Here I am sitting in the bus with springs sticking out of the seats, non existent leg room, air conditioning on the edge of breakdown in the extreme heat, and I am only in the second hour of the 8 hour ride!! And this is the VIP bus. I am on the way with my girlfriend to her home in the province of Tak, 450 km north of Bangkok, to meet her family. Tried to sleep on the bus but could not because it was so uncomfortable. My girl Janjira offered words of encouragement, its alright for her, she is used to this stupid bus ride! Its a killer to us farangs. No air con, no coke, let me out!! I must really love this girl to torture myself like this. Four hours into the trip lunch was served, a small container of minced pork (I think) and rice, washed down with a green liquid drink similar to cold tea. Lovely.
Well it wasn't easy but we made it. Her sisters greeted us at the bus stop and the next thing i knew my luggage was thrown on the back of a little scooter. It was another 30 minutes on the scooter along windy mountain roads before we got to her house. It was a big block of land but not much of a house. Tin roof, cement walls with curtain divided rooms. Everyone sleeps on mattresses on the floor in different parts of the room. Her family was very friendly and offered me ice water and beer. Janjira asked me "want shower? I can wash you?" I thought great, mid afternoon quick one in the shower. Also the fact that i was on the brink of total meltdown in this bloody heat. She took me into a little tin shed at the back of the house, closed the door, stripped me down and started spraying me with a hose! Thats how they take showers. There is no running hot water in the village! I screamed like a girl when the icy cold water hit my over heated body.Well it was refreshing anyway.
After the shower she took me down to the river, took a live turtle out of the bag she was carrying and asked me to let the turtle go in the river and the budda will bring me good luck. It was some type of Thai culture. I thought ok, why not? I grabbed the turtle and threw it with all my strength up in the air, it flew towards the middle of the river and landed on a rock that was sticking out of the water. Made a loud crunching noise when the turtle shell smashed against the rock. Janjira screamed out in horror, "you killed my Budda!", I said calm down, the turtle has a hard shell and will survive. The turtle has not been seen since.
My first night in the village was rough. Slept on the floor with my girl, in 35 degree heat with three small fans blowing. I dared not to try anything naughty, the rooms were only divided by curtains and everybody can hear me. It was too humid to do anything but just lay there anyway. And so I spent my first twenty four hours in a Thai village.
It's 5 AM and the whole family is awake! The kids are playing, dogs barking, sister starting their scooter to go to work. With all the noise I could no longer sleep and had to get up. My darling asked me "you want coffee?" I thought great, they have coffee in the village? She pulls out little sachets of coffee and sugar from her bag. She had stolen it from the hotel in Bangkok! Oh well, I need my coffee.
At 7 AM the family is packing food and drinks into bags, darling is taking me to meet her grandfather. He lives deep in the bush by the river, to get there we had to charter a boat. We walked down to the river and the boat was waiting for us, long skinny boat powered by a tiny motor. Travelled up river for about an hour into the middle of nowhere, suddenly darling got all excited and pointed to a tiny house by the river, "grandfather house!" I was impressed, small wooden house with no power, no running water, no phone, nothing, not even a front door! Grandfather lives here with darling's auntie and her young son. How do they survive without TV? Its now 11 AM, the women are cooking lunch with a wok and small bbq gas bottle. I asked darling where the toilet is and she pointed at the river! Fine, no one is watching, I released into the river and it'll probably run all the way into Bangkok. After lunch the women started washing the dishes in the river, the same river I did my business in. Then grandfather started bathing in the river. Young cousin and darling went for a swim. Yes, it seems everything is done in the river? I may as well join them and dived into the river.
Late afternoon back at the village, we went shopping in the local market. Everything is sold by numerous trolleys on the two sides of the road. Fresh fish and prawns swimming in buckets. Raw meat hanging on steel hooks. Loads of fruits and vegetables at dirt cheap prices. I bought a whole fresh deer leg enough to feed the family for only 200 baht (US$4). Bargain, little bambi for dinner.
Dinner is served on a big plastic sheet on the floor, everyone sat on the ground and started eating. Who wants dinner table and chairs anyway? Food was fantastic but a bit too spicy for me and I washed it down with few cans of local beer. After dinner we started on the Thai whisky, very smooth! Auntie started singing in Thai and we all clapped our hands, mum got up to dance, kids were laughing, fun time for all. Pity I was going back to Bangkok the next day. I really wanted to stay longer, NOT!!!
Ahhh, the joys of the Thai countryside!