Life in the Lush Green Farming Village
My outreach took me to a border town in Nong Chok district, which is still part of Bangkok "province" though seen by many urbanites as upcountry. Nevertheless the almost-two-hour slow journey was uneventful, with the exception of speeding heavy vehicles and impatient drivers.
Out from the main road, Chucamsumpun, and on to the narrow lanes, passing muddied ponds, canals, wooden homes on stilts and the pleasant greenery. I reached my destination: Koyrutuckwa, a village (คอยรุตตั๊กวา). My courteous middle-age host, Somchai, which is a popular name among Thai men, greeted me at his house. He and his wife manage their small business, by renting out rooms at the Lamsai Homestay, along with their rice farm and fish pond.
|A narrow road filled with small rocks. A joy to walk, with the trees and shrubs watching your every move.|
|Nearby, a small plot of land waiting for the banana harvest.|
|At the entrance of Lamsai Homestay.|
|Lamsai Homestay is operated by Somchai and his wife. Its a delightful "kampung" environment, with clean running water and superb Patani hospitality.|
|A portrait of the Thai monarchy under the customary hanging frame of Mecca.|
|Keris, an ancient weapon of the Patani community. The stabbing dagger was also once popular in the region, namely in what's known now as Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.|
|Somchai takes a break from his afternoon work.|
150 years ago, a large group of migrating Patani folks made their way from the south to settle down in Koyrutuckwa. Presently 700 people, 98% Thai Muslims, call this village their home. Despite their Patani ancestry, only the elders speak a few words of Jawi (also known as the Patani Melayu language) while the younger generation are able to only converse in Thai, and Arabic when they perform their devotion and prayers.
According to Somchai and his family, all the paddy fields were severely affected by the water rationing. The junta and local agricultural agencies were caught off guard by the crippling drought that affected many provinces. Whether the intervention taken by the junta was effective is still an academic debate, however based on my discussions with farmers and their families there are still many lingering negative impact... particularly, increasing debts and high-cost of living. In the meantime, Somchai depends on his homestay business to supplement his family's livelihood.
|Portraits, around the house, dedicated to Somchai's memories of his community.|
|A tempting place to nap, next to Somchai's fish pond.|
|Many homes in the village have ponds, for fishes and geese. These small areas of water also serve as retention ponds, which is extremely useful during the rainy season as it reduces the risk of floods.|
|A small hut, over the water. Traditional homes with stilts usually escape severe damage from raging floods.|
|A canal, next to a small palm-oil plantation. The water here is often used for crops.|
|Patani architecture seen on an old house. Such designs can be easily found in ThaiSouth provinces: Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala.|
|Arabic words of faith, quite a common sight in most Muslim homes in Thailand.|
|I miss the walks, and the refreshing sights of green.|
|The only coffee shop in the village, which serves great Patani-style coffee and tea. It is run by a wife of a farmer, and the place is often frequented by families.|
|The net in the canal is where the villager catches and keeps fresh-water fish.|
|Rice storage, in huge containers.|
|Depending on the season, these containers could easily store water,|
|This paddy field benefited from the rain. Most farmers faced livelihood challenges when they were told by the military regime not to use water. Many are still struggling to recover despite the end of the drought.|
|A "pondok" which is a temporary resting place at the paddy field for farmers.|
|I wouldn't call them potholes. More like craters. Some roads are poorly maintained by the local authorities, thanks to the lack of priority for rural farms and the endless Thai bureaucracy.|
|Trees to keep me company during my walkabout.|
|Mismatched planks over a small canal.|
|While I took a kretek break, Somchai squats at the roadside and checks his smartphone. Apparently he regularly checks his Facebook.|