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Thailand Experiences:
A Night in the Country

I have lived in Thailand for several years most of that time in the Chiangmai area. My "home" has been a guest house room, apartment, hotel, rented house or condo. A place to stay but never a real home. I was married last year and now have a charming Thai wife and a very cute baby girl.

It has long been a dream of mine to live in the peace, quiet and harmony of a Thai country village. My wife's family gave me that opportunity , and I have been here "somewhere east of Sarapee" for six months. This is now my home together with the large family of which my wife is the youngest adult, to say nothing of the many unwanted furry, hairy, feathery or bristly free loaders with whom I am forced to share my existence.

For those of you who might be considering a similar course of action regard this as a cautionary tale. Don't get me wrong - my large family are delightful people, and treat me as a foreigner with the greatest care and consideration. BUT there are no Utopia's, nothing is perfect I think the best way to describe my problem is with a nightly timetable.

7.00 pm.
Family meal - on the floor. I am not flexible enough to find squatting on the floor comfortable. Several dishes of dark green, suspicious looking wet vegetables with mysterious scraps of meat in a sauce which is so hot it would blow the ears off the devil. Good natured laughing as my face goes purple and I desperately drink gallons of water. It seems to me that Thai babies must have their taste buds surgically removed in a secret operation. Oh for some bland, tasteless western food !

9.00 pm.
The family retire to bed after watching a little TV. My wife and I watch a video with Thai subtitles. Go to sleep about 10.30 pm.

12.00 midnight.
Wake up. There is a small "bar" down the road, serving mainly rice whiskey. This closes about midnight. About 20 "boy racers" under the influence, speed up and down the dirt road outside the house, revving hard and are intent, apparently, on suicide.

1.00 am.
Wake up. Dog barking. There are several dogs in the compound, who appear to think its cheaper to contact their relatives in Lampang after midnight. Their barking would wake the dead. I fall asleep in a minor sulk.

2.30 am.
Wake up from my recurrent nightmare that I really will wake up one night a rat's bottom sticking out of my month. This is not so farfetched, since there are, in fact, rats running around on the rafters a few feet above my head that sometimes peer at me inquisitively. They also squeak a lot.

3.00 am.
Wake up, hit in the face by what appears to be an out of control small car, but is in fact a huge bug wearing a suit of armour. How such uncoordinated and apparently brainless creatures could evolve surely refutes Darwin. Catch it, throw it out of window, back to sleep.

4.00 am.
Wake up and need to go to the toilet, which is a 50 meter walk. Look at the ground to check for snakes and scorpions. Check the trees for roosting hens, whose nightly fun seems to be depositing greenish slime on the unwary walking beneath their perches. Fall over.

4.30 am.
Cockerels with faulty alarms start crowing in the trees just outside my window - obviously in training for the crowing Olympics. Stand a good chance of winning the division title.

5.00 am.
Baby wakes up. Granny chants "mong key mong key mong key mong" interminably, in a strange, unearthly tone. A little later grandfather intones incessantly the babies name. For some reason he seems to think it is necessary to use a voice pitch so high it makes Michael Jackson like a basso profundo.

5.30 am.
My wife's brother plays local folk music through his sound system at 100 decibels, blasting awake even the dead. Now the reasons for this are complex, and uniquely Thai. You see, his wife is having an affair, and he knows - everyone knows. He knows everyone knows, and everyone knows he knows, but being Thai's, no one will say anything, and he can't say anything to his wife or her lover, since this would be confrontational. So he vents his anger by blasting the entire village out of bed. I hope it helps.

6.00 am.
No choice but to get up. Shower, scratch mosquito bites, look at lumps created by biting ants, put cream on athletes foot, drink coffee - go back to bed? For those who are hard of hearing , and have bug proof skin, it really would be an idyllic life style. But for the rest of us; try renting a place near an airport runway t's more peaceful !


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