Visit to Kamphaeng Phet

Trip Start Jan 08, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Saturday, December 3, 2005

"Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each of us individually. Peace, for example, starts within each one of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us." His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama. The Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1989

News from Thailand.

5 Dec is the King's birthday and Father's day in Thailand (as people consider the King as the father to the whole nation). This year also marks the 60th year that Rama 9 has been King. About 100000 Thais recently attended a celebration of this event in Sanam Luang, central Bangkok, all dressed in yellow. The Thais consider their King as the hardest working monarch in the world. Although he is getting older, Kanchana (she has changed her name, replacing the J with CH so as you can pronounce it correctly) recently told me that when he is at home (not out and about on official activities) he teaches everyday at a school near the palace.

Kamphaeng Phet.

A little while ago, I went to Kamphaeng Phet (actually a smaller town, near to KP) to visit my friend John and talk about possible work. I had a very good time and want to mention a little bit about what we did to show how nice Thailand is.

One afternoon we went to a shop down the street to buy some chicken. Just for a snack. The shop that sells the chicken is owned by the village head man (Poo Yai) who's name is Panya. He and his wife run a general store type shop and he also rents out space next door for people to set up market stalls. He keeps the rental prices very low so as the sellers can afford to set up their stalls there, as other areas have become too expensive. This ensures the town keeps a convenient and affordable market.

Panya was in the Thai Navy for many years as a diver and in various other positions. He has a daughter that attends the local government school. His shop is in a central location and many people can easily meet and talk to him when they come for shopping.

When we arrived Panya asked us to sit down and have a beer. We did. He brought us some snacks. As we got half way through the snacks he brought us some more. As we got half way through the beer he brought us more. And so the afternoon went on for quite some time. Eventually we couldn't even get to half way through the meals before more was being stacked in front of us. Many Thai people love giving things away and being good hosts. But we could only eat so much, before we had to go. No need for dinner that night. It is amazing how generous people are, and in this case how generous the head of the local government is.

Another day we decided to ride to the Ping River and go for a little stroll around the area near the river. The plan was for just a short morning outing and then back to talk about work. We borrowed a motorbike from John's wife's brother's wife so we had one each and set off in the morning. Nui (John's wife) had warned us to put on extra clothing as it was cool, and it was lucky she did. The cool morning air was quite nice and as we passed through a few towns, we witnessed the morning ritual of kids going to school. Lots of smiling faces and waves and people saying hello to us as is often the way in Thailand.

We got to the river and after a bit of a look around we parked the bikes at a small riverside restaurant for a small snack before we had a walk around. The restaurant was run by a nice couple and was in a very scenic and quiet location. We were the only customers. It was beside the river, had a thatched roof and well maintained garden and was well looked after. We had some coffee and the owner (I forget his name) noticed us looking for the fish in the river. He went and got some food and tossed it to them so we could see that there were many fish in the river. He then noticed us admiring his small canoe. He offered to take us for a paddle in it.

John went over first to the island in the middle of the river. The man's dog who wanted to go in the boat but wasn't allowed swam over to the island. Then the boat came back and I was taken to the island. The man then rowed John over to the opposite bank before coming back to take me over and then going back to rescue his dog who was struggling against the current on this side of the river.

Once on the other side the man parked his boat and took us for a walk to the village on that side of the river. He noticed me admiring a nice looking wooden house with its double front doors wide open. He took us over to the house but no-one was home, so we were left at the door while our new friend went looking for the owner who was farming just behind his house.

The house owner invited us in and gave us chilled water and our 2 new friends sat down and tried to talk to us. Neither of the Thais could speak much English, so it was up to us to try to converse in broken Thai.

Next we walked to the house of this village's headman. There are tens of thousands of villages in Thailand and each has its own headman and committee which are elected each year (I think). (Malaysia has a similar system.) This poo yai was running an electrical repair shop and as a service to his village he had set up massive speakers and was loudly broadcasting the radio to the whole village. This way everyone in the village could hear the news and also listen to music while they were farming, without having to buy their own radios and batteries.

The pooyai turned the broadcast off, gave us each a cold bottle of coke and sat down to chat in broken English and Thai.

Eventually (at least an hour was spent on this side of the river), we headed back across to the restaurant. We sat in the shade beside the river ordered some lunch and more drinks and were given a bunch of bananas. We sat here for a while to talk about work. What a nice spot to do it.

When we went to pay, the whole lot cost about AUS$5. We tried to give the man some money for the boat trip and the time he spent with us, but he wouldn't take any. Instead he said we are welcome any time and he considers us as friends and brothers.
People are incredibly nice.

We spent what was left of the afternoon riding the bikes around some small, out of the way roads. This too was an amazing experience. This was just normal Thailand in a small area, but around each corner was an amazing view. Large temples with exquisite detail and craftmanship, lush bright green paddy fields, shady rivers and happy smiling carefree people greeted us wherever we went.

Thailand is a very good place.
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