Before I go any further in Thai Blogdom I ought to explain a few things.
I’ve been here for more than 10 years and although I live in the political borders of the Kingdom of Thailand I have spent 99% of my life here in an area known as Isaan
Geographically Isaan begins at Korat, east to the Mekong, north to the Mekong, with Loei as its western border. It consists of 19 provinces. The southeastern provinces (Korat, Buriram, Surin, Sisaket and Ubon) have a mixed Khmer and Lao influence, while the rest of Isaan is Lao. For practical purposes while Korat is geographically part of Isaan the modern province has little in common with the remainder of the area.
The daily lives of the majority of the people in the reqion revolves around the village, the wat and the village school. All rites of passing from birth to death including graduations, marriages and anything else of any significance are celebrated with a baci (pronounced “basee”). More about the baci in a future blog.
The village wat or wats are still a major part of life and where the young men go to spend their time in robes before adulthood.
Everyone has a child, or niece or nephew or some type of relative in the village school, and school events bring the whole village out.
Isaan festivals reflect their Lao sources and show a people comfortable in ther own skins. I am always amazed to watch central Thais at events such as candle festivals, or even at That Phanom for Magha Puja. They generally wear clothes that cost more than many Isaan people earn in months, but walk around looking terribly uncomfortable and unsure of what to do or how to do it. For Isaan folk all these events no matter how auspicious are simply part of the cycle of life that they are part of every day.
Most meals at home include khao ngiao (sticky rice) and are eaten family style on a mat on the floor. As a matter of fact most old style homes contain little furniture at all.
The pa sin (Lao full length wrap around skirt) is still seen regularly on women and with great frequency at functions and festivals.
The language of the day is Lao. Amongst themselves and at home it is the way people talk to each other. Thai is taught in schools and is used at formal times, but is most heard when Thai television is playing.
More about Isaan coming…
To see more of Isaan www.southeastasiatimes.com
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