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26 January Stories

Everyday stories about an

expat’s life in Isaan, Thailand

In this unique blog You will find hundreds of stories about my life in Thailand, the good and bad. Not just a list of tourist destinations but stories about REALLY living here. I hope you enjoy sharing my experiences of settling into a new country and culture as much as I am living it. 

To visit my main index page click below.

To read today’s stories please scroll down.

Building in Thailand eBook

When my wife and I bought some land in Isaan, which is a region in the north east of Thailand, and then started to build our house I wanted to record the daily events of construction life. For twenty six weeks I wrote a weekly blog update about all the aspects of the build and included as much detail as possible for others who might be thinking of going down the same path. I was surprised by the number of readers I attracted as a result of writing on this subject, many of whom followed the entire build from beginning to end. 

Based on this continued interest I thought I would revisit my original words and bring them all together under the one heading in the form of an eBook. Included in this process has been some extensive updating and expansion of many of the original posts and the addition of the many COMMENTS, which are designed to expand your knowledge and save you time or money or both!

Read more HERE and find out how to obtain the eBook.

I am loving your book – just on my second read at the moment, to make sure that I didn’t miss anything first time around (which actually it turns out I did!).  

Just a note of thanks at this point ……. I am a fairly methodical sort of bloke, but there are many issues which your book highlights which I just wouldn’t have thought about – or if I had, I may well have assumed they were “standard” building practice [U-bends, drain positioning, barge-board alignment] – if it hadn’t been for your excellent descriptions!!  I will probably still “miss” something – that’s the nature of building/design – but thanks to you, it shouldn’t be anything too mission-critical.

The income from my eBook pays for the upkeep of this blog, which is otherwise commercially free unlike so many others.

NEW: Search the blog:

My stories of the day – 26 January 2020

My life in rural Isaan revolves around three main topics of interest. Firstly there is the family farm situated about 1 km from where we live. I love learning about and sharing aspects of farming in a different country. Read my stories and you’ll become a virtual Isaan farmer in time! Click HERE

Secondly is our enjoyment in developing the best private tropical garden in Isaan. We also have a small but still beautiful garden at the farm. In this section I write about any aspects related to gardening in Thailand, illustrated with photos taken in our gardens and locally. Click HERE

And finally I share everyday stories as I see them relating to life in a small rural village. This could cover anything from personal events to festivals and local attractions. Anything that doesn’t fit into the other two headings ends up here. Click HERE 

Or of course read them all in which case just scroll down!

I am a keen photographer and all my photos are shot professionally and edited. The end result is far better than most blogs and social media and I will publish my favourite shots from time to time, which will almost be a fourth topic.

The stories I share here are reflected in my very active social media exposure and you will find me on Facebook as follows:

Tony Eastmead HERE 

Thailand Tropical Gardens HERE

Rural Isaan, Thailand HERE and;

Isaan Photography HERE.

Farm News:

No farm news today.

Tropical Gardens News:

A video walk through our beautiful tropical garden.

Village News:

With three deaths in the village in the one day there are plenty of opportunities to observe the various stages of Isaan funerals. My family is only involved with two of them and today was the cremation for the grandfather of a friend of Game, Yuan and Lud’s son.

My transport awaits. Yuan on-board already. Thais never walk if something motorised is available no matter how close the destination.

Here we are on the busy streets of Ban Chomphutong (a name spellcheck would like to make ‘muttonchops’). An action saling (motorbike and sidecar) shot.

Traffic jam at the temple. The guy in green is selling lottery tickets so the wait time isn’t wasted 

The coffin being walked around the crematorium. Funerals travel anti-clockwise while all other events, which involve other wat buildings go clockwise!

That gold ‘coffin’ is actually a cooler box that plugs into a normal power-point. Every temple has one and they are borrowed if need and delivered to the home where the initial ceremonies are held. The deceased is inside usually a simple coffin within this one. With three funerals happening at once our village must be borrowing from other temples.

This is what the coffin inside that cooler looks like. This is what is burnt.

Nine monks, the Thai lucky number, circulating three times .

Cold water and iced soft drinks are handed out to people by volunteers.

A big funeral group for this guy. He was 85 years old so had time to make friends I guess.

Family and people with closer connections get to pay their respects first.

