A day in Phayao

I opened my eyes, the bed feels different and it is cold…it is 4:00am and I hear people talking, what is that?…..ah, yes, the TV…now I remember! I am in Phayao at Yao’s house. Her husband died a few days ago. When I found out I came to spend a few days with her. I sit up and I see her sitting on the floor immersed in her writing and figuring out something, set of cards right next to the notebook…she is getting ready to ‘read’ what the cards have for her this week.

I am still sleepy and tired so I lie down once more and watch the TV trying to catch a word or two in the thai conversation. Then I hear one of the chants that I like and I sit up again. Yao comes running back to sit next to me and tells me: “I love this buddha too much”, “he a good man, very good man from Chiang Mai”; the monk gives a short Dhamma talk and she is very happy.

I realize I am not going back to sleep so I get up and head to the restroom, we slept with the light on so finding my way around is not difficult. A middle size one floor house, 2 bedrooms, one restroom and one shower room. Big kitchen and living room area. There is no furniture. She moved everything out for the funeral ceremony which lasted several days and took place right there in her house.

We have a cup of hot water and then a hot cup of coffee sitting right outside the front door awaiting for the sun to rise. It is cloudy, foggy and cold. I can see the sun trying to shine behind all the mist but it stays hidden for the rest of the morning.

It is almost 6:00 and she wants to know if I want to shower…..no way! Not at this cold hour in a cold house, I will wait for the day to get a bit warmer…;) So, she take a shower and we get ready to go to the market.

We walk and along the way she greets everybody, and I mean everybody. She explains to me that everyone knows each other in this small town. They all look at me with curiosity and surprised. I hear them say “falang” which means foreigner…they are definitely talking about me, and I smile. They want to know where I am from, what do I do, and Yao feels them in on the details….I get “Doi Saket”, “Mexico”, “asasamac (volunteer)”…and smile at them.

The walk is a bit long but I take rests to be able to make it, and when we get there I can see that people are already living! They are packing up and I can tell it is the end of the market….but it is not even 8:00 am yet! Yao explains to me that the market goes on from 4:00am to 8:00am and then everyone goes home. Wow!

Yao invites me to eat a ‘roti’ which is an Indian type of flour tortilla, with scrambled egg, banana, and condensed milk. We sit and have our roti in one of the wooden tables, and as strange as it might seem it is good, real good, except a bit too sweet for me; next time I am definitely trying it with no banana, and less condensed milk. Omsin, Yao’s 5-year old niece, has come with us and I watch her eat….she uses only 2 fingers to grab her pieces of roti.

I see many stands with all sort of herbs, vegetables, leaves, fish, chilies, etc. Some I already recognize as some of my favorites but other ones just look rare and unidentifiable.

We walk back on a different route, the road is narrow, the place is in the country so there are many trees and flowers, although “not as green and flowery as after raining season” she says.

Houses are mainly made of wood, and some made of other materials; she shows me a house and explains that it is a very nice house because it is made of great wood and asks me to take pictures. I can see different styles of houses and when there is a big house she says, German man, American….

When we get to the house she sits right outside the kitchen, by a small ‘stove-like’ and prepares lunch. We sit by the entrance on the floor and share our meal with her neighbors and family. All is fresh and spicy, except the ‘sticky-rice’ ;).

In the afternoon, once the sun has gone down a bit, we take off on the motorbike and go for a ride. She rides slowly and gives me perfect time for taking pictures and video. After showing me the river, the surroundings we head over to her sister’s house. We see them driving back in an old pick-up truck with working clothes on. They have been working in the field. The have a tamarind tree farm. The tamarind is not as sour as in Mexico, it is a bit sweet. They have loads of tamarind in their house. They peel a few for me but Yao warns me: ‘no good too many, you toilet too much’….which I understand that if I eat too many I would get diarrhea….hahahaha…so I keep it to only a few.

It is dark and we head back to the house. She once again, cooks in that little ‘stone-fire-stove’ and we have a delicious fish dinner.

Time for bed!!! It is very cold again.


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