Welcome to Rodmaher.org.uk

Thailand Story - Part 3

I have now been to Thailand several times in the last year, coming back to UK in December 2006.

I have used Thumbnails for most of the pics on this page to save page download time.  Click on a thumb to see the full-sized image.

My main reason for my last trip to Thailand was to get to know better a lovely woman that I met there over a year ago, Meena. 

During my two months stay with her and her family in Udon Thani I found myself falling in love with them and the Thai way of life.  Her family are so warm and welcoming they made me feel very much at home.

 

 

My Thai Family

Me, Meena and kids – Two lovely girls - Sahi (9) and Ben (7)

and one extremely mischievous boy - Bas (4).

 

And with Mer and Por (mum and Dad)

Sahi and Ben just love to dress up for occasions.

Bas (left) was looking for something naughty to do - as always.

After not too long Meena and I decided to pool our resources and build a house.  

We dismantled the old house to recycle as much as possible - Thais are great believers in recycling.  Hence the beaten up old shack you can see in the house picture below after it had been stripped of its wood.

 

The House That Rod Built – with a little help !!!

                       

Bathrooms and plumbing

                                               

Kitchen, and tiling the living room floor

                       

 

Meena and I moved into the en-suite room about a week before I left to come back to the UK for Christmas.

 

Pool (no not swimming pool)

When I first met Meena last year we played pool, and despite my own advice about playing a Thai woman at pool, I did it again this time.

In the pictures and videos** below you will see Meena gloating because she has taken 40 baht (60p) off me...

 

                   

 mpg Videos (5Mb each)                  Picture

Right click the video thumbs above and then "Save Target As" is probably the best way to watch them.  If you use QuickTime as your default video player then you will probably have to use the QT links below as the mpgs don't work on my QT player, although they are fine in Media Player (**see bottom of this page for my rantings on video formats)

QT MOV1: (6Mb) 

QT MOV:2 (6Mb)

 

... BUT…… Revenge is sweet and I get my 40 baht back PLUS another 60.

 

                       

mpg Video (2.5Mb)         Picture              Picture

QT MOV:3 (3.2Mb) 

Note how tightly she is holding the 100 baht note – she doesn’t want to let it go !!!.

 

Food

(Can not talk about Thailand without talking about food)

And it's another of Meena’s favourite pastimes.

Thai food has got to be one of the best on the planet and in Thailand it is not expensive to treat the whole family.

The restaurant in the pic below was an “All you can eat” barbeque buffet for 100 Baht (About £1.50) per person.

And in Thailand this really does mean “ALL you can eat” – Not (as I have found in some places in the UK), where "all you can eat" means - All you can eat on a miniscule plate and when you go back for seconds you will find only dried up sausages and a bit of soggy limp lettuce - but you can eat as much of it as you want !!!

The tall cylinder thingy you can see in the foreground WAS full of ice cold beer !!!

The tall smiling thingy you can see in the background IS full of ice cold beer !!!

 

Here's Meena at another "All you can Eat" buffet.  You get your own charcoal barbie pit in the middle of your table so that you can freshly cook your food. You can stay all night long if you like (they usually have pretty good bands playing at buffets) and the waiters will keep your barbie pit burning so that you can stuff your face all night long if you so desire.  When you decide to leave (if you can stand) the bill is worked out by how many people are sitting at your table, not on how many curries, chickens, pigs, and sheep you have eaten.

 

Thai food is wonderful and despite food being prepared in what can seem to be unhygienic surroundings, I have not once had any problems in the bottom area due to anything I have eaten. 

But sometimes the menu can tend to make you lose your appetite…

 

 

Work and Play

I spent much of my time in Thailand doing up the house.  But my stay in Thailand was not all work.  I visited many places that are as wonderful as any you would find in a holiday brochure.  And apart from a few die-hard travellers, there were no western tourists.

And of course my tour guides were locals, which helped a lot!

Here's me and family at a temple in Nong Khai near the Laos border.

 

      

During my stay in Thailand I saw very few “Farrang” (congenial name for Westerners) because Udon Thani is not on the main tourist route.  Almost all of the people I met could not speak English at all. You might think that being a lone westerner would not be a good thing; But in reality it was exactly the opposite, I loved it. I had only Meena to translate for me, and while her English is ok, it’s not brilliant.  So I had to learn a bit of Thai and pay close attention to people’s expressions and tone of voice so that I could understand what was being said.

Check this site if you fancy a go at learning Thai...

http://www.learningthai.com/speak_thai.html

 

Being a lone farrang amongst the Thai people gave me a real insight into their culture that I would not have got if I had spent my time hanging out with Westerners.  It also meant that I got to see and do things that most westerners on a package tour will not, like going to a Thai wedding…

No it’s not my wedding.  The happy couple are standing behind Meena, Ben and me.  The happy couple’s parents are friends of the family.


