Stickman Readers' Submissions May 10th, 2004

Why Do I Keep Coming Back Part 2?

Why Do I Keep Coming Back To Thailand Part 2?

By Khun Eddie

So glad to have gotten out of BKK. Now I remember why I keep coming back…… Because there is so much to love about Thailand.

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I ended up taking a 1 hour flight from BKK to Lampang where my friend and his wife picked me up. We had a beautiful 2 hour drive through the country. By the way, Lampang is about 700 kilos north of BKK. So we drive through the country and eventually end up on small mountain road heading up to what I describe as a Jungle Village called Pamoke.

What a life my friend has set up for himself in this village. There are no stores, no bars, no telephones, no entertainment so to speak. Just a peaceful village of about 100 families. Only a decade ago or so they did not even have electricity. But modern ways have begun to encroach on them. My friend, Jeff, built a beautiful home and garden in this village. For a long time the water and electricity was off and on, but now it's working good. He has his computer set up in the home that he built, and I'm laughing my ass off because who knows how long he will wait for a telephone line. He says in the future they will have telephone lines. He is sharing an electricity line split several ways with other homes. Next year the Government is supposed to put in a few more electric lines and supply more power.

Of all the people I have ever met in Thailand this village truly epitomized the Land of Smiles. The poorest people money-wise you may ever meet in your life, and yet the most are friendly and happy. Jeff's wife never had electricity when growing up, and never even had her first pair of shoes until she was a teenager. Such beautiful and kind woman. He is a lucky man.

It would appear to me that at least 80% of their food is hunted, gathered, dug from the ground, or grown. They also have rice fields dug out in areas of the moutains between the over grown jungle, the teak trees and the streams. Just the most wonderful people. All of the men wear machetes which they carry in a leather pouch on their back. Hey, it's an all purpose tool. Also when taking my 6 AM walks, many of the men I encountered were on their way up into the higher jungle to go hunting, and they carry 5 foot long single load, hand made muzzle rifles. Sometimes the rifle is bigger than the man. I have some wonderful pictures of these people and will include them later on the site within a day or so. The men I talked with like to hunt wild pig, or boar. They are quite proud of their hunting abilities. But they will eat almost anything that moves. They love snake, jungle rat, birds, frogs, etc. During the rain they go out and gather frogs to eat. Every different type of weather and time of year brings different food. They collect what I would describe as large balls of red ants with their larvae and say it is quite tasty. They eat many types of bugs. While I was there the first night, it was like the twilight zone. There had been heavy rain that day, and apparently, a very large hatch of some type of flying bugs. Millions of them invaded our home while we were eating. I was so freaked out, I didn't even think to take a picture. They were attracted to the lights, and literally covered walls and lights, and were getting in my food and all over me. I had to go outside and get in a dark spot, and it does get darker than you can imagine up there when the stars and moon are coverd by clouds. On a clear night, it is the most beautiful place to look up into the sky.

Jeff's wife methodically swept all the bugs up as they were dying. Such a beautiful lady. They have been married a year and a half, and so far it seems like they are deeply in love, and do everything for each other. She is the most loving example of Thai womanhood. Anyway, these bugs die quickly within a couple of hours, and she has swept up piles of them.

Her friend goes a step farther, and sets out a water pan, collects these miserable flying torpedoes, and is very happy. She is going to mash them and eat them.

Back to my morning walks, I also run in to very young and old ladies alike gathering. Some are digging for some type of bug or root. The others are on their way, walking to collect something in the mountain, that I do not understand the word for. The lines on some of the elder people's faces could tell a story that we may never ever be able to believe. Everyone seems to have a job. Although in this beautiful, tranquil village their jobs are much different than the city. Their job is to survive, take care of their family, provide food, shelter for their parents and children. And yes, Have Sanook Mak Mak Duai. Such a fun loving people that work so hard in this hot humid region. They do have a whisky house for making rice whiskey. I do not drink and have not tried it, but it appears it works quite well for them.

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My friend tells me stories of his elderly mother-in-law working out in the garden. He is also working, but he tires and lays down to nap. Upon awakening she is still bent over working. He is astonished at her level of energy.

In the evening, part of their fun is going to the river with 3 by 3 foot nets attached to bamboo poles, and they catch fish in the river, which they also mash up whole and cook. They also wash their clothes in this muddy looking river. I must say, much of what they make to eat is inedible to the average Farang. My friend Jeff does most of his shopping in Phrae, and also goes a couple hundred kilometers to Chiang Mai every couple of weeks to stock up.

The children of the village are so endearing. When you look at them, and they smile back at you, it just melts your heart, and will make the toughest man smile. ALL the people here have a smile for you. Such a different place than anywhere I have been in Thailand before.

My friend and I drove motorbikes into a few other small villages with names like Bang Lao, Bang Pon….in the mountains also, and visited a couple of very old temples, and spoke with one of the monks. The ride around this area was great. Old volcanic activity has formed fantastic mountains and geologic formations.

We also visted a crematorium. Jeff has been to a half dozen funerals in the last year alone. They put the body on this type of platform, dowse it with gasoline, and then shoot a Roman Candle into the Body, and kind of blow it up and burn it. HAHA.

Yes, this is a different time and place. It is like walking into another world.

We also took a trip to a national forest to a place called 7 falls. I can't remember the name of the park. Absolutely incredibly beautiful hiking trails into the mountains, with waterfalls and pools along the way. There were a few other Thai families up there swimming. Not only that, I saw something else I had never seen. Monks…. Yes, Monks, diving from the rocks into the pools by the waterfalls. Everyone was having such fun. Simple, beautiful nature, on a sunny day. Unsurpassed beauty in the mountains and the peoples. The path up the mountain seemed to go on forever. As beautiful as it was, I will have to finish the hike on another day. We went back down to the base waterfall, where his wife brought out a snack, and ice chest with cold drinks, and we cooled off in the water before driving back to the village. By the way, it seemed whenever we went anywhere, a bunch of kids would just jump in the truck and come along with us for fun, smiling, and giggling all the way.

Back to the viillage, a meal, and relax.

I'm sitting in Jeff and Pin's beautiful garden. He has built a very nice house there. Even has a western style toilet and two showers. One of which even has a wall water heater. Very modern. So we are sitting in the garden, relaxing, reading, and Jeff says to me…."I like to sit and watch the butterflies. So many pretty colors."

We both realized where we had come from in the city of San Diego, California, and now to be living in this peaceful village, watching the butterflies. We both had to laugh thinking of how different life was for him now. And yes, life has changed much for me too. Jeff now feels like the luckiest man in the world, and he and Pin love each other very much. It is quite wonderful and touching to see them together. I am very happy for both of them, and for my friend Jeff finding this wonderful lady, and this new way of life for him in the village.

One day Pin, his wife, says, "Eddie, do you want to marry? What kind of lady you like?"

I say, "Yes, I like to marry some day."

She replies, "I know beautiful virgin thai girl in the village of Pamoke. You can marry and stay here."

Thinking for a moment…… hmmmm. Sounds like a good idea. All the people I speak with are so nice. Maybe I could live in this quiet peaceful place, a world away from the noise, smells, and traffic of BKK. Maybe…..NOT YET>

I am laughing now just looking at what I type. I was tempted for a bit. Then realized, I may not be quite as settled down as my friend Jeff, who has truly found a life of peace, love and Harmony in the small mountain village of Hamoke among these humble, friendly people.

P.S. Little if any English is spoken in any of the village, but a smile does go a long way.

Stickman's thoughts:

Would love to see some of your pictures from this area.

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