Well, after a time there of writing about a few more blogs on dos and donts/thailand, our scraggy teacher friends here and a life of tv dramas I thought I would get back to one of those fave topics of mine and that is an untold life upcountry and away from the City of Ladyboys and Floods.
Just a couple of days back I read a blog written up by our friend here Mr Richard, that was titled something like ‘What monks eat in the morning’, well, I’d like to go one step further and give assurance to all yous readers “Probably darned better than most of us”. So many of the monks here get so much decent food in the morning that they got to find a helper to help heave the load back to the temple for a massive munch-up. If you don’t believe me then just look for yourself at how many rolly-polly over-weight monks there just are and not so many who are chopstick-skinny looking as myself. I do know that at most temples they only eat twice a day, but what most Farang don’t realise is that they have two servings each time thus adding up to four meals a day.
I remember the time once when travelling around the north-east and popping into Ubon Ratchathani I thought that it would be good day out to go visit the temple of Wat Pa Nanachat. Now, most readers probably havent the faintest to this very well-known forest monastery which is one of only two temples in the kingdom that has only – Farang monks ( and a couple of Japanese tossed in to give it more of a Benetton look). So there was me arriving in the early morning with a small bag of sticky rice and grilled pork for breaky before getting a glimpse of this big flashy BMW pulling up in the temple carpark with a family of Bangkokians getting out of it. Next, I see them pulling out from the back seat a huge offering of food for the Farang monks, obviously thinking that the Farangs cant eat sticky rice gave them instead a whole fanfare of very eatable – Pizzas! With a big bag of chicken wings thrown in.
Good luck prevailed and since half the monks there were vegetarian I was asked to finish off the leftovers as you could imagine I seriously contemplated a longer stay!
You may have noticed that Richard here has the very unenviable task of having to scrabble his brains and write up a blog everyday and so that has meant having to get up even before the chickens lately and go out following Phra Gor on his alms round. As one who prefers the luxury of ones bed ive had to think up of other ways to give an offering to the monks. Well here is an example:
Just yesterday in fact while popping into my local shop here at the back of the school I saw the Thai boxing on the box and there in front of it glued to the set ‘Luang ta’ from the local temple. So to make merit I asked the old monk what if he would like a drink and points out the Green Tea in the fridge, so I picked up a carton of it only for old auntie to shout out “No, Luang ta likes a big bottle, don’t be a right stingy farang!” Nevermind the 20 baht, I was soon knelt in front of him while he gave me a blessing to the likes of “Get rich, get very very rich, meet a fine wife or two or even three!” Well, believe it or not the 20 baht investment soon paid off and after a steak and a couple of beers at a local restaurant last night I fortunately bumped into an old buddy sales friend of mine from AIA who on leaving informs the owner “Here’s the money to pay for my teacher friend’s dinner and beers!” Great stuff, freebie munch and bevvie up!”
I don’t care what anyone thinks on this matter but in my opinion I believe that one thing the Thais have a loving fondness of is: ‘breaking the law’. Sometimes I wish that there were no laws in Thailand. For I believe, that since the Thais would be all cheesed off that there were no laws to break would instead be all good law-abiding citizens. Inform them that gambling is against the law and half of the upcountry population is there sat in the living room playing ‘Pok daeng’. Next, inform them that the moto driver has to wear a crash helmet and my God half the sneaky driver population will do anything whatsoever to be seen NOT wearing a helmet!
How many times have I heard in Thailand of the locals complaining to the likes of “Darned slimey cop busted me for not wearing a helmet!” to which ive wished to reply “Well, just wear one then!” Then just how many times have you heard from a local to the likes of “Crooked corrupt traffic cop got 50 baht out of me today after catching me drinking a beer whilst riding me bike!” Well, half the police force wouldn’t be so crooked if it wasn’t for the likes of you” who on not wanting to pay the 300 baht fine at the cop shop sticks in the copper’s hand a hundred baht note whispering in his ear “Buy something for your kid, I know how little you earn!”
Then a long time back while staying in Pattaya at a cheap hotel for a while I got friendly with the workers in there. Then one day on coming back I noticed that they had all disappeared, including old granny at 65 who had my washing. Perplexed as I was, I asked the moto driver outside to the likes of “Where is everyone?” to which he replied “They all just been arrested for playing bingo behind the counter!” Not exactly to chuffed meself at having no clean clothes to wear out, the bunch were soon back an hour or so later after coughing up the whimsical fine to the likes of 600 baht each. Bad luck for them as they were only earning a hundred baht a day!
