For many westerners Thai village life is a chore to be endured when visiting their partner’s family and friends. Many expats and seasoned tourists find rural life in Thailand as dull as dishwater and extremely old hat. Then again, there are people like me who find Thai village life has a laid-back feel to it and is so different to the hell broke loose city lives we are otherwise used to.
There’s always something happening in Thai villages, be it a religious festival, wedding, house blessing, karaoke sing along or a wild-and-woolly cock fight. More often than not there’s something to point your camera at or pin your ear to and even white-bread visitors to your front gate can get your camera shutter clicking like a cricket.
There’s always a regular trail of vendors and hawkers who arrive at your village house each day and one morning a month or so a go I captured on camera the visitors to our house over the course of just two hours.
First to arrive was the durian man. Durian is an expensive, extremely strong smelling Southeast Asian fruit and is known as the ‘King of Fruits’, and that’s more than a few thousand baht worth in the back of the man’s truck.
Durian has a distinctive taste and texture – sweet, creamy and tangy spring to mind – but its taste and smell are like night and day. Durian has an odour so strong and off-putting (to most folk) that it is banned from many Thai hotels and by some public transport operators. English writer Anthony Burgess (author of A Clockwork Orange) once described durian as “like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory.”
This type of vendor is one you see a few times in one day. They sell leafy vegetables, garlic cloves, eggs and all kinds of edible things which are garden grown or farm produce. A handful of coins will get you a few plastic bags stuffed with this and that, the type of things that flavour enhance a meal and support the main bout.
The third visitor of the morning (the man near the orange ice box) had me interested. I’d been inside the house and only caught the tail-end of his visit. He appeared to be attending to our four dogs who were sat around him. My first thoughts were that he was a vet, but he’d arrived on foot. That put me off that notion.
I asked Wonderful Wi who he was and what was he doing. She explained he was administering anti-rabies vaccines to our dogs and he wasn’t a qualified vet but a volunteer from the village who’d stepped forward to administer government-funded jabs to the village dogs. I think even Robert the Bruce might have sidestepped that duty. There’s some aggressive looking soi dogs about.
This was the coolest person in the village that morning, in fact, every morning, because the ice man keeps the village shops topped up with crushed and cubed ice every day. When Wilai needs ice she waves him down and I get a chance to poke my head in the back of the truck. The cold blast is so refreshing.
A sack of crushed ice costs 40 baht and Wilai uses it to keep her newly made flower garlands fresh inside two large ice boxes. I wonder if carrying those ice bags every day will eventually give the man a painful rheumatic shoulder?
Thai village life might not be everyone’s cup of tea but there’s a simplicity to it that can wash away the mental strains gathered from ones rambunctious city life. Rural life in Thailand is like a breath of fresh dung-filled air.
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© 2014, Martyn. All rights reserved.