Under the Mango Tree – The Killing Fields


Under the Mango Tree is the first in a series of posts helping to promote Thailand in a positive and fun way. At great expense Beyond The Mango Juice transports and replants a mango tree in a location somewhere in Thailand and our new resident hosts Daw and Dao sit under it to chat away about life in general and what they see before them. The series kicks off with The Killing Fields.

Beyond The Mango Juice can categorically state that Daw and Dao are not involved in the sex industry.

The Killing Fields

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Daw…..Dao….. Narration

Our two lovely ladies are sat outside a rural village shop deep in the heart of Udon Thani Province, Isaan. The two girls have been lifelong friends and worked together for many years in a Samsung mobile phone factory in Chiang Rai. After sharing a bottle of lao khao the two girls settle back to look and discuss what they see before them. In the distance rice workers toil away in the hot afternoon sun.

My back’s killing me. Thank the heavens my days of picking rice are over.

They reckon Amporn’s back has gone again, a bent spine they say. Too much bending over in her younger days.

Daw patiently waits for a badly limping soi dog to eventually pass by before answering, she replies in a hushed whisper.

Pattaya……. They say her back was caused by Johnny Foreigners not jasmine rice.

Well you wouldn’t get expensive net curtains like she has by packaging phones into boxes.

Twenty metres up the road the soi dog collapses and with a solitary last high pitched whine limps off to meet his maker. The girls are unmoved. They’ve seen death many times before.

The one with the green headscarf. She’s hardly done a stroke since we’ve been here. Over a hour now. Lazy moo.

She looks frightened to bend down. Too much papaya salad I’d say. I reckon she’ll sprint to the nearest toilet soon.

That lao khao has gone right through me. I might have to jadder my bladder soon.

Daw you are so crude at times. Here have some betel.

The sound of splashing water is heard and in the distance a green headed women is seen sprinting across the paddy field to a clump of bushes, only stopping momentarily to pick a giant leaf from a banana tree.

Those red shirts in Bangkok. Where do they go to toilet.

I read about that in the newspaper, the toilet thing. Thaksin Shinawatra won’t like it if he finds out.

Go on. Tell me.

Daw looks to her left and right to check no one else is about, then in a quiet voice answers Dao.

They use those red plastic clapping feet.

Red plastic clapping feet…what are you talking about.

There aren’t any toilets. The men when they want to….you know….pass water. They do it where they stand.

Never.

They use the clapping feet to hide their bits, just let it dangle and go.

Never. You’re having me on.

I’m not. Listen. They just go right where they stand. It’s the dribblers that worry me.

Dribblers.

Yes dribblers. I once read it turns snow yellow. If it turns the plastic feet yellow, Thaksin will go mad…….What worries me is if they start a round of clapping when somebody is doing one, a young man could seriously damage is …..jewels.

I wouldn’t want to be around when they start clapping yellow ones, the smell must be awful….and the spray…..no….you’re having me on Daw, that’s why I like you so much.

Come on let’s go and get some papaya pok pok. We’ll grab a couple of banana leaves on the way. They reckon they make it real spicy around these parts.

For the more serious readers amongst you here’s a few facts about Thai rice which Dao and Daw kindly passed onto me.

  • Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of rice
  • Approximately 30 tons of rice was produced in Thailand last year
  • Jasmine rice is the most produced strain of rice in Thailand but due to its lower yield rate it is more expensive to buy than other rice strains available on the world market
  • In the North East (Isaan) of Thailand a variety of glutinous rice known as sticky rice is the firm favourite amongst the rural people
  • Over half of Thailand’s farmable land area is used for rice production
  • From 1960 to 2008 Thailand’s yearly rice production increased from 10,000 tons to 28,000. A rise of 180%
  • There are many rice ceremonies in Thailand and according to Wikipedia one tradition that is common to central Thailand is a Cat Procession. This involves villagers carrying a cat around and throwing water at it, due to the belief that a “crying” cat brings a fertile rice crop

I hope you’ll join Daw and Dao again sometime in the near future for another read of Under the Mango Tree. Best wishes.

Credits

Photographs Daw & Dao and Isaan rice fields by kind permission of tourism thailand

Photograph Mango Tree   by mauroguanandi

Photograph Chiang Mai rice fields   by echiner 1

© 2010 – 2011, Martyn. All rights reserved.

