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Isan . . . where The Land of Smiles gets its name from

King Cotton

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Quite a big post for when you may have a free five minutes

Meanwhile, as all these nasty things are happening in and around the halls of power in Bangkok, the things that I maybe spend too much time grumbling about, out here, in rural Isan, it’s like I was on a totally different planet.

Whilst we have to accept that there are things about the present powers-that-be that aren’t especially nice and whilst we know that there is far too much corruption within the government and its agencies – things that DO more than paint this pretty damning picture of what happens at Government House and in parliament – life, here, both in my small village and the nearby township of Phang Khon is so overwhelmingly happy and seemingly content that it always amazes me with its obviously happier tone than that which I read about, in ‘big, bad Bangkok’.

Here, people just get on with life and nearly always with that Thai smile on their faces and with laughter resounding everywhere. Nothing is too much trouble for the guy that runs the electrical goods store or the cooking ingredients shop or even the motor-cycle store; they will all go that extra mile to ensure that you leave their shop happier than when you entered it. The guy at the cookery shop – of similar 70’s age to me – having once seen that I’d found and bought a bag of proper bread flour, on our next visit, reached under the counter and held up a carrier-bag containing four bags of Thailand’s very best bread flour and he had such a massive smile on his face as he pointed at me as if to say ‘specially for you, sir.’

And I have to say that I am blessed with one of the finest examples of this ‘give all’ spirit, in my wonderful Thai wife, Tas, for whom absolutely nothing is too much trouble. During most days, when she knows that I’m happy at home, writing and ‘talking’ to you guys, she’ll be at the village’s community store, managed by villagers on a six-month rota basis, helping her old school chum, Ceow, to keep the village supplied with seemingly everything.

Tas, who’s good with numbers, sees to the book-keeping and going to the nearby larger village’s market for provisions and the two of them have such happy days together, nattering ten-to-the-dozen, when there’s a sales-free minute. Today, though, she has just gone that extra mile by returning home at lunchtime in order to bake some banana cakes to sell at the shop; not just the odd cake or two, but fifty of the things and they are delicious.

Like when I had my wonderful birthday party on Saturday – the 4th one since my birthday, now a fortnight ago – when Tas and her friends gave me a few hours that will take a lot of forgetting and whilst I may have a lot of downbeat stuff to say about the Bangkok bureaucracy – sorry if that’s too much at times – I do love my life, out here in the sticks.

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Hi, BlueSphinx and good to hear you liked my Isan ode. I do wax lyrical about the place from time-to-time!


I see you're a Belgian, 4 years resident in Sisaket province, where I lived (Kantharalak) for a couple of years, before finding my now wife, 7 1/2 years ago, and moving further north, between Udon Thani and Sakon Nakhon.

I liked Kantharalak for a good many reasons; a half-decent bicycle shop, a good Tesco and an excellent barber - an elderly chap who finished the haircut and shave job with some real Isan massage, a few karate chops to the back of my neck . . . unforgettable!


I'll keep an eye out for you on 'Introductions' and wherever else you may roam!




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