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Sharing moments in Isaan.
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  1. #1
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    Sharing moments in Isaan.

    There is something that I have been wondering for awhile now: How do other Farangs remember/reflect on their early trips to Isaan? Maybe others will take the time to share their thought on their early trips.


    My first trip to Isaan resulted in a wedding that I did not know about for four months (mine). During that trip I learned about how to act during a pig killing and how to avoid the cobras. Each time I focused my Nikon on a person or a scene I felt as if I was reading a National Geographic Magazine with scratch-and-sniff inserts.

    Also during that first trip I learned to sit still; I did not speak Khmer which was the prevalent language and was overwhelmed by the speed Thai was being spoken (not to mention the slang). There are moments during that trip when I felt the separation of being in such a culturally different place and longed for an environment that was more familiar with; with each succeeding trip I feel less and less of that.

    I remember waking up one morning and going to the rice fields to watch the sun rise. As I sat in the silence I felt as if I were being watched from behind. In a very discreet manner I turned to find a cow had walked up on me: cows are amazingly stealthy. Apparently I had chosen the exact spot the cow walked passed each morning when it went to the fields to graze.
    At first I had the urge to give up the ground to the cow's desire but suddenly remembered I was actually farther up the food chain. It seemed like an extremely long time before the cow decided I would not relent and passed next to me on its way to feast.

    After the first cow passed by me in such a surreal moment many others passed by. It was not long before I did not even pay attention to their passing by; isn’t that how it usually goes?
    Last edited by pclev; 25-01-08 at 03:13 AM.
    The Heart determines what is Possible by the Mind

  2. #2
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    Re: Sharing moments in Isaan.

    Cows never deliberately tread on people and are often quite agile and delicate in avoiding them. Even if you are sitting down and a mob is galloping towards you, they will always side-step you at the last minute.
    น้ำผึ้ง

  3. #3
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    Re: Sharing moments in Isaan.

    My first trip to Isaan was also for a wedding. A cousin of ours was getting married, so 20 members of our family met up in Bangkok and got in two vans and drove for about 10 days in a gigantic loop around Isaan....stopping along at tourist destinations along the way (the gateway to Isaan, Ban Chiang, Phanom Rung) eventually settling in Nakorn Panom. We had several parties in the days leading up to the wedding and then in the morning of the wedding we formed the groom's parade and shouted and danced through the village, announcing our arrival.

    I also remember one early morning in Roi-et. It was actually cold in Thailand. I hadn't experienced that before and didn't know what to do! I wanted to offer my cover shirt to my sister, but I was too cold and had to keep it to myself while she froze.

  4. #4
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    Re: Sharing moments in Isaan.

    Interesting stuff pclev! Nam phyyng, it would sure take some fortitude to sit there while the galloping herd barreled toward you, and pin your hopes on their agility! I think I'd be running for the nearest tree.

    My first trip to Isaan was in 1987, to a little village near Korat. I recall getting off the train and walking into my wife's village. By the time I got to her father's house, word had spread that a tall gangly farang was in the village, and a group of children soon gathered to gawk at me. It was weird. They wouldn't approach closely, but stood about 20 yards off and looked at me, giggling. I felt like a movie star!

    At that time, my father-in-law's house had only recently gotten electricity, but of course there was no running water. But they had a TV! We watched Muay Thai, and my father-in-law "bet" with me (not for actual money) on who would win each match. I sure wish I had been more adept at speaking Thai back then. It would have been cool to talk with him.

    DogoDon

  5. #5
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    Re: Sharing moments in Isaan.

    Last spring I spent a week in a village in Khon Kaen. I was there for a missionary trip, which consisted of a community building project and just getting to know people in the village. Along with me were two other farang who live in BKK and a handful of Thai staff members. It was awesome!

    In addition to helping the locals with their building project, I got to experience a Buddhist funeral, and some kind of religious thing where people left the village in the morning carrying booze and chickens and then came back in the afternoon drunk and covered head-to-toe in mud. Very interesting, indeed.

    Of course, the food was great. In addition to the rice, fruit, and things like that, the people there had some sort of bugs at least once a day. So I got the opportunity to eat some beetles. They taste like potato chips and aren't bad at all.

    The best part was just hanging out with the people. I found them to be very hospitable, family-oriented, and fun to be around. Can't wait to go back.

  6. #6
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    Re: Sharing moments in Isaan.

    I'll never forget being struck with how hospitable the people were. Walking through the village and people will often beckon you over - the old lady, come in have something to eat. At another house, come in and drink whisky, lets sing karaoke. And we go of to a lake and some guy with his young family, playing guitar on the back of his pickup, come over and have a sing-song.
    They do like their music, those Isaanis. I was there again last week and a family had erected those big stack speakers on the street outside their house. There was a group of people standing around as we drove by, all cheerful and in the party mood. I thought there was a wedding going on but no; I was told someone had died and it was their wake.

