I wonder what my blog will look like in a few months time. Up to now, although hardly setting world news, I have been able to publish a good range of “bigger” stories during my time here, some of them based around popular tourist destinations. Once I move to Isaan day to day life, although still interesting because of its newness, will have a more limited range of major places to visit, certainly in the immediate area, and I suspect some of my posts will be formed of a mix of small stories like this one today.
I have found myself in the middle of a longer stay in Si Bun Ruang, my new home town, than I planned. We took my house plans into the local Tessa Ban, or Planning Department, the first week we arrived to have them drawn up ready for quotes to build.
The guy doing them did a good job on the first draft, which we reviewed on Tuesday. Having approved the draft the finals will now be ready for collection Tuesday this week. He is also providing a cost estimate, which will help me decide the next step. All of this for under $150.00.
If my current design works out to be too expensive then I have a fallback design, which I will get drawn up and costed – see below, which will keep us in Isaan for a bit longer. When we move here in November I want the plans to be sorted and a building schedule in place rather than start from the beginning then.
Update 8 October 2014:
My latest house design can be found HERE.
Because all of this is taking a lot longer than I planned we moved out of the resort, which was costing us big money at $25.00 a night! and into the family home on Wednesday. It was a good opportunity to finalise setting up the house as it will be our base once we move here permanently in November.
We have the upstairs part of the house to ourselves, which has two bedrooms, one for Gaun and one for sister number 2. I only know many of the family by their numbers! As you can see it is pretty basic by our standards, but keeps the rain out. The tin roof is a little lacking in insulation, a foreign concept to many Thais even if they could afford it. We are in a cooler period at this time of year but upstairs would be unlivable when the temperatures hit the 40’s as they do in Isaan.
Actually living fulltime in a Thai rural village is a more noisy experience than I have had so far in Thailand. The resort down the road where we usually stay was mostly deserted and we were often the only people there. Our house in Chiang Mai is wonderfully quiet.
Sleeping here the night is often broken with dogs barking, chickens, loud speakers early in the morning and the rush hour well before I want to surface from sleep. It will be a challenge in the early days but I guess you get used to it longer term.
Our home when built will be double brick with double glazing in the bedrooms and extensive insulation, so I expect to have a quieter and cooler night-time experience. Daytimes are very peaceful like Canberra suburbs because most people are working.
Peng continues to make progress on her new motorbike. She has been to the local shops a few times to get things for mama or ice for me. I don’t think the bike will get a huge use but it is now an option for her if she does want to be more mobile.
I have taken Yuan, Gaun’s younger sister, to the hospital a couple of times since we have been here but they have been unable to properly fix her. Gaun has limited ability to translate more technical subjects so I am a bit in the dark as to what might be the problem. Medical science falling short a family friend who has connections with the “other side” was consulted and evidently Yuan has upset two Phi or spirits by starting to build her new house on the family land across the pathway they used to get to the road.
A session with a monk this week and a “sorry” ceremony performed by my surrogate mama has since been completed. The monk will be here on the 6th to perform an in-house ceremony and the rice storage hut you see to the left in the photo above, will then be moved by tractor a few meters to the left, which will open up a new path and road access for the spirits. Hopefully this fixes things. I have to say that since the ceremonies Yuan has been in good form and back working on the farm. The post of the monk clearing ceremony and a lot more can be fund HERE.
The recognition of Pi or spirits is still very strong here. Gaun provided a meal with whisky and a cigarette for her Papa, who died when she was five, the first morning after we moved in as part of a ceremony to make sure he was comfortable with a new bloke on the scene. So far so good!
I wrote in my last post about the closer connection of people to land here. This is especially true living with a farming family where what is growing on their farm often forms the basis of the next meal. I took some photos recently of Lud net fishing in the farm pond for a contribution to dinner.
Yesterday evening Yaun and Gaun walked over to the part of the farm worked by sister number 4, called Paed pronounced more like Bared, and her partner Tham. Corn and long-beans were the outcome and that is what formed the basis for dinner that night.
Speaking of fresh I have also written about the joy of market shopping in Thailand. It is not just the freshness and “localness” of what is being offered but the atmosphere of mixing with everyday Thai people, both sellers and customers, going about their everyday activities. Nothing touristy about these scenes. This is especially true in Si Bun Ruang, where the family is well known and a trip to the markets is a social as well as a shopping experience.
There are three different types of markets here. From about midnight and finishing early morning the wholesale markets open catering to the small stallholders and local eating places as well as distributors supplying a wider area. I have no photos of this market and never will!
During the day and into early evening the retail markets open up selling core food items of vegetables, meats, fish, fruit as well as more general items such as shoes, clothes and toys.
The final type of markets are the street stalls that set up in Si Bun Ruang every Friday evening and surround the food markets on the first Saturday of every month.
A good friend of mine emailed me recently and said what a pleasure it was to see the close relationship that obviously exists between Gaun and Peng. For a number of years when Gaun was away working in Phuket they only saw each other once a year in April for a week or less. They have always spoken on the phone everyday that I have known Gaun but that is different from having your mum around for real. This is our fifth trip to Isaan to see the family in a bit over 12 months and it is a real joy to see the closeness between mother and daughter being expressed day to day.
When Peng arrived home from school one day last week she went straight over to Gaun and gave her a hug. Gaun commented “Peng give me hug like farang”. Thais rarely display any signs of affection in public or within family groups. Touching, hugging and certainly kissing just don’t happen. For Peng to give Gaun a hug was certainly unusual and reflects the pleasure she has in seeing her mum.
So there you have a long post made up of nothing major but covering topics that are more special to me than any impressive Wat or tourist spot. I hope the small stories will still hold your interest as they form the basis to the next stage of my life in Thailand.
Thanks for reading.