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 ISAAN, MY LOVE: OF HOBBITS & COBRAS, A Farang's Take on Isaan Folk. Hmm?

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Udon Thani

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Join date : 2009-07-23

PostSubject: ISAAN, MY LOVE: OF HOBBITS & COBRAS, A Farang's Take on Isaan Folk. Hmm?   Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:06 pm


My Isaan is life. My Isaan is temples and festivals, it’s food and folks, governors and nai amphers. Once a person realizes you can’t change Isaan and you’re happy to become part of the landscape, life is ooooh soooo brillant.
Stop in Nakhon Nowhere at 7 am at the local eatery and the circus has arrived. Chattering, hiding and staring. Stroll in. Sit down. All the lively talk starts and goes on till I pay the bill and we bid bye-byes.
As always in Isaan it is nearly a sin to eat by yourself and there are always plenty of invites. But then again, it is the country of the hobbits and cobras. You discover it if a person does something rude, like hitting on a person’s wife or child.

By Tom, Isaan Live
Yep I have seen this. Or treat Isaan food like it is beneath you. Or if you talk high. These are the things that will get you in trouble.
That is when you have to realize that Isaan people are a cross between a hobbit and a cobra. They are the sweetest, cutest, most hospitable people in the world – until you are rude. Then in some very quiet, unique way they will spit in your eye and you will die.
Maybe just for an hour or a day and on that rare occasion forever you will never feel the same again.
But to live as a farang in Isaan?
Isaan folks understand face, such as students do not point out a mistake a teacher might make. You do not insult another person, above or below you in the food chain. But they do understand what face is about. And they know what they really believe.
They will go to the house warming of a multi-million baht house that a Westerner has built and no rights to, and be polite and neighborly, yet will discuss what an idiot he is in private.
So who are the Isasn people?
People like everywhere. Some educated, some as dumb as a box of rocks. Most are hard working, some are drunkards. What differentiates the people up here from other Thais is the Lao and Khmer influences.
The Lao influence brings rocket festivals, boat races, the all-important Baci and the closeness of the family. All you have to do is watch the traffic from Bangkok to Isaan at Songkran.
The central government has tried for more than a hundred years to assert their domination on a proud people. No matter what kind of jokes a central Thai might tell they quiver in their boots when they are here.
And then the religion, as all the important forest monks came from and lived in Isaan. If you are interested in learning about Buddhism in Thailand, the Thai government’s influence on Buddhism and about Isaan, then read Forest Recollections by Kamala Tiyavanich.

But why do all the husbands in Isaan leave their wives?
Boy, you got that wrong. Educated Isaan women, generally government workers, get rid of their husbands. The husbands drink, gamble, whore around and eventually get the boot from the hard working wife.
These women over the age of forty are independent, smart and great company.

But Isaan people are red.
In the 70s yes, but I know that’s not what people mean today. Most of the red shirts do what is called “play red shirt.” If someone is going to give you money and food to wear a red shirt and hang out in the park all day, why not go for it? The ones that did the damage wore masks and were criminals.
When red shirts are running amuck simple shop holders are screwed, those simple shop holders are not backing the folks that f**k up the family income. Note the evil women:

Here is a piece of advice: If you see a group of government officers having lunch (they are usually wearing the color of the day), stop and say hello. After lunch say thank you very much and belch your way to your next stop.
As a matter of fact all you need to learn you can learn from government officers. They know where to eat, what is going on and how to find a place and anything else you might need.
They are generally well educated (all things being relative) and are interested in Westerners. Especially if you have educated yourself with a bit of Thai, Buddhism and food.
If you want to shoot, find a place with the right light.
Drinkers and casual watchers find the shade. Once you attend two or three you will have it sussed.

God having been there for fifteen years I have dozens of loves and WTFs every day, but can never hate the place.
Food is amazing, life is wonderful, golf as well, women – too many.
Never being a watcher, always being a part of whatever is happening, that is life.

Again, Isaan people are sort of a cross between a hobbit and a cobra. They will do anything in the world for you. But do not be “impolite.” Whatever that means in Isaan.
Religion, from some of the most pure thudong monks to scoundrels in brown, you find ‘em all.
University graduates to nearly illiterate dirt busters, some busting their asses to improve their kids, and some dumb-ass ignorant white trash, plenty of money (for now) and a Bangkok whore from Isaan as a business manager.
Life is great. Any better and I would burst.
Well I’m well-versed in Buddhism, speak a fair bit of Thai and Isaan and am sort of part of the wallpaper.
There is a fair few Westerners like me here. Then there are the ones who hate it, then the ones that are here but live as outsiders in their own bars and eating their own food.
It’s all here.

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