Asia | South East Asia | Thailand | Northeast Thailand | Nong Khai – a taste of rural life
Today was a bit of a rest day. No classes or organized anything, and the other volunteer who was training with me left for her placement in a rural village about 3 hours from her. Neither of us has really taught before, so we gave eachother good moral support. In the course of conversation, she mentioned that her friend from home (England) was going to volunteer in America this spring. With wolves. Guess where? That’s right, Williams, Oregon. What are the chances of that waaay random coincidence!?
So i spent the day doing errands, doing my best trying to speak the Thai that i have learned. Correct pronunciation is tough because words mean different things, depending on whether and when you raise or lower your voice or change intonation. I was looking for what i was told was called a muuong (mosquito net: for the park). Think of how many different ways you can say that word. Well, i tried and tried with one stall owner, then we moved on to drawings, pantomime and finally he got it. No, he didn’t have one, but he’d take me to the store that did. So he hopped on his bike, and i on mine and away we went! This is so Thai. They just bend over backwards to get you what you want, no big deal, and gladly. I know i go on and on about them, but the national psyche here is so different from America (as they call the US) or anywhere else i’ve ever experienced. It just makes me feel so good being around this relentlessly positive energy!
So anyhow, i went and got some food at some little resturant that, like most of them, spills into the street. Eating is a social event here and you cannot go 20 feet without there being a restaurant, food stall, food cart or food peddler, anywhere! I don’t think i’ve eaten the same thing twice since i arrived – the Thai staff here tell me that there are over 1000 thai dishes. I put my old favorite (pad thai) to rest after the first day! Today it was morning glory greens with oyster sauce and sticky rice (an isan specialty). The greens were excellent – kind of like spinach.
Today is Monday, the day of the week the king was born, so again the yellow t-shirts are in abundance. I’ve been here a week. It feels like a year. Must be what it’s like when you have a child – that as soon as their born you can hardly remember life without them. Williams feels a lifetime away and i can’t say i’ve felt homesick in the slightest! Of course it’s only been a week…
Anyway, i finally got out of town for the first time since i arrived. I got bold and took off on my bike and just kept riding past the edge of town, making random turns down roads, heading out for a while then retraced my steps so i wouldn’t get lost. Wow! Different world. Such humble lives. Many houses are simple wooden shacks, really, on stilts, surrounded by fields, fruit trees and tangles of vegetation. Looks like there’s a series of small man-made lakes that flood irrigate the fields. I saw some rice patties, lots of banana, papaya and other tropical fruit trees, brahman cows, the usual lazing dogs and people just doing whatever they do. Lots of (plastic) trash burning. Every other house seems to have a business running out of it – fixing motorbikes, serving food, selling goods…
Of course i got lots of stares, being a single middle aged white woman out away from the farang district – everyone looked very surprised when they looked up and saw me! They all smile tho, and say hello or sa-wat-dee-ka or nod.
Want to do that again and go further out before i leave the area on Thursday.
Tomorrow i’m heading across the ‘friendship bridge’ to Lao (slightly visible in accompanying photo). I’ll spend the night there and check out the sights in Vientiane, the capitol of Lao. When i meet up with Spencer and Ray, we’ll go up to mountainous north central Lao for a week or so, but this is just a short trip just to see what the south looks like. From where i’m staying a half block from the river, i can hear the late night partying going on in Lao, so i’m heading over to see what they’re up to!
By the way, the pictures are up on the previous pages. I guess it takes a day or two for the web host to approve the content, so enjoy!
That’s all for now. Cheerio, dearios!