Ten ways to know you’re in Isaan

Isaan without pink glasses

lao market

Isaan is a wonderful place. It’s like anything else in Thailand, the whole region has its unique charm. The lush greens of the tropical rice paddies and palm trees, the simple folk, their culture all bring about a certain rustic charm; no wonder that many of us tend to write about it with our pink glasses on!

But an Isaan life can be a wonderful and fun adventure even without the pink glasses on. So this morning I sat down and recollected some of my memorable experiences while I lived there. Below are ten points of the real hallmarks of Isaan life. Although some may sound like complaining, these are all treasured memories, and are expressed with light-hearted fun in mind. Enjoy! 🙂

You know you’re in Isaan when

-in the shop, thick layers of dust cover Coke and Fanta bottles, while Mekong and Beer Lao bottles are always new and shiny.

-the 6-pm national anthem is the signal to close up shops, go home and sleep.

-the first cry of the rooster is the signal to crowd the markets and blare morlam karaoke for the listening pleasure of the entire village.

-you can drive on a four-lane road without seeing any cars; in fact, in a half hour you’ll come across more cow-poop than cars!

-at a restaurant, you ask for a glass of drink, they give you a bottle (“geo”).

-the number of local women interested in marrying you is directly proportional to your age – but their age is inversely proportional to yours!

-upon hearing you speak Thai, people assume you must be married to a local gal.

-you see buffaloes and chicken roaming in-and-out of schoolyards.

-you compliment your host for the colorful patterns of the tablecloth, and then you see him using the same thing as a loincloth! And towel! And blanket! and just about everything else you can think of.

-the only thing removed from the chicken in the soup are the feathers.

This is just the top of the iceberg, there are many more; feel free to add yours below! And don’t forget: no complaints, just light-hearted fun! 🙂

’til next time,


4 responses to “Ten ways to know you’re in Isaan

  1. I strongly agree with you.
    Issan also has their own charming.
    However, I live in the south of Thailand but my 2 close friends still Issan girl.

  2. Great points, some humorous and others quite serious. curious about the age:women thing though. Basically there are only a few times one should visit them if the age is inversed?

    I will go when I am 32, and again when I am 91. Those are my only decent shots? I pity those in their late twenties. 😉

    Great post! Made me smile.

  3. You know you’re in Isaan when :

    if it can be eaten; they’ll eat it

    insects & small frogs are “candy”

    You tell people; “I married a rice farmers daughter” ……… and you’re not joking !

    you need to stock up with beer & whiskey before having any building work done, and add 10% to the quoted price to cover liquor costs

    you car breaks down & you are quickly offered a tow to the local shop to have it fixed ……. and it comes with a “Lifetime Guarantee” also !!

  4. if the women interested in marrying are of an inversed age, then the women who would be interested in marrying someone my age(28) would be 82 years old. am i thinking correctly?