So I’m back in my wife’s village after a hectic several weeks of travel in Japan and Thailand (hence the shortage of blog posts). This is Eastern Thailand, about 90 minutes from the wild outpost of Poipet, on the Thai/Cambodian border. I’ve been coming here at least once a year for nearly the past 10 years for 5-6+ weeks at a time. This is a great escape from the city and urban life not to mention the undesirable weather in most of California at this time of the year.
There used to be more homes (Thai style, wooden with metal roofs set off the ground about four feet on top of concrete pillars) in the village but those who lived here sold their land and moved outside of the village and built western style homes. Now there are two homes at the end of the dirt road, my mother in law and her sisters.
Here everything you eat is grown or caught within a small radius of the of the kitchen. We do not have to go to the market. Fish, vegetables, chicken, pork and fruit are all grown right here. We’ve had a rice rat infestation in the small house this year so the locals set their homemade bamboo traps at night to catch these critters which we then BBQ the next morning. These traps work amazingly well, spring loaded.
Flying worms I call them – these juicy insects which are attracted to the purple light at night and then fall into the water basin below. In the early morning we collect these, fry them in light oil and add soy sauce and a local leaf (called Pandan) for seasoning. After the years I no longer “think” I am eating insects when I dig in.
This is the dry season here but several ponds persist year round among the rice fields. Several days ago was an all out assault on one of the ponds. With a pump we drained much of the water and little old ladies and men waded into the mud and guck dragging nets behind them. For hours and hours kilo’s of fish were caught. As a result we’ve been eating nothing but fish lately! Fried fish, salted fish, dried fish, tom yum fish etc. They also make fermented fish but this is a 4 month process until they are ready to eat.
Little garden plots are scattered around the house and rice fields. One is set high up on a burm dividing two murky ponds and in order to water the plants one has to carry buckets from these ponds to the garden.
New Years Eve always sees the exchange of gifts and it was no different this year. You might think the exchange of gifts would include some unusual items items of perceived value – not so, rather they are typically more mundane in nature. Smiles break out when one opens his gift and discovers bags of detergent, or shampoo or any of a number of other household items.
Compared to the never ending assault on the senses as say a city like Bangkok provides – there is none of that type of sensory input here. However, one never gets bored – there is always something to cook, clean, harvest, hunt, water etc. With that said, we do have several hammocks spread out under the house and between two mature mango trees and tempation often becomes reality to languidly swing away an afternoon with good Clive Cussler novel.