Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Isaan Odyssey, Part 10: Corner Market In Isaan

One last look at the upper level of Phanom Rung

[This is Part 10 of a series. If you found this via a search or just happened upon it some other way you can find parts 1 through 9 by scrolling down the Labels in the right-hand column and clicking on "Isaan Oddysey".]

Once we were down the side of the volcano and out of Phanom Rung park we headed towards our stopping point for the day: the area where Suphot's family lives, and specifically the home of his brother, Tuan Tong.

Out the passenger window as we headed "home" for the night

As we rolled along the highway I heard more about Suphot's family and his years growing up. While it was all interesting it's really not fodder for a public web site - although I may write about it as my book progresses, if he agrees. His mother currently lives in Tong's house, sort of keeping an eye on things when the master's off at his other home further North. Other family members live nearby.

Concerned we'd be dropping in empty-handed I asked Pot what I was going to be able to take in the way of a gift to his mother, and the options out in the farmlands were slim. "Will we be eating there?" I asked. "Of course," said Pot, "there aren't any restaurants anywhere near there." I suggested we at least take some fruit and other food, seeing as how his mother was going to be put into the position of cooking for a stranger in the house. "We'll stop at the corner market and you can pick out some things," he said.

The sun was low in the sky as we pulled off of the highway onto a smaller country road. I began to look for signs of commercial life, but there were none to be found. Soon I saw what he was referring to: an open-air market on the corner of an intersection of two small roads. It was crowded with locals shopping for produce and other food, and after Pot parked in a small lot across the road we joined the river of folks meandering through the area. I didn't see another farang.

With Pot's input on what we should take (and help translating) I bought the two splayed BBQ chickens in the photo below, some corn from the man sitting in the back of his truck below that and some of those wonderful green-skinned oranges that Pot picked out, along with a few other things.

All of a sudden there was someone calling out to Pot, and I turned to see him being greeted by Tong who'd just come out of the crowd. Pot introduced me, and, as Tong could speak conversational English we exchanged pleasantries. As pleasant as Supot is I wasn't at all surprised that his brother was as personable as he is, and we got along well.

Suphot and his brother Tong in the late afternoon sunlight

While the two brothers caught up on things I went off to people watch and take some photos. Kids are usually a sure smile if I act goofy enough, but the boy below couldn't manage to do much more than stare at the Big Pink Guy who was trying to get him to laugh.

Finally his father picked him up, and that broke his somber look. He giggled when his dad nuzzled him under his chin, and the two of them laughed together as they played. The light wasn't good and I didn't want to use a flash so the image isn't great, but I liked it so I'm including it here.

By this time the sun was setting behind the trees to the West. Tong waved as Pot and I walked back to the truck, both of us carrying bags of food. I was seeing Thailand off the beaten track, and I was a happy boy.

Now we headed home. Pot with an image of it in his mind, me with one in mine. Mine was wrong, as I'd soon see.

[Coming up next in Part 11: A night in a country home - in the "penthouse"]

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