Yes, Becky has a Thai cousin. This might be a surprise to those of you who look at her and say “clearly of European descent”. Well, you’d be right, but since her father’s cousin Bob married Ad (who is from Thailand), Ann has become her cousin by marriage. We have been emailing back and forth with Ad and Ann for several months, and were very happy to finally get a chance to spend a day with Ann. We really enjoyed the opportunity to meet her, and see a little more how local Thai families live.
Our first stop was a visit to Ann’s neighbours. She tutors several of their children after school (English, Math, and Science), and the families are quite close. The kids took us for a walk through the farm behind their houses and introduced us to several different local fruits along the way. From a farmer, we learned that a 3 rai (size) rice field takes 20 kg of rice to plant, and produces 6000 kg of rice. They get two crops per year from the field. The vegetable fields were long raised fields about 5 meters wide separated by irrigation moats. The moats are also used raise fish, which are a supplementary “crop” of the farm. It is a very ingenious dual use of the land.
We were invited in for lunch, but unfortunately we had just eaten. We did sit on the floor and drink water with them while they were eating though. The homes were quite simple, with a concrete pad floor and few furnishings. There was the requisite couch and TV, but no need for a dining room table, since cooking and eating happen on the floor. This does mean the floors are kept very clean though.
The neighbours were going on a vacation to Hua Hin – the first time for some of the younger kids to see the ocean – so we couldn’t spend too much time with them. We all piled into Ann’s pickup to drop them off at the train station – five people in the cab, and five in the back with the luggage. Hua Hin is almost 1000 km away and takes about 18 hours by train.
Once we saw the train off, Ann brought us to visit the main temple in Lamphun, Wat Phrathat Haripunchai. Experiencing the temple with a guide and someone who practices Buddhism gave us an opportunity to comfortably participate in some Buddhist rituals. When we went to buy candles to make an offering at the Chedi, Ann asked us what day we were born. What day? December 31 said Scott. No, what day of the week? We had no idea, but fortunately our mobile phone had a perpetual calendar. (Becky and Ann were born on Tuesday, and Scott was born on Friday). Our offering bundles each contained three big candles, a little candle, three sticks of incense and a flower, but the candles came from different baskets depending on the day. Everyone around us lit their candles and said their prayers without difficulty, but we kept having trouble – first a flame would go out, then we would get wax all over our hands. Before we think about converting to Buddhism, we’ll need a lot more practice!
After our day in Lampun with Ann, we made a quick pit stop at a dentist in Chiang Mai (Big Smile 2). Chiang Mai has many dentists and doctors, and people come from all over the world for cheaper medical procedures. We took advantage of this and spent 500 Baht (less than $20 CAD) to get a desperately needed teeth cleaning. We now both have much happier teeth and much whiter smiles. The equipment in the office was equivalent or more modern than we see at home, and the dentists and assistants were all wearing disposable masks and gloves, so we felt quite comfortable with the process.
We are now ready to get back on our bikes and continue our adventures in Northern Thailand.