Visit To An Isaan Village

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Photos by MJ Klein

We visited our friend Peter who is living outside of Khonkaen city, in a small village to the north.  We took a tuk-tuk from Khonkaen to the village which is about 10 KM away.

Visit To An Isaan Village

Visit To An Isaan Village

The roofs of tuk-tuks are so low that I can’t see out of them.  It’s not easy for Hui-chen either.  So, I just point the camera in the general direction of what I want to shoot and hope for the best.

Visit To An Isaan Village

We’re going to take a ride through the northern side of Khonkaen before setting out on Highway #2 up to the village.

Visit To An Isaan Village

As Thai cities go, Khonkaen is one of the cleanest.

Visit To An Isaan Village

This looks like great exercise for the driver!

Visit To An Isaan Village

Motor scooters in Thailand have changed in the last 4 or 5 years.  Back in June of 2005, Hui-chen and I rented a Suzuki motor scooter (I guess it’s technically a motorcycle).  But these days, all the new scooters are CVT type, with flat decks like those in Taiwan.  But the Thai version scooters all have larger wheels than their Taiwanese cousins.  Thais use these scooters on the highways at speeds of 90 KPH (the limit for 2-wheeled vehicles on the highway) and the small wheels of Taiwanese scooters would make a scooter impossible to handle at those speeds.

Visit To An Isaan Village

Finally, we hit the highway.  There is no lack of vendors selling stuff on highway roadsides.

Visit To An Isaan Village

We pulled over to the left to make a turn – not always the safest maneuver in a tuk-tuk.

Visit To An Isaan Village

We’re heading down a small road towards the village center.  The name of the village is “Sila” and I’ve geotagged this article with the village center.

Visit To An Isaan Village

An intersection near where we met Peter.  Remember, I’m shooting blind until I get out of the tuk-tuk.

Visit To An Isaan Village

Peter met us at the center of the village.  Here is Peter pointing out some of the artifacts and their purposes.  Even though Peter is quite knowledgeable about Thai customs and culture, there are a lot of things going on here that he doesn’t understand.  Peter said that it’s virtually impossible for him to get anyone to explain things to him, for 2 main reasons.  1, Peter is the only person in the village who speaks English (with any degree of useful proficiency), and 2, the local people just aren’t interested in the history of the village as he.  So, not only is there no one who can explain things in English, the probability of finding someone who is an amateur village historian and can speak English is about zero.

I’ll tell you what Peter does know and told me about these particular items at the village center.

Visit To An Isaan Village

The villagers say that a good angel lives in this tree, which is at the center of the village.

Visit To An Isaan Village

The wooden totem poles represent deceased village masters.  As you can see, there are quite a few totems so the amount of time spanned by them is considerable.  The concrete is new of course.

Visit To An Isaan Village

Here is a closer look at the totems.  Peter is pointing to a bag of stones to the right:

Visit To An Isaan Village

These stones are used when building walls.  Some time ago, the village hosted several monks from a nearby temple, to come and bless the villager’s building materials.  Someone brought this bag of rocks to be blessed by the monks, presumably to be used in a building.  But the person who brought the rocks for the blessing never took them back home.

Visit To An Isaan Village

Peter has no idea how long this little alter has been here, but it’s not new by any means.  Peter doesn’t know what the icons represent but sometimes a villager will put some image there for some purpose.

Visit To An Isaan Village

To the left of the alter as you face is, there is a very old tree that is ensconced in the concrete.  If you look carefully to the left of the tree in this photograph, you can see another one of those totems that has been engulfed in part, by the tree.  No one knows how old the totems or trees are.

Visit To An Isaan Village

Another totem in front of the tree shown above.

Visit To An Isaan Village

Overview shot from the left.

Visit To An Isaan Village

I would be very happy if someone who can read Thai would tell me what this says.  My Thai sucks but the date is October 13, 2008.  My guess is that it is a commemoration of the concrete pour.

Visit To An Isaan Village

Front shot of the alter.

Visit To An Isaan Village

Anyone who has spent any time at all in a Thai village knows what this is!  This is the loudspeaker tower that the village master uses to wake people up at 06:00 to give them the latest news announcements.

Visit To An Isaan Village

I pulled back to show you how close the tower is to the religious articles.

Visit To An Isaan Village

We took a short walk to the home of one of Peter’s friends, obviously a rich Thai person.

Visit To An Isaan Village

Then we took a walk down an overgrown dirt road to where Peter lives.

Visit To An Isaan Village

A nice fence and gate surrounds the house where Peter lives.

Visit To An Isaan Village

And this is the house.  Of course, we went inside but I decided not to photograph the inside of Peter’s house to respect his privacy.

Visit To An Isaan Village

The yard has a nice mango tree.

Visit To An Isaan Village

Anyone who has spent any time at all in a Thai village also knows what this is: an ant hill!

Visit To An Isaan Village

We visited for about an hour, catching up on the goings-on in the Khonkaen area since our last visit there.  Then, it was time to head back to Khonkaen.

Visit To An Isaan Village

The village center, with the big tree where the angel lives.

Visit To An Isaan Village

A village restaurant.

Visit To An Isaan Village

Village small businesses.  By the way, no one wears helmets in the villages.

Visit To An Isaan Village

Before long we were back on the highway and to big city life.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our visit to an Isaan village.  Please leave us your comments and a rating below.

Next, we’ll show you Khonkaen’s hidden market.  It’s right in the middle of the city but if you don’t know where is it, you’ll never see it!

Thanks for reading!

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7 comments

      1. OK… so it looks like a rickshaw in which they 1) put a low powered motorcycle or scooter in the front of it (instead of being pulled by someone) and 2) put a roof or cover over the top of it.

        mike01905s last blog post..Red Sox Game 01

        1. Mike, yeah, it’s a motorcycle rickshaw basically. so now you know what we’re talking about! virtually none of them have working mufflers….

    1. we were considering buying a house in Khonkaen in 2006. since 2004, we’ve watched the Thai baht artificially increase in value to the point where we had to abandon our plans for exporting from Thailand. producing products there actually became more expensive that producing the same parts in Taiwan – which is totally ridiculous when comparing the standard of living between those 2 countries. i hope your retirement plans for Khonkaen take into account the 30% increase of the cost of living over the last 4 years in Thailand! i certainly wouldn’t retire in Thailand these days! i wish you well.

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