16 thoughts on “Under the Mango Tree – The Killing Fields

  1. Martyn, I was looking for another source of good Thai gossip and I do believe you have hit the nail on the head , I loved the new series and I just hope you keep-em coming . I laughed real hard and I am sure that is the kind of things the girls at the end of our road talk about to , sometimes Ciejay stops by just to get the latest (news), ha ha . You have certainly had you minds wheels turning , and you’ve come up with a winner . Malcolm
    I’d swear I saw those same two ole gals sitting on the bench in our village park the other day.
    .-= malcolm´s last blog ..FLOWERS and MORE FLOWERS and MANGOS =-.

  2. Malcolm it’s good the post has given you a laugh. Thai’s do like a bit of good gossip. I think the world of the young one but I have to admit she loves a bit of gossip. She often says to me on the phone

    ‘ Hus….band. Listen I have news.’ And off she goes with a little bit of spice. I guess just like Ciejay.

    I’m hoping to do a Under the Mango Tree post maybe once a month or every other. I’ll wait and see what kind of reaction it gets because it is a touch offbeat. Yours has been positive. I’ve added a star rating to the post hoping to get some reader reaction. Thanks.

  3. Martyn, positive from me too, I have always enjoyed your humour The Soi Dog Millionaires springs to mind.

    I love the Thai ability to gossip on just about anything.

    I look forward to more of the same.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Wat Dan Singkhon(วัดด่านสิงขร) Prachuap Khiri Khan =-.

  4. Mike thanks for the vote of confidence. Soi Dog Millionaires needed a deeper knowledge of Thailand politics to understand it. This one will be simpler, basing itself on a variety of things.

    Gossip, don’t they just love it. During my first few years in Thailand the smiles fooled me, now being able to understand a bit of the language and the body language too, I know what great gossipers they are. It’s the same the whole world over.

  5. Martyn, a big positive from me as well. Definitely brought a huge smile to my face.

    Are Daw and Dao available?
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..The Disparities of Rural Thailand? =-.

  6. Talen – Daw and Dao are actually widely available. Let me explain.

    Excuse my expression but I picked them up from tourism thailand which is as they put it…. ‘This is the Official Website of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (UK).’

    They have a gallery of over 1000 photos free to download providing, once again as they put it…

    ‘Welcome to our Thailand gallery. Here you will find over 1,000 beautiful images of Thailand all of which are available to download (royalty free) for use in the positive promotion of Thailand. Where possible, please reference http://www.tourismthailand.co.uk as the source. Check out our exciting movies and videos too.’……

    It’s a great resource and I hope I haven’t upset them with this one. I think it promotes Thailand in a good fun way. I think in general BTMJ does that anyway. Do you think I may have overstepped the mark with an unfair usage of the photos?

    Check it out, there’s some amazing photos.

  7. Martyn, Since they state the photos are royalty free and you gave them a nod I don’t see a problem…besides as you said you are promoting Thailand so all is good.
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..16th Annual Phuket Bike Week 2010 =-.

  8. Catherine I will be staying tuned because I would like to read a little more about this ritual. I’ll have to Google it if my wait is too long. I just hope Wikipedia haven’t got it wrong. It seems too unbelievable to be true.

    The Thai’s explanation about the curries makes a lot of sense. Why eat at a restaurant what you can have at home. The joy of eating out is to sometimes try a little something you’ve never tried before.

  9. Martyn, I’ve just spent the morning tracking down the cat story and what a story it is! Looks like my next stop is the National Museum as well as the Thai Cat Palace (both in BKK). And I’ve just ordered a Thai cat book from Danny at DCO (he’s an amazing resource for finding odd books).

    So thank you very much for pointing me in the cat direction.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Successful Thai Language Learners: Herb Purnell =-.

  10. Catherine I’m now totally convinced after reading your comment the Cat Procession is true. Believe me I am resisting from googling it because I want to read what I assume is a forthcoming post from you. I’m looking forward to that.

  11. They use the clapping feet to hide their bits, just let it dangle and go.
    dont know way but reminds me of a time in the french alps when i was busting for a number 2 my buddy told me he lost the small roll of toilet paper and my next option was a hand full of packed snow
    needs must sometimes even in the killing fields of Thailand

  12. John, not quite too much information but well on its way. You have some great stories and I know when we one day do meet for a drink in Udon or Ban Dung I’m going to enjoy listening to your tales. Cheers.

  13. John it’s the cloth you could have done with.

    I’ll look forward to your email, I’m in Thailand from May 2 – 19. I will be in Udon from the 6th to 19th.

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