Issan village life (part two)

Day 7 - I woke up especially early this morning as the mosquito's were feasting heartily on me, usually the fan would deter them but it was a tad chilly so Joy had turned it off.
Outside the kids had started to sing, what could it mean? rain on the way, a village coup?
Later in the day I went for a stroll and as usual was followed by a horde of children. I would turn round every now and again, screw my face up and run at them growling, they would flee like chickens at slaughter time, but after a few minuets would return again.
I noticed something moving at the side of the road and homed in to investigate, sweet baby Jesus it was a large black scorpion, I moved closer to it, and it reared up in a wanton act of aggression. Sod that I said to myself and backed off. It made my skin crawl just to look at it, and unusually I did not have my camera with me. So you will just have to take my word for it...
Could I really live up here with things like this wandering aimlessly around?

Day 8 - I realised today that I have not seen one single game of the Rugby world cup, this was unlike me as I'm an avid fan, but somehow it didn't seem to bother me.
Observation - Its funny looking at the youngsters walking around the village with T-shirts on emblazoned with slogans like, Playboy, Megadeath, and I'm a dirty bad girl. They have no idea what any of them say, ha ha ha.
In a fit of god knows what, I wander outside and and stupidly involve myself in a game of 'keepie uppie' with the kids. Within 5 minuets I am completely soaked in sweat. Back inside and shower again.
I wander outside and sit down to write my diary, a small baby looks up at me and gurgles, an adult swiftly walks over and gives it a whack on the backside. At the same time a bloody chicken decides to peck me on the toe, I let out an involuntary yelp and stand up, the adult whacks the kid again, as if its his fault. I decide its better to stay out of sight for the time being and retire gracefully to my shack.
18:00, veggies, rice and 2 large beers then to bed.

Day 9 - My trousers are becoming looser due to the fact I'm eating better and less food.
Very quite today as its Monday and all the small folk have gone to school. I may go to the local market today, then again I may not.
I generally have two good poos in the morning and can not venture out until this has been accomplished or serious trouble will occur. Due to the hot Issan food, when I feel the need I'd better take heed!
Ventured into Surin about noon and did some shopping. Its also a good time to break up some large notes, as you cant spend them in Sanom. The local shop keepers just give you a sort of pained, you must be joking look. Having a thousand bart note up here in the boondocks is akin to no money at all.

Day 10 - Up early as some very loud Thai music being played somewhere or other. All bangs, bells, and lots of weeeeing and whaaaaing. Some sort of big Buddha day tomorrow.
Its strange that these poor farmers don't have much money for food or clothes, but feel the need to spend what is obviously a load of cash on a sound system that has enough power to fill the Albert hall!
Saw Joy hanging out the washing and saunter over to give her a hand. This lasted about 1 minute as apparently I was using the wrong hangers or something? They all looked the same to me. Chickens grub....
I wander over to one of the village men, who immediately looks horrified. I ask in my most articulate English if he thought the current American fiscal problems would soon resolve itself? He promptly ran away, giving me worried looks over his shoulder as he went.... ha ha ha.

Day 11 - Its school sports day today and I have been invited. I'm looking forward to it.
On arrival all the kids were formed into lines of red, green, blue and yellow shirts. Drums and bells were then struck with alarming regularity and all the kids started marching around, many of them in the wrong direction. Teachers ran from under sun covers and rounded them up, beating them as they did. This went on for about an hour after which the serious business of the races began. After a few were run, Joy sat bolt upright and said go go go. Go where I asked, go there. Apparently I had been given the honour of presenting some of the medals to the race winners. I strode purposfully toward the winners podium. Each child was given a small medal attached to a ribbon. Gold for first, silver for second and bronze for third. I thought the medals were just tacky bits of paper, but later found out that they contained a small ammount of money.
The looks of pure terror on the kids faces as I approached them was so comical I had to laugh, this had the effect of making them look more terrified. I thought one small girl looked near to fainting as I lowered the medal over her head. All in all it was a great day.

Day 12 - There is a local village man who is obviously a bit simple, he just wanders around laughing to himself and staring at people. It suddenly occured to me that that was my usual pattern of events, ergo I am the village idiot!
Heading back to Hua Hin today, and I have to say that I will really miss it here, its so peaceful and tranquilic.
I'll let you into a secret, the picture at the top of this piece is a bit of land I aquired, and I will be building a house here early next year. Thats how much I like it here.....

This blog reviewed..

It's nice every now and again have your blogging exploits recognised. It was reviewed recently on problogreviews , where you can read what they thought of it. Or alternatively click on the picture to enlarge it....

Starched shirt

This group are about to head off to school, and found this young chaps rigid pose very amusing. Note all the girls have regulation short haircuts...

