A Siam Sun Rise with my Good Thai Lady
5:30 am. I can hear the dogs starting to bark. Three small ‘yappy’ animals that live in the yard of the Phu Yai Ban (village headman). They seem to be proclaiming their turf to any other dogs that dare to come near. And sure enough 3-4 houses away, another mangy looking mutt barks back in defiance.
There’ll be no more sleep for me this morning.
The neighbour’s chickens have also woken up and the Cockerel is letting the World know that he too is the king of his patch.
6:00 am. Gradually other sounds start to fill the air. Half asleep I identify them one by one. The clatter of cooking pots…and then the ‘sploosh – sploosh’ sound of buckets of water being tipped in the bathroom in that very ‘Thai style’ bathing style. So simple and yet so pleasurable as the buckets of cool water wash away the night’s weariness. I wish our showers at home were as effective!
Low voices now fill the air as neighbours stir and get ready for the days work ahead. And I start to hear people filtering past the house on the way to work, to school or to market. It’s time to get up. I love this part of the day. It’s still cool, with a gentle breeze coming through the window grilles in the kitchen. Pat is already up and cooking breakfast for her parents, her brother and sister getting ready for work.
I sit on the corner bench in the kitchen with a coffee. It’s a great vantage point as relatives and neighbours pass by two sides of the house, many stopping for a quick chat through the kitchen window. I make sure to Wadi each one as they Wadi through the open window to me. The Wadi (or Wai) is the traditional ‘prayer like’ Thai greeting gesture, that is very intricate to get right as it depends on your status and the status of the person you are greeting. I love watching people Wadi each other and from the body language you soon learn to identify the pecking order.
Now the kids are wandering down the lane on their way to school, in their neat blue and white uniforms, and occasionally a university student too.
They wear a black and white uniform, which many of the girl students take great delight in making as fashionable as possible without breaking the dress rules. I have to say they succeed exceedingly well….
The World is now awake and active. Time for a shower and to start work myself. Sadly this is a working holiday and I have a mountain of work to get through, not helped by the fluctuating speed and occasionally crashes of the internet connection. But as they say…..’This is Thailand’.
Oh, where are we? Maybe a remote village in the North East? No, this is inner Bangkok. We are 100 metres from the mighty Chao Praya River, in a house down a very small Soi (lane) that is only wide enough for 2 people to walk side by side.
I don’t know if it is a uniquely Thai thing, due to the fairly relatively recent urbanisation and industrialisation of the country that draws people from the country side to the big city in the search for work. Or maybe it is more deep rooted in the culture, but working class suburbs like this operate just like country villages.
The Soi is a village, complete with village headman. Pat’s family has lived here for almost 40 years. They still own land in the country, but moved here for a better future for the family.
So why do I tell this story. Well firstly it’s one aspect of Thailand that I love. This contradiction between the new world and the old. Maintaining the good parts of the old way of life, in a huge modern city.
But also when you find your Good Thai lady, as I hope you do, she may come from a Soi just like this. Unless she comes from a wealthy family of course. But most working class Thais live like this, even in the big cities. And as your relationship develops, you’ll no doubt be invited home to visit the family. (a very big step that I will write about).
So do a bit of homework and don’t be surprised that your Thai Lady who ‘looks a million dollars’ in her neat office suit and perfect hairdo and makeup, actually lives down a tiny Soi amongst the dogs and the chickens in a little wooden house on concrete pillars to keep it above the high tides. Mine did………..and her wonderful family still does.