On the final day of a visit to Udonthani I went for one last stroll near my hotel while my friend toiled away behind a desk in another part of town. This was the same afternoon I ran into the Greek/Thai guy, saw the kids “hunting” with machetes in the canal, took pictures of the young couple and a few others and stopped in at the roadside barber shop, so it was an eventful walk.
The area I was in was within a few city blocks of the large Charoen Shopping Complex; just a block over from the street that passes in front of it, actually. There were a few BBQ places along within the same area, but that’s no great surprise – it’s a common type of restaurant throughout Isaan.
It was somewhere along about 3:30 in the afternoon and I’d stopped to watch the employees across the street setting up another BBQ while I finished a bottle of water I was tired of juggling while taking pictures. After downing the water and putting the empty bottle into the trash I took a few pictures to show friends back home just how big these places can be.
Walking a short distance farther I came upon another BBQ place on the same side of the street where I was walking, also filled with people scurrying around to set up tables, put out chairs and arrange supplies for the buffet-style service tables: bowls, plates, chafing dishes, and the likes.
I watched for a few moments before one of them looked up and noticed me standing there. “Sawasdee,” I called over to him, and that attracted the attention of the others nearby, who turned and welcomed me. I waved, and they waved back, smiling. One of them asked if I lived in Udonthani (actually, he said “Udon,” as it’s more commonly known) and when I held up the camera and said “AhmehriCAH” as it’s often pronounced by Thai he laughed and said “Welcome to Thailand!”
I motioned to him to bring his friends over for a photo, and he did. The first guy called out off to the back area of the restaurant, and a few more came shuffling over to take a break and be with their co-workers. A friend of mine has commented that he enjoys seeing the natural camaraderie and casual friendly affection the Thai display without the self-consciouness that seems to put walls around us in the West, and cited the top photo as a good example of that. I heartily concur. I'm adding detail of two of them "striking a pose" from another below.