(By: Steve Suphan & Nimit Somboonwit)
Back over in the UK a lot of the locals haven’t a clue to what the name of their town/district actually means or originates from, but here in Thailand it’s a completely different kettle of fish. Virtually every place name in Thailand has a proper meaning to it and the Thais are often very superstitious in due regard.
One of the most well-known districts in Bangkok is ‘Bang Rak’ which quite literary means the ‘Village of Love’ and on last Valentine’s Day 665 couples tied the knot there. Now, the word ‘bang’ can be translated in various ways but for today, I shall stick to ‘village’. Thailand actually has zillions of ‘bangs’ besides just the ones mentioned in the following story we have the likes of ‘Bang Phoot’ (Village of Speaking) ‘Bang Ta Thaen’ (Village of Spiritual Folk) ‘Bang Kruai’ (Village of Cones) ‘Bang Bua Thong’ (Village of the Golden Lotus Flower) ‘Bang Kaeo’ (Village of Glass) and there are certainly many villages in the north-east aptly nick-named ‘Bang Farang’ If you were wondering what Bangkok means, it does in fact translate as ‘The Village of Olives’. Yes, the word is Thai origin.
All the place names in this story are completely authentic – as for the stars of the show, however – that I am not too sure. Well-worthy of at least a soap opera let alone a movie, here it is, the modern day folk-lore legend of:
The Tragic Story of Somying
Mr Somchai, originating from ‘Bang Yai’ (Village of the Big) certainly lives up to his name. A complete delinquent, gangster and mafia-like bodyguard to the Village Headman, he is involved in vote-buying (for the Village Headman) and running the local underground gambling syndicate. A truly handsome fellow with stacks of cash too, Somchai has more women on the go than The Rolling Stones or even former Thai tennis champion Paradon Srichaphan.
Meanwhile, over in ‘Bang Bon’ (Village of the Big Mouth) our delicious Miss Somying is also residing in a place which lives up to its name. Many of the local females do very little else for the entirety of their days besides spreading evil gossip about their neighbours and sponging money out of gullible foreigners over the Internet. As for the men, they sit around all day intoxicated and arguing about politics while living off their lovers.
By chance, both Somchai and Somying have relatives in Bang Khae (Village of Care) and that is where they meet for the first time – at some run-down noodle soup stall. Somying is soon swept off her feet by the supposed Mr Cupid as he ‘takes care her everything’. Playing-up to be the man of her dreams, he carries her bags, takes her for romantic dinners and trips to the cinema, buys her lovely little gifts and even washes his own underwear. Such a complete smoothy, you wouldn’t believe it.
After a little bit of innocent romance, Somchai invites Somying for a weekend away in Bang Plee (Village of Sacrifice) and after Somchai swears devotion and a life of happy marriage, it is there that Somying decides to sacrifice her body and allow him a little bit of naughty pre-marital action in the nearest short-time motel.
Mr Somchai, on getting rather bored of working for the corrupt Village Headman and his crooked cronies; and Somying too – of the deceiving gigolos she knows back home, both decide that a new life is called for and they head for the big city. And it is there that the happy couple decide to get married at ‘Bang Rak’ (Village of Love). Somying, however, has failed to realize that Mr Charming (AKA: Her Husband) has certainly not changed his playboy ways and is still rendezvousing around with plenty of saucy girls.
Somying, completely oblivious to the goings-on of her husband, hasn’t even noticed that he spends more of his time talking to her pretty younger sister on the phone than she herself. An absolute scoundrel of a man, Somchai wins the heart of Miss Somtum his wife’s sister and rents her a secret house in nearby ‘Bang Sorn’ (Village of the Hidden).
In the meantime, Somchai and Somying have moved to ‘Bang Sarm’ (Village of Three). Anyway, Somchai carries on the relationship with the two sisters and not needing his common-in-law wife to get suspicious, he informs her that his weekends away from home are due to volunteer work with the blind orphans in a neighbouring province. Absolute lies, as he is instead drinking whiskey, smoking cigars and watching DVDs with his wife’s sister til 3 in the morning.
(File photo of Somying after catching her husband with Miss Somtum)
Unfortunately however, there is one time, when Somying needing a loan of some money, pops around to see her sister one early Sunday morning. She is soon in shock and disgust to see Somchai stark drunk naked on the sofa with Somtum waltzing around in revealing lingerie hoovering the carpet.
Distraught and heart-broken, Somying feels such an utter fool that she moves to Bang Krabeu (Village of the Buffalo) and plans her future – alone. Having no idea what to do with her life, she feels it best to go and make merit at ‘Bang Luang’ (Village of the 1st Wife) and then on to ‘ Bang Phra’ (Village of the Monk). And it is there where she meets Abbot Scammy of the local temple an enlightened monk of supposedly genuine insight. Asking for spiritual advice, the Abbot advises her to ‘make big donations’ in order to balance out the awful Khamma she acquired in a past life. After giving virtually all her money away, she is next utterly dismayed to find out that the Abbot has been spending most of her donation money on lottery tickets. As for his hut, it has been turned into a mini-mansion, decorated with chandeliers, a mega sound-system and the latest 72” Sony Flat Screen TV.
On having to suffer such humiliation to the hands of men, Somying decides it best to take her own life at ‘Bang Saphan Yai’ (Village of the Big Bridge). Venturing to the top of the bridge late at night, she gets ready to take the plunge. Not quite though, by heavenly intervention, she is spotted by Pol. Captain Somkok who somehow manages to talk her out of such fate.
A real charmer of a cop, Somying is in tears, delighted at having met such a wonderfully nice, honourable and honest guy. A true friend indeed, he puts her up at his auntie’s house in Bang Seu (Village of the Honest). And it is there that Cpt Somkok advises Somying to get divorced from her evil husband at Bang Plat (Village of Separation). After a successful split, Somying believes it best to start a new life (again) in neighbouring ‘Bang Mae Mai’ (Village of Female Divorcees) and it is there that she secretly falls in love with her dear friend, Pol Cpt Somkok.
Though rather apprehensive at first, Cpt Somkok agrees to marry Somying. Sadly however, Somkok is transferred to duty in the dangerous deep South and the wedding is cancelled. As time goes by, Somkok never does return to Somying and sends her a letter telling her so.
Poor old Somying, moves on to ‘Bang Rakum’ (Village of Absolute Tragedy) and it is there that she spends the rest of her legless days…… as a loony alcoholic.
(Mr Nimit,who gave me the idea for this blog is an occasional writer and cartoonist for the Thai language publications ‘Matichon’ and ‘Thai Post’)