Monday, 23 April 2007

Thai Wedding

We flew from Sydney Tuesday night, spent a few hours in Bangkok resting, continued flying to Roi-Et in North Eastern Thailand, sat in the back of a ute for 45 minutes to arrive just in time for the start of the wedding. In Thai tradition we walked Lindsay through the village, accompanied by a mobile band and delivered him to Jeng's family home offering gifts to cross the doorway.
The walk was an amazing welcome, there was dancing, singing, drinking, talking - or signing and miming given the language barriers. The mobile band was a cart pushed by a man with car batteries and amps which the electric guitar players plugged into as well as all sorts of drums.

The traditional ceremony soon followed after a small diversion (Thailand's favourite past time) ... eating! Before the ceremony money was counted on a large platter. It's called "show money" and Lindsay had to provide as a sign of their wealth.

The Buddhist blessing followed with Lindsay and Jeng being joined by a wreath of flowers around their heads. I was privileged enough to have Jeng ask me to sit next to her and join in the ceremony. There was heaps of talking and people coming and going during the ceremony but this was not seen as an insult as with western culture.
At the end of the ceremony, the white pieces of strings you can see on the flower arrangement were taken off and with other people holding your hand up these were tied to your hand with a blessing of some kind (I'm guessing) made for you. Being Australian we were of great interest and we got many strings tied to our wrists which we had to wear for 3 nights before removing. I also tied strings on people's wrists and said a blessing for them in English.

It was now early afternoon and people drifted about talking and eating while tables and a stage were being set up in a rice paddy next to Jeng's home. At about 6pm we sat down to a wedding feast followed by a band and dancing. It was interesting meeting Jeng's family and friends and trying to hold conversation with the aid of words. Jeng's great grandmother came to our table to say hello - she was over 100!
Lindsay and Jeng were called up to stage foll wed by Henry, Simon and myself. I was so embarrassed when I was handed the microphone to make a speech in front of about 400 people who didn't speak English. We eventually found a spot to sleep in Jeng's home at about 11pm - what an amazing day!!

We only had a few more days after the wedding but there are so many wonderful memories and good times that I can't list them all. I'll briefly mention some of the most memorable and add a few more of my favourite photos.

The CCK (Concrete Covered Keg) we purchased when visiting the temple was memorable even though I don't normally drink whiskey. It was shared by many visitors to Jeng's home and continually topped up with beer to produce amazingly enough more whiskey??? If you look carefully in most photos the CCK is lurking somewhere in the background...
Meeting Jeng's family and the warmth and kindness they extended to us was amazing. Jeng's parents are amazing people and it was a pleasure staying with them. The meals shared with family and friends and time spent miming or repeating simple words and gig ling was enjoyable.

The simplicity of daily life on the farm was a warm welcome from the complexity of city life. From bringing the cows in each evening, sorting the corn at 10pm for market the next day, taking the motorbike to fetch more ice from the next village and sharing a leisurely meal.
Jeng's mother gave all the boys a beautiful silk sarong. Once the fabric was selected for each of them, Jeng's brother raced them up the road for a friend to sew the hems. Jeng's father then gave them all demonstrations on the long sarong versus the running "nappy" style sarong. It was hilarious made even funnier by the translation of Lindsay's nickname - baby elephant. Needless to say the name's now stuck!


theotherbear said...

Sounds fab guys. Love all the photos.

A Mother outlaw said...

What a great experience. Love to see the sarongs on a Sydney Sunday.