Guest Article: A Day In an Issan Village

I’ve asked the author of this article to allow me to re-publish it on because I know our readers would love it! Except for the formatting and one comment interjected by me to explain a term, this post remains unchanged from the original post on the blog Issan Style.

Brunty lives and works in the Issan area in northeast Thailand. This article is about enjoying the local cuisine. Hui-chen and I have been to Issan many times and we love it there. We hope that you enjoy this guest article as much as we do!

A Day In an Issan Village

So in the village as usual there is a temple but it isn’t like some of the amazingly beautifully decorated temples you come across in Thailand. The temple is just a simple building that you might see in any small town in Thailand.

The temple has donated these water tank holders with money that was donated to it. These tanks are for the local school.

Noot was missing eating somtam or papaya salad and it hadn’t even been a day yet. We went to visit Doy at about 9.30pm and she was more than happy to knock up some somtam for Noot and Ben.


Now real Thai somtam is made from fish sauce. This fish sauce is really special and every time we come to the village we bring a large tub of it home. It is simply fish left to rot and ferment until it is repulsively smelly and looks disgusting. Noot had the fish sauce and if you click on the picture you will see maggots around the rim of the container and also in the sauce. There are many of them and Noot said they are protein. Sorry not for this little black duck. The only time I bred maggots was for trout fishing when they aren’t taking flies.
So the somtam was made, maggots and all. Noot was anxious to tuck in. [“tuck in” is Australian slang for eating – Bushman]

Doesn’t it look lovely? I can tell you that it smelt really nice!!

Where we sleep is a house on Noot’s grandfather’s property. No-one sleeps in here only when guests come to stay. It is simply a mattress on the floor and most importantly a mosquito net to have peace and quiet and not spend the night hearing buzzing and then swatting mozzies through the night. Ben and Noot just couldn’t get out of bed.

You make money in the village many different ways and one is by making these strips of bamboo that they use for tying rice and also many other things. This is a painstaking and hard job as I have tried to do it and really sucked. Once you have some bamboo at the right length you start splitting it but it looks a lot easier when the older experienced people are doing it. All this here brought in 1050 baht or around 29-$30 Australian dollars.

It was raining when the people came to pick up the bamboo strips and simply reversed up the truck and a few tarps were strung up and they went to work loading up the truck.

The wet weather was welcomed by some especially the many ducks around the village. These 2 ducks happily played and took a bath in the water lying around.

One animal I hadn’t seen running around the village before was this rabbit. It come hopping along the road and started eating some small saplings, after enquring about it I was told a family about 500 metres away had 6-7 rabbits and they simply go wherever they like and then return home when they feel like it.

There is plenty of free food to be found around the village and we went to get some potatoes. We went about 2 kilometres down the road to a large area and you find these certain looking trees and then dig around the roots to find these potatoes. Noot got stuck in finding the potatoes and I happily sat back and watched her at work.

This is what we were looking for and they are slowly steamed and then cooked in a very sweet sauce. They are eaten as a dessert.

Now Thais also love bugs. There are plenty of these to be found and these guys are all along the Mekong River bank. You have to dig for them and this is a bit of an art that I still haven’t mastered but have been getting better each trip catching them. You walk along the bank and see a small pile of dirt that you brush away to find the entrance to their hideaway. Then you just start following the burrow slowly until you find the little critter. If you aren’t careful you will cut them in half and this isn’t any good so slowly and carefully is the way.
The Thais simply fry these guys up and then eat them with some sticky rice or simply by themselves.

We sat down for lunch and the Entrée was fried chicken, processed meat and fish balls, spicy chicken soup.

This was eaten with steamed rice or sticky rice. A little after this some of the potatoes and bugs were bought out as a dessert.

So that was another part of a last day in an Isaan village in Thailand.

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  1. Nice guest post. I actually spent an hour or so on Brunty’s blog the other day. I love the Isaan area, even though I’ve only been to lower-Isaan (Khorat, Buriram, Surin and the surrounding countryside – well the Khmer ruins in the countryside). MJ or Brunty, if you ever want to do a guest post on my blog, let me know.

    cfimages’s last blog post..Taoyuanli Forest Trail

  2. Craig, i’m a huge fan of Brunty’s blog myself. i’ve spent quite a bit of time in the far northeast in Khonkaen, and we love Issan country too. we should have a Thai blogger meet-up!

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