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Gone Fishing (In Isaan) Part 15

  • Written by Cent
  • April 21st, 2004
  • 13 min read



Once showered, and newly attired in a change of dry clothing, I rushed outside and grabbed my fishing gear from the back of the truck. My wife and Sis and other friends and family members were over next door in the open air tin roofed shop run by another Sis, Sis 2. When my wife and Sis spotted me they rushed over and asked me, "Where you go?" I just grinned and said, "Fishin'!" They both looked at me as though I was mad. "Hey." I said to them both, "I told you I was gonna catch some fish for supper, and dammit, I AM!! So don't stuff your faces with rice and shit yet, because I'll be bringing home some fish in a little while for you to cook, darlings!"

This was greeted with frowns and what I detected to be bit of skepticism, (they probably figured they'd starve to death waiting for me to "bring home the bacon" so to speak) which only served to strengthen my resolve to catch some goddamned fish.

I started to walk down the soi toward the lake when my wife, and Sis, came up to me and asked if she, my wife, and our daughter could come with me and watch me while I fished. "Sure!" I said, "But Sis can't come!! I don't want to be shoved into the water again by her! She's baba bobo!"

This last part said sternly with righteous indignation, and a straight face. Sis's eyes bugged out of her head on hearing this slander, her face got red, well, actually almost purple, and she started shouting how she was gonna go boxing with me, and why I do she, and why I say she push me in pond, and, well, she started chasing me about the soi and tried to pummel me and kick me in a fit of pique! Luckily her short stubby legs were no match for my lissome physique and I easily evaded her outrageous assault to do me bodily harm! To add insult to injury I was laughing the whole time as I eluded her. Her assault did not go un-noticed by the other village neighbors either, and did not help her case. It only strengthened the others perception of her baba bobo-ed-ness!! I'm such a bastard I am! :-)

Once she stopped her ranting and running about after me, to catch her breath, she does smoke quite a bit and is overweight, I winked at her, stuck out my tongue at her, put my fishing pole on my shoulder, told my wife to go get look sow (daughter) and to be sure to bring a couple cold beer Changs to the dock with her for us to drink. I strode off toward the lake, whistling my fishing song, and glancing behind me occasionally to be sure Sis hadn't caught her breath and was quietly sneaking up behind me to clout me on the squash with a club or something equally stout and possibly painful. I'd explain my little joke on her later, and try to stay out of reach until her sense of humor kicked in once again.

The lake near our house is pretty large. For the longest time I actually had thought it was part of a river. It runs from North to South beside the entrance road to the village and is about 200 yards or so wide at its widest point. The bank by our village is its eastern shore, the opposite bank on the west is bordered by another smaller village which is basically a "suburb" of our village. Lengthwise its probably 400 yards long, maybe a bit longer, but that is deceptive during the rainy wet season. Mostly because both ends connect to streams that feed it from the southern end and exit from the northern end, both ends being part of the extensive rice fields surrounding the villages, which, when filled with water during the rainy and wet seasons, makes it look almost a continuous body of water.

The northern end has a dike over which water flows into a small concrete waterfall-like sluice about 15 feet wide toward a culvert, which then goes under the street and flows into the rice fields on the other side of the street where the soi curves before continuing to the village. The lake itself on this end is probably 15 or 20 feet higher than the land by the road, whereas the southern end is basically level with the fields bordering it. I have no idea yet as to whether the lake is spring fed, rainwater fed, or if the water flows in from elsewhere along the rice paddies and feeds the lake.

On this trip I had been pleasantly surprised to see that during my last absence of 10 weeks or so someone had built a dock of wood and bamboo on the shore by our street. I figured this bode well for this being a good spot to try my hand at fishing the lake. I mean it stands to reason that if someone took the trouble to build a dock there there must be something to catch there, right?

Whatever, it'll do for now. Someday I'd like to buy a small canoe or flat bottomed skiff to use around the area. Something not too cumbersome or heavy that will fit easily into the back of a small Japanese pick-up truck. A Coleman PVC canoe would be ideal, although I have no idea if these can be purchased anywhere in Thailand. If anyone has any info about this please send along the info to me if you'd be so kind.

On the corner where the soi proper turns to run beside this eastern edge of the lake and out of the village is a house that has never been completely finished being built. It's still just a shell of walls and roof. At the moment the owners use it to to store old used computer components, which they burn in the yard to extract gold and such other precious metals for sale. At least this is what was explained to me as much as I could understand. I may have it all wrong, but think not. The "yard" is littered with piles of burnt pieces of computer guts, which is made of some composite materials which look like fiberglass or something similar. I have designs on this unfinished house. I want to buy it.

It sits directly across the street from the lake, just across from the new "dock", and would be a nice little place, which has no homes directly next to it, to relax in and watch the sunsets across the lake. The back of it is bordered by large hay fields which border the beginning of the rice fields, outside the village. There are no more houses behind it or across from it.

It is the very first house one would encounter upon entering the village. Until you get to it there are no buildings all the way from the other unseen village up the road. Across from the front is a yard across the street, to the eastern side is a yard filled with trees and shrubs bordering the house next door's property, and, as I noted, on the west side is the street and lake. So no neighbors are jammed next to this property, and the views from the west and northern sides are extremely picturesque and unlikely to be built up on.

