Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Sakon Nakhon various impressions


Sakon Nakhon various impressions

A Thai friend in Sakon Nakhon สกลนคร invites me to stay with him and he will take me various temples. A full invitation: free accommodation, food, driving around.

Wed 15.07.2015
My first domestic flight in Thailand, DMK-SNO 17:50-19:05, AirAsia 1100 Baht (can be had for half if booked a week in advance).

Small airport, our plane is the only one. B is there, with his grandson T (about 15 years old) and driver D and monk M (actually abbot of the temple where we will stay). Only now do I learn that will travel all five throughout my stay. Monk has higher status than farang and gets the front seat, I sit in the back with B and T, less comfortable than most public bus or van.

Arrive at M’s house, a few km out of SN. Rather spacious and luxurious, same for another monk’s house I saw from inside.

Thu 16.07.2015
Trip to various temples and chat with monks there. In one place, there is a gay monk. At a moment when we are alone, he says something which I don’t fully understand but interpret as “I want to make love with you” and pretend not to understand, then he gently puts his hand on my crotch and afterwards shakes my hand, tickling my palm with a finger (invitation for sex), and invites me to stay overnight, he would pick me up and bring me back. He offers the same to T. I don’t spot any cute novice monks in the temple (unlike the pink temple in Nakhon Nayok where there were three cute novice monks, I was wondering if the abbot is gay and selects only handsome novice monks). Later I would see M eat in the afternoon, hand money to a woman to pay for goods, and observe another monk smoking cigarette. And the two houses I saw were luxurious. Everything together very un-monk-like and deeply shattering my beliefs.

Fri 17.07.2015
Trip to more temples, Kham Hom waterfall (dry) in Phu Phan National Park (but no entry fee to waterfall) and Phu Phan palace (entry on the palace grounds is permitted, nice garden, but palace nothing special). Visit Catholic churches in Tha Rae subdistrict (my idea).

Back home, take shower. Returning from shower, I notice someone was in my room, more precisely in my pants and in my wallet. I keep used bus tickets in my wallet, and one is lying on my pants. Check my wallet: money is missing, around 5000 Baht (low estimate 4000 and high estimate 6000). Button of other pocket is open, but passport still there. Mobile and camera still there (charging in remote corner my room). It was most probably D who saw me wrapped in towel at the fridge before I took shower, and whom I shortly spotted on 2nd floor (where my room is; D sleeps at his place nearby). That was the only time I saw him on 2nd floor, I thought he would use the bathroom because ground floor bathroom is occupied, but with hindsight time was too short, he was checking if I’m in the shower!

Dress and go down, where I find D cleaning the car. Look under all seats and ask him if he found money in the range of 3000 Baht, because I just noticed I lost 3000 Baht during the day (better way to introduce the subject than accusing anyone of theft, and give a lower amount so the thief can “find” 3000 Baht and still keep the rest). Just when he replies “No”, he gets up from cleaning the tire and hits his back, that must be karma!

Later I raise the subject (lost money) with B, T and M, rather weird suggestion that the money must have fallen out of the car; we got in and out many times and the pocket with wallet was next to door. Another idea is that they sent T to bring me down, and T found I’m in the shower and opened my pocket and wallet. B and M are well off and don’t need to steal money. What would you have done? I didn’t want to accuse anyone or spoil the other’s mood, but let the thief know I noticed.

Usually I split my money, half in my wallet, half in my room (usually between the pages of a book – most Thais I know wouldn’t touch a book with a barge pole). When I have a guest, I go into bathroom with my trousers on and take them off there. But here, in friendly territory, I abandoned these safety measures.

Sat 18.07.2015
Luk Nimit (the 9 stone balls that are buried under Bai Sema to mark the borders of a Ubosot) consecration ceremony in a temple in Khon Kaen province. Leave 5:35 (morning! I haven’t been up that early for a long time). In the course of the day, the plan slowly unravels: Go to temple with Luk Nimit 11 for a short visit, go to Cobra Village around 12 then come back in the afternoon about 13-15, and two more temples 15-17. Then to Khon Kaen airport.

Having tasted the sweet fruit of domestic air travel, and trying to salvage at least Sunday (couldn’t take advantage of Friday night, can’t take advantage of Sat night in KK due to lack of money and clean clothes), and finally exploring if you can buy a flight ticket just before the flight departs (I asked this question last year on thaivisa http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/761117-buy-ticket-at-airport-just-before-flight/), I ask to be taken to KK airport. And indeed, 17:45 I can get a ticket for the 18:25 flight (AirAsia, 1796 Baht, pay in cash). Both flights about 80% occupancy and hand luggage restrictions not enforced. Will do more air travel in the future (places that have no railway station and airport conveniently located – unlike Roi Et Airport which is 16 km out of town).

Conclusion:
Such home stay (with travel and food taken care of) would be great for someone without experience, but I found that the advantages balance the disadvantages. You can get to some places much faster (what can be done in 30 minutes by car can easily take 2 hours by bus and walking and hitchhiking), but then I am taken to other places where I wouldn’t go. Change in daily routine no problem (alone I would be up 10am-midnight, now 8am-10pm). At night I am stuck at the house with nowhere to go, compensated by going to bed early and getting up early. If I were in a hotel in town, I would tour the town in search of gay activities. We eat together, which was not always when I was hungry, but I can adapt.

A lot of time is spent socializing with people in village and at temples, which quickly becomes boring. B would tell them all details, from me picking up a paper clip from the floor of the airport to a chronological list of meals I had to the fact that I sleep with light off and curtains closed.

