Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Buddhist Celebration

Kohn Kaen, Thailand, March 23, 2005

Every day seems like a miracle here in Thailand but this day was the most touching.

When we left our heroes they had just polished off 4 bottles of whiskey and gone to bed at 1:30am Sunday night.

It's 6am and the house is suddenly alive. I get up and have a shower and suddenly I am being whisked into Uncle's Police Pickup Truck to parts unknown. I know we're not going to Khon Kaen because they don't want me to bring my knapsack.

We drive for two hours and I have no way to ask where we are going so I just enjoy the ride over bumpy country roads, dodging buffalo and chickens.

Suddenly we arrive at a small village where Thai music is blaring out of loudspeakers and a hundred or more people are sitting at round tables full of food.

Everyone seems to know everyone and Sit and Nu introduce me to several people. Then out comes the whiskey and Chang beer and a smiling young woman who introduces herself to me as 'Jenny' attends to our table. This is Jenny's Aunt I think, and 18 year old Jenny.

I am the only white person at this gathering so I am looked at as somewhat of a celebrity. Everyone seems to want to meet me and I smile and say: "Sawadee cup" and put my hands in prayer position as I do. As I do this the various people smile and return the greeting and nod, saying how nice I am and how happy they are that I could join them (all in Thai, of course).

Jenny is the only one in the whole gathering who knows any English and she keeps coming to our table to talk with me. I took a picture with Jenny and someone I think is her Aunt.

Our hosts insist I start eating and as I fill my plate I realize what these foods are. Dennis: remember when I thought we were eating liver in Kho Samet? It was chicken blood in cubes. (I owed you that one for calling me ugly).

I love the green Currie, and the pig heart chunks are chewy but tasty. I'm really not that hungry since it is only 8 am but I make a good show of enjoying the meal (which was very good actually) and I keep drinking my Chang Beer.

The music coming out of the speakers is a Thai dance song and I start moving my hands in the gestures that Sit taught me the night before and I hear a collective gasp of astonishment from the crowd and suddenly I'm being hauled up to dance.

A group of elderly ladies from the village begin to laugh and clap and encourage me.

Then the most senior of the ladies invites me to dance which Nu indicates to be a great honour. So away we go. Everyone is giving the thumb's up and one man with very big teeth is smiling his toothy grin and laughing at the enjoyment of the dance.

Children scurry around me and laugh as I pull out my camera and take their pictures.

When I finally get back to my table, Jenny asks me to join her as her honored guest at a Buddhist ceremony that is about to begin but Nu motions to me that we have to be going. I thank her very much and my party whisks me into the back of the club cab pickup truck. Before they can close the door, the man with the toothy grin throws a hand in for me to shake and tells me in a very excited tone how wonderful it was to meet me.

Just before the door closes, Jenny reaches in with both hands and grasps my arm and says in a very sweet tone: "You are always welcome in our village, Steve. My mother died yesterday and you made our celebration very special."
See the other adventures [Kohn Kaen Massage] [Kohn Kaen Karaoke 2] [Kohn Kaen Massage]


pmelissa said...

I was laughing as I read this post, imagining you as a Thai celebrity. And then I read the last line and burst into tears. Good tears. What beautiful people they are.

Anonymous said...

Well I just had the very same reaction Melissa had. What a story!