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my japanese experience in thailand

THAILAND | Wednesday, 7 January 2009 | Views [1530] | Comments [1]

me, ikumi and anna

me, ikumi and anna

On the bus to Thailand, I ended up sitting beside a Japanese man, Mr. nobuta. Finding out I was from Ireland, he knew all about Irish dancing and said “you dance with just your feet”. He was on the bus with his wife and daughter Anna and they were heading back to their house in khon kaen. We actually talked very little on the bus, but that didn't stop them from inviting me back to their house to stay with them. I thought it was really generous and kind of them to do that especially since they had just meet me. I was actually planning to go to chiang mai that night as there was suppose to be a overnight bus there. But when invited somewhere I think you should except. Unless they seem to be a bit dodgy, but that wasn't the nobutas at all.

And I think someone was looking down on me, cause as it turned out with it being just after new years, everyone in Thailand is travelling at that time. Almost a bit like china at Chinese new year. There wasn't a bus to be gotten from anywhere to anywhere for a few days till everyone was back to work. And I know cause when I was at the nobutas house, they had friends over who were Thai and they even offered to give me a lift to another town that they were going to, but they called there first and there were no tickets available there either.

So I ended up staying in the nobuta family's house for 3 nights, where they were just the best hosts ever. They made me feel at home and part of the family and as I was a guest of theirs they wouldn't let me pay for any food either. Even though Mr. nobutas English was rusty from not using it, he was a brilliant mime and was able to get things across, without any words.

They were even heading to chiang mai themselves for a little holiday before they headed back to japan. Mr. nobutas mother was flying into chiang mai and they were to meet her there before heading north to chiang rai. As they couldn't get any bus either, they had decided to hire a mini van to bring them half way to phitsanlok and sukhothai. Where there is historical park with old temples similar to angkor wat, and they invited me to go with them in the van and then from there we would get a bus to chiang mai. It was prefect. I was going to make it to chiang mai in the end but I wouldn't have much time there, so I wasn't going to be able to do my massage course that I wanted to do. But I ended but having a better experience I think. They weren't leaving till the 5th of January, so that's how I stayed 3 nights with them in khon kaen.

Mr. nobuta is a Japanese abacus teacher, and he showed me an abacus that he had in his house. He even had me calculated numbers out, which I didn't do very good as I hadn't been using my brain much since I left.

That first day he brought me to see the temple there with 9 tiers, a sacred number in Buddhism, while Mrs. nobuta and Anna got their hair done. The night before I found out it was Mrs. nobutas birthday as we were driving to dinner and maybe this was a little birthday present for herself.

It turned out too be a really nice day, we walked to the top of the temple and saw the great view from the top. I even had a couple of Thai girls come up and get a picture taken with me. I felt like a celebrity.

When Mr. nobuta had found out that morning that I had broken my camera, he was so good to take annas camera with him and take pictures for me so I would have some. He even stopped along the way and made me stand in different spots so he could take pictures of me.

On the way back we ended up feeding the fish with fish food that Mr. nobuta had bought from a stall by the lake. Though I think half went to the pigeons that were hanging around there. It was fun to throw the food in a watch the fish fight over it as they came to the surface to grab it. We then went for coffee and icecream, while we waited for Mrs. nobuta and Anna to be finished with their hair.

We ended up going into tesco, yes tesco in Thailand, and you know its in a Asian country because instead of big kilo bags of potatoes, there are big kilo bags of rice. I later found out that they were buying food for lunch that Mrs. nobuta was going to make the next day for Japanese students in khon kaen.

That night we ate at a food stall that was outside their local shop, that had one of those weigh scales that you put money in to check your weight. I didn't even notice it until Anna dropped money in it and checked her weight. But she kept her hand over the dial so I never did see what she weighed. It was really cheap so I decided to have a go, I hadn't weighed myself in some time so I was curious. I got up and I was 68kg. I was disappointed as I was 70kg, I think, when I left, so I lost only 2kg? anyway, Mr. nobuta decided to weigh himself then. Saying that he would be heavier than me. But I knew he wouldn't as he had a smaller build and sure enough he ended up being 65kg. But he seemed surprised and tried to figure out where all my weight was. Ha ha

the next morning I get up at a time they thought was very late. Especially since they were up since 6 O. clock in the morning. They said that I “sleep long time”.

