The Thai People I Met

My contact with the Thai people who surrounded us was not limited very much by my almost total inability to speak to them in their language. For one thing, the children learn English in school, and there's mandatory schooling until they're twelve. So the many children who visited the dig were anxious to try their language skills with me.

Here are some of the nicest people I met.

The Thai workers on the dig were invaluable, especially (for me) Cam and Samburi.

I learned a few words of Thai also from the young Thai workers around the dig, and I learned terms of cookery from the kitchen workers at the Inn, who quickly understood that I enjoyed spicy food. They would challenge me to share their own fare and then laugh as I almost choked on the hot morsels.

I shopped in the village of Phi Mai and was tempted by many goodies in the local market (but not the deep-fried rat, so identified by its little front teeth!).

Crushed ice and fresh limeade in plastic bags made the heat very bearable.

I sat by the side of a river and watched the silent fisherman tend his nets from his palm-tree dugout canoe, and I felt very far away from western civilization with its noise - but then encountered that noise in the motor scooters at the market and the karaoke bar on the first floor of our Inn!

I was befriended by the woman who lived in a simple hut by the riverside at the spot we abandoned our bus to walk across the paddies to the dig. On our last day I was admiring flowers on a tree nearby and she went out with machete in hand to cut them down for me. Bright orange flowers, in a bouquet that wouldn't insult an opera diva.
I was proudly carrying them back to the bus when I realized the local brahmin cows were following me, rather more closely than I was accustomed to. I tried to shoo them away with the flowers. They came closer. I realized that the flowers, the "doc jaen" or flame tree flowers, were what was attracting them! And I scurried to the bus to escape the herd of ten or so in hot pursuit.

Clare Durst 1997