I am constantly amazed at how quickly news can spread around rural areas of Thailand. Thai people are some of the best gossipers in the world and you need to be if you want to stay in touch. With no local TV, radio or newspaper word of mouth is basically the only way to stay in touch. And stay in touch they do!
I remember the first time I drove myself to the village. We were living in Bangkok at the time and Seerung had travelled home to see the family. After a few days home alone it was a Friday and I had two days off so jumped online and booked air tickets for the next morning to take me to Ubon and a hire car to take me the two hours to the village.
I was quite proud of myself that I could remember how to get there and was even more proud that for the first time I could read the road signs in Thai script which helped me on my way. I got to within 5 kms of the village and missed the turn off. Within a few minutes I realised what I had done when I got to a village that I didn’t recognise. I did a u-turn, found the right road and found the village much to my wife’s surprise (I hadn’t told her I was coming).
Within half an hour word had got back to my wife that I had become lost and was seen in the village that I didn’t recognise doing a u-turn! Seems as someone had seen me and mentioned it to someone else from my village that a foreigner was spotted looking lost in a rental car. (It is extremely rare to have a foreigner around these parts). When he got home and saw that I had turned up he put two and two together and told the story much to my embarrassment as I had just finished bragging to the family about how I had found the village with no problems!
There is one other way however that news travels around and it drives me insane!
In every village you will find one of these.
That photo is taken with a zoom so here is a photo with no magnification taken from my bedroom window to show you how close it is to our house. It is about 60 metres away.
It is loud. Very loud. I can handle loud but not when it occurs at 6 o’clock in the morning! Yep, that’s the time that the village head walks to the local meeting place where the speakers are located and announces what ever it is that needs to be announced. 6am is the most logical time I guess as it catches most people just before they head out to the fields to work. Sometimes they will also make announcements in the evening but usually it occurs in the morning and on average about every second day. Most messages last for about 5 minutes but quite often they can go for as long as 15 minutes.