Daily Archives: April 25, 2005

Superstitions about Sneezing

A likay performance in a local temple

Be careful the next time you sneeze in Thailand. Or at least, check the time before you sneeze!

(1) If you sneeze two or three times in a row, it means that someone is complaining or gossiping about you.
(2) If you sneeze in the morning between 6 a.m. – 9 a.m., you will be lucky that day, you might get a promotion, if you have to travel you will have a safe trip
(3) If you sneeze in the late morning between 9.01 a.m. – 12 p.m. you will receive good news from someone far away. You will be successful in your work.
(4) If you sneeze in the early afternoon between 12.01 p.m. – 3 p.m. you will receive some good news from someone of the opposite sex. Or you will have a romantic meeting with someone you love.
(5) If you sneeze in the late afternoon between 3.01 p.m. and 6 p.m. you will receive some good news regarding business. If you have lost anything you will get it back. Your investments will be successful. You shouldn’t have anything to do with the opposite sex.
(6) If you sneeze in the early afternoon between 6.01 p.m. – midnight, do not accept anything from anyone because bad things will happen.
(7) If you sneeze between midnight until 6 a.m., be aware someone will come to ask to stay with you. Do not allow them. If someone asks for help, do not help. They will bring trouble.
(8) During your travels, if you hear someone sneezing from high above, your trip will be dangerous. You shouldn’t continue.
(9) During your travels, if you hear someone sneezing from below, this will be a good trip, you might meet your soulmate.
(10) During your travels, if you hear someone sneezing in front of you, you will have a safe trip. Some good things are waiting for you.
(11) During your travels, if you hear someone sneezing behind you, it will be a bad trip. You should stop and go back staright away because bad things will happen like you will have an accident or you will be robbed.
(12) During your travels, if you hear someone sneezing on your right, you will have a safe trip and no troubles.
(13) During your travels, if you hear someone sneezing on your left, this trip will be successful. You should hurry because something big is waiting for you.

Source: เคล็ดมงคล by นุกูล สิริตานันท์

Songkran DC Style! Pt. 3

Sawasdee Krab,

I can’t believe I’m on Part 3 the final installment of my blog about Songkhran DC style. I had planned to only write one page on my experience but I kept finding more and more things to write about and still not cover everything I thought might be interesting to share with you. I hope your still with me and not bored by now 😉

I also apologize that it took a few extra days to get this final chapter written as my blog is now a week late since Songkhran was a week ago! My original intent was to write a blog once a week and after I get through my back log of blogs that I plan to write today that will be the schedule for me with a new blog each week written sometime on the weekend.

On the main things I wanted to write about today was the procession of Fai Pook Kean ฝ้ายผูกแขน that you can see in the pic above.

Throughout the day many guests, both farang and Thai, went inside the main temple or Bot at Wat Thai to see what it was like. Some people were at Songkhran for the first time and had never been to a Buddhist temple before while most farang guests were there with their Thai husbands, wives, boyfriends or girlfriends all celebrating Songkhran together and many I noticed took part in the Fai Pook Kean.

Before going into the temple I took off my sandals on the front steps and left them on one of the racks for your shoes on each side of the temple doors. You should always remove your shoes when entering a Wat especially the Bot or hall where the main Buddha image is kept. To not do that is considered very disrespectful. That’s why I wear Sandals when I go to Wat Thai because they are easy to slip off and then slip back on later when I leave. Also when sitting down in a Wat you must never point your feet at a Buddha image or a monk as that is also very disrespectful but I will get into that more later.

Many guests knew to remove their shoes before going in but if they did not then someone watching the door would politely remind them. I wonder how many people also knew not to step on the threshold leading into the Bot but to step over it instead. Most Thai temples have a raised threshold, which must not be stood or stepped on because Thai people believe holy spirits reside in these thresholds.

Being careful to step over the threshold I quietly entered the temple. I sort of described the main temple room in my previous Blog but let me tell you more about what it is like inside.

This is a picture of the main Buddha Shrine at the center in front of the Bot. It is the most decoration inside the temple. Most of the temple is empty except for the shrine. In the back of the room on the right were some folding chairs usually for guests to sit that cannot sit easily on the floor. On the left side were two very nice arm chairs probably for important visitors to sit and a very large gong in between them. Everyone sits on the floor for sermons and chanting at the temple except for the monks who sit on a raised walkway that runs along the right side of the room.

Trying to be as discreet and humble as I could, smiling and bowing my head to guests seated in the chairs, I moved around the room to take some pictures often times moving around just on my knees to show a more humble prescence during the procession. That was not very easy!

Although the temple is very plain compared to the beautifully ornate temples in Thailand I like it that here, same as in Thailand, you sit on the carpeted floor. It’s alot more comfortable than the hardwood pews I had to endure each Sunday growing up in a Christian church. There were large windows on the left side of the room that let sunlight pour into the room which also created a very comfortable feeling but if you weren’t careful you could get lazy and want to take a nap 🙂

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A life upcountry……again

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


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

Courage Under Fire

Brandon and Oakley in Chiang Mai

Wow. I didn’t think my previous post has touched so many lives and opened up a dialogue. And here I thought I was just being a whiny little b…well…person.

