Day 97: A reshuffle
Trip Start Nov 11, 2009
273Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Police Chief's house - Chiang Khan
Had breakfast with Nu and Tie and then Pi Nu told me of his plans to turn the summer house (which has until now been Pi Quan’s sewing room) into guest accommodation. There is a lot of old furniture and ‘stuff’ in there at the moment but the potential can clearly be seen and it will be a handy little crash pad when finished.
Pi Nu went off to work and I headed out into town
After coffee it was more interfacing with the information superhighway after which I returned to the house. The days before I leave are slipping by and I need to sort out my stuff into what I am taking and what I am leaving behind here until Songkran. I spent a while doing that (with short breaks for drawing). While I am here let me just plug the soundtrack of the last couple of days: Ginger’s ‘Valor del Corazon’ which is a top double album but the song ‘Change’ in particular has a suitably uplifting vibe in these times of uncertainty.
It was about 1425 when I decided to pop out in search of lunch. Ending up back at the market I opted for another 20B bowl of noodle soup like the one we had double portions of a few weeks ago. It was as tasty as ever although I kept it to one bowl this time. Then pedalled round CK for a bit, arriving home about 1530.
After a bit more sorting I went outside with my Poy; I haven’t even swung them once so far on this trip and I felt it was high time for a bit of a twirl
After a while Kyu emerged from the summer house where he had been asleep ( I hope we hadn’t woken him but since he had been in there since noon and it was now 1630 it was probably high time he got up. After a while Miu brought me a skipping rope and my twirling time was over. From there we engaged in a number of games including skipping (a good workout exercise and one which showed me again how much fitness I have lost), Dodge the spinning poy, throw the poy into a bucket and roll the poy the furthest distance (a game which was very easy to win by going second and counting very little steps)
Suitably cleansed I had time for a bit of typing before I was summoned for dinner. We were going to go up to Na Bon (it isn’t Na Bom although I’m sure that has been said several times) once Pi Tie got home and got straightened up. Pi Tie got home and was duly instructed to have only half a portion of rice by Pi Nu (he is on a diet). While we were eating dinner Chet arrived and shortly after this I was forced to go and seek out my mosquito lotion as the biters were out in force and there is only so much that jiggling one’s legs can do. Upon my return Pi Tie grinned at me, “You have protect Pi Chet?” he asked.
“Well I did look for some in Chiang Khan today but they were fresh out.” (I didn’t think it was worthy of a post script but when I came out of the shower just before going to bed last night, Chet magically appeared and invited me – or more accurately, invited my chest – to go and drink beer in Pi Nu’s bedroom; I declined, politely).
After dinner Pi Tie went to clean up and I went to continue sorting my gear (it’s not that big a job – I am just doing it in small doses)
I eventually got a call from Pi Tie about 2000 to say they were on their way and I wandered down to wait outside, having a brief chat with Kyu about his hair dying processes (he seems to be going for brown but no matter how hard I try I don’t seem to be able to get across that he won’t get brown dye to override his natural black – today he has had the dye on for two hours because the instructed 20 minutes hasn’t had the desired effect, maybe I will try and tell Pii Quan.)
The boys turned up and while Chet fired up his pickup Pi Tie asked me, “You not wear long trousers? You get bitten by mosquitoes.”
“It’s OK, I’ve got lotion on.”
“OK no problem.” And off we went
“Go to Loei, not Na Bon – get hotel.” Said Pi Nu mischievously (it would probably sound a lot sleazier without the broken English, in reality it comes over rather impish).
“It’s a very sweet offer but I’ll have to pass.” I said – and he laughed.
We reached the Na Bon and turned into the village, “I think I make you cry,” he said, “Because not go to Loei.” Cue snigger.
“That’s OK, I’ll hold it in.” I replied.
We pulled up to Kae’s mum’s house and my shorts caused yet more comment. It took a few minutes for the reason to sink in: Pi Nu had mentioned on the way over here that the event was actually in the temple grounds and in Thailand it is generally a mark of respect that when in temples you cover up to some extent
We weren’t heading over to the temple just yet though – first we sat outside Kae’s mum’s with some food and made our way through a bottle of whiskey. Chet was doing his level best to get me drunk by encouraging me to, “Empty!” at every available opportunity. I didn’t indulge him on every occasion but I have to admit that the whiskey and Soda was slipping down rather easily and I soon began to feel merry. The various jokes about me continued (they never end in all honesty) and I won’t bore you with the details however at one point Pi Tie did ask me if I locked my door at night.