After a blessing by the monks names are called out and selected people with particular connections to the family come up to collect small gifts or envelopes with money. These are then given to the monks and in that way the cycle of gaining merit is continued. There must have been 100 names called for this funeral.

Pick a monk. You can see the guy on the far right is holding his envelope and he’ll place it in front of a monk. The monk second on the left speaks good English and I must find out what his story is. The monks always sit in seniority order from left to right. The one on the left is the Abbot of our village wat, which you can see here on Google Maps HERE.

These are people with closer relationships to the deceased and/or family.

At the very end everyone is invited to come up to the coffin to pay respects. Small paper flowers or some other token is always available so that people can place them on top of or in the coffin. Often an open casket viewing.

Note the line of people in the front. They are lottery sellers and make an appearance in bulk at exactly the right moment. Popular numbers will be anything associated with the deceased. 85, being his age, his birthday his car licence plate number 

The lady to the immediate right of the pillar is throwing out wrapped sweets and coins, which if you are viewing this on a big screen you might be able to see in the air. They are considered lucky so the rush was on to pick one up.

And again.

Age is no restriction to making a grab for a sweetie!

Thailand Photography

Showcasing some of my favourite photos taken around Thailand during my time here.

Traditional Isaan fishing baots on Ubol Ratana, Nong Bua Lamphu province.

Mae Salong, Chiang Rai province.

Thank you for reading and please leave a comment. It’s the only payment I ask for.

Tony

4 Comments

  1. Hans U. Ruediger

    Hi Tony, funerals are certainly important events in the Thai community and I have attended a good number of them since my arrival at these shores. My wife Sue’s family is quite numerous and widespread around the Town of Klaeng in Chantaburi Province. Hence the nearly monthly funeral ceremony at one Wat or another.

    Compared to the usually very somber Western funeral, I find the typical Thai variety much more congenial and oriented to celebrating the life and good deeds of the deceased – more so than the sadness over their passing. Also, the customary contribution, either monetary or with food and drink (non-alcoholic, I hasten to add) by most every one attending, to the bereaved family tends to spread the cost of feeding everyone (often over several evenings, even a week, at times) over the community at large.
    I take this as yet another example of the much closer communal relationship with each other and with the temple monks than what I remember from our Western version of religious practice.

    Thanks for another excellent story. Keep up the fine ‘job’ you have chosen for yourself.

    Cheers,

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Always a pleasure to know you are still reading the blog Hans.

      I don’t know if Thais have a less emotional response to death than us or whether they hide it better. I can only think of one situation where the widow started to show sadness at her loss, but that was in a situation of a tragic accident so very unexpected. I have only been to two cremation ceremonies. We normally do the donation and breakfast ritual and then call it a day. I am a little unsure about the monk attendance. At least in a western situation the religious person involved usually attempts to show sympathy and communicates with attendees, however shallow that might be in reality. The monks I have seen at funerals here just work through the ritual as though it was a job to be done. They chant, eat and leave. It all seems a bit mechanical. If I had a choice I wouldn’t bother with them at my funeral even though I am more inclined towards the essence of Buddhism than some other alternatives. As I won’t have much say in my funeral process, being dead, I guess it will follow the traditional lines or whatever Gaun wants to do to feel comfortable.

      Thank you for your comment as always Hans.

      Reply
  2. Mark

    Happy Australia Day,
    I’m not a facebook person so I’m happy to see your stories back on your website. We actually flew down to Perth for Australia day weekend and now I’m just catching up on your stories, You’ve certainly pumped them out and gives me some interesting reading. Your pictures are very good quality. I love the farm setting at the top, an abundance of greenery and no neighbours within shouting distance, heavenly. If I didn’t need aircon I think I could live in an old Thai farmhouse.

    I had to laugh seeing the lottery ticket vendors at the funeral.

    I did miss your pic of throwing some lamb chops on the BBQ, lol

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Good that you are back in touch Mark.

      Yes, the timber houses look terrific but are high maintenance, the termites enjoy the meal and they are super hot having no insulating qualities. I could live with one if it was heavily insulated, which means lining the inside and by doing that you lose a lot of the character. Can’t win.

      Thanks for a bunch of comments, which I really appreciate. Keep em coming.

      Cheers mate.

      Reply

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