Discovering the world on $20 per day ......................

Post 277: To Korat

The memorial service for the Rear Admiral was actually quite a happy affair. It was held in the Temple where six monks conducted the service and six more appeared as soon as the food was served. Everybody got fed, everybody had a good time and according to local beliefs, the recently departed will be back amongst us soon enough. The Thai’s don’t view death in the same ‘Permanent’ way that we do in the West. For Thai's, death is more of a transition into the next and hopefully better existence. I’d like to say that I believed as they do, but sadly I don’t. When my three score years and ten are up, I’m afraid that ‘permanent’ will be a very appropriate word to use. After a few short days I'm really quite sad to be leaving Sattahip, but it's not really as if I'm actually leaving, I'm just being passed onto a different branch of a family who‘s surname I still didn‘t know.

After just six hours in the back of a Mitsubishi Pick-up truck, of which only five hours and fifty minutes were uncomfortable, I've arrived in Korat. As Thailand’s 2nd largest City I’m surprised that I’ve never been here before, but then Korat is only really famous for being anonymous. I’ve past through here several times on my way to and from Khon Kaen, but this will be the first time that I’ve ever stopped and spent any time here. At first sight it looks like any other large Thai City, but then I notice that something significant is missing. Along the busy shopping streets, of which there are many, I see not one sign that I recognise from the West. No Starbucks. No Boots. No McDonalds. No KFC. No Tesco. No Esso or Shell. Yes, Thailand’s second largest city seems to have avoided the names that now fill most of Thailand's shopping streets and could well turn out to be my kind of place.

On the journey up here, I discovered that one of the reasons for my ’volunteering’ to come to Korat, was to attend the funeral service of a young lad who yesterday died from cancer. He was 13 years of age and from what I can understand, loved motorcycles. I didn’t know him and being invited to what in the West are such personal and intimate family gatherings feels a little bit weird, but I’ll go with the flow and see what happens…. mai pen rai

It’s late when we arrive in Korat. Nobody has really thought about hotels and so I’m taken to the family home on an Army Base in the middle of Korat. In the outdoor kitchen, the women folk cook a meal of sticky rice and fish bought back in Sattahip and us men folk wash it down with bottles of Chang beer. I’m shown to a large room with three giant floor fans. It is to be my bedroom for the night. I know that it’s the biggest and best room in the house. I have no idea where everyone else is sleeping but I somehow get the feeling that when it comes to the sleeping arrangements for tonight, I’ve been given the cream. I feel guilty, but then after six hours in the back of a truck on Thai roads, guilt only goes so deep.

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