My Thai-language tutor and good friend, Vinny, kept badgering me to spend a weekend at his boyhood home and parents’ rice farm, about a three-hour journey from our university town. He wanted me to experience rice farming close up and personal. Finally, with a weekend free coming up, I gave him a call, and off we went in his pickup truck to see life unlike my university environment.
Vinny is really a great guy: father of two older kids (high school and university students), husband of one wife, fish farmer, rice farmer, motorbike repairman, dormitory owner/manager, chili-plant grower, and anything else he can put his hand to in order to make a few extra baht to keep the family in food and clothes. With all that activity, he still finds time to befriend this farang—language lessons as often as I want, and an open door to do short tours around Isan in his pickup truck.
Vinny personifies the Thai idiom “naam-jai” (literally “water-heart”), meaning someone who is totally generous with no strings attached. My Thai friend sometimes stops by my little duplex to chat, and we go on for hours. He’s had such an interesting life—growing up near an American military base during the Vietnam war, working abroad in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. He goes on how the Americans were so kind and helpful to his boyhood village. In some way, I think he’s paying back their kindness by being so kind and generous to me.
Leaving shortly after dawn on a Saturday morning, Vinny took on the role of a local tour guide—full of stories and history of the area. Here’s a string of snapshots of some of our temporary stops along the way which took the full day.
A long one-kilometer climb to the
top of a sacred Buddhist mountain.
to the top of the mountain, this
position looks rather inviting.
reminds me why I’m panting and
sweating so much on the climb.
View from the top.
converted into a temple bell,
now calls worshippers to meditation.
on an ornate temple altar.
You donate 3,000 baht (about
$75 US), and you get your name
on a fence section at the temple.
Whenever they see a big overhanging rock, they love
to put sticks and objects under it as if the spindly little
struts were supporting it.
The small red lettering on the rock?
Temple notice: “Do not support this stone!”
support their forest stones.
It’s really an insect.
We came upon quite a large reservoir which the
local population finds many uses for.
Top: Freshwater clams at a nearby market.
Bottom: Freshwater shrimp from the barby anyone?
I'm suprised at how many "seafoods" have their
freshwater counterparts: mussels, crabs, etc.
Quite a beautiful national park
lined the shores of the reservoir.
national parks are well
organized and inviting places to visit.
Asparagus vendors spreading their
veggies on the road shoulder.
This veggie is plentiful and cheap.
Herbal hawker selling his remedies.
Those elephants are life-sized!
So far, being a rice farmer seemed like a pretty cushy job--riding around in a pickup all day, enjoying the local sites with my personal interpreter and tour guide, savoring the local delicacies, taking snapshots like any other tourist. Loved it!
To be continued....
See post December 27, 2005