More monk stuff and a holiday

Trip Start Aug 30, 2012
Trip End Mar 21, 2013

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Flag of Thailand  , Roi Et,
Saturday, February 16, 2013

Another monk day today and Jai is up cooking at 05:30.  She needs the charcoal burner to toast some sticky rice but we l;eft it at the bottom of the garden yesterday when she was dying grass.  I look out the back door and see her squat in the dark toasting away by the light of a candle.  I brew a cup of tea and return to bed for another hour; just to keep out of the way you understand !
After breakfast Jai goes with Begat, Dom and neighbour Ang to feed the monks whilst I bike into Phon Thong for the internet and some shopping.
Having reached an appropriate break point with the bamboo I am having the whole weekend and Monday morning off - hurrah !!!!
I get back to the house just after Jai.  Now I am on holiday and dont know what to do with myself !  They say that the only problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you have finished ... but.  By late morning I am not feeling too good.  Perhaps I am missing the bamboo already.  Stretch out in the back garden after having a couple of Jai's Cornish pasties for lunch and am feeling much better by late afternoon.
We decide to get the bike out and go for a ride around the villages taking notes and photos for future reference.  Jai's 'local knowledge' might not help much with finding our way but it does come in useful when we stop to talk to people en-route.  In the same way that I did in Chiangmai, I find that writing about a walk/ride makes me more observant and I see things I would normally pass right by.

Turning left out of the house we set off towards Phon Thong.  Pass petrol station on our left, garage on our right then another on the left before exiting Khamnadie under the archway.  The road to Phon Thong branches off to the right but we continue straight ahead passing Pittayakhom High School and entering the small village of Kambonai.  Follow the road through the village and out into farmland where all the local staples can be seen; rice, sugar, cassava. 
A metal framed arch across the road indicates our arrival at Dorng Mun and after a left, right, S-bend we are on the main road through the village.  3.5km after leaving the house take a left turn just before a tall metal tower carrying the village PA system speakers.  On the corner opposite here is a makeshift petrol station that only sells fuel from recycled Coca Cola bottles.  About 200m along the turn off we reach a water tower alongside the lily covered reservoir.  Continue straight on and pass the village temple and crematorium on the left before following the largely bumpy, dusty, dirt road back into the countryside.
Follow this road until we reach a T-junction with the main Khamnadie to Phon Thong road where we take a left towards the village of Suan Ya, literally 'grass garden' and after 1km take a left away from the village.
We quickly arrive at a large area of eucalyptus trees followed by an equally large area of mature woodland.  These were all planted 20+ years ago by the 'minister' in Phon Thong.  All the local villages were cutting down trees everywhere but nobody was giving a thought to replacing any of them.  This area was planted to inspire them all to replant - they havent !  A lot of the trees have snall blue boards nailed to them giving the name of the type of tree for reference and an equally large number are wrapped in saffron coloured material, the same as the monks robes, which means that they have been blessed and shouldnt be cut down.
This road continues for 3km until we reach a small crossroads in the village of Ba Kay.  Straight ahead for 100m and we arrive at a roundabout mounted by a flagpole that looks completely out of place in a village that might see about a dozen cars a day.  This may be the only roundabout I have seen in Thailand outside of Bangkok where a couple surround monuments.  Turn left at the roundabout and immediately on our left is a house where a man carves table and chair sets from old tree roots.  Directly in front of us, at the end of the road, is the village temple.  Turn right here and up ahead is a bright blue wall surrounding a village hospital.  Take the kleft just before the wall starts, pass a small petrol station - with pumps ! - then turn right where the village comes to an end.  After about 200m take a left and 2km further on we pass under another archway welcoming us to the village of Norng Keun.  On the left is a large reservoir with a drit track surrounding it.  We cant follow the track today as a party is in progeress and a morlam band is leading the villagers around the water drinking and dancing.  Just past the reservoir is a house with racks of tobacco leaves outside drying in the sun.  This is the first time I have seen tobacco around here and didnt know it could be grown.  All for local consumption I am told.
Continuing straight on we arrive at Chum Seng Chai turning sharp left and reaching a junction where we turn right.  On the right here as we leave the village is an old temple where a new viharn is under construction.  Everywhere the lovely old wooden temple buildings, which needed a bit of tlc, are now being pulled down and replaced by characterless concrete eyesores - progress ?!!  There are a number of old ladies here dressed in white robes who I guess are the equivalent of nuns, known locally as mair chi.
A further 2km along this road, over a small stream (when there is water) on the left, is Khamnadie's second tenple.  This also has a lot of construction taking place and we stop to have a look at what our donations are being used for - more concrete !
A little further along this road and we re-enter the village of Khamnadie and get back to the house after a 20km loop.
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