Moon Cycle

To Udon Thani and meet the family

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It would be 6 months before I was able to return to Thailand.
Meena invited me to meet her family in Udon Thani.

I spent almost 3 months there and had the privelige of being invited to a wedding and to join the local Ban Chang Music and Dance troupe.
I got to play in a "King's Birthday" festival in Udon Thani and was quite a novelty for the locals who had never before seen a "farang" in a Thai band.

As I settled in and got to know the family it was clear that they were all very close. They were not a wealthy family in terms of money. The house they lived in was little more than a shack, but aside from a few black sheep, what they did have was a family network of support that kept everyone above the bread-line.

It seemed incredible that over the years they had managed to gradually put some of the pieces together to build a more comfortable house.
I decided that I would help them finish it years ahead of schedule.
Map showing location of Udon Thani First Picture of me with Meena and kids - Sahi (adopted), Ben and Bas (I call him Bart.  I'll let you figure out why). Meena, Ben and Bas with Grandma and Grandpa (Meenas Parents). Meena in "Genuine Thai" Burberry Top. Sahi (age 9 in this pic). Adopted by Meena at an early age. Ben (age 7 in this pic). Bas (Age 5 in this pic). Me with the girls and Cousin Aiy Bas, Ben and Sahi.
All like to sing and dance.  Karaoke is a favourite Thai pastime. Say Cheese! The kids liked to sleep with mum then - and still do now when it's thundering! Both girls like to dress up but Ben perhaps more so. Ben liked to put on a show. Ben and Sahi.  Traditional Thai dancing (not). Let's make Rod look silly. Meena and I were staying in hotels and using tuk tuks to get around (no house and no car at this time). Hotel swimming pools were a big hit.
Hotel satellite TV was also a big attraction for all - including Meena. All kids would like a horse, but they had to make do with a substitute I had to keep reminding Ben that I was not a tree. Family transport before I got the car - I was never very happy with this arrangement. Meena's Mum and Dad take local music and Dance very seriously. The Dance Troupe often parade around Ban Chang village. The shows carried on into the night. Meena's Mum loves performing on stage. The After Show parties were always a good crack.
The boys also had some fun - I was invited to join in. The locals were impressed.  Specially as the largets outfit trousers barely passed my knees. The entire crowd lit candles for the King's Birthday. All guests can bless the bride - takes ages but you don't have to watch it all. A Thai wedding is an all day boozy affair - for the guests that is.  The couple have to keep everyone happy. Tuk Tuks were our main form of transport. Eating out was always fun! Buffets were the favourite - all you can eat for very little money. The buffet restauarants always had a good supply of ice cold beer.
Parents and kids heading home after the buffet. Dec 2006
Trouble arrives...
Meena's sister Aet gave birth to a whopping 8 pound boy - Kenji. The proud grandad. Aunty Meena. Cousin Sahi. What an angel. I always called Bas Trouble One for his effortless ability to get into trouble.  But Kenji was later to take this title. ...
Old House in Ban Chang village
Parents old house in Ban Chang, Udon Thani Meena in the kitchen Meena preparing the veg. Old house living room. Meena helping with the mega sort out. The old family bedroom. Pern helping out. The old house was dismantled to provide building materials for the new one.
New House in Ban Chang village
Out with the old and in with the new. ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
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