From what I gather the owner doesn't use the house anymore for his "work", and doesn't intend to "finish" it. I'm putting out feelers to the owner from family members of mine to buy this place for myself, without the owner being told it is for the farang to buy. If I can purchase this place for 80 to 120,000 baht, or less, I will, and I intend to make it a place where I can relax away from, yet very near to, the village family. A retreat as it were. A place to be alone. Maybe a place to sleep occasionally when pissed off at the wife, or she's pissed off at me. Although that would be highly unlikely, as I'm the perfect husband surely! :-) A study, and fishing lodge, and library with computer, where I can write and relax undisturbed. I'd finish the place as one huge room, with a small western-style hong nam, with hot water shower of course too, in one corner. It has a modern tile roof and the ubiquitous cement walls and floor.

I'd have built a wrap around porch or veranda with tiled roof, and full screens on the entire porch, and ceiling fans, on the northern and western sides, with sliding glass doors from the house on each side. Two full walls, floor to ceiling, of nice wooden bookshelves, have the floors done in tongue and groove parquet or hardwood, or maybe a nice rough finish red clay tile if the wooden flooring is too costly, and two or three large wooden bladed ceiling fans of variable speeds. I know I can find some nice large persian type rugs for the floor over there. I've seen some nice, yet inexpensive, ones at a couple of places over there. I'd leave the roof/ceiling open to the eaves and peak, to keep it open and airy, and retain the air of spaciousness.

The house is up a little on a small mound from street level and would be above any rainwater flooding.

I'd put a painted cement fence with air hole blocks around the property, about three feet high, not high enough to block any views of the surrounding scenery, but to keep out the chickens, ducks, water buffalo, oxen, cattle, soi dogs, etc., and plant the yard with flowering shrubs and plants and some shade palms and banana trees. This is my dream place, which I hope to start making progress on soon, this summer hopefully, if the guy will sell it.

I've even thought this would be a nice place once finished to rent to the occasional farang who'd like a place to relax and fish and canoe and see the Isaan countryside and tourist sites, villages, Wats, etc., and get away from the big city life of Bangkok/Pattaya for a short relaxing vacation. Could also rent it during the Surin Elephant festival and supply a pick-up truck rental or a couple of moto-cykes. With or without the GF or wife a few might like to get away like this I'd think. Just a thought I've had if this happens, and I get the place to fix up as I'd like it.

These thoughts, plans, schemes and dreams filled my head as I strolled past the property whistling and humming my fishing tune. I crossed the soi, looking about carefully both ways to make sure I wasn't going to get splattered by a rogue moto-cyke tearing into or out of the village, and clambered down the slight slope from the street to the water's edge. I gingerly tested the strength of the new bamboo dock before trusting it to my full falang weight. Hey, it might hold a Thai no sweat, but I make up two Thais almost, and didn't care to suffer the indignity of collapsing the dock and again going for an unplanned swim. It was sturdy enough, although it did have a bit of sway to it, and bounced about some as I walked onto it. A bit like walking on a floating boat it felt like really.

As I stood at the end of the dock preparing my fishing gear to start my final bid to catch a meal this day I looked out over the water which was reflecting the colors of the sunset sky. In the distance on the opposite shore the fading colored sunlight sparkled off the broken mirror bits stuck into the cement of a mostly finished Wat that sits near the water's edge. The darkened silhouette and shadows of the palms bordering the lake; the colorful skyline, the Wat sparkling in the dusky pastels of the air, the birds flitting about over the water, the chattering quacking ducks along the shore near me, all made me feel as though I had stepped into a beautiful postcard of Isaan life, like one you'd expect to be able to purchase in the hotel lobby shops of a grand Thai hotel. I realized once again why I loved it here so much, so far away from the western life I lead at home.

Scenes such as this burn themselves into my memory, to be savored over and over while stuck in the no-sanuk zone in the states, waiting to once again fly the thousands of miles back to here, to Thailand, where I now consider, some would say foolishly, but fuck them, they have no idea, really, to reside as much as possible for the rest of my life. As someone on one of the Thai related message boards writes in his tagline: Thailand has become my drug of choice. Amen brother. I'm thoroughly addicted. I have no desire to kick the habit. I revel in its opiate-like wash over my senses. The longer I'm away the worse my withdrawal symptoms. I'm in desperate need of a fix as I write this. I've been gone far too long.

I looked over my choices of lures and decided on the largest and heaviest of the Mepps lures for my first try at the elusive Isaan fish in this lake. The heavier lure would let me cast farther and retrieve longer, increasing my chances of enticing one of these crafty buggers to bite my offering.

As I attached this lure to my line three crazy little village boys zoomed down the embankment from the street on their dilapidated versions of bicycles and rode the friggin' things right out onto the dock next to me!! Holy shit! The dock bounced and swayed and I grabbed ahold of a support pole to hang on for dear life. The boys all laughed and giggled at this silly farang with the look of horror plastered on his puss. I growled at them to get the hell off the dock with their bikes before the whole damned thing collapsed into the water. They ignored my rantings, and chattered, laughing, amongst themselves, obviously enjoying some joke at the farang's expense. Nutty little bastards.

In the distance behind them I spied my lass and daughter shuffling down the soi toward me, each holding two large, dew glistening, bottles of ice cold Chang beer in their hands. Ah! Good! I'll be needing one of those. Look sow (daughter) waved one of the bottles in the air over her head at me and yelled something to Papa (me). I waved back at her smiling, scowled at the offending boys and waved them back to the shoreline with their bikes, motioning that I needed the room to cast the rod and didn't wish to accidentally hook one of them. I turned and cast my line out over the sparkling waters. It was a good cast and the lure splashed into the water far out from the dock.

The final battle of man over beast had begun! May the best creature win.

(to be continued)

Stickman says:

More Magic From Cent.