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Buddhist Spirituality in a Small Thai Village Long Ago

September 24, 2016

We recently published a blog about Luang Prabang, Laos and the Buddhist spirituality there. However, the author stumbled upon an album of photos from the early seventies taken in a remote village of Thailand that reflect the same feeling on a much smaller scale. Although the images were from the "black and white" days of Thai television, color photographic film was available in that part of the world though some of the images, like the author, reflect a bit of age.

In this village, there was a thatched roof temple with a handful of Buddhist monks.  The Temple also functioned as a village school and, therefore, the center of the community. There are two common themes here: the author may have been the first farang (foreigner) the villagers had ever seen which attracted a lot of stares and we carried guns as there were bad elements in these remote areas on occasion. It was the heyday of a long forgotten period of communist guerrilla warfare in Thailand led by the Chinese-trained Communist Party of Thailand. Our friend, Colonel Chang of the elite Thai Communist Suppression Organization, was not with us on this adventure though his advice resonated with me forever--"We must be strong in the wild." It sounds more prophetic in Thai but you get the picture.

You will see the monk has the Thai alphabet on a chalk board teaching the children as described in our blog posted on April 30, 2015. In the remote villages at the time, the people did not find it unusual that a foreigner would speak Thai. As there were no hill tribes around, the younger kids did not know there was any other language. Obviously, there was no electricity and, therefore, no radio or television.

The monks began their day accepting food from the people in the village who were making merit by offering scoops of steaming rice and condiments. Again, the people offering the food are privileged to be able to do it.

Orchids were readily available growing on tall teak trees. Monks gathered them to brighten up their Spartan existence.

We visited the small jungle village with the Governor of the Province who brought a retinue of young ladies to do the cooking for us. They too wanted to gather some orchids in the wild.

When we went into the nearest "metropolis" for supplies, you can tell that the foreigner was still attracting a lot of stares.  The streets were not paved and so the author was somewhat like a stranger in a frontier "wild west" town. Fortunately, it was not "High Noon."  (The author still has the hat - 40+ years later).

On a subsequent trip on the Burmese side of Thailand, Colonel Chang (elephant in Thai) was with Khun Toy, the guy next to me in this picture, and the author. Chang was driving an open top Land Rover and Toy was standing up to spotlight at night. We hit a massive bump and the gun shown on my shoulder in the above images discharged and blew Toy's hat off. Chang turned around, shrugged and said "it could have been worse." Apart from Chang's sage advice, he had a rather dry sense of humor. There are plenty of Chang adventures to share privately at a later time.

At this juncture, the author regrets he did not take fewer guns and more pictures but the photos did not seem that important at the time. How would Facebook have made it in that era?


Take a look at the latest styles of injiri. 
Each injiri product passes through the hands of several karigars (craftspeople) including spinners, rangrez (dyers), bunkars (weavers), darazis (tailors), and dastakars from all corners of India.

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