Issan village life (part one)

Whilst I was recently staying in a small Issan farmers village I decided to keep a diary, mostly to keep myself from going round the bend. In this post I have condensed this massive body of work to the salient points. Here is part one. Enjoy....

Day 1 - We arrived at Surin railway station after a long journey from Hua Hin via Bangkok, I had insisted on an air-con sleeper so the journey was at least more tolerable. We were picked up at the station by a family member and headed off on the 60kms journey north east to Sanom. As it had been raining the roads were wet, but this didn't seem to stop our young Thai driver from hitting speeds of around 130kms an hour. We rounded a corner (on the wrong side of the road for some reason) and missed two people on a motorbike by inches, I screamed and braced for impact, he just laughed! Sweet god what are these people on? We eventually arrived safely, and I contemplated kissing the ground papal style as I alighted from what was nearly my tomb.
The villagers gathered round to look at the stranger that had just arrived. Some said hello, some just stared. I launched with enthusiastic vim into my best Thai, and was met with glassy eyed looks. They speak a Thai/Lao dialect in this part of the country, said Joy, they will only understand you a little. Great I thought, I have spent years learning to master basic Thai and now I can't be understood.
It was 07:00 in the morning but I had noticed several villagers had started to drink 'Lao Khao' which is a lethal spirit that can eventually lead to blindness, I also noticed they were giving it to some of the kids! The rest of the day went smoothly enough, I kept noticing every now and again people staring at me from behind dense foliage or a grazing buffalo. It was most unnerving to say the least. Every time I turned around loads of local kids would scream and run. We were eventually in bed by 18:00, shattered. Day 1 was over and I was still alive....

Day 2 - I was rudely aroused from a deep slumber at 04:00 by a 3 inch cockroach that had decided to check out the inside of my boxer shorts, my scream alas also woke Joy up, who swiftly beat it to a pulp with her fist and told me to go back to sleep and not to worry. What, who was she kidding how many more of these bloody things were there? Eventually I drifted off again. To be woken up once more at 05:00 by the shrill cock-a-doodle-doo of the village cockerel.
I showered Thai style (bucket and sloosh) and wandered outside and to join the other villagers on their bamboo tables, clutching my humongous mug of coffee and an L & M cigarette. They stared at me with a look of terrified shock in their eyes. One by one they slunk away until eventually I was sitting on my own, what was all that about? I asked Joy and she said that they felt uncomfortable around me and also wanted to give me some space. I finished my coffee and wander back inside to spend a few hours listening to my ipod (thank god I decided to bring it) and read my book. How the hell was I going to fill the time each day?

Day 3 - I have noticed that all the cows and buffalo eye me with particular disdain, their ears and tails constantly flitting about in a form of bovine callanetics. Joy was busying herself by beating my smalls over a medium seized rock, I could almost hear them cry 'were from Marks and Spencer for gods sake, we don't deserve this'
I notice some children curiously look on as I scribble this entry in my diary. I think to myself that I'd like to read an Issan farmers diary of a two week stay in London....
Observation - For some strange reason it seems perfectly normal for various village adults to sporadically beat small kids about the body. Even if they have done nothing wrong. They don't seem to mind and never cry.

Day 4 - You would not believe how good a bowl of simple vegetables and rice can taste when washed down with a cold beer, sitting on a bamboo table under a house whilst a monsoon is lashing down. I feel totally at ease and strangely content. Eventually I finish my only meal of the day. Shortly I know the sweats will follow, for Issan food is as hot as hades.
The bloody flies wont go away, you can flail your arms about like a fit victim, but still the tenacious buggers keep coming.
I think I have invented a new noun - a grub of chickens (well I like it)
I am conscious of two things today. I appear to have started to talk to myself, and my pink Van Heusen shirt looks very out of place in a small Issan farmers village. (sporadic kid hitting occurs)
I notice the elder women are rolling a white paste up in leaves, I assume that is the beetle nut I have heard about and not cocaine! I spend the next 10 minuets studying a cows arse, why?
At 13:00 I decide to fart, I do and promptly shit myself, so spend the next 10 minuets discreetly washing my underpants. God its damned hot today.....

Day 5 - Walking between the palm trees I have decided is akin to playing Russian roulette, as every now and again one will fall with a giant thud, leaving itself embedded 3-4 inches in the ground. That said I gamely go on the odd jaunt and wait for the darkness to descend.
I have been seeing a really old looking lady skulking around the village, I always enjoy seeing her as when I speak to her she just cackles really loudly, its so funny. I found out today that she's only 55 years old! Maybe she's been round the clock and is in fact 155.
I spend the afternoon chasing the kids and teaching them some English games to play, like hop scotch and penny against the wall. I wish I had a bag of marbles....

