This is a short version of what would have been a longer post further down the track. I have a close friend in Australia who is spending time with her dad who is very ill and she asked me to send her some stories to help lighten the day. I started to compose an email and then realised that it would be more effective to use the photos I had selected for her in another Small Stories post. I hope you don’t mind Janet. As the basis for this collection of photos was originally for a personal email it includes a few family shots that probably wouldn’t normally make it to the blog.
Party Time Again
I told you in the last Small Stories post HERE that Isaan goes into party mode after Buddhist Lent finishes. We have been to three temple festivals so far with more to come. I particularly love the local celebrations that starts with a music truck and a few people at the temple, which then collects new recruits as the group moves through the village. It is all very spontaneous and great fun in the Thai tradition.
Our first festival was more formal at a local forest wat that I wrote about HERE. The forest temples are more traditional and don’t do the music and heavy drinking (outside the temple grounds) that form the basis of the local wat events. The second festival was to raise money for what will be a lovely temple at a village close to us:
Just one of those little things that you can do to look like a local. When placing money into these split bamboo sticks that go on the “tree”. Make sure the King’s head is at the top! Who would have thought?
The mix of youngsters (like myself), Thai whisky and Isaan music can lead to some problems but I have never been around any major outbreaks of fighting. Mind you I am in bed by eight!!!! This moo baan (village) was obviously taking no chances and had called in the heavies. Normally security just have large truncheons like the second guy on the left. Maybe my reputation preceded me.
Coming from a western background I am always amazed at the local connections that spread across the villages that make up Si Bun Ruang and beyond. Many of these folk have lived in the area since birth and their families before them. I know nothing of these links but Gaun picks up on the various relationships. One of the interesting things to do is to walk around our moo bann in the evening and Gaun will point out all the various connections between the people you meet sitting outside at the end of the day and give you the gossip.
The people who donated these drinks are the relations of some other people we know in the village next to ours. We were invited to their daughter’s wedding and they in return came to our house warming ceremony.
Our village festival
This happened the following week to the party above. The locals were consulted on the type of party they wanted and because all the older folk turned up to vote and the youngsters didn’t it ended up being a more subdued and traditional affair much to the disappointment of the party animals like Gaun!
The celebrations started late morning with beer and a run to get takeaway noodle soup.
Because we are having a number of farang visitors over the next few months Yuan has planted up a small garden at the farm, something she has never done before. My garland was made especially for the day from flowers picked that morning. I am looking quite Hawaiian.
The last couple of photos were taken at a neighbour’s house where the food and drinks were flowing freely. In a split of participants Australian’s will relate to all the ladies were in one corner and the blokes in another.
The formal part of the day then got underway:
A big hello to Bob and Soun who called into see us on the way to their wedding in Isaan a few days later. An online congratulations to you both. Bob was kind enough to contribute to the blog with his story of a visa border run HERE.
They were unlucky to stay at Sunam Resort, mentioned in Small Stories 8, as the resort has gone downhill a lot since we stayed there in 2013. No longer recommended. “My bad” as I would say if I were forty years younger.
Although Bob and Soun were only with us for a few days we were able to cover a few of the sights I had written up in Visiting Isaan – Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE and Part 3 HERE. I will only add a few photos as we have covered all this before:
A Royal Visit
We may be out in the sticks but that doesn’t stop royalty from dropping in. We have has a couple of royals visit in the last few weeks. The Queen’s sister arrived to open a new Buddha statue at a forest temple close to us that I covered in Small Stories 8 (the wat not the visit as we had a dentist appointment for Peng booked that morning).
The eldest daughter of the king and queen was the second royal to pass through Si Bun Ruang to open a new building at a small school a few kilometers down the road.
Wikipedia tells me the following in case you were interested:
Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya (Thai: อุบลรัตนราชกัญญา; rtgs: Ubonrat Ratchakanya; Thai pronunciation: [ʔù.bon.rát râːt.tɕʰa.kan.jāː]; born 5 April 1951 in Lausanne, Switzerland), or full name Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi (Thai: อุบลรัตนราชกัญญา สิริวัฒนาพรรณวดี; rtgs: Ubonrat Ratchakanya Siriwatthana Phannawadi), is a princess of Thailand and the eldest child of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. She relinquished her royal title and settled in the United States with her husband, Peter Ladd Jensen, but returned to Thailand after divorcing in 1998.
Since her return to Thailand, she has increasingly taken part in royal ceremonies, though not to the extent of her royal siblings. In 2008, she began a film career, playing the main role in the Thai film Where the Miracle Happens.
Now I have learnt something here as the lake I wrote about HERE is called Ubol Ratana presumably after the princess and not the other way around! You can see that she is a little different and more westernised than the other royals from this photo. Still obviously Thai because of the phone photo moment:
The arrival of a royal is a pretty big event in any situation but especially for a very small town like Si Bun Ruang. The logistics of setting up the venue is huge and it took all week. It included a full sound stage and pop band in this case (she joined the group on stage and sang with them – see video), plus the road had to be closed the 90 km from Udon airport to Si Bun Ruang. This was an evening affair with her arriving about 9 pm.
I can’t show you any photos of her arrival as cameras weren’t allowed and obeying Thai police is high on my to-do list. I did however capture the event from the royal update program on Thai TV the next day and you can see it below. They must have cut the bit where I got my two and a half year Thai long service medal.
As always there’s some hiccup with YouTube and these videos if viewed on an iPad. Hit the video frame to the far right to get it to play not the obvious PLAY button in the middle of the screen.
A Few Other Bits and Pieces
Nong Bua Lamphu (Nong = lake, Bua = lotus and Phu = hill so a town with a lotus lake near a hill) must have got a nice little earner from the stimulus package because they are rebuilding the central park and temple. Set on the edge of the central lake this park will be quite a feature once finished. Thais are great at building stuff but useless at maintenance. I think the emphasis is getting important people to open things, have a big party and then wait for the decay to ruin it before knocking it all down and building another one in an endless cycle of openings and parties!
I didn’t take photos of the rest of the park as it is still under construction. I will report back on the opening party as it will be a big one and we may even get royalty back. As a republican I can’t believe how much I have written about royalty in this post 🙂
I have told you before that if you wait long enough in Isaan whatever you need will pass the door. Well we needed some adjustments made to clothes and the mobile seamstress drove past us recently.
Do you need a new zip for your jeans? it will cost you 40 THB or A$1.60 and obviously done as you wait.
This well built young man lives across the road from us with his grandmother. In true Isaan style his mum works in Bangkok and only comes home a few times a year. He is being brought up by the extended family and will suffer no feelings of rejection when he grows up or require any counselling! There are many children in exactly the same situation here with parents earning an income in the big cities, the tourist centres on the coast or overseas especially in Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
This guy loves going somewhere with his grandma on the motorbike. He gets very upset if she gets away without him.
Gop is a menu item in Isaan so he has chosen his new home with great care and may live to an old age as long as I keep my local visitors under a watchful eye.
Well having said this would be a short post it has dragged on. Janet I hope you enjoy and others too.
Thanks for reading.