I was invited to “special” temples that are not on the usual westerner tourist track.

                

On almost all of the outings and parties I went to, I was the only “farrang” (westerner) and the Thai people I met liked this novelty factor as much as I did.

 

I was even invited to join the Ban Chang Music / Dance group for a performance to celebrate the King’s Birthday at the Udon Thani fair.  First I had to pass a test where I was given various percussion instruments and then asked to play them.  The end result was that I was given the task of playing the bongo drum AND bashing a couple of sticks together (never did find out the name for them).

 

Here I am on the night of the performance and I was seen as such a novelty by the audience that even the odd “farrang” or two that passed by took my picture.  Apparently, having a farrang drummer was a first for any Thai music / dance group.

The 12 dancers were all women - Apart from two men who had to dance a sort of humble courtship dance around them.

Being women the dancers certainly knew how to gang up on a bloke…

…and I had great fun with them. 

Meena’s Birthday was on the 30th November and we had a big party to celebrate it (no surprise there then!).  We had a karaoke night with lashings of Thai food and guess what? … 

… Beer !

At the party I get to make a speech (hence the microphone), and I get to kiss the Birthday girl !

The kids were more interested in the cakes though.

If it looks like Meena is crying it’s because she is;  She was so happy.  And if you think you can see a flash of gold on her finger, you are not mistaken;  I put it there as a birthday present.  A birthday present that says happy birthday and I want to be with you for all time.


Meena’s daughter, Ben, was such good fun.  She could talk for Thailand, and it didn’t seem to worry her that I did not understand most of what she said.  I gave her the nickname “pudmark” – Thai for “talk a lot”.  She would look for any way to make me laugh.  Here she is practising being a hairdresser.

 

 

I really felt like Meena’s family was my family because they were all so warm and welcoming.  And the kids were just wonderful (if a little naughty at times – just like any kids!) – And they were very playful, which I must say fair wore me out.  Bas, Ben and Sahi liked my impression of King Kong!

Picture

 

Short mpg video clip (1Mb)

QT MOV

 

 

 

More Pool

While doing up the house, Meena and I spent much of the day at the house and the evenings in a hotel.  Meena’s parents took care of the kids in the evenings.  We stayed at one hotel for a whole month because it was posh, cheap (by western prices) and it had a swimming pool. On a couple of occasions we brought the kids to the hotel for the night so that they could play in the pool…


 …They loved it !!!

And although I am not a great swimming pool fan, I must say that because it was 85 degrees in the shade, I only came out of the pool to take a few pics – and a few sips of beer!

 

 

 

Transport

Staying in a hotel in town meant that most days we had to take a “tuk tuk” to the house.

           

 

Although Meena's Father does have a motorbike that he uses to ferry the family around.  It's a Honda 4 seater...

Sorry, make that a 5 seater!

In Thailand it is very common to see small motorbikes overloaded with people and the drivers often drive very dangerously.  Thailand has one of the worst records in the world for fatal motorbike accidents.  Fortunately, Meena's father is a very careful motorcyclist, but it did worry me seeing them all piling onto that bike.

 

That's all for now

This is just a fraction of what I have been up to in Thailand and I plan to have many more adventures yet.

So this section of my web page may well be neglected for a long time as it takes days to put together even a simple page like this - days that I could otherwise have been spending with my lovely Thai family.  But as I said once before...

 

 

" I'll be back! "

 

 

Good News

I am going back to Thailand in Feb 2007 for a few weeks.

 

Full Circle

If all goes well I will then go back to Oman (again).  I will be working in a similar job to the one that started my adventure traveling over a quarter of a decade ago.

See my doodlebugging page.

 

And Oman is a very handy place to work if you want to spend your time off in Thailand.

 

And I intend to spend as much time as I can with this lovely woman and her wonderful family.

 

 

 

**NOTE on Video formats - for some strange reason that totally eludes me, everyone and their dog seems to want to have their own video format that no-one else can use - I honestly can not see the difference in picture quality or huge difference in file size between a .MOV and a .MPG.  So why the hell do I have to suffer that horrible QuickTime player when I really don't like it.  And as for all of the different CODECs, well they have only been invented to get you to register your email address with some marketing company or other.  I despair sometimes I really do.  Anyway, the videos on this page are saved as mpegs, although I can't guarantee they will work with your mpeg player, i.e. they work fine on my Media Player but won't play in QuickTime.  As a result I've included .MOV links as well as the mpgs.