Darn...I forgot all about Songkran!

The work was continuing along at a good pace and with hardly a break. That is about to end though.

There was a day off last week for the workers to go to a housewarming party for one of their recently finished houses. Today they are off again to go to the funeral of the contractors mother-in-law. This week will begin the Thai New Year “break” but things look to be at a good place for a longish break of ten days or so.

My wife and I will also take this opportunity to retreat to Bangkok for a week or so. This is not my favorite time of year to be upcountry. (I see new fires started every night and they have refused to stop burning until there is nothing left to burn or it gets too wet!!) Besides the terrible smoke this year and the heat and dry conditions, this is also the season of carnage, death and destruction.

I have nothing against going around to the village elders and paying your respects with a gentle water blessing. I do draw the line at buckets thrown as hard as possible into the faces of motorcycle riders or the windscreens of cars and trucks. You are briefly blinded and unable to see the next bunch of kids stepping into the road to attack some victim on the other side of the road or the motorcycle that slipped on the wet road and is now sliding under your car or some unsuspecting bus or truck.

It is surprising that there are only thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths each year. Perhaps it is because everybody is well lubricated from drinking that they fall in a loose heap instead of breaking completely. With everybody home for the holidays and constantly drunk you won’t need to wait long for some minor disagreement or perceived slight to lead to a full contact battle with the occasional fatal result. 

Bangkok on the other hand, is nearly deserted and not a bad place to be for a change of pace. Some small shops are closed but the big places are open and you can choose whether or not you want to go to one of the water throwing war zones.

Enough of that, lets move on to something else. “What are you going to do up there?” seems to be the big question from our city friends. Granted it is nearly impossible to find anyone upcountry who can relate to our lives or experiences, so it is left up to us to find ways to relate to theirs. If you are not into the latest gossip there are lots of social events. There is something going on almost daily. There are weddings, birthdays, funerals, 100 day merit making ceremonies, good luck or get rid of bad luck ceremonies, housewarmings, religious events, school events, village meetings, seasonal events and several others that slip my mind for the moment. Oh, yes, how could I forget the open invitation to sit around getting sloppy drunk with the local “good-old-boys”?

My favorite, however, is to go off on my mountain bike with a couple of dogs and explore the endless maze of back-country farmer trails.  Of course this has earned me a few colorful nicknames with the locals who find my behavior a bit eccentric. Other than major events there is always the local market for someplace to go. Gathering of food and its preparation are allowed to consume more time in a village environment. 

Everything being at a slower pace allows one take time and enjoy doing things instead of rushing from one thing to the next. Your plants and animals are dependent on you so they also need daily attention. Now if you throw in a few of your own projects and some time on the computer for things like news, finances, travel bookings, emails and websites then you can start to see where the time goes. It is all about life and living and less to do with... well you know, all that superficial city stuff.