Working in the fields


There`s a rhythm to life in an Esan rural village in Khon Kaen which is totally different to that say of a town or city. The first stirrings of life come before sun rise as charcoal fires are lit for cooking, dogs stretch out from their slumbers and cockerels noisily confirm morning is here.

Elderly ladies gather to chat but also to make merit as monks slowly tour the village to bestow the blessings of Buddha on them.

Ablutions are taken from a cold tub of water and then the family sit down together for breakfast.With the obligatory sticky rice.

The ubiquitous Rot Tai Nas` splutter into life. Colloquially known as Kwai Lek (iron buffalo). They`re basically a farm vehicle with a diesel engine mounted on two wheels and long handlebars for steering. The cacophony is added to by the village tannoy. Making announcements or playing some Morlam songs. Traditional folk music with roots in Laos reflecting the historical and geographical connection. The villagers climb aboard vehicles, covered head to toe like Arab nomads, armed with baskets of more sticky rice, snacks and set off past the lumbering buffaloes and cows being led out to the fields.

Kids are dropped off at kindergarten as the older ones squeeze into and onto a bus for school. After toiling in the hot sun, the shade of a tree or a hastily hung hammock provides respite and a chance to eat for the workers.

There`s no rush and no fuss throughout the day. It`s a steady, slow, laid back pace. As the sun begins to set, all return to the fold, workers, cows and buffaloes.

Families quietly go about getting the evening meal ready, like a synchronized swimming team of cooks, as kids play and all get a welcome cold dousing of water this time. Once again it`s time for the family to sit together and eat. Maybe time to catch up on the latest soap opera on TV. By 9:00 pm a silence descends across the dimly lit village as sleep beckons and thus ends another day in the village.