Saturday 22 December 2012

Homestay in Isan Province

We were extremely lucky to stay with a lovely lady in the tiny village of Ban Hoatumnop through the brilliance that is couchsurfing

This was the best experience of our time in Thailand. We got to experience and enjoy Thai village life, in a small village in the province of Isan which is in North East Thailand. This area of Thailand is known for having a significant Laotian influence due to its proximity to the country both in language and food influences.  One of the first things we got to do was attend a Buddha Day Ceremony or Uposatha, which only occur on specific days each month in relation to moon cycles and is complexly calculated in advance. This involved us walking down to the local temple with some food offerings. A ceremony was held and we did out best to respect the local Buddhist traditions of what to do during the ceremony.

Local monks at temple
It was very interesting to see and be part of this special day.We also walked to a nearby village where one of the locals runs a little restaurant out of their house and enjoyed some very tasty noodles. As we walked along we got to learn about the governments involved with helping to provide regular water for irrigation and drinking in the area and also seeing local gardens, and how everyone grows what they need trading predominantly amongst each other.

Us getting a lift on a pick up truck to the local farmers market
In addition to this, if you cannot grow or trade for what you need, every week (which was luckily during our stay) you can go to the local market. We piled onto the back of a truck with many locals from Ban Hoatumnop, which was an enjoyable experience in itself. This local farmers market was a great way to see many different types of food, which was lovely to sample, as well as the local produce. It is amazing the differences in the vegetables and food that was the best presented at this market.
Trying to help out making flower blessings
Sampling of some of the farmers market.

In amongst exploring and doing things in the local area, we also learnt and tasted a lot of fantastic local traditions. Talked to local elders, heard the government announcements proclaimed over speaker phone to the entire village, met some animals, got to know our hosts family, and ate as much as we could of the best food we had in Thailand. We were very sorry to say good bye to our host, who had given us so much in friendship and experiences as we moved onto the next country of our SE epic adventure. We got up early to get multiple buses from near Phimai to Cambodia. See this country link for the continuation of this journey.

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