Saturday, April 23, 2016

Mornings, 2016

In the several years I have been retired in the Thai countryside of The Isaan, my daily routines have changed, in big and small ways. I’d like to say they have “evolved,” but, no, they just change. Some things stay the same or have changed just a little, but more of my daily routine has changed than not.

In 2012, my first year morning routines looked like this: Mornings, 2012.

By 2013, they had morphed somewhat, to look like this: Mornings, 2013.

Between 2013 and 2016, my mornings retained some elements of where I started from, but especially changed in 2014-2015 due to my “community service” job of driving our Kamattan monks to and fro from the temple to the village, so that they could easily go on their alms roundsbinta baht – shortly after sunrise.

My morning usually began in the dark, when I heard Tah Nah go by our village home in his tuk-tuk, on his way to the temple. He drove one group of monks to the neighboring village of Ban Pak Whet and I took another to our village of Nong Soong Pleui. He got an earlier start than I did, obviously, and was usually sweeping and/or burning brush by the time I arrived at the wat.

Now that I no longer drive the monks in the morning (I donated our tuk-tuk to the temple), I get up a little after my wife, who is already cooking and steaming rice at four or five A.M., still in the dark.

I still do my body stretches – even more important than they were a couple of years ago – and then get up and out. Sometimes we sleep upstairs like we used to, but most of the time we’re downstairs for the convenience of being close to the bathroom. Both upstairs and downstairs, we have replaced our mosquito netting with simple netted tents on bamboo platforms that have the advantage of not only being raised off the floor, but also being enclosed all the way around, including the base. No more geckos wanting to sleep with us!

One of the first things I do is “drain the dragon,” brush my teeth, and drink some water. Then, I move our motorcyles outside, out of the living room. Sometimes Thip leaves early and if I’m going to do one, might as well do both.

After a shave, I take a shower (ab nam). We have two types of shower arrangements. One is an electric water heater and shower head that’s handy when it’s cold. The other, much more frequently used, is a typical Thai/Lao shower: a big plastic bucket on the floor next to a water tap and a smaller plastic bowl floating inside. Using the small plastic bowl, I throw cold water over myself a number of times during the course of the day – not just the morning or evening. It’s a good way to stay cool, clean and neat. Many Thai homes have cement cisterns in place of the big plastic bucket, but I’ve found that the plastic bucket is much easier to clean, brighter, and while it is susceptible to mineral stains, it is resistant to mold which easily grows on cement.

About this time, the village loudspeaker might kick in. Information from the head man and his assistant is relayed this way; some of it useful, many of it calls for money for various things or recognitions to people who have donated to various things.

Around 7am, our Kamattan monks come by on their binta baht and we sigh baht as all part of the tak baht observance (the alms rounds).

Afterwards, I get started on the day’s laundry and Thip takes off for the temple to help prepare food for the jahn hahn ceremony that takes place every morning. By this time, I will have had my coffee and obviously got dressed – usually a soccer shirt with shorts to the knees and thong sandals.

(our home in the village)

While my wife is away, I get on the Internet and plug into world events, my communications, writing projects and gaming.

Thip will be back shortly after noon, usually, and I will have already eaten my breakfast of muesli, milk and fruit and decided upon my tasks for the day.

(the view outside our village home front door)

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