Thoughts & Sayings (February 2014)


Here are some thoughts and sayings I posted on Twitter and/or Facebook in December 2013 and January 2014. To my knowledge, I made these up (for better or for worse). Sit back, relax, and enjoy the write!

Encouraging Words

1. You cannot deny destiny, but if you do nothing, destiny can deny you.

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2. Doing two things at once takes half the time.

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Twisted Words

3. I score a goal every time I hit the coffee puck into the trash.

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In Its Own Write

4. I’m writing a book about a pair of normal Romans.

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Holidays & Events

5. A human in a polar vortex is like a polar bear in a zoo.

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6. ’13 was my lucky year. I made it to 2014.

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7. The Mayan calendar ended in 2012. It only took me a year to catch up.

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8. The ring of the cash registers sounds like silver bells.

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9. Before the advent of December 1, there was November 30.

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Random Musings

10. Sometimes what’s in the rear view is more interesting than what lies ahead.

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11. Trains of thought don’t always run on schedule.

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Click here to visit the Thoughts & Sayings page, or click here to read the previous batch of Thoughts & Sayings.

Images courtesy of Microsoft except Roman Coliseum photo by M.G. Edwards.

WAfK Front Cover (mini)M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring all three. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2014 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

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Farm Chokchai – The Old West in Thailand


This is the second of three articles about the Khao Yai area in Nakhon Ratchasima, a province in northeast Thailand. The first article focused on Palio Khao Yai, an Italian-themed village, and the next will feature Khao Yai National Park. This post is about Farm Chokchai, home to Thailand’s largest dairy ranch.

With more than 5,000 head of cattle ranging over 8,000 acres, Farm Chokchai is Thailand’s largest dairy farm and one of the largest in Asia. Established in 1957 by Thai cowboy Khun Chokchai Bulakul on 100 acres, the farm has grown during its 55 year history. It has had a colorful history experimenting with different businesses ranging from selling machinery and construction materials, raising beef cattle and exporting beef, operating steakhouses, and selling dairy products. Its current iteration is as a dairy farm. Farm Chokchai went through some setbacks during the mid-1990s Asian financial crisis but bounced back in the next decade. It is now one of Thailand’s major dairy brands with a variety of milk products, including its Umm…Milk line.

Farm Chokchai is a tourist attraction for those who want to see how a dairy farm and ranch operates. A two-hour drive from Bangkok, it gives those who have limited knowledge of western-style farms the opportunity to get away from the city and “experience” a farm with a “Wild West” flavor emphasized by its owners, the Farm Chokchai Group. The wood false-front stores reminiscent of the American West, souvenir shops with assortments of dairy products and plush farm animal toys, and carnival games give the place a theme park atmosphere. The farm offers a daily tour geared to children as well as “Farm Chokchai Camp,” a facility where visitors can stay overnight and enjoy the countryside. It seems to tap into the same nostalgia for rural life as the online game app FarmVille.

My son and I toured Farm Chokchai in May 2012. We watched a movie about the farm’s history, then joined a Thai-speaking guide who showed us equipment once used around the farm, including a John Deere tractor that is reportedly one of just two still in existence — the other sits in the company’s headquarters in Moline, Illinois. We then entered a showroom where the farm processes some of its milk products such as yogurt and ice cream. Conspicuously absent was cheese, a food that few Thais eat. The showroom demonstrated how the farm turns milk into dairy products but did not operate as a full-fledge processing plant.

We proceeded to another building where a man demonstrated how bulls are “milked” for sperm to sell to other farms. I was glad that he didn’t show the group of kids on the tour how it’s used!

After our biology lesson, we tooled around the farm in a wagon pulled by a tractor. I enjoyed the beautiful views of the Thai countryside surrounding the dairy farm. The scenery reminded me of places I’ve seen in the United States, especially Northern California and the Mid-Atlantic coastal region.

