Isan Village Living

Edition 21

 

This is the second of my way overdue catchup series with some stories from last year extracted from my Facebook page. I have not included stories that were only relevant at the time they were written but you may find some items here where updated posts have been made in the meantime, but I don’t think that’s a problem. Enjoy.

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 started 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.

Introduction – Skip if you are a regular reader

You will find many expats writing blogs about life in the coastal centres and places like Chiang Mai, which for the many westerners with connection via their Thai partner to Esan is not very helpful. There are some excellent Facebook resources as well as blogs I am sure that focus on Esan life in the bigger centres and focus more on answering questions and exchanging tops and tricks, but not so many writing as regularly as I do on what village life actually looks like from the inside.

None of my stories are spectacular and will never be found in the search results of tourists looking for adventure. However, most of the readers who follow this blog, and there are some who have become “virtual ” friends over the years, are people who have a much more committed and personal connection to Thailand and have moved well beyond elephant riding, zip-lining and bar hopping. For them, these little insights help maintain that connection to village life if they are living elsewhere, and for those who are newer to the scene maybe help with understanding what a life in rural Thailand might look like if that ever happens for them.

This edition covers a period in early September 2108. These stories are extracted from my Facebook page HERE, which I use as a mini-blog to give me an everyday outlet for my enjoyment of words, photography and of course the wonderful lifestyle I am privileged to enjoy. They are very day by day accounts as a result. I am making these posts shorter than previous editions keeping the photos to around 50 -60. I hope you enjoy them.

We dropped into the one of our local forest temples, Wat Pa Silawa, last evening with friends who are staying with us to join the chanting session with monks and villagers. Always a big welcome (I got the sweets) and a great opportunity to be part of a community event.

Young kids are called up by the head monk to get sweets and drinks. I got sweets so maybe I look younger than I am 

More sweets being handed out.

This is the abbot Phor Yow (phonetic spelling only). Phor is a senior monk in Thai I believe. In front of him is one of those realistic wax statues of his predecessor.

The kids lined the front. The monks can do the entire one hour chant without books.

We have had friends from Canberra staying with us for a few days and this gave us the opportunity to share our love of local Isaan sights and happenings, which is always a pleasure. Thank you Bob Sekhon and Jasbeer Sekhon for including us on your overseas holiday travels. A few photos covering few aspects from a couple of our trips.

Lunch at the farm then had us driving the very short distance to the small forest wat being built 1 km away. This is a new monk’s accommodation on the right and his walking meditation path all being constructed by local volunteers.

Inside the monk’s hut. That’s a mosquito net hanging from the roof.

These forest wat monks don’t just watch other people work, they get in and get involved. This monk is working on the roof to the new Buddha hall. You wouldn’t get me up there. Bare feet of course.

Another view of that monk working. This will end up a lovely small timber temple building.

The vivid colours of new rice paddies.

The vivid colours of new rice paddies.

Many years of service still in this one.

The next day had us heading out for a drive in the country to Noi’s Kitchen 30 minutes from us. Reed mats are all the go this time of year. Gaun spotted some in one of the villages we drove through. The reeds being dried here.

Beautiful colours. All done by hand.

The loom that’s used to make the mats. You can see that she is sitting over a partly finished new mat.

Gaun and a completed one.

Across the road from the lady making mats. What a brilliant rural scene. The sticks on the pickup are reeds that are used to make sticky rice baskets. You can get two types in Isaan. The baskets that are made from bamboo or these, which are harder and twice the cost. See next photos.

These two sticky rice baskets on the right are made from these reeds rather than bamboo and both were gifts from friends.

Chillies drying.

Jasbeer and Bob with Greg from Noi’s Kitchen Gaun as well of course. — with Greg Ledder.

Happy days.

I will post a few photos from this morning and you can try and work out what heading I would have given them based on the actual celebration. I will give the answer with the last photo. Where else can you start the day like this? I won’t add words but just let you enjoy the captured moments of this terrific event.

