December 2013 was a colder-than-usual winter month in the Isaan and January 2014 was the coldest January in the Isaan in decades. Instead of people greeting each other with:
“Hawn, baw?” (hot, no?)
The usual greeting has been:
“Nao, baw? (cold, no?)
And the reply is invariably:
“Nao lie.” (cold a lot).
Many nights I’ve cuddled up to Thip with a long-sleeve cotton shirt, sweatpants, socks, cotton gloves and a hooded fleece jacket under two comforters. Thip has had pretty much all of that plus a sleeping bag.
Some mornings we could even see our breath. I know for many of you, this is not cold at all, but for me at 65 years-of-age and just getting used to the heat of Southeast Asia, the cold is just a difficult adjustment.
As a result of these cold days, my wife and I were usually in bed, after prayers and meditation, not long after sundown. In the mornings, we stayed in bed as long as we could – with just enough time for Thip to steam the sticky rice for sai baht. I had my jacket on, with krama, until late morning and then back on shortly before sundown. I missed taking my daily shower upon occasion, generally taking them in mid-to-late afternoon before temperatures started to drop.
About the only good part about the weather was that it was great for working outside. But – can you believe it? – my arch enemies, the nyoong (mosquitoes) have adapted to the cold and some still fly around, although far less in numbers.