Readers' Submissions

Tales From The Village 3

  • Written by Graham
  • September 14th, 2005
  • 7 min read


– Do They Bite

I have a small house up at my garden out the back of the woodyard. I’ve got 1 rai of land there and a small house that’s got a workroom, a bedroom and an open area for drinking beer in the afternoon, with a hong-nahm as a separate building out the back. I’ve been fairly busy on other things so haven’t spent much time there over the last month, since the house was completed.

So this week I spent a bit of time cleaning up all the junk that the builders had left lying around. Virtually any wood that was lying on the ground had been attached by the white ants, or termites. It’s amazing the damage they can do to a piece of timber in what has been a relatively short time. So I started a fire and chucked most of the wood onto it.

One area behind the water jars was especially messy so when I got around to attacking it I was blown away at how the termites had basically hollowed out each piece of timber. After dragging several pieces over to the fire I had to jump back as a scorpion ran the length of the plank. Having been stung by a scorpion a couple of weeks ago I wasn’t about to argue with it. They are hurty in a big way.

Then the very next lump of timber I grabbed had a large centipede resident on the underside. It’s many years since I’ve had to deal with BIG centipedes, but once you’ve experienced the pain of their sting it’s something you don’t ever want to do again. So was VERY cautious as I dragged that lump of wood to the fire and consigned it, and it’s traveller, to the flames.

It really was my day as the next piece of wood I moved had a snake under it, admittedly only a small one. But coming originally from New Zealand I’ve absolutely no experience with snakes and they frighten the crap out of me. Time for a retreat and change from jandals to gumboots and heavy leather gloves. Went back to the snake wood with machete in hand and ready to do damage, only to see the snake disappear into the long grass under the water jars.

Time to bring out the big guns, so I start up the brushcutter and clear all the weeds around the water jars. Didn’t see hide nor hare of the snake. So when I’m around the water jars I’m nervous as and make sure I look every time before putting my foot down.

Then yesterday the bother-in-law (not a spelling mistake) was clearing some scrub at the side of the woodyard with the brushcutter when he came across a BIG snake. A python about 10 foot long and about as thick as my upper arm. Yip, that’s BIG. The rural Thais don’t kill pythons, believing them to be assistants to the god of land. So this huge specimen is bundled into a sack and one of the workers takes the responsibility of releasing it into a new home. I hope it wasn’t nowhere near my water jars.


– Boating

Last time he was down the old uncle asked if he could take my boat back home so he could do some fishing. So when he left we loaded the boat onto the pickup. Now my boat isn’t a Dana sized sailboat used for island hopping in the Caribbean. It’s more a little plastic dingy. With its flat bottom and having no width it’s a precarious ride, with not even a hint of stability.

We were up at Uttradit recently so took the little boat for a paddle on our pond. The pond is about 15 by 70 metre, so is a perfect size for a lazy paddle with the kids. Everyone had a turn paddling up and down the length of the pond, and I only got smashed in the head a couple of times as the kids waved their oars around.

When we finished Pha Noi tipped the boat over and gave the inside a rinse, then I grabbed the painter and pulled it up the bank. As I was about to load it on the pickup noticed a little fish squiggling around. Second look showed 2 little fish and a shrimp had been trapped when the boat was rinsed. I’ll definitely take a fishing line next time I go up north. And hopefully the little fishes will have grown into bigger fishes.


– Karate

Sunday morning half past beer o’clock so I was sitting out the front in our little bamboo sala partaking of a rather magnificent stout I had recently brewed. The wife had a bunch of the village kids organised to tidy up the garden. A couple of 11 year olds start having a bit of a pretend fight, leaping at each other with knees and some fairly solid punches. Before anyone could mutter ‘this is going to end in tears’, one kid grabbed the other in a headlock and twirled him round – nearly yanked his head off. The vanquished withdrew to the field across the road for a little cry.

That night we had a few peoples around for a BBQ, including the mom of the boy who got the stiff neck. I had had close to more than enough to drink so I was somewhat surprised when I heard myself ask the mom if she’d like me to teach her son karate. The response was a very enthusiastic acceptance.

Next day when I realised what I had done was a very nervous time, and I came close to chickening out. It’s 2 years since I’ve done any training. What with having a baseball sized tumour removed and bouts of radiation and chemotherapy I wasn’t even sure if I was fit enough to get through a class. But the response from people wanting their kids to train with me was overwhelming, so I was committed. My 16 year old daughter was an Australian champion for her age & grade and she agreed to be sempai, which took some of the pressure off.

So next Saturday we’re dressed in our gi and waiting to see who turns up. We get a mixed bunch of 8 to 12 year olds, about evenly matched between boys and girls, and a couple of adult females. In all about 17 to learn karate. And they have all taken to it like ducks to water and were so enthusiastic that we train twice a week (Sat morning and Wed evening). It’ll be a while before we grade them to yellow belt and let them start sparring, but in the meantime they are getting stuck into the basics and even enjoy kata.

Each Saturday morning after training the wife then spends an hour or so giving an English class for those who are interested, all of them stay for it. Last week was one of the girls 12th birthday so we bought a cake and fizzy drinks and had a little party for her. She shed a few tears and explained that she had never had a party before. All the other kids are now waiting for their birthdays to come around.


– Could You Really Go Back

Short while ago there was a submission on You Know You’ve Been Here Too Long When…, with a list of some of the habits that you’ll pick up when you live he for any length of time. And ThaiTies summed it up perfectly in his last submission with “are you drunk enough to drive”.

It’s not that you’ve been here too long; it’s that you’ve been here long enough that you can never go back. By the time you have collected even a few of the habits on the list you would be social pariah back in Farangland. You don’t believe me, then try these for size.

When I worked in Bangkok we had a fairly high level meeting with the Revenue Department. This was a full day meeting in their conference room, with team leaders and up. I was still a fresh faced farang so was somewhat astonished that during the day EVERY Thai at some time or other spent large effort in excavating the nose. Now that I’ve been living here I quite often find myself having a good pick. Now try that in a business meeting in Farangland.

How about overtaking on blind corners. Second nature in Thailand. Try that in Farangland and they call it Dangerous Driving. But the police in Farangland don’t know how the system works, so you’ll be waiting in vain for them to ask for money. But when you generously offer 200 baht…. Well you get the idea.

No, once you’ve been here for a while there’s no going back.

Graham…

Stickman's thoughts:

Nice stories, particularly the one with the snake!