failure. The result was that the laptop was going very slowly, and making a rather scary noise while it was on. Also, the laptop was coming out of standby on its own, even while folded up inside the case. This annoyed the hell out of me, as the battery would be dead flat when I went to use it. Finally, the other relatively minor problem was the overly sensitive space bar, which would trip even on a moderately heavy press on the 'M' key. I dismantled my laptop, vacuumed out the fan enclosure, removed the key board and blew under the key caps, hoping to dislodge any foreign particles that may have been jammed under the space housing and jamming the mechanism in a partially depressed state. I also tightened several chassis screws that had obviously been tightened using power screwdrivers with on too light a torque setting. After re-assembly I am no longer getting fan operation errors on boot up and the noise is gone. Furthermore, CPU throttling only occurs under heavy load on hot days, just as it should. A complete success. The keyboard was less of a success, however it seems to be better, I no longer get rogue spaces when hitting 'B', 'N' or 'M'. I have yet to see the laptop coming to life on its own, and I think its safe to say that tightening the screws has exorcised the ghost that was bringing the laptop out of standby.

Anyway, at the moment I am in Thailand. Yes, again. Yes, I was just here, in October. No, I do not have a girlfriend here. Yes, I know I haven't put the photos from my last trip up, things have been hectic. I've been here for about a week now, and I've decided that I've had enough of the cities. So I decided to go out on a little tour. The guys were going to come with me, but they pulled out at the last minute, I was unable to cancel the whole thing as arrangements had already been made, so I'm doing the lone ranger thing and traveling solo. At the moment I am in a villa type hotel, if you can call it that, it's more like a group of chalets. I just had a drink with Kai, the owner, and his friend Manfred at the bar (Coke, before you ask). He is German and moved here after marrying a Thai woman. They have a daughter named Anne-Marie. We chatted for a few hours at the bar under the makeshift pagola, listening to 50's classics played from his laptop and state of the art German sound system. He was a man who knew what is really important in life. His business here earns very little, just more than what it costs to keep running, but then how much more do you need when 'running' means you and your family has a beautiful home, great food and is about 200km away from the nearest burglar?

Kai built this place on his own with a few workers from a local village and now lives here with his family. He has done a magnificent job. The bar overlooks the pool, and the whole area looks like a tropical resort. About 20 feet from the pool is a pit with a raised walkway above it and overhanging wire fencing. In this pit live several large crocodiles. I don't know about you, but the sight of crocodiles really makes me want to have a swim. All night Kai plays jazz and country while chatting idly with Manfred and any guests who happen to come out for a stroll. One could spend hours lying on a deck chair looking up at the crystal clear sky. The rooms are superb, right now I am sitting in bed, under a satin duvet that feels like it is filled with goose down on an incredibly comfortable mattress. Oh, and the air conditioning works a charm.

Before dropping me off at the hotel, Wassana, my tour guide, took me to visit her family's home, which is nearby. They live in conditions to be expected of rural areas in Thailand, reminding me just how much of a privilege things like hot water, gas or electric cooktops and plumbing really are. Most of the houses were nothing more than four walls made out of cinder blocks, with windows, clay tile roofing and a doorway. I say doorway, but most houses don't even have a door, privacy is achieved by the fact that it is dark inside and one cannot see inside during daylight. Bathrooms were made by partitioning off a section and putting in a traditional far eastern style squat toilet which, regardless of the modesty of the house, was kept surprisingly clean. Beds are little more than mats on the floor. People live in close proximity to each other, no more than 20m separating each dwelling. This suits their incredibly strong communal mentality, with everyone knowing everyone else and being welcome to sit on each others' porch, enter each others' homes, even use each others' motorbikes. Fences are unheard of. People trust each other implicitly and are friendly to strangers. I was welcomed with the genuineness that only the very poor seem to be able to manage, and immediately offered all kinds of food. I tried some fish and rice, but the rest contained pork and I was unable to try it, much to the chagrin of the housewives. Nevertheless, I wandered around the area, followed by a few young children including Wassana's son, Teun.

After getting to the hotel, I tried to convince my driver to take a room for himself, seeing as it costs under $30 per night it seemed ridiculous for me to allow him to spend the night in the van. However he refused, saying it was too expensive. I spoke to Kai and asked him to send his wife to tell my driver that a room was available and that he could stay there for free, but he saw through my little trick and politely told her that he preferred the van.

And that brings me to the end of today. It's been an adventure and I will no doubt be coming back to visit here again. I told Kai that if I ever came back I'd bring him a media PC he can use as a dedicated juke box with a nice big hard drive so he can store enough music to entertain even the most obscure of his guests' tastes. I hope you're all well and taking care of yourselves. I'll be home in about 10 days. I have many photos to show you all, and I beseech you to have patience until I find the energy to get them all up. Until my next entry, dear readers, this is Naz, signing out from somewhere in rural Thailand.