Tuesday 31 July 2007

posting fruit and singing pigs....

The monk party was hilarious...not only did I get to enjoy the Fish Gut Curry, we had a background symphony of 4 pigs squealing for hours! The area where all the tents were set up is usually the area where the pigs roam free...you can imagine the effort that went into de-stinking the place..anyway, our table was only about 4 metres away from a curtained off pig pen!! The pigs were obviously having some major issues about all the intruders making so much noise in their home and really let us know about it...thanks be that I wasn't consuming the little tikes whilst listening to their woe! Champion effort to the karaoke singers who had a good run of at least 12 hours!

Laugh for today - people often send fruit in the mail. The fruit will cost about 50cents a kilo (or free) and then they post it by express post for around $10+!! Fruit is cheap pretty much anywhere in Thailand so it's plain insane...hence the reason J's mother did this today! I guess it's kind of sweet when you think about it..mum just wants her kids to eat some home grown food!

This is an example of what so many people send in the mail, this box of mangostein, cumin (in the bag), fish guts (in the bottles) and something else unknown, cost $35 to send to Bangkok ...click the pic for a bigger view.

Sunday 29 July 2007

Did you say pork?

In preparation for a cousin's monk party tomorrow, J and I drove 80 kms to an aunt's house to pick up a truck load of fruit today. Literally, the whole tray of our Ute was piled high with rambutan, longgong and mangostein...one of my fantasies would have been to just sit in the back and gorge myself, but as others were present I restrained myself, barely.

After returning from the 160 km round trip in the pouring rain, we get back to the pre-party to much appreciation that I’ve driven the distance and arrived with the goods! Six plates of pork curry, steamed pork, beef curry, grilled pork, boiled pork and something not immediately recognizable were placed in front of us and demanded that we must eat! Now, I don’t eat pork….I’ve lived here for years now and still get startled responses from all the same people of “Oh, you don’t eat pork?” followed by whispers of “Is she Muslim?” No, I just really don’t like red meat! It always amuses me that the hundreds of parties I’ve attended since living here the menu is always the same….pork, pork, pork, beef and Nam Kuey Curry (Thai translation: Fish Gut Curry). Luckily over time I’ve developed a taste for this curry, is all I can say!

Laugh for Today - a door to door salesman in our village selling....vacuum cleaners!! Hmm, I bet he thought he was onto a winner trying to sell them somewhere that 100% of the houses are either bare concrete or tiled floors!

Down with the Dogs...

Thailand has a thing with dogs.....there are just so many of them, and they're not tucked away in the back yard either, they roam the streets, free and easy. Usually I don't have a problem with them...they don't gang up on me, so I don't gang up on them! But..I do object when they get horny! Oh the noise of it all...one female dog will be followed around day and night for a week or so by 20 male dogs wanting to get some action. The dogs will be any riff raff, mangy thing that hasn't eaten for a month or someone's much loved pooched pet...she doesn't care, they'll all get a go. Once one dog starts howling his woes to the moon the others within a 2 k radius have to answer their brother...what a cacophony!

By the way had the best sleep ever last night....the dogs sang in perfect harmony with the karaoke!

Saturday 28 July 2007

Thais - the party people

Thais love to have fun and party! Every week there will be a party in the village somewhere. Whether it be a wedding, a new job, a monk initiation, a funeral or a new house, there’s always reason to have a party. With a Thai party, comes the infamous Karaoke! It’s a well known fact that Asians love to sing Karaoke but you can’t really appreciate how much they love it until you live among it! In Australia, every city will have a couple of Karaoke bars hidden away down a dark alley with soundproof walls and no windows. Here Karaoke is BIG business. A typical karaoke session will have at least 10 one metre high speakers stacked upon each other on both sides of a small stage. After thorough sound checks at top volume, the singers are already queuing up. No one is shy about singing in public here. Skill is not required...in fact it will be a complete shock to almost everyone if someone gets up who can actually sing. Every singer gets a healthy round of applause though and depending on the occasion, even a garland of flowers or money for getting up and singing! If it weren’t so painful to listen to, it would be a beautiful thing.

Today is a very auspicious day for Thais (monks are going into hibernation for 3 months). On these special days (of which there are hundreds in the year) the parties are endless. Last night as I lay in bed at 11 o’clock with a pillow over my head trying to dull the volume of many a drunkard singing off key, I knew I was in for at least 2 more nights of this. Standard procedure of a party covers a 3 day process in most cases. First day involves setting up tents, chairs, tables and start cooking all that curry, killing some pigs, and perhaps a cow. Afternoon is filled with lots of men sitting around getting drunk, lots of eating and of course, karaoke till the wee hours of the next morning.

