Daily Archives: June 11, 2006

Early Morning In Beautiful Thailand

village fisherman

Two of the lifestyle categories that people are sometimes lumped into are that of “Morning People” and “Night People”. Why people fall into these categories is probably due to simple preference, attitude to life, or even genetic disposition. An attitude that is often driven by the fact that daytime hours tend in the main to be devoted to work, study and all the humdrum responsibilities that we face daily.

In contrast early morning and evening/night is our time. At night one can let the cares of the day go and relax and enjoy. Early morning is the time to gird your loins for the coming challenges of the day, but for a few hours at least you can still enjoy the quiet, the cool and truly take in the sweet smell of the earth.

I identify as a morning person and have done so all my life. Nowhere else in the world do I identify more as a morning person than in Thailand. For the nocturnal person, Thailand is filled with night festivals, markets and vibrant nightlife. For the morning person, Thailand is a place of calm and promise of better things to come.

I would find it hard to think of any place in the Kingdom that can’t be enjoyed in the early hours of pre and post dawn. Even busy Bangkok, where after a few days there I pine for the dust of the countryside, is to me more liveable at that time of day. Just getting out in the pre-dawn and wandering down quiet Sois and streets that in a few short hours will once more be thronged with people and traffic takes away some of the irritation of Urban life.

Other places where I have enjoyed the calm has been in tourist traps such as Koh Samui and Pattaya. At dawn after late night revelers have finally gone to sleep you can walk down the beaches, with their beach chairs stacked and umbrellas furled, and hear the water gently lap without its sound drowned out by the noise of Jet Skis and banana boats. Similarly, just watching sunrise over the Mekong and the activity of river fisherman checking their nets is only surpassed by sights such as the panoramic view of a Lao mountain range as the sun rises at the Isaan river town of Nakhon Phanom.

But in the main it’s in rural Thailand, in the early morning calm that makes Thailand truly memorable and beautiful.

village alms round

In a Thai village from the first rooster crow at about 3am I get the urge to get up. Having done that and wandering outside the house you come across other early risers. During the winter cool many of them will be standing around small fires fueled by coconut husks and smoking hand rolled cigarettes. As the sky lightens and wandering around the village you will see people standing patiently at the entrances of their properties with steaming pots of rice in preparation for that iconic daily event – Monks Alms rounds.

BanPhutsa temple at dawn

From there you can kick start your cold motorcycle totally oblivious to the noise you are making (In Thailand you are forgiven) and then ride off to enjoy the dawn out in the rice fields. Moving along dirt roads you watch the mist burning off the fields and enjoy the cool air rushing towards your face. You will also share this space with farmers driving their cows out to pasture in the fields and occasionally see local fisherman trying their luck in ponds and streams.

village morning market

After going for a spin out in the fields, its then time to explore that other important place of human activity – The village market. As you ride down the main road outside the village you will come across a stream of people moving to the market. Schoolchildren who study in the nearby Town congregate and await local buses.

After parking your motorcycle amongst the sea of bikes at the edge of the market you stroll in. Your senses are immediately assaulted by the sounds of village commerce and local gossip. Nose and taste buds are tempted by all the fresh produce and freshly cooked food – you know straight away that breakfast is going to be good when you return home.

Well, that concludes my ode to early morning Thailand. To any resident/visitor who hasn’t seen (or its been a long time) a Thai dawn, then you are truly missing out on something special.