Travelling Light

Ton Kloi, Thailand: Chilling In The Village (Oct 27-Nov 10, 2014)

It is wonderful to feel so much at home in Ton Kloi. We have officially been adopted as “noong” by Habsoh’s first cousin, Pradit, as 68-year-old retiree who worked in the Farmers Bank in Bangkok for twenty-seven years, and has no children. His wife sustained a head injury many years ago and is partially paralysed.

We have also been told to treat Habsoh’s house as our own, which is very heart-warming. Habsoh and Sandi went away overnight recently, and left us to “doo leh” the house. Doo leh is a very Thai expression, which translates literally as “look look”, and figuratively as “cover” (as a chicken covers its chicks with its wings), and is generally rendered into English as “take care”.

Na doo leh’ed the animals, and we doo leh’ed Na. Here she is, doing homework, Thai style.

Tom has continued his quest to find the least ergonomic positions in which to use the computer. Having actual WiFi at the house, even if it is a bit flaky and slow, has dramatically increased his screen hours, to the detriment of things like yoga and meditation. Apparently, though, he is winning, and some time soon he will be able to stop spending so much time at the computer.

Pradit told us about the twice-weekly early morning markets, and took us along to see it one Sunday. That stuff in the metal bowls in concentrated curry paste – pet mark! (very spicy)

We had some excitement when Sandi and Habsoh came home with a new stove-top, which will halve the meal preparation time, by doubling the number of elements. The entire cooking system has been rearranged, and cooking is now done inside, standing up. Some food preparation is still done outside – gutting fish, for example – but most of the work can be done inside, now.

Jenny was very pleased that this happened before she spent two days as the chief household cook!

Tom has become expert at the laundry trampling, and thinks nothing of washing not only clothes, but also big things like doonas and sheets, in this small black bucket.

We have run out of Melaleuca tea tree shampoo, our laundry liquid of choice, and are looking forward to getting a delivery next week, when Jenny’s daughter Erin comes across from Australia with more supplies. In the meanwhile, we suffer with laundry powder (which stings Tom’s feet), and rinse the bedding in a herbal shampoo after washing, so that it doesn’t stink of chemicals.

The baby beans are doing well, and we recently built them a climbing frame. The cucumbers and choy sum haven’t sprouted very well, perhaps because the vege patch is partly shaded, so Sandi and Habsoh are planting sweet potatoes in those garden beds instead.

Jenny found a freelancing site called oDesk recently, and has already earned $135 for proof-reading a Masters assignment. As soon as we work out how she can fill in a W9 when she doesn’t have a social security number, she will be able to receive the payment! She will have ongoing work writing psychology articles through oDesk, to go with the paid food articles and travel articles she is writing through other contacts.

It seems she can finally say that she is a professional writer!

Many mornings, we visit Pradit at 6.30am for a pre-breakfast coffee. He acquired his cat, Diow, when she was hit by a car outside his house. She was badly injured, and her internal organs still don’t work properly, so she is quite small, but she has lived eight years this way, and it seems she will live many more. Pradit is very proud of her intelligence – she uses the toilet, by her own choice, and she wakes him every morning at 5.a.m. on the dot.

Pradit has an even more amazing animal story at his house – Rooster And Son.

One of the hens had five chicks, and one day a dog came (very unusual, because nobody in the village has a pet dog – Muslims think dogs are dirty) and attacked the mother hen, killing her and four of the chicks.

The one surviving chick is now being ably cared for by his father. The rooster doesn’t make the ongoing “cluck cluck” that a mother hen makes … except when he and the chick are crossing the road.

At night, the chick snuggles under the rooster’s wing, just as it would have with its mother. We are pretty sure that’s a red comb starting to grow on the chick’s head, so we have dubbed them Rooster And Son.

Someone turned up with a box of crabs one day, so we had crab for dinner, breakfast and lunch. Pet was very helpful. He likes to help, especially when fish, prawns or crabs are involved.

After the meal, Tom washed the dishes, and Pet washed Pet.

The back yard fish pond has been incredibly productive. The day the crabs arrived, we were sent out to catch 20 fish from the pond. Some were cooked for dinner, but most went with Sandi and Habsoh to Koh Samui, as a gift for Mahammad and his family.

A few days later, we fished out another twelve, and there are still plenty more in there.

This picture was taken the day one of the ducks got into the fish pond. Much chasing was required to persuade it to leave!

When Habsoh and Sandi came back from Koh Samui, they came via Krabi, and collected their second son, Saleh, and his wife and daughter, so we have now met all four of their children, and all four of their grandchildren.

Our last night in Ton Kloi was an amazing feast, with hoi geng (shellfish curry), prawns, and a dessert of what we think were taro balls in coconut milk, panstakingly rolled by Na and Ana (with a bit of help from Ana’s mother).

It’s very sad to say goodbye to our new extended family, but at least this time it’s only for a couple of weeks. We will be bringing Jenny’s daughter, Erin, and her friend, Leash, to see Ton Kloi in just a couple of weeks.

But before they arrive in Thailand, we have planned a couple of nights in a swish hotel with air conditioning AND hot water to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. Next stop, Surat Thani …