We went for a morning walk, were we came upon some public excerise machines. And we had fun trying out different ones. The machines are actually a really good idea. I think though only for places were the weather is good for most of the year and also where they wouldn't be ruined by vandalism. So they wouldn't work back home. We even came across a open space were it looked like volley ball or something could be played but Mr. nobuta went “no it where we can go dancing, Irish dancing” and he proceeded to jump around pretending to Irish dance, which he liked to do from time to time during the time I was around. Which was really funny, so I joined in with him. So the two of us were jumping around pretending to irish dance.

That afternoon they had students over for a Japanese lunch that Mrs. nobuta had prepared. The food was divine. I had never had Japanese food before, as I was always afraid to try new things and I know that they like sushi, which I am still afraid to try. But being apart of the lunch party I thought I should at least try what was there before deciding I wasn't going to eat it. She had prepared what they called Japanese pizza, noddles and rice mixed with fish wrapped in like a seaweed wrap(I think) and some other food I can't describe. And it was delicious. I not really sure what I ate but it was all really good. The people at the lunch of course wanted to know how I met the nobuta family and every time they were telling people how we met they always had to include how the bus was waiting for me before it took off and even honked at me to get my attention. So I kept getting asked where was I before the bus took off and I had to tell them I was in the toilet.

At the lunch I met another Japanese girl called Ikumi (e-gu-me) and she was loads of fun. She ended up bringing me and Anna in the car she had to khon kaen university and showing us around. She was such a sweet heart and she was so afraid that Anna and I would get hit by a car that everytime we walked across the street, she was to the side of us with her arms out looking for cars like she was a bouncer stopping fans getting to us. She even introduced me to Indian allot? And I have to say it was really nice and sweet. She was looking for a nickname so she asked me to give her an English nickname. I was asking what her name meant but she wasn't able to tell me, so in the end I told I would give her an Irish nickname and I called her sproi, which means fun. And she was so delighted with it. But I spelt it sprei for her for the pronunciation, as they were all giving out to me earlier for my pronunciation of my name. I said Patricia to them but when I wrote it down for them, they went its PatricIa. So they were telling me how I should be saying my name. Ha ha.

That night they were talking about when girls turn 20 in japan they all get dressed up in kimonos and go to the village square and get blessed. Ikumi had missed hers as she was studying in Thailand It seems like a really cool thing and something I hope to see in the future. Mrs. nobuta then proceeded to bring out a kimono for me to put on. It was such a beautiful thing, I didn't do it any justice.

The next day we get the mini van to sukhothai historical park. A Thai girl, Eye, that they know that needs to get to phitsanlok for university, come with us. We spent time wandering around the temples, looking at the strange brickwork showing through what looked like plaster? Was there Plaster back in 1300'S. It was really peaceful there and I glad I got to see it as I wouldn't have gone there if I hadn't met the nobuta family. From there we headed back to phitsanlok, were we went to wat phrasi ratana were the most beautiful and revered Buddha image in all of Thailand was suppose to be. Can't say I saw anything totally special about it.

We then got our tickets for the bus the next day to chiang mai before the driver of the van dropped us off at our hotel. I ended up sharing a room with Anna and Mr. and Mrs. nobuta had their own room. I think they did it that way so I wouldn't have to pay for a room by myself as there was a single and double bed in all the rooms.

Eyes sister Aom showed up to the hotel, she was attending university in phitsanlok also and then we headed off for dinner. Mr. nobuta wanted to head to a restaurant by the river that he said was famous for the cook throwing food on to plates, so we were going to walk there. Along the way Aom really wanted to speak English to me but she didn't know how to start and couldn't find the words when I asked her a few questions. So we ended up going to a book store and she bought an English phrase book to help her.

We got to the restaurant just in time to see a western guy all dressed up in a grass skirt and headgear up on a platform to catch the food that was being thrown up at him from the cook below. And the food was thrown a good 10 feet over and the guy caught it in what looked like an upside down trashcan lid. Pretty impressive. I looked at Mr. nobuto and told him he should go up and that's when he said I should go up. In the end none of us got up there.