Day 6 - Up at 06:00 and what a glorious morning it is. The kids are outside splitting nuts open with bloody great machetes, the chickens are grubbing about as usual. Eventually they get ready for school (the kids that is, not the chickens) and they wave to me as they walk up the lane to school, nice.
I am off to see some old Khmer ruins today, so should get some good pics for the blog. When we arrive there is a coach load of school kids already there, they are eager to practice their English and even offer us some food. I cant see school kids in the UK doing that, all you'd get is 'what the fuck are you looking at you fat cunt'
We walk back to the market to buy some vittles for tea, and arrive back in the village just in time to witness the end of a sporadic kid hitting session. I eat my veggies and rice with relish, consume two bottles of Leo beer, shower and hit the sack at 19:00....

(Part two to follow shortly)


Yes I know its another kiddie pic, but the look of wonder in the little girls eyes just sort of gets to me. She's so sweet and innocent.

Issan stylie

These young girls are getting down to some hip and happening Issan sounds in traditional garb. It was really sweet, they seemed to be having a good time. They are aged (so I was told) around 12 years old.


This is 'Prasat Si Khoraphum' and was constructed in the 12th century. It was originally built as a Hindu temple, but in the 16th century was converted to be used by Buddist monks. With the sun on it the bricks really glow a lovely orange hue. I was lucky to get this photo as a bus load of school kids turned up minuets after I took this....

spice as nice

Just look at this fine array of whatever they are. The smell was quite something, let me tell you. I came across them a a northern market and diddnt buy a thing. I suspect they are spices, but it could be a roadside pharmacy for all I know? Still it looks interesting. Answers on a postcard to...

Issan abode

This is a typical Issan farmers house, simple and very cheap to build. Behind you can see the large water jars, used for catching rain water to drink and wash in. The tin roofs make it very hot inside and when it rains it sounds like you are under enemy fire. Bottom middle is the obligatory cockerel, which will crow all bloody day! I know I was resident in one similar for two weeks..

Rumble in the jungle

I happened across this idyllic jungle scene whilst trying to avoid stingy bitey things on a amble through the green stuff. By jiggery there's quite a few arachnids and the like, just ready to part with some type of toxic fluid, leaving one in great pain, or dead! Nice view though isn't it..

Red hot chili peppers

These mothers are as hot as a solar flare, and make no mistake they will burn your arse off should you chose to eat one of them. That said in moderation they add superb flavour to your food. The Thais have a saying 'mai pet, mai arroy' which translates to 'not hot, not tasty' which I fully agree with, but in moderation. You may end up sitting on the bog for hours with an ice cube up your chuff, and a pained expression...

Eddie Lizard

This is my pet lizard, Eddie. He is quite a character and loves to play chequers and have a drink or two. Seen here smiling after beating me for the third time, he will rub it in for days. Little bastard!
He belongs I believe to the genus 'gecko' and is about a foot long....


Wherever a pool of water forms, however small, you will always see these beautiful dragonfly's appear. They dart and hover the water, whizzing past you as you walk by. Now I've photographed one and blown it up, it looks a lot more horrific!!


How about this for a sky! I took it one evening whilst partaking of a particulary cold beer. It put me in rather a reflective mood.

Kiddie widdies

I took a fair few shots of the village kids and above is a selected few.
One strange idiosyncrasy about Thais, is their relationship with their kids. Every day I witnessed sporadic child hitting, the child in question would only laugh, as did the adult? It was meant playfully. In the UK you would end up behind bars!


I have to be honest, Village life can at time be extremely quite. I was after all without my creature comforts, eg, computer, mountain bike, TV, toilet paper, and the like.
One day I worryingly found myself intensely staring at a cow's arse, idly thinking how interesting it looked, sweet god, what the hell!!
I also studied the social behaviour of the common village chicken in great detail, over several days. Now let me tell you, they really have a mind numbingly boring life, which can be summed up simply thus......
1. Peck about a bit.
2. Look up with a startled expression.
3. Have a shit.
This process is repeated all day every day. That my friends is a Chickens lot!

Run like the wind

Its school sports day, and as the only foreigner present I am asked to present some well earned medals to worthy winners. I considered it a great honor and took to the task like a man possessed. I blurted out my best Thai (not a lot of good up here as they speak Lao) but I feel I reached out in a strange sort of fat white bloke way. The kids looked terrified as I approached them, as if I was about to sever their heads or steal their souls, ha ha ha. It was a great day.


Its tea time and the village kids tuck in. Hot coals rock on bamboo tables and embers spit out sporadically, I shudder at the safety aspect but no one seems to care so hey ho...


I have just come back from 2 weeks in Issan, a place called Sanom to be exact. It was a very rewarding time, I attended a local school where the kids all wanted their picture taken (at the same time) it was pure bedlam, but good fun...

All the photographs on this site were taken by me and as a result come with copyright conditions attached. Please ask before downloading anything. Thx.