Day 2 starts bright and early with all the women congregating to cook more curry and have a good ol’ gossip and laugh. People start arriving for whatever the ceremony is at about 9 in the morning. Hundreds (I’m not exaggerating) of people will continue to stop in to eat over the next 12 hours. Some funerals of very old and respected people can go on like this for a week!

Karaoke can start at any time once the official ceremony part is concluded. Day time volume is usually more bearable than night time volume, perhaps due to sobriety and pain thresholds? The volume of Karaoke is beyond comprehension here. It ranges between obscenely loud and deafening. I speak the absolute truth when I say my ear drums vibrate with the volume when I'm not even close to the party. Last night's karaoke from 3 houses away was rattling our windows! Just to complete the 3 day party scenario, Day 3 involves the cleanup, more eating, more drinking and, need we say it, more Karaoke…

Is this village life for me?

I never intended to live this village life, sometimes feeling like I’m on a deserted island although surrounded by thousands of people. I’m the only white face in a sea of lovely Thai faces. The only white female in a cast of half a million. I’ve had to reform certain aspects of my character (I'll call it the speak whatever’s on my mind gene) in favour of acute listening skills to try and rapidly assimilate into my new environment. Trying to learn a new language that isn’t Latin based is quite the challenge that's for sure!

I like to think that I’ve fit in quite well but to say I stick out like a sore thumb is just slightly an understatement. Gone are the days that I’d like to slug someone for staring at me. Now I endure the endless streams of whoever sees me having a good gawk for seemingly endless minutes! In my first 6 months here, countless people, no doubt the entire population of my village and those surrounding, stopped in at our house just to have a look at the new phenomenon in town. Lots of squeezing and rubbing of my arms and face, followed by amazement that indeed, I do feel the same as them! I find it very amusing how older people take me. Most of them have never seen a Caucasian female in the flesh before (only on T.V.) and it’s like a need for them to touch me to see if I’m real and if my skin feels the same. Really young kids are very funny too, most think I’m a ghost (very serious business in Thailand!) and hide behind their mothers or the polar opposite of climbing all over me to get a closer look! Perhaps I should be grateful that I’m a such thing of wonder that deserves such undivided attention by the masses...hmm perhaps not!

So, is this village life for me? Absolutely, without doubt, yes it is. Not a day goes by that I don't have a good laugh about something. Life is so completely different from the predictable drudgery and stress of my previous life in Oz. There are many times I feel lonely or sad about not having friends or family close by, but on the balance of existence, the scales always tip in favour of life in Thailand (can you tell I'm a Libran??). There are many reasons for writing my thoughts about my life here... mostly because there are no other people for me to speak English to, so I may as well have a good yak to the computer! Also, there are so few foreign women that settle down in Thailand compared to the thousands of men who do, that it might give some insight into how one comes to live here.

Laugh for today - my uncle-in-law's name is.....Uncle Fat! I love Thai translation...goes along with the many people called Chicken, Frog, Pig and Love, although Uncle Fat has to be my favourite (especially coz he's so thin!!)

Friday 27 July 2007

If you must know...

In brief ->

Mel is
Australian chikadee
Just hit 30 (and I don't have issues with that)
Married to Jay my Thai persona in the flesh
Living in his non-touristic village
Runs a small, not overly successful business from home.
No kids (but thanks for asking ;-p)
Living with the Thai inlaws going steadily insane

More tantalizing tales ->

Although it feels like I've lived in Thailand for a millennium, it's actually only been about 3 and a half years. I came to Thailand as a tourist on the end of a Round-The-World trip, taking in South and Central America, the UK and my final destination was lovely Thailand before my planned return to sunny Brisbane, my home town. Fate threw that plan out the proverbial with the devastating tsunami in December 2004 which had me packing up and moving to Khao Lak on the south-western coast of Thailand to volunteer in the disaster relief. The 5 months I spent there were devastating, confronting, overwhelming but also a true gift as I met so many genuine people and made so many treasured friends. Oh yeah, and I met my husband Jay there too! Jay is Thai and lives in a village not too oft visited by tourists (I've seen about 4 in the 2.5 years I've lived here!). After the whole lurve thang hit we moved back to the ville and have been living with the EVIL mother-in-law and the angel father-in-law for all the time since. This blog was to ease my insanity levels steming from having no one to communicate with in my own language and it's a long established fact that girls NEED to gasbag, hello! So, thanks for visiting and if you want to chat to me in private send me an email to villagelife@southernthai.com I'd love to hear from you.