Weather was good throughout. Mostly clouded (I don’t like sunshine: sunburn and shadows when taking picturs), little rain. From Sakon Nakhon to Khon Kaen everything lush green, but on flight to Bangkok there were many grey/brown fields visible from airplane. Apart from lack of water in Kam Hom waterfall (Phu Pan National Park), there were no signs of drought in Sakon Nakhon and Khon Kaen province.

T would look at me and mumble “Harry Potter” and later switch to calling me “Harry”. Thai boys quite often liken me to Harry Potter because of my glasses. Only one boy likens me to Steve Jobs.

Next year, T will go to New Zealand (student exchange?). Currently, he speaks about ten words of English. B wants me to teach him English by phone (which would be an exercise in futility and a waste of my time, the boy had enough time to learn English in school, nonetheless I agree to it, like I agree to all stupid requests – take someone to Germany for holiday, find someone a German husband – knowing that nothing will happen).

When driving by car, B would open the window to throw out rubbish. I observed this many times before (train or boat) that Thai adults just throw their rubbish out of the window, but then it were strangers, now it’s someone I know, in presence of a minor!

Having spent the entire time with my friends, I didn’t use public transport, didn’t even go to bus station to take pictures of timetables. Hence I cannot regale my readers with a list of public transport options in Sakon Nakhon.

I inquired about dog meat on sale or dog bones scattered in the forest in Tha Rae ท่าแร่ subdistrict. Recent (5 Jul 2015) report in Bangkok Post: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/special-reports/612816/adding-bite-to-the-fight-against-a-brutal-trade but they told me there is no dog meat trade and not bones scattered in the forest, so I abandoned this subject (if I had been traveling alone, I would have inquired in Tha Rae and made an excursion to the forest).

All other request to go to places (wats, national park, waterfall, palace and churches) were answered positively.

During our trip by car all except me and driver would look on a pad at a picture of an object that looked like ice cream with chocolate splits and try to read numbers for the next lottery from this.

My request to go swimming at the waterfall (wasn’t possible due to lack of water) caused great mirth, probably due to mispronunciation ว่ายน้ำ “to swim” and ไหว้น้ำ “to pray to water”. Same for my reluctance to have a snake around my neck (not because I’m afraid, but because I don’t want to participate in mistreatment of animals and spend money on it) at the snake show (details soon).

We passed a shrine with a rhinoceros on hwy 2218 (southern side, before km 20) in Sakon Nakhon province.

We passed statue of crocodile and temple outer wall decorated with crocodile in Wang Sam Mo (Udon Thani province), spotted bus 4381 (Udon Thani - Wang Sam Mo) pass. 

Copyright 2015 ChristianPFC

9 comments:

  1. Interesting read. I closely follow your blog but to tell you the truth I am not interested in temples, trips etc. Your interaction with locals really fascinates me.
    I found it amazing that it seems you do not get any advantages in being able speaking Thai. The theft of money almost unbelievable. In my own experience (at least so far) not a single money boy ever stolen anything from me. Let alone other Thais...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "do not get any advantages in being able speaking Thai"
      I didn't say that. Thai is indispensable for traveling alone. I have many Thai friends who don't speak English, communication would be difficult or impossible if I didn't speak Thai. But speaking Thai is not the break through in chatting up Thai boys.

      Delete
  2. Never too late to learn lesson it seams. But if you were in somebody's home just chalk off loss to experience to avoid face loss for your hosts.

    Very unfortunate and really hard to point who steal your money, all expenses paid trip turned up not to be so free unfortunaltely

    ReplyDelete
  3. I like the above comments by Anonymous. I especially agree with his surprise at the theft of the money. I think you really should have talked to that monk and explained why you were not interested. So let us see, you turn down the house Queen, even when he offers you a threeway with a 15 year old, then you got burnt-----What a Surprise!
    Your shattered beliefs are fine, work on learning not to underestimate others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The monk in whose house I stayed and the monk who was hitting on me and the 15 year old are different persons.

      Delete
  4. To handle the theft like u did was very Thai and very wise - not to directly accuse ur host and leave some money out. Didnot work too bad. As for ur shattered believes -there are good bad and evil examples and surely u will follow the right path and not despair!

    ReplyDelete
  5. An expensive free homestay that was...

    You seem to be extremely forgiving when it comes to those who steal from you - I recall another story about a guy stealing money from your own room whom you then invited back later nevertheless. Quite frankly, I don't get it. At all.

    For what it's worth, I would have told my host exactly what has happened right away. My only face-saving effort would have been the suggestion that some stranger "must have" come to the house, instead of suggesting that the thief is a member of the household.

    That being impossible, for example if I'm not close enough to the host to raise the subject, I would make a reasonable excuse (friend in Bangkok got sick, whatever) and depart immediately. At the very least, I wouldn't want to spend more time with people who steal from me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had the idea to ask if a stranger walked in and out of the house the following day, but didn't raise the subject again.

      The boy who stole money from my room twice is so cute, I would invite him again (but open wardrobe to show him there is nothing worth stealing any more). We are still in contact, the problem is his unreliability.

      These two cases have one thing in common: they won't steal all money, but leave some (about 30%). The boy in my room took 4 of 6 100 Baht bills, the thief in Sakon Nakhon 5 out of 7 1000 Baht bills.

      I once read that birds can't count. When you go birdwatching, you walk somewhere with a friend. The birds will observe you. Then you both stop, you stay and your friend walks away. Now the birds don't know you are there and you can observe them. These two thefts apply the same logic, the only fault is that I can count.

      I am indeed lenient when it comes to people who do me wrong. I can't change it, continue and maybe learn from it.

      Delete
    2. Same here. I have no patience with criminals.
      My first priority would be to recover what is possible, considering this is 5000 baht, which is a reasonable sum.

      The second priority would be to leave. As fast as possible, whether politely or not.

      Delete

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