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Isan Game of Thrones

Temples and dragons, that was my day so find your beast Daenerys Targaryen and join us for some Isan insights.

This morning we were invited to a ceremony to deliver a naga, actually more of a mythical serpent than a dragon, that had been made by Nit Noy, the massage lady and neighbouring farmer I mentioned recently, to her family’s wat in a moo ban opposite ours.

These events are designed for people to make merit in the Buddhist tradition by donating something like this plus money. Feeding the monks if often part of the ceremony. As always a pleasure to be involved and share the outcome with you.

Nit Noy had spent three days making this naga mostly from natural materials.

Offerings of food, drink cigarettes are made in respect.

This was a small naga that Nit Noy had made previously for her brother’s monk ordination ceremony, which will be covered by me under a post on Live Isan Street Music – Option 3 – more to come on the blog

Setting up the table in front of Buddha statues in that uniquely Thai mix of beliefs.

Pinning money to the naga watched by the abbot.

Every moment has to be captured in Thailand. You not only make merit, you have to show others that you have!

And again.

A sign of the times. What hope for carrying on cultural events like this one? Pretty low I think.

This is one of my favourite photos of the day and there is a story that sits behind it, which is the main reason I share.

70 plus years ago a group of villagers from Ubon Ratchathani, a province a few hundred km south of us, decided to pack up their lives on wooden wagons pulled by buffalo and make a trek north looking for new raw farming land. Their search finished in Si Bun Ruang our home town, although I doubt there was much here then.

This yai (grandmother) is one of that original group of villagers as was a young Gaun’s mama. Because of this history there is a strong link between those original families locally and also to their roots in Ubon. Guan’s mama met her husband here, they selected their land, which is the land being split between the family now as I have covered in previous posts. Pure forest at the time cleared by hand using two people saws, machetes, axes and buffalo.

When I look at a yai like this lady or mama herself knowing the history, it makes me really appreciate the strength and determination of this generation to carve out a life for their families under very difficult and demanding circumstances. Tough, focused achievers who deserve our respect.

As always the heros are the cooks. Here the trays are being prepared to present a vast amount of food to the monks for lunch.

Seven monks in all. A few more than normal because we are heading into Buddhist Lent and guys join up for the three month period. BTW – no parties over this time so if you were hoping to replicate the good time I have been having the last few months forget it! Come back November!

A mass of food presented to the monks to choose from. They eat before noon and it’s their last meal of the day.

The abbot.

The final blessing.

Inside the public Buddha hall.

Nit Noy’s family and friends group involved in a sub-ceremony led by a non-monk to present the naga.

An Isan version of Daenerys Targaryen. This is Nit Noy, master dragon creator.

And this is one of the other things she does well. One of the best Thai massage therapists I have had. This is a friend of mine have a Nit Noy massage at the farm. 

Once the monks are finished eating the remaining food is distributed to the attendees. Not much left after that 

A last look at the naga with all the money pinned to his tongue.

Terrific work Nit Noy.

You can see the naga influence here too.

This is the temple outside of which this ceremony was happening. I have showed regular readers before.

Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment because it gives me something to read in exchange.


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  1. Mark

    Game of thrones was the best tv series ever made, both Nan and I were disappointed to watch the final season. “You know nothing John Snow” lmao. I didn’t even know how to spell Daenery’s name so I’m only guessing you nailed it Tony. I don’t play with my phone much, at least that is one thing going for me.

    Tradition and culture will always lose out to modern technology, We only seem to value them after we have lost them. Even simple things like blacksmiths. I remember as a kid 40 years ago on one of our camping holidays south of Perth our parents found a guy still do metal knick nacks the old way. I still remember the crafted metal poker mum bought for the fire. I do think we treasure other peoples traditions and culture far more than our own.

    Up here nothing stays white for long, everything ends up a shade of red or orange pindan gets on everything.

    Have a good weekend seeya

    • Tony in Thailand

      Hi Mark. I was one of the few people in the world who totally missed it, which shows how absorbed I have become in another alternative universe. I only picked up on the dragon connection through a YouTube clip that showed Daenerys dragon frying a master!

      You are right in that we value other cultures maybe more than ours. I guess it seems more exotic than Fred around the corner doing his thing in his back shed! It’s like businesses that value the consultant that’s been brought in from the outside more than their own guys.

      I am typing this on my iPad from Chiang Mai where we have a meeting at Peng’s university tomorrow at a very unthoughtful early hour in the morning. We even miss the hotel buffet – how tough is that



      • Mark

        I feel for you Tony, having to take a scenic leisurely drive through a picturesque countryside and waking up to no buffet breakfast. Hopefully there is a beautiful sunrise to ease the pain of no buffet breakfast. I must admit I do enjoy a good Thai hotel buffet breakfast. There should be a coffee shop open somewhere.
        All the best 🙂

        • Tony in Thailand

          It’s a relief to finally find someone who appreciates what I have to put up with. I try to put on a positive face in response to these hardships but it’s not always easy. I did manage to slip out of ‘class’ for a coffee and sweet treat to keep me going until the snack box was handed out to the group. I cope. Thanks for your empathy.


  2. Jim Busby

    I think I am the only human on the planet to have never seen Game of Thrones. I watched ½ of an episode with sex, treachery, and mayhem and that was it. However, I read the first two George RR Martin Books, so there. I remember Nit Noy made beautiful garlands, and here she outdoes herself with this wonderful Naga example!!! Still, I would probably wince if she were to walk on my back for a massage! There is a lot of history and stories with that yai, just like the one that was your surrogate mom for your wedding. You will need to explain the more formal use of white clothing vs the casual everyday clothing in these ceremonies.

    Best wishes,

    • Tony in Thailand

      Gee you pick up on my posts quickly. That secret webcam is paying dividends for you.

      Two of us Jim in the same boat regarding Game of Thrones. I have seen a couple of clips from YouTube, which is why I knew about the connection to dragons, and that’s been my lot. It doesn’t take much to distract the world these days. Nothing to do with the important things of course like how come we are killing off the planet. I am always reminded of the Roman empire and how the ruling classes distracted the masses via the colosseum ‘entertainment’ and the like. Look what happened to them!

      You have got all the main players sorted in our village ‘days of our lives’ production. Yes, Nit Noy is a whizz with anything like that and probably earns more from making krathong than farming. A small naga will set you back 3,000 baht. That big one she donated would be more. She only does massage on request. You can order the pain level from mild to intense. She is surprisingly targeted with her walking. It is done to a plan not just for show. I always book her for 2 hours for friends who are into S&M and that costs them 300 baht. No leather or whips involved.

      The white is worn for the same optimistic reason as other paths – symbolising purity. I obviously tend more towards the off-white! I was reading online that Buddhists wear white to funerals, but here it is always black.

      I will be publishing a mini-post shortly and you will see that white is the predominant colour worn for this ceremony.

      Thanks Jim.


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