Mornings come early in the rural regions. The roosters start crowing at about 5am which in turn sets off the dogs in the area. Even if you can sleep through all of this it gets light in about an hour and when the sun comes up the heat quickly follows. But as for us, well, my mother-in-law likes to get up at 5am (if not before) and when she is up the whole house gets up. Lights come on, pots start clanging and the smell of breakfast soon permeates the air. I get up and actually feel pretty good, as I head outside to the outhouse I see that the sun hasn’t even begun to rise yet. That’s ok, I can still enjoy the tranquility of the starlit sky for a little longer.
Using the outhouse is a bit of a different experience. The toilet seat is sunken to floor level and there is a concrete water trough or plastic tub off to one side for bathing. You simply take one of the plastic bowls provided, dip it in the water and douse yourself with it. I hate throwing cold water on myself first thing in the morning. People always say to me, “Well, it’s hot outside right? It should feel good.” No, it is not hot at 5am, it is around 60-70 deg F (15-21C) outside and the water is a few degrees cooler than that so it is not pleasant.
After dressing I go out into the yard to practice some Tai Chi. There is a slow flowing river/canal on the other side of the road near the house and this seems like a nice spot to practice to me. When I finish I go into the house for breakfast. Thana tells me that we are not having breakfast today as she hands me my coffee because we are soon leaving to go to a wedding for the son of the chief at the next village over. Instead we gather up the food that her mother has prepared and head out the door and down the dirt road to give alms to the local monks. Being Buddhist this is something that her mother and many others in the village do everyday as a way of showing respect and making merit.
When we arrive at the gathering place I see many people that I recognize from our last trip but didn’t get time to see yesterday. Many come up to me to say hello. When the 3 monks arrive everyone lines up to give them the food that they have brought after which the monks give a blessing to the people before departing.
We go back to the house to get ready for the wedding. Weddings start early in Thailand because they are usually outdoors and the heat can be stifling. About 12 of us pile into someones truck and off we go. It is about 5mi (8k) to the next village. On the way we see a huge parade for a man who is taking his vows to become a monk. One thing that I have learned in Thailand is always bring your camera with you because you never know what will be around the next corner.
We get to the village and everyone piles out. I’ve never been here before but it is very nice and a lot bigger than my wife’s village from what I have seen so far. My wife’s village has about 40 families but this one is about 3 times larger and a little wealthier it would seem.
As we wait for the ceremony to begin the woman congregate on one side and the men on the other. Most of the men are sitting around sharing some kind of alcoholic beverage and motion for me to come over. I wander over and they ask me to join them. I am not much of a drinker but don’t want to be impolite and this is a new experience for me. While we did get married in Thailand years ago I think that I was so nervous I don’t remember a lot of it, this time I am on the other side and can relax and enjoy the festivities.
My wife came over to see what was going on. They poured me a small glass of something that they said was beer but it was clear. I drank it all at once and got a big surprise as it burned all the way down, I think that it was some kind of homemade moonshine or something. Everyone laughed after seeing my expression and asked me if it was good. I lied and said yes and then they tried to pour me another one. I graciously declined and walked away. Not being a drinker it wouldn’t have taken many of those to put me into a catatonic state.
The wedding didn’t start until 9:09am…….something about being a lucky number, actually I take that back. The actual wedding ceremony presided over by the monks (3-9 monks) starts at 7am and takes about 1 1/2 hrs then the Thai wedding rituals and banquet are after that, which is what is about to start.
Everyone got in a line behind the groom and follow him to the brides house all the while singing, dancing hooting and yelling.
After the ceremony comes the food. Now I love Thai food but in Thailand it is really spicy. I like spicy but my stomach does not so I couldn’t eat all of the things that I wanted to eat.
After a few hours it was time to go (we’ve already been here 6 hrs and they can go on all day) and we all got back into the truck to head back to the village. On the way I had them drop us at the internet shop so I could check emails and then we took a tuk tuk back home.