Written on Friday...
So, an exciting thing happened today!
We went shopping as I wanted new trousers as not only are my two pairs I have travelled with looking the worse for wear because of excessive use and heat, they are so big on me as I have lost a bit of weight and I'm over spending half my time pulling the bloody things up.
Anyway, the exciting thing is not only did I find some jeans I liked and they were $20 a pair, they are a size 38! I haven't been out of the 40's for a while so am feeling pretty pleased about that!
I also found three shirts, one of which actually fits properly as they didn't have changing rooms in the shop and I guessed. Oh well, it's good motivation to grow in to them. :)
So tomorrow I pick up the rental car and we head about 600km's north east of Bangkok to an area near the border with Laos where we will stay a few nights at tops parents place then meander back to Bangkok over a couple of days.
Day 94+ - a truly special experience ....
I feel incredibly privileged to be staying with tops family here in Isaan country. Yesterday we picked up the car and set off on our journey. It felt great being behind the wheel of some transport again.
About two hours before we left, Top received a phone call to tell home that his Aunt had died in the early hours of the morning, so it was good that we were heading to his family home so he could be with his family. I was a little nervous about it, as i didnt want to impinge on this time for the family, but Top assured me it would be ok and sure enough it has been absolutely brilliant! We arrived in the early hours of saturday evening after leaving Bangkok at about 1.00pm.
When we arrived we went straight to his aunts house where she is lying in state in a covered casket until the cremation ceremony at the temple on Monday. Very similar to Maori culture, all the family and many of the small local community were present with everyone doing their part preparing food, or sitting with her body. Also, everyone sits around and plays dice games.
I was immediately welcomed by his parents and brother with his mum and dad although not being able to speak either Thai or English and only Isaan, I felt immediately welcome. We went in to pay our respects to his aunt and then we sat with some in the community before heading to their house. The locals all looked at me with much interest, in fact everywhere I go here I get stared at as we really are out in the countryside so not many falang (foreigners) make it out here.their house is situated on the edge of a little community about 30km's from the nearest little town and 70km's from udon Thani a big city in the area. Unlike NZ, where our cell phone coverage is crap, there is cell phone coverage here.
Tops family home is typical of the area, with no running hot water in the house, an outhouse style squat toilet and tub to bucket out cold water for your shower. I have had a lesson on the use of the loo by top which i was very thankful of. Tops parents sleep outside under an outside area, and we have a space inside with fans just for me as they have no air conditioning obviously and everyone sleeps on the floor.
They are so incredibly accepting of the whole gay thing, in fact the thing that his mum is most worried about is whether Top will move away and out of Thailand.
Today we went early to the markets. Normally, if his mum needs to go, she walks a couple of kms then catches a bus for an hour or so to the markets. On our way back we stopped at tops aunts house again and ate some food, then came back to the house for a small afternoon nap before yet more eating. Tomorrow is the cremation ceremony at the temple which should be very interesting.
I haven't got used to everyone staring at me quite yet, but I am sure the more days I am here, the more the community will get used to me. Top did warn me that it would be like that and that everyone knows that he has met a falang and it is obviously more out of interest and not negative in any way.
This is not the Thailand of the tourist posters, but an area of hard working local folk just trying to get on in life.
I am so thankful for the kindness that has been shown to me.
Out of respect to tops family I have not taken any photos of their home but hopefully will get some of the local area.
Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.