In 2015 my wife Fanfan and I moved to live in the small Isaan village of ‘Broken Road’ documented here and in our memoir "A Potato in a Rice Field" (http://amzn.to/2gDQxRc
). It shares life in Thailand’s rural northeast region (Isaan) which is known for its seemingly endless landscapes of rice fields after rice fields. The Isaan village is found soon after the larger town of Nang Rong, out towards the city of Buriram, just taking a right at ‘Baan Khanom’ or ‘Snack House’ as it translates in English. Because landmarks are otherwise few and far between in these parts of Isaan.
So Broken Road always reminded me of ‘The Shire’, as a fruitful place cut off from the modern world, where lots of small people live, and at five-foot-ten I’m almost certain to be the tallest person in the village. Anway, we are located in the northeast region of Thailand, better known as ‘Isaan’, which is misunderstood at times as being the ‘Poor Part of Thailand’ as I otherwise find the opposite when it comes to quality of life. As I think ‘low-income’ would be the better term, given people here live rich lives given the low cost of living, and ability to live off the land. And our family compound is no different, where almost everything we eat in the week is sourced from the family’s gardens and farms, and even the streets out front are lined with lemongrass and kaffir lime trees, so the smells of citrus breeze through the village every time they’re trimmed. We do live in somewhat of a foodie’s paradise, and of course I make the most of this throughout the year.
So ‘A Potato in a Rice Field’ shares chronicles through images and snippets of daily life my integration into the close-knit family circle, the local temple, and the wider village community. It’s basically just me bumbling through awkward social and cultural etiquette in Isaan Thailand, although our experiences do feel somewhat anthropological in parts, given our unique position in this rustic rural setting. And through the year I find myself involved in intimate ceremonies, from wearing puffy shorts as a ‘Bridesmaid’ at a wedding, to the more sombre tones of family funerals. And experiences do of course centre around the local Buddhist traditions, where at one point I was almost convinced to join a mass monk ordination at the local temple to become a monk. As shared in the video.
However I am not just plopped into these situations as the token tourist, given I am pretty much bound to these roles as a family member and the only able male of the near family, where grandpa Ta is now in his seventies. But I will otherwise always be a novelty in the wider community, given I am the only foreigner found within many miles.
For more on our life in Thailand and travels in Asia check our website http://live-less-ordinary.com/
. All material is produced by travel bloggers Fanfan and Allan Wilson.