Love Living in Isan - June 2019Stories about living in a rural village in the northeast of Thailand
After the excitement of a week on the road backward and forward to Chiang Mai, getting my stepdaughter Peng settled into university and a few posts related to that trip, it is a pleasure to return to everyday Isan life. These are a few local stories I hope you enjoy.
Although I enjoyed the variety of our time away from home spending time in the big city atmosphere of Chiang Mai, it was such a pleasure to return to the slower pace of life in the village. We have resumed our morning trips to the farm and there’s something comforting watching the cycle of crops happening there. June is the month to plant rice, new fields are being prepared for vegetables. After the urban concrete ugliness of Chiang Mai, which like all cities separates us from any connection with the soil and basic activities like farming, it was great to be back.
It was a delight to kick off my shoes, dig my feet into the earth and reconnect with a simpler life. You do realise that the whole kick off the shoes thing is only written in theory don’t you. I hate getting my feet dirty. Anyway, here are a few insights to a real life here in Isan. Not one restuarant review, bottle of wine tasted or bargirl in sight!
5 June: This paddy has been flooded using bore/well water because the wet season so far seems to have passed Si Bun Ruang by this year as it has every other year we have lived here. Yuan and Lud are throwing out rice that has been soaked in water for two days. Sticky rice to the left of Lud in the green shirt and steamed rice (for me) on the right.
Yuan and Lud grow the highest quality of rice, which involves growing seedlings first and then replanting them by hand into other paddy fields to ensure uniform spacing between plants for maximum growth.
18 June: This photo taken today with the rice well established. There’s always a bit of concern that heavy rain hapens once the seeds are thrown out that, which tends to clump the seeds and requires more application to ensure an even coverage. Not a problem this year.
I could tone down the green in editing but the new rice really is that colour. This is a view of some of Gaun’s land, which Yuan farms. The trees in the background would have been cut by now on any other farm but as long as Gaun is around they are safe.
A new field ploughed ready for planting new vegetables. Yuan and Lud’s farmhouse is on the left.
Lovely rich soil on the farm. You can see four raised beds have already been prepared on the right. The second photo is a closer view. Seeds have been planted and rice husk mulch is being applied. Shade cloth is in place to give the seeds protection from the sun. With the absence of rain this rows will be hand watered every evening.
Lud on rice husk spreading duty. Each bag cost 10 baht.
Yuan distributing seeds. This is a well oiled team after over 20 years working together.
Seeds on the left and on the right is the result of two days cleaning up of our garden at home after a week out of action in Chiang Mai. This will be burnt (unfortunately Mel if you’re reading). The quantity of waste vegetation here as a result of high growth in this tropical climate makes alternative options realistically impossible.
I only add this photo to show Lud’s farm footwear! His feet like his hands are built for purpose.
Bear, Gaun’s older sister, is growing some corn on her part of the farm. It is a lighter coloured version and a lot less juicy than the bright yellow versions I remember from ‘home’. The pick-up on the right is delivering ice to farms further down this road including the wat (temple) at the end. Fridges are not used a lot and ice boxes are filled every day to keep drinks and food cool. at 40 baht ($1.70) a sack why not?
Gaun’s farm garden continues to flourish although the bougainvillea has finally mostly stopped flowering after seven months.
The master-gardener herself up a ladder trimming bougainvillea a job started at 5:00 am this morning after she brought mama to the farm.
On the way home we called into this flower farm to buy some marigolds that Gaun wanted to make into garlands as part of a commitment we have to deliver six elephants to spirit shrines in exchange for their help in getting my stepdaughter Peng into university! It’s a story that requires more expanation and I will cover it in a later post.
Earlier this month we drove to Udon Thani. our closest large city, to collect some things Gaun’s sister Yurt, who works there, wanted to give mama and the family. I took the opportunity to stock up on coffee beans from an outlet in the centre of town. I can buy fresh beans locally but Thais only seem to enjoy an espresso and I prefer a medium roast. More information than you need probably (except for Greg and Yuri).
Thailand has a big cafe culture, often with coffees made by people who have never drunk coffee, but there you go. I am a coffee snob and because I think I make a better shot of coffee than most places I never bother buying outside home.
Very close to the coffee shop is a wholesale clothes market hidden away behind the main street. Car free it is a relief to wander through without the endless traffic of Udon Thani. We had a full car with Peng, Yuan and Lud on board.
This was before the new king’s coronation and yellow was all the go. He was born on a Monday and yellow is that day’s colour.
Jeans for Yuan and Lud’s son Game. 150 baht (A$7.00)
Modern Thai culture!
New clothes for mama.
The centre of Udon Thani. Thai city streetscapes are universally ugly. Anyone who tells you different is living in a dreamworld. You don’t come here for urban architectural photographic opportunities.
On the way out of Udon we always end up calling into this garden centre to check out what’s on offer. It’s just past the airport heading west on highway 210.
The other purpose for the trip was to visit ia rural area west if Udon that specialised in spring onions. Yuan wanted to get some dried ones to plant at the farm.
We stopped at this place owned by a ladyboy as we were after directions to a farmer able to sell Yuan the dried onions she wanted. This place was in full production preparing spring onions for market. These will most likely end up at Udon’s wholesale markets next to Makro on highway 22 HERE on Google Maps. Well worth a visit especially if you have visitors to see the diversity of fruit and vegetables available many in massed quantities. Here you will see those massively overloaded utilities being unpacked bringing crops from farm to market.
50 kilos at 60 baht a kilo.
It’s times like this that a pick-up makes sense. We already had half a load with Yurt’s contribution and adding 50 kilos of onions was no problem.
The farmers wanted to check out local spring onion production. Bulk plantings with irrigation.
Following on from the above, the photo on the left taken yesterday shows Yaun and Lud planting those spring onions we bought outside Udon. I will get to see the whole process from beginning to end will and have made a small contribution to the end result. The photo on the right shows Gaun’s teak trees are making progress on her wooded part of the farm.
Happily chomping on grass at the farm. These fields will soon be turned over to rice so this cow had better eat while she has the chance.
Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment. I alway enjoy them and will respond to each one. Tony