Yes, I am sure you got it in one. This was the opening ceremony for Peng’s school three day sports carnival. School was never like this when I went and if it was I might have been more interested 

Today after leaving the school sports day we called into see friends who have a shop in Si Bun Ruang. There we met not only Doug Acker and his partner Pu but also Michael Cromer and partner Pepsi. Always a pleasure to see them.

While us guys were having a peaceful cuppa in a cafe the ladies ganged up and decided they wanted to visit a timber temple in Nong Bua Lamphu, a 30 minute drive, I had discovered thanks to a recommendation from Greg Ledder from Noi’s Kitchen. Peng had joined us for the day so we headed off in a three pickup convoy.

I have written and photographed this temple, which is called Wat Pa See Vichi/Wichi, before but each time I visit I can’t help but take a few more. Our friends were very impressed, which only emphasises why this wat should be on everyone’s list as a ‘must do’ if spending time in this part of Isaan.

Any guesses on this load? We thought chairs from a distance.

Wheelbarrows 

An outstanding structure. This is the Buddha hall, used for large public meetings.

Gaun and Peng.

A happy Peng who has three days off school.

Ancient timber holding up the floor.

Doug Acker wanted to take a chainsaw to some of this timber for a few home based projects but I think he was joking 

Inside the Buddha Hall. Just so beautiful.

Gong three times for good luck.

The ladies of the group.

Peng making a donation.

Simple but stunning.

Enjoying the space.

Spot the monk. He’s not meditating but has just made himself a coffee!

Wednesday must be wash day 

I have been asked the purpose of these rubber rings at the dish washing station in a previous post I published. All will be revealed in the next photo.

These are the monks begging bowls they carry around early mornings to get food donations. When they need to be cleaned they sit on those rubber rings so they don’t slide around! Mystery solved and you like me become even more of a Thailand expert.

I run out of words to describe how great this wat is. This is yet another impressive building used as timber storage amd monk accommodation.

Paths wander through the trees.

I have no idea who these people are.

Oh yes, I remember now. — with รอนะ. เจ้าควานฝัน.

This is actually a waterway that looks like it is covered with grass. Floating plants have taken over since the last time we were here.

A monk has accommodation at one end of this structure over the water and there’s another on a lower level. They will use this platform for walking meditations, which is not a bad situation for quiet contemplation.

 

Thanks for reading.

Tony

4 Comments

  1. Jim Busby

    I forgot to ask, since brass and band instruments are not the typical East Asian preferred instruments, what sort of music is being played?

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      I don’t remember Jim. I think it was western music played badly. I will report back. Maybe brass band music is universal.

      Reply
  2. Jim Busby

    That is one tall wat. How much do those colorful mats go for? Those lovely long dresses dragging through all that mud. Know what the girls have to do after show. Photos from your favorite wat I see.

    Jim

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      It is a good size. All timbers winched into place by hand. It was a favourite wat of mine but they have made a mess of the site and this building and I will reserve judgement as to whether it is worth reconnecting with. The boss monk Dit, was the number two at Wat Pha Silawa, before his mum gave him family land to start his own wat. The ex-number three at Silawa is a friend of Gaun’s and he’s just been made abbot at a temple outside Chiang Rai. He’s invited us to visit, which we might try to organise next time we’re that way. I also have a Buddhist nun I know from my early days of meditation and she’s in Chiang Rai too, so a double incentive.

      The mats are very cheap if you get a standard one – 150 baht (?). The more complex patterns and colours will push up the price but when you consider the work that goes into them they are still a bargain.

      Water and mud are an accepted part of life here. It was sad to see those dresses getting so dirty but not unusual. The amount of expense and effort that goes into a sports extravaganza is far greater than any educational activity. It keeps the ladyboys happy, who are always central to any event like this, and I think they are great fun (the events not the ladyboys although they are fun too).

      That is a stunning wat in my books. I would love to do an evening session during Buddhist Lent, when the forest wats are busy. That hall filled with people in the white clothes contrasted against the warm timber would be very photogenic. The hall has a real atmosphere of stillness too, which I enjoy.

      Cheers Jim.

      Reply

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