Going back to the law governing drivers in Thailand one slogan that is everywhere reads ‘Mao Mai Kap’ ie Don’t get drunk and then drive’ so what does this actually mean? You can drink loads and drive but don’t get plastered!?
Lottery seller on a bicycle
One other fascination of our friends here upcountry has to be – the lottery! As a Farang perhaps not understanding Thai you may have asked yourself the question “Now just what do Thais talk about?” Well there is the answer, the govt lottery and not much else. If they aren’t complaining to the likes of ‘Its darned fixed’ or ‘Crikes I was just one number off’ are getting out their spook book trying to ‘tell’ the lucky number of the fortnight. If that doesn’t work all the old dearies are off to the temple to listen to one of the old monks ‘fortune telling lucky number speeches’ for a twenty baht admission fee.
Getting away from Thais breaking the law, one thing that certainly isnt illegal in Thailand, is owning a whole pack of mad dangerous dogs that will frighten the living daylights out of the whole neighbourhood. Behind my school here are 4 shops that I can choose from to buy my stuff from. One is a biggish shop which I do try and stay away from as the owner’s got three huge hungry rottweillers that chase all the bicycles going up and down the street and even give me the odd “Rrrrrrr, what you want?” look.
Then another store is run by this short-sighted old grandad that takes half an hour to come out with me change. Finally there is one store that is just fine but the hassle of it is, is that I got to walk past this house with a real moungrel of a grotty dog. So on going to the shop to buy my daily bag of coke and ice (the legal drinkable type that is) the mutt on hearing my footsteps has its head half way out of the gate roaring it nut off just for the sake of it, sometimes I do just wish the darned thing would get its head stuck.
Not all the Thais put up with the nation’s dirty mutts and the I remember the story of last year when the newspaper headlines read to the likes of “Temple’s dogs all found dead” the story had it that a man who on getting fed up with the 50 or so flea-ridden hounds at his local temple decides one day to walk in with a big bag of chicken laced in rat poison and throw the lot to the dogs as lunch. After the herd of them had successfully dropped-down dead the locals distraught at such a sinful act rounded the dreaded dog-killer up and hoarded him off to the cop shop. Well, sadly the law of Thailand doesn’t fall in the favour of our four-legged friends and the mutt-killer was forced to pay a huge fine of, wait for it – 500 baht. It doesnt need a calculator to work out that our canines” friends’ lives were worth a staggering, 10 baht each! Before being released the mutt-killer had to sign a confession to the likes of ‘I promise I will not kill a dog again’.
One tourist place of Thailand that is synonymous for its wild mutts has to be Kanchanburi and anyone who has been there will know that a walk back at night means ‘taking a five foot long stick too’. Once I remember when after a night out down by the river and on walking back to me room I just had to relieve myself and have a pee-pee at this big gate. Jumping out of my skin with shock, there’s this gigantic hideous mutt staring up at me and barking a frenzy from behind the gate. Fortunately I didn’t lean too far forward as the thing almost had my ‘diggery-doo’ for supper.
Well, I could go on and one with a few thousand more words but perhaps I should leave it just there and keep a few more stories for a later day and get out of that nasty abit of mine of writing ‘too-darned-log-a-blog’. Anyway this blog has been the second of me ‘A Life Upcountry’ series and the first part can found somewhere in me archives here’. Love them or hate them,there will be more to come.
Please visit my other blogs about Life Up Country
VOCAB FOR TODAY:
Munch up = loads to eat, buffet style
Rolly-polly = big and round
To have not the faintest = to not know anything whatsoever about…
Breaky = breakfast
Luang Ta (Thai Lingo) = ‘Revered Grandad’, title bestowed upon an elderly monk
A bevvie up = having lots to drink before tumbling into bed
To cough up = to give money away, often with a tear in your eye
To be cheesed off = to be angry
Pok Daeng (Thai lingo) = popular card game that is played daily by half the population including the entire police forces’ wives
Perplexed = งง
To get plastered = to get darned drunk
Spook book = fortune teller’s magazine
Mutt/hound/moungrel = all nice words for our four-legged (or 3 legged as often seen in Thailand) friend – the DOG
Grotty = dirty
Cop shop = police station