A relationship between a Farang man and Thai woman, platonic or romantic, in itself is already off to the rocky start in Thailand where social stigma comes standard to the woman.

After having read some of the comments on my last blog post, I am grateful to you Farang gentlemen out there who the basic knowledge of proper conducts. If you didn’t know before, now you do. And I’m glad. Knowing how things are regarding the interracial relationship in Thailand hopefully will help you when you visit the country next time, or when you develop friendship with Thai women.

As for those who have felt bad that they didn’t know if they had caused any problems for their lady friends, don’t be. They know what kind of unwanted attention and prejudice surrounding your friendship. By the fact that they remain friends with you this whole time, they indeed have admirable courage and confidence. We have to be secured enough with ourselves, have skin thick enough to withstand the looks, and believe in that relationship enough to give us strength to deal with it all.

I don’t play to the stares or feel too uncomfortable with it either. I used to care so much about how other people would think of me. Totally self conscious. But then, I discovered the most empowering idea: “I don’t give a hoot what you think.” It doesn’t apply only to my interracial marriage, but to my life in general.

I believe that my relationship is none of anyone else’s business. I love my husband. Here we are, Farang guy and his Thai wife. We’re just another married couple. You can stare all you want, and think what you want because your opinion don’t f*cking matter to me.

But I do respect my culture, and therefore I will keep to the codes of conduct deemed proper. When in Rome, you know. So yes, we are being respectful to Thai culture by not displaying our affections in public, and also not to feed unnecessary fire into the madness.

Sure, there are a few occasions when I feel self conscious about being with Brandon in Thailand. But more so, I feel disappointed. It’s my own people that point their accusing fingers at me.

As I said what other people think doesn’t matter to me. Sticks and stones, really. But the one that gets me more is when my mother is concerned about how I am being seen. Was she concerned about how I’m being seen, or was she concerned about how I’m being seen affect how she’s being seen? I don’t know.

And that was exactly the focal point of my monologue at Asian Voices last Thursday. (By the way, we brought the house down. The 132-person capacity theater has over 150 people in it!) Here’s a little snippet from that section:

Dressed like them. Mom doesn’t have to spell it out. I know what she means by them. The world’s famous Bangkok prostitutes.

Apparently, this [unwrap sarong to reveal shorts underneath] and a white husband makes me an instant boom-boom girl. At least according to my mother.

She made this prostitute comment to me when my husband Brandon and I were in Thailand last Thanksgiving. It was our first visit as a married couple.

Brandon and I have both been on our best behavior so far, as in not displaying any affection in public because of the whole prostitute thing. My choice for wearing shorts and sneakers is not so far off from what Farang—foreigner—tourists wear.

Mom’s got to be really ashamed of being seen with me in public that day. Ashamed of me, wearing shorts and sneakers; ashamed of me having a Farang husband; ashamed of me.

I’ve gone numb. It hurts so much it seems I’ve gone into shock.

If I was still single, I can understand why she is so critical of me. But I’m married now. I have a career. I have my own life. I don’t even f*cking live in the country. Why is this whole appearance thing still an issue? What’s wrong with being me, mom?

I’m Varavarai Oakley Boren. Sometimes you’d say that I’m too “Americanized” because I speak my mind, and I don’t try to pretend that I’m prim and proper. No Thai boys would take me now.

Do you ever think that I was already “Americanized” before I left?

Mom, I was born in a wrong country. I have to go to America to find me.

Either way, you still are ashamed of me. Aren’t you?

That’s why I don’t live there any more. I can’t live with that guilt hanging over my head everyday. I sure love to visit, and each time I visit I remember how good I had it growing up. But that is all gone in about a week into my stay. There is always that one comment. If it’s not the hooker thing, it’ll be something else about me that mom doesn’t like.

Folks, this is not just a Thai thing, the love-hate struggle with our more traditional mothers. From what I learned at Asian Voices, all Asian moms are critical that way. They want us to fit a more traditional mold of prim and proper, obedient and a little bit subservient, the way they have been, and the way they believe how we could get us a husband. (Oh well, I do believe Thai men of my generation still look for that too.) So it doesn’t fly with them when we, the next generation, come in with our mouthful of opinions, feminist ideals, and talk of sexual liberation. (Sexual liberation. Well that’s a whole OTHER can of worms.)

Then again, I digress.

It all comes down to us, ladies. How badly do you want this relationship or friendship to work? Will you have enough strength to stand up to the looks and the gossips? What about your family? Can you handle what your family would think and react to your relationship? Is all that trouble worth it to you?

If the answer is yes, I salute you. And that Farang friend of yours had better not take your friendship for granted.