Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Joy In Ubon Ratchithani

Ubon was one of main staging areas during the Vietnam War. It is right next to the Laos border and a beautiful area of Buddhist Temples with a strong Chinese influence.
Just before I left Khon Kaen I contacted a woman I had corresponded with from Canada before I left for Thailand. Her name is Joy. Joy is a single mother with two children who lives in a suburb of Ubon with her mother and next to her grandparents. When all the nieces and nephews come together to play there can be as many as 19 children all running around at once.

I phoned Joy and asked her if she would still like to meet me.
The next morning, just as I was ready to leave for my bus, I phoned Joy again to see if she could meet me in Ubon at the Station. She didn't know where and my ticket was all in Thai, so I went to my favorite front desk and got one my new best friends to talk to Joy on the phone. So there I am frantically throwing coins into the payphone slot while the desk clerk is rapidly chatting to Joy. Just as my little cutie pie at this end is looking down at my ticket to give that information to Joy, the phone goes dead and we have to start all over again. I did so much in that last 24 hours that I never thought to even take a picture of the staff of the Phu Inn. They were wonderful to me. As I left the hotel for the last time I came up to the front desk one more time and said: "Cup-Khun-Cup, Khun ah rock mah" and they all put their hands in prayer position saying "Cup Khun Cawww" and I swear they swooned. Elvis had left the building...

This is 'S' who is a clek in training at a hotel, who was travelling on the bus in the seat next to me on the way to Ubon. She was thrilled to practice her English with me.

The bus left at 11 am from Khon Kaen and arrived at 4 pm in Ubon. I had to take this picture. These guys were all crowded in front of the TV watching a Police shoot-em-up from Hollywood. I found myself engrossed in the story too as I laughed inside to think I was watching an English movie dubbed in Thai.

Then I turned as a motorcycle showed up and a very lovely woman got off and headed towards the door. I really wasn't sure if this was Joy or not until she smiled at me. I thanked her very much for meeting me and she drove me to the Tokyo Hotel. Again, no one spoke a word of English. But Joy is an ESL teacher so she really helped me out. I still ended up getting a double room because they assumed Joy and I were a couple, but I didn't care. I just paid the extra money.

We went for dinner at a nearby place and she kept insisting I should have western food but I wanted to eat what the locals were eating.

She took me back to my hotel and met me again the next morning (Wednesday March 23rd) at 10am as I was having a cup of coffee. It didn't actually occur to me that I hadn't eaten a thing since the Buddhist celebration the day before at 8 am. I ended up going 16 hours before finally eating but I just wasn't hungry.

Now here's something that shows how much the Universe just seems to know what it's doing even if I don't. That morning I decided on a whim to take off the Saint Christopher's medal that L had given me when we parted in Calgary Canada, and I put a Buddhist medallion from Chiang Mai on the chain instead.

Joy knew I loved the Temples so she took me to her favorite one and I got a blessing from a monk.

Then after seeing a couple of other temples, Joy took us to her friend 'Gai' (pr.Gay) where her friend prepared some food for us while we cooled down in her beautiful garden.

This is a dish that Gai prepared using whole coconuts and bananas that Joy slices up. Joy is also a gourmet cook in her own right.

We all got talking about the blessing I had received that day from the Monk and I pulled out the Amulet I had just put on that day. Gai told me that it was actually an amulet for women and that she had that same Monk on an alter right next to our table there in the garden. I took it off and handed it to her and said: "Then this belongs to you." She was very honored to receive it and I had Joy tell her that it had come from the Temple in Chiang Mai. Later, as Joy dropped me off at my hotel for the day, she handed me a new amulet on a chain and said that tomorrow we will go to have it blessed by the Monks.

These are Joy's two son's and one of their cousins. I would tell you their names and who's who but I just wrote 7 stories in a row and uploaded 400 pictures. Joy said when she dropped me off at my hotel at 4:30 this afternoon. "Have nice nap. See you tomorrow." Thanks Joy for taking so much time out from your busy day to show me around. Joy just demonstrates what I've found all over this magnificent country; incredible generosity and kindness. Cup Khun Cup!

1 comment:

pmelissa said...

How lovely you got to meet Joy. She's such a beautiful woman. And the boys are cutie patooties.