On the way back to our hotel, when we were walking across the road. I pretended to be like Ikumi and I spread my arms out looking for cars, so they wouldn't hit any one. Anna thought it was hilerious and I could tell that she was telling the story then in japanese about Ikumi whhen we went to the university.

The next day we were heading to chiang mai, Anna sat beside me on the bus and we were trying to communicate to each other, and make her practice her English. I ended up showing her my pictures and videos from Laos and raving about how much fun it was there until my computer ran out of battery. I probably bored her.

But our bus ended up breaking down for about an hour and we were stuck either on the hot bus or standing out in the hot sun. which wasn't much fun. Everything I had read about was that Laos buses were suppose to break down the most often but the whole time I was there nothing happen and then it happened when I got to Thailand instead. The one place were its not suppose to happen.

When we arrived to chiang mai, I made sure to get my ticket for the next day as I only had 2 days left in Thailand, before I was to fly to Singapore. And I needed to be in Bangkok

The nobuta family had reserved a room in a hotel there before they left so we got a tuk tuk there and dropped them off and I was getting the tuk tuk farther into the town. But Mr. nobuta even paid for my lift there. He was just too kind. I wanted to pay them back in some way and I wasn't ready to say good bye to them so I asked them if we could meet that night for the last time and I would like to buy dinner for them.

They agreed and I was to meet them at their hotel later that evening.

I met them inside at the hotel lobby, which was really nice and we headed out from there. We couldn't decided what we were going to eat and we were just wandering around the night market. In the end they brought me to a Japanese restaurant, it was a little expensive but I wanted to pay them back for every thing and for being so nice to me. They ordered most of the stuff as they know Japanese food and they ordered this dinner set for me with all this different kinds of seafood and stuff in it. I was trying to say no, but they really wanted me to try it. And I couldn't say I don't eat fish after eating some with them before. So it was ordered for me.

And I had to say most of it was delicious. I tried it all. Well I had to, it was ordered for me and they were looking at me, eating it to see what my reaction was, hoping I would like it. Shrimp, squid, and like 3 or 4 other fish was there in the set. The only thing I wouldn't try was the small octopus. Something about the tentacles put me off it. I was so proud of myself. I guess that was all I needed all these years. Put me in a family that don't speak much English and I end up trying stuff cause most off the time they can't tell you what is in it. Or can't explain I don't eat that.

But at the end of the meal I didn't even get to pay for it. Mr. nobuta took the bill again and after me inviting them out. But they wouldn't let me. So now I have to find some other way to repay them.

I spent the rest of the evening walking with them around the night market and when it came time to say good bye I couldn't help but cry. Which in turn made Mrs. nobuta and Anna cry too. I'm even crying as I write this story. I really only had known them for a short while but its amazing how quickly people can come a part of your heart. I will never forget them and I will definitely go visit them in japan as soon as I can.

After that there wasn't anything in Thailand for me. Not enough time for much of anything really. I had 2 days left which I spent, wandering chiang mai and then Bangkok before boarding the plane for Singapore.

Tags: japan, japanese, khon kaen, phitsanlok, sukhothai




Hey Hon, wow that family sure were nice!! How decent, I think Irish people have forgotten that sense of friendship that they used to have towards a stranger years ago.
We are snowed in here again today, the weather is unbelievable, airport was closed during the week. We got off last class so we could get home early. While in Australia there are havin terrible bush fires, cars gettin melted and people dyin.
Hope its ok where you are now. No news here really, was at a retirement party last night...a bit boring as you can imagine. Lookin forward to mid term break, myself and Dave are trying to sort out the invitation design, not easy.
You are lucky that u decided to travel when you did Trish cause its all doom and gloom here. Economically, things are pretty bad, Daves job could be in jeopardy later in the year... we dont know. The government are taking 7% of our wages in the public sector to stabilise the situation!!
Fingers crossed things will improve, at least the mortage rates are comin down, makin things easier. However most people would give their right arm to be anywhere away from here right now.
So enjoy every day hon, and as always we miss ya
Take care

  Trish Maloney Feb 8, 2009 11:07 PM

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