Still…..a life upcountry

Well, after you readers out there having been engrossed with stories from our Thai friends living over there in the Land of The Bushes and Budweiser I thought I’d take you back once again to that common ground of….. ‘a life upcountry’.

In last week’s episode I mentioned that Thais have a loving fascination for a few things and they included ‘breaking the law’ and ‘scruffy scragg dogs’. Now for all you Farangs out there who have had the pleasure of living in Thailand for while will know well enough that one more thing the Thais have a infactuation for, is: Noise.

How many of you readers out there have been tortured to the likes of a Luk Thung CD played non-stop on the bus to Phuket for the whole night while all the other passengers have long fell asleep. I must admit that ive witnessed a few farang in my time here literally blowing their heads at this monstrous noise on the upcountry night buses and having a right run in with the drivers at one in the morning to the likes of ‘Turn off that darned tape, its driving me crazy!”

Even the local temple, usually a place of peaceful tranquillity is now and then transformed into the right rowdy village fair with speakers meant to blast so loud that those in the village half way down the river will on hearing the commotion going-on, make their way up to the fair. Next, after the end of the fair the head monks can be heard giving a sermon over the oldest and clumsiest of speaker systems at an awful hour of the day to the not-so-delights of your ear-lobes.

Another source of nightmarish-like noise pollution here upcountry has to be ‘construction’ and the workers involved. I know perfectly well that fair enough a job has to be done but perhaps more suitable working hours ought to be promoted. At the end of this blog you’ll read that I’ll be away from school for a while and one reason is well, the darned noise here at the moment cause of this dome-like pavillion being built (no idea what to call it cause I havent seen the end result yet!). I know its gotta be built, but is 6:45 on a Sunday morning not lacking a little sympathy to the listeners 50 metres away asleep in bed?

Just a few days ago after having been tormented constantly all day with this barbaric hammering, drilling and banging was sworn mad when at seeing 5:40 on the clock hastily called the School director with a serious word of complaint. Well, he must have listened to my irritations and the noise ended soon after. Anyway the workers for some weird reason or another on realising that it was that Farang teacher who had complained about them decided so to give him a ‘funny look’ for the rest of the day. So what, I didn’t give a darned.

Well, the workers here had better hurry up with completing the job, as Thailand’s construction workers are more famed for sitting around all day looking at the potential construction site than actually doing any work! I know a few Thais and even Farang over the years who on getting a house built have literally had to sit there all day and make sure the crooky construction workers actually do some work and not doze off from mid-day til 5 o’clock.

I had a student once who on being an engineer informed me about the ‘biggest’ problem concerning construction workers and that was “The end of the month, after they get paid the construction work comes to a halt for 3 days as all the workers go on a bender, get constantly drunk and womanize as much as possible until all their money is saturated and then go back to work!
A little sympathy and understanding has to be shown when the balaclava-workers have to sit out there in the sun for a measly sum of 165 baht a day.

One other group of under-paid workers we have to be thankful to, are our friends over here from the Indian region. Until just a year or so back it was a sad fact that most of them working here were in fact illegal immigrants. Once in Pathumthani on getting friendly with the local Roti vendor asked him in Thai “how do get around the law of not being arrested?” to which he replied “Oh.. just go to the local cop shop every month and pay them 250 baht!” Sounded darned cheaper and easier I thought than actually living and working here on the right side of the law!

One day I bought a small bottle of whiskey for him and a bunch of his Roti friends came to enjoy the party before half of them passed out after a single glass of ‘on the rocks’. Then another one of his friends showed up and did nothing for the next half hour but boast about the quantity of Roti and nuts he was selling to all the foreign tourists up there at Bang-pa Inn Palace in Ayutthaya to the obvious envy of his Indian counterparts in Pathum!

One spectacular sight that is often witnessed here upcountry, not being the Elephant round-up in Surin is in fact: the mathematically virtually impossible scenario of managing to get the whole of ones family on the back of a Honda Dream 100cc. This practice has gladly been brought to a halt in the nation’s capital but getting out of the big city this awesome-like extremely dangerous stunt is enjoyed daily by half the upcountry folks.

If you were just wondering to why most Thais enjoy ‘speed’ so much, it is because they have been brought up with the excitement of riding on the back of a moto-bike at 100 km and hour since the age of two months! Every day I see the likes of a tiny toddler plonked on the back of a bike in the company of his aunt, auntie and granmum and the daily groceries, revving away at the lights the toddler has a beaming smiling on his face obviously loving this earthly daily routine!

Talking about toddlers here in Thailand it has to be agreed that Thais and Farang have a very big difference of mentality in regards to ‘bringing a kid up’. Here in The Land of Smiles, no sooner is the toddler out of his diapers and he’s being hassled around helping out on the daily chores which include popping into the local shop and buying a crate of beer and cigarettes for the elders.

While in the west the young girls who still at Primary School are brainwashed to the likes of “Don’t talk to strangers’” etc.. fortunately it’s the opposite here and the kiddies are encouraged to go practice their English skills with any old white-face that’s seen walking through the village to the likes of “You, where you go?” “It is a book” and “5 baht please”.

Looking beautiful is another factor with most Thai girls and this conditioning has been drilled into them since again still in their diapers. Just how many toddlers have you seen been paraded around a Bangkok shopping mall for the sake of only the mother’s ego, showing off their little one to every passer-by having virtually no sympathy for her little one himself who is seen shivering away in his mother’s arms completely perplexed to the frosty temperature of the mall’s air-conditioning.

For the upcountry folks, since having no frosty malls to take their little loved ones, do instead have their 4 year-old daughter dressed up in high heels and a mini skirt with make-up plastered all over her face up on stage bopping and singing away doing a rendition of some famous country music star for the hysterical enjoyment of the villagers. I could only imagine if some show like this was put on there in my home country, the promoters would soon be called over and arrested on-spot by the local authorities in-charge.

Thai toddlers, it has to admitted, look a lot darned happier and cheerful than the Farang kiddies seen back home. If you are asking the reason to this, the example is a simple one and that is they can enjoy playing, running, screaming, shouting, crying and making as much darned havoc and noise as they like all day long to the complete indifference of the elder family members. As for Farang toddlers, since the older generation love their peace and quiet are taught straight away after uttering their first words to the likes of “Shut up, be still and don’t say a word”.

Well, that’s another part to the ‘a life upcountry’ series and be warned yet once again, it’s not the last!

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) stevesuphan here, will be away from the blogging scene for a while as he has decided to get away from it all, wear all white and disappear off to a local forest monastery for ten days or so for an annual routine of dhamma and meditation practice.

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