“Do I need to lock my door at night?”
“Yes.” Came the reply as if it was self evident (which you have to admit – if he were planning on turning up uninvited - was very sporting of him)
I assured him that I’d be locking the door in future (and maybe I will) to which he replied that he had a key; so I countered by saying that I’d also be putting the wardrobe, the TV and the bed in front of it. That seemed to do the trick. I also called him “Ba Ba, Bo Bo” which is a term we picked up from Pi Nu’s German friend Philip meaning ‘Crazy person’. The final twist came when Pi Tii asked if I wanted to borrow his gun for protection and I said maybe that would be best.
As the whiskey descended I asked if they were quite sure that we didn’t need to go back to CK for me to get into Long trousers. They said that it was no problem once again but then Kae remembered that she might have a pair of trousers here that would do. She came back with a rather fetching pair of white jeans which – along with the cream top I was wearing – meant I would certainly be standing out as the only farang in the village that night (I don’t know if this is true but I certainly didn’t see any others and I have no reason to doubt it)
We headed along to the event (except for Chet who went home at this point) and as we got to the temple grounds I realised for the first time just how big the concert was – the scaffold was about 60ft high around the stage and dancers in brightly coloured costumes supported the singers who were performing some Thai pop classics. I had been forewarned while we were eating but it was not exactly what I had in mind (no Ponglang and traditional costumes, this was more of a modern affair although still with an Isan flavour)
Several thousand people were packed into the courtyard and - I might add – the dress code was very relaxed; I would have been fine in shorts but as an outsider I still felt better for having observed the rules. Both inside and outside the temple compound were stalls of carnival games and street eats. Once we found ourselves a decent vantage point Pi Nu disappeared and returned with cans of Leo (this is a temple right?).
By the way – you are probably wondering about the admission, and if you aren’t I’m going to tell you: it was free! They were asking for donations to the temple on the door and, at Pi Nu’s suggestion, I gave 20B
There were a variety of costumes to go with each act (some of the female costumes were quite skimpy and it was a shame when Pi Nu told me that most of them were probably Ladyboys - I’m not sure I entirely believed him but we weren’t close enough to get a good look, let alone perform the ‘Mick Dundee’ test) and then after a while there was a comic interlude with (as so often happens) men dressed as women; not ladyboys, just men in frumpy looking women’s clothes behaving like pantomime dames. It went down very well with the crowd, especially a satirical section in which two of the “Women” donned a red and yellow shirt and had an argument (the ‘red shirts’ and the ‘yellow shirts’ are pseudo-political civil organisations in Thailand that oppose or support the government respectively, as it happens the red shirts were expected to be demonstrating in Bangkok today – I wonder how Dave got on).
The dancing and singing restarted and shortly after this (about 2300) Pi Nu and Pi Tie went home. I stayed, having established that Kae and Pi Tii were going back to Chiang Khan. We watched the show for another 30 minutes or so before they too were ready to leave and we made our way out. Just as we got outside Pi Tii headed off to take care of some police business as a fight was in progress. Kae and I waited for him and I had a quick go at a ‘throw darts at balloons stall’ that would probably be banned under health and safety legislation in the UK – pansies! Scoring 4 out of 7 netted us a couple of lollipops and after that I was encouraged by Kae to dance with some of the locals as they sashayed around outside the concert. I was sufficiently inebriated to oblige and I soon had a small crowd of dancers and hand shakers (including one middle aged ladyman who kept performing pelvic thrusts in my general direction – fortunately one of the other gentlemen ushered “her” away although I think it was only because he had designs of his own).
Pi Tii came back and asked if I was having fun, “Yes,” I said, and then crossed my legs slightly, “but I could do with a hong-naam if I’m honest.” Which caused a roar of laughter from those around and we set off again. Pi Tii indicated a likely looking dark alley to me and a couple of minutes later I was feeling a lot more comfortable again. We passed several members of Kae’s extended family on the way back to the house and while Kae popped inside; Pi Tii started the car – or tried to.
The battery in the pickup was flat and so – drafting in one of the neighbours who was just returning home, we pushed it 50ft backwards and then Kae jump started it in the same distance forwards. After that it was plain sailing back to CK and I bid them a good night before making my way upstairs to bed – locking the door behind me, better safe than sorry.