We stopped at a corral surrounded by a ring of frontier-style buildings to watch Thai cowboys demonstrate skills once needed to survive in the Wild West. The crowd watched in awe as a cowboy astride a horse rounded up a calf and took it down with a lasso. A woman showed the audience how to twirl two pistols simultaneously, and a man showed off some fancy rope work by twirling his lasso in the air. For many spectators, this would be the closest they would get to a seeing a rodeo.

The wagon brought us to an area with a stage where animals wowed the crowd with their talents. A macaw rode a miniature bicycle; another solved math problems. A goat rode a barrel. A dog bottle fed a calf while other dogs (literally) jumped through hoops. PETA wouldn’t have approved, but then again, Farm Chokchai is a large-scale commercial enterprise that puts animals to use in many other ways.

We finished our tour at a petting zoo where visitors, children and parents alike, fed the cows, goats, and Eld’s deer fawns. My son enjoyed feeding the fawns. I almost had to rescue him from the herd as they pressed in on him eager for food.

2012_05_26 Chokchai Farm (21)

Like the nearby Italian-themed Palio Khao Yai, Farm Chokchai is a place in Thailand with an atmosphere that can make you forget you’re there. The farm did a good job of presenting the Old West and western-style farming to local audiences in an entertaining package that’s attractive to kids. I don’t recommend the tour as a daytrip for tourists visiting Thailand for the first time, but if you’re planning to stay a while, it might be a good diversion from the hustle and bustle of urban Bangkok.

Even in Farm Chokchai, you won’t be able to get away completely from reminders you’re in Asia. You’ll still see dragon fruit (pitaya) trees and spirit houses that give a distinctly Thai flavor.

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More About the Khao Yai Area of Thailand:

  • Palio Khao Yai, an Italian-themed shopping center a few kilometers from Farm Chokchai

buythumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Palio Khao Yai, the Italy of Thailand


Palio Khao Yai is an Italian-themed shopping center in the heart of Thailand’s wine country. Located near Khao Yai National Park two hours northeast of Bangkok, Palio is an Italian-style enclave that’s light years from Thailand. It is nestled amid vineyards, dairy farms — yes, dairy farms — upscale housing developments, organic Thai villages, hotel resorts, and a smattering of Buddhist temples. The area is one of the more eclectic I’ve seen.

The “Italian village” features more than 100 stores and restaurants on pedestrian streets and alleyways that radiate like wheel spokes from the center, Piazza Palio. The developers went out of their way to recreate the feeling of wandering through a small town in Tuscany, complete with a clock tower, baroque-style buildings covered in ivy, a manicured garden, and a replica of the famous Bocca della Verità (“Mouth of Truth”) carving in Rome.

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It would be easy to forget that you’re in Thailand as you walk through Palio were it not for the “newness” of the place, the diverse, mostly Asian, crowds, and the kitschy souvenirs and attractions that you would be hard-pressed to find in rural Italy — like toilet paper dispensers shaped like bums and clowns making balloon art.

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Palio is a place that bears little resemblance to Thailand. Nevertheless, the hot, subtropical weather that drives you to have a cool drink at one of the sidewalk cafés is a reminder that you’re nowhere near the Mediterranean.

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Palio, which opened in early 2010, is reportedly co-owned by two local investors, Juladis and Primo Posto. Juladis also owns the Juladis Khao Yai Resort near Palio. Primo Posto is another, smaller Italian style restaurant, café, and shop closer to Khao Yai National Park.

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Palio’s Italian theme blends in with the many faux European housing developments and resorts that have sprung up in the Khao Yai area. PB Valley, Thailand’s largest winery, and other vintners add to the Tuscan ambiance with vineyards that grow shiraz, tempranillo, chenin blanc and columbard grape varietals capable of producing quality wines in the subtropics. The area has become a draw for retirees or those who want to get away — but not too far — from Bangkok. Palio is not only a tourist attraction but a place where transplants can conveniently enjoy a good meal or shop.

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Palio is a novelty for foreigners and Thais alike. While it could never take the place of a visit to an authentic Italian village, it’s an easy getaway from Thailand in the middle of Thailand.

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buythumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.