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7 November: The Real Thailand with the Thai Side of Our Family

THAILAND | Tuesday, 7 November 2017 | Views [464]

Today was a day that was about getting together with my wife’s family at her father’s house and showing our friends what Thai life is like in a farming community.

My youngest sister-in-law drove us out to the village where my wife’s father lives. The house is a traditional Thai home. As it is about 200 meters from a major waterway – the Nan River – the house was built on stilts. During the warm daytime hours, my father-in-law, family and friends tend to hang out on a large wooden platform under the home. The breeze blows through there, making it more comfortable than being in the house.

Upon arrival, we saw a table set up under the house – lots of food was ready to go. My middle sister-in-law (Lek), had arrived very early in the morning and began cooking for our family lunch. My youngest niece came a bit later than Lek, but still early to help set up.  For the meal, there were pork ribs, chicken with spicy basil, fried morning glory with garlic and chili, beef with Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce, Thai catfish, as well as a number of other dishes. It was a lunch feast presented by my sister-in-law to honor our friends’ visit and show them a great traditional Thai meal. Lek is a great cook and everything was so very delicious.

Extended family came by to say hello. Two of my father-in-law’s sisters who live nearby dropped in, one with her husband. Throughout their lives, the brothers and sisters of my wife’s father have gone to live in the city of Phitsanulok and surrounding areas. However, as they begin to reach their golden years, they are all reconsolidating back in the village from where they came. Many of them are very nearby on family land.

After we relaxed from lunch, we loaded up 4 scooters and headed out on a tour of the local area. At the village temple, we saw the school where my wife, her siblings, and my niece attended their earliest classes. We also saw the village longboat – longer than dragon boats in the U.S. This one needs over 50 people to operate it. It’s housed at the temple. Just about the whole family at the temple was decked out in University of Florida Gator gear. So we had a good “We Chomp” photo on the temple grounds.  Just outside of the temple grounds, there is a floating platform on the river. We went down there to get a closer look at the river. The breeze was wonderful. One of our friends looked over the edge and to her surprise, there was a dead monitor lizard up against the floating platform. It was about 4 to 4 ½ feet long. Pretty big. My father-in-law was not surprised. He said in recent years he sees more and more of them in the rice fields. Some small…. Others are big like this one. If you are not familiar with a monitor lizard, they are the smaller cousins of the Komodo Dragon (which can grow to 9 feet long).  Monitor lizards in Thailand tend to be near water and have voracious appetites. If you ever encounter one, you should try to avoid a direct confrontation.

After touring the temple and nearby area, we took the back paths along the river; some paved and some unpaved touring my wife’s village and neighboring villages.  It was a great leisurely ride through the villages.  We dropped in on my wife’s oldest aunt who is bedridden and has severe memory loss – maybe Alzheimer’s. After a while, she barely recognized me, but in her old sense of humor she said, “I remember you now, but I won’t tomorrow.” She had a hard time recognizing my wife and her two sisters. When my niece came into her view, she recognized her right away and started asking her about her trip abroad (when she came to visit us in the US). There are those moments of clarity that come through.  It was good to see her, and after all she has been through, my wife’s aunt is doing okay. There are some great family members looking after her.

After the visit, we set out on the back paths through the thicker part of the villages. Breezes were blowing through the trees as the jungle grew thicker. On the backside of our trip, we happened upon a temple that recently built an outdoor Buddha that stands about 60 feet tall and is visible from the highway. After taking in that sight, we stopped at my wife’s cousin’s house. She is a seamstress and sewed my wife a traditional Thai outfit from silk fabric we bought in Doi Pui near Chaing Mai last year. It is a beautiful two-piece combination – her cousin did a great job.

Returning to my father-in-law’s house, we relaxed for a while, took a number of pictures, and then said goodbye. Most of us headed back to town in the car. Lek and my niece were on a scooter and left 10 minutes after us.  Later we learned that the two of them encountered a 6-foot black cobra – it was merely crossing the road – but still alarmed them quite a bit as it impeded their path.

Back at my youngest sister-in-law’s house (who is a barber) , the guys got haircuts. We then headed to the hotel briefly then out to a night bazaar for some possible shopping and a nearby restaurant for dinner. The food was pretty good and extremely reasonable.

Later, we were back in the room and beginning to consolidate things for packing for the morning. We’ll have time for lunch before our flight tomorrow, so our experience in Phitanulok has not come to an end yet.

On another note… today is my Mother’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom!!! We will call you in the evening your time when it is most convenient for you.

Thank you again for taking the time to read this journal. Cheers and happy travels.

Tags: phitsanulok, thailand, village

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