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    Re: Sharing moments in Isaan.

    Sparky,
    Funny that you mention the speakers. At the funeral I referred to, they also had the stacked speakers. They weren't playing music early in the morning but a couple of the older guys from the village had a microphone and were talking to the really large gathering of people in the yard.

    In the yard, they had set up a bunch of tables and a couple of awnings to shade the sun. We arrived about 7:00 AM and there were already a couple hundred people there celebrating and having fun. They led us (7 Thai & 2 farang from Bangkok and me) to an empty table right in the center of the gathering. Apparently, this was a gesture of honor so I was shocked that they would do something like that for people they didn't really know and for foreigners. I'll never forget that day.

  8. #8
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    Re: Sharing moments in Isaan.

    Quote Originally Posted by BillG View Post
    Sparky,
    Funny that you mention the speakers. At the funeral I referred to, they also had the stacked speakers. They weren't playing music early in the morning but a couple of the older guys from the village had a microphone and were talking to the really large gathering of people in the yard.

    In the yard, they had set up a bunch of tables and a couple of awnings to shade the sun. We arrived about 7:00 AM and there were already a couple hundred people there celebrating and having fun. They led us (7 Thai & 2 farang from Bangkok and me) to an empty table right in the center of the gathering. Apparently, this was a gesture of honor so I was shocked that they would do something like that for people they didn't really know and for foreigners. I'll never forget that day.

    Maybe that's what these speakers were for then. The last time I saw these big speaker stacks was at my sister-in-law's wedding last year - also outside the house. I was in deep sleep the first night there and was suddenly woken by very loud Isan music blaring out close to the bedroom window. When I checked the time, it was only 4 am.

  9. #9
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    Re: Sharing moments in Isaan.

    Hi all
    My first trip to Thailand was also to a wedding and also my own
    I meet my wife through the Internet. She had a Aussie "english teacher" who also helpped a number of Thai gals with finding farang husbands. He and I became "friends" over the couple of months of my writing and msn "seeing" my future wife.
    I had set up with both,that they would find me a apartment in Surin,to stay upon my arrival and come meet me at the airport. I was assured all was set. Off I go to meet them ( her)at BKK airport. I arrive,culture shock like a hammer to the head, because the Aussie "knew best" they got lost in the airport, leaving me to wait 1 1/2 hours at the airport worring what the hell did I get my self into" Then a cop comes up to me with photo of me and led me to them on the other side of the terminal. OH joy! Of couse I gave her a big hug ...so it began.
    Three days in Bangkok. 10 hour train trip to Surin, in at 5am.Wife's brother waitting at station, off the the Aussie's apartment,my bags are brought in,I take a shower and next thing I know my bags are back in the truck and my gal is ledding me out of the appartment. Off we go,into the morning,what the heck is going on?? Where's my appartment?...I am deposited in her sister's living room,a bamboo sofa w/pad and net is my bed and no one in the house speaks english.
    My wife explains to me (later) that the Aussie wanted me to live in his appartment so he could "milk" me of my money ( he was later "driven" out of Surin by police for such pracitices) Wife knew this and "saved" me from him.
    So my "home" was a sofa in the living room. We saw the Monk ASAP for lucky days to wed, 14 days after I arrived I was married and moved in with my darling wife. I wouldn't change a thing (except maybe more money in pocket) We are happly married for 3 years and I "learn" daily about "Thai way"....to be continued
    Deesurin

  10. #10
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    Re: Sharing moments in Isaan.

    I had a trip to Isaan last year in December, purpose was to celebrate new year with my bf's family. So far, that was my longest trip - 2 weeks, but time seems to creep away so fast that I thought I had lived there for only a few days! It was their cold season when I went there, and I understand how Pailin feels about the cold, it's reaaaaaalllyyy cold, especially during the night, I had my jacket on, covered myself tight with the wollen blanket and sleep through the night despite of the irritating barkings of the dogs from his next door neighbour.

    On the eve of new year, my bf stacked his speakers, brought out all his karaoke vcds to the front porch and made a feast for the neighbourhood. Everyone seems like a big family, living in the same village, eating together, drinking and making merry in the wee hours.

    And just when I thought I could sleep through, I was woken up by him the next morning, followed by an announcement made through some speaker outside his house. We had to make merits to the temple on the first day of the new year. He packed some food stuffs into the bowls his family keep, some are gold, while most are in silver. We walked to their nearby temple along with the others in the neighbourhood, I realise how important this day was to them, despite hangovers, most of the men still appeared for the event.

    We had some prayers and then, all the men in the hall had to walk alongside 3 huge alms-bowl in the centre and place their food into the bowl and then followed by the women. After which everyone walked back home with their empty bowls and continued their party


    Oh well, I really enjoyed living there for the 2 weeks, visiting the rice fields, hunting for field rats, bbq-ing them and watching his uncles munching on them and talking about the way of life there. I missed it alot every now and then, I wish I can go back there again some day.

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