A bell chimed. I just realized that it must have been struck on several occasions while I was on temple grounds, but the sound fit in so well it never actively caught my attention before. We were about to pour the content of a small shiny cup on a tree of my choice and conclude a series of acts to commemorate my Grandmom who recently passed away. Our way to say goodbye in-between Buddhist, Animist, Catholic and Atheist philosophies.
Last week Khwantippa and myself were invited to join her friends Nong Shompoo and Pee Add to visit Khao Yai National Park, one of the local sites we had not yet been to. The trip is the perfect opportunity to tell you about the slightly lesser-known nature preserve and a suitable vehicle to point out cultural differences, similarities and habits of the Thai middle class. A story in-between, on many different levels.
Our hometown in Thailand is a village called Phimai, about a 40 minute drive from the city of Korat. Because of its strategic location, Korat is called the Gateway to Isan. Highways and railways to the North-Eastern region pass through the city. With Phimai just outside of the big city it has always felt to me like the border between urban and rural life. I’ve repeatedly described the standard of living as the sixties with internet and smartphones, which I mean as a compliment. In a way it is how I think society should be. But a recent development just might catapult Phimai to the Eighties. Somewhere in-between the start of mass consumerism and the potential backlash thereof.
After having cleaned the house today, the aircon-unit started making beeping noises. Next, the lights started stuttering and wifi went out for a few minutes. By the time night fell, there was a huge black-out in our neighborhood. One hasn’t experienced darkness until one experiences it on the Thai countryside. What followed was an unexpectedly lovely evening. Not really remarkable, nor ordinary, but somewhere in-between.
Today I went on an epic motorcycle journey. When I say epic, that is just for dramatic effect. When I say motorcycle, I mean a scooter. The 30 odd kilometers between Chumpuang and Rangka Yai do not qualify as a journey either. But anyway, I still brought you a few pointers about riding a motorized two-wheeler in Thailand. Using a scooter in heavy traffic isn’t anything to be scared of, nor is it to be taken too lightly. I guess it’s somewhere in-between.
picture taken from the car (prior), as I’m fairly attached to my teeth (still, luckily)
While we were straightening out an issue with our internet connection tonight, suddenly we heard banging on the bedroom window. Upon opening the front door my girlfriend’s aunt and uncle appeared out of the darkness, on their small white scooter. Their mode of transportation immediately struck me as odd, seen as they have a fairly-new double-cab Toyota Hilux pick-up truck.
Amongst how to articles about Thailand, straight-forward and practical guidelines for everyday men’s wear (and shopping) seem under-represented. Nevertheless, walking around reveals that there is a very clear and present need for guidelines. While I might be naturally inclined to hit a sarcastic note, the pointers remain valid. The perfect compromise lies between respect for local culture and being yourself, somewhere in-between.
After a few days in Bangkok, a birthday party in Korat and quite some cleaning we have just settled into our home for the coming months. The internet is littered with budgetary advice for long-time residents in Thailand, quoting all kinds of extreme numbers, from high to low. In this installment of Siam In-between I will start showing you how to live comfortably in the Land of Smiles, without breaking the bank. Not in Bangkok or any other touristic location, nor in the middle of a remote rice field, somewhere in-between.
On arrival in Thailand, I have to admit I always indulge in a few guilty pleasures. While I live by a fairly strict diet in Europe, one of these is food. In my observation, Farang (‘foreigners’) enjoy their Thai culinary experiences in such extreme ways that there is an opportunity to point out the happy middle ground, in-between. This post explains a first possible compromise when it comes to dining options: food courts and local chains.
After months and months of anticipation, I finally find myself sitting at Gate B of Brussels Airport, waiting for the red-eye that will bring me hop-skip-layover-and-away to the Land of Smiles. For the remaining months of the year, I am skipping part of winter and residing in Thailand. Why and how? I will tell you the story and my adventures over the coming period. A story about Thailand that is rarely told. Not just one of beaches, tourist attractions or large cities, neither one of rural locations, poverty or primitive conditions … One about real life in the middle, about Siam In-between.