Morning, Tuesday the 19th of November:
After waking up early at the temple (those voices of women talking at 4am were indeed
the old ladies who are always at the temple – they were fixing meals, Toi told me), I went for a walk. There are some monks walking around, getting offering in exchange for their prayer. Now woman I saw had a truck parked in front of a shop, which I presume to be her family’s, and methodically passed a bag of food to each monk that comes by, not so much as kneeling down to let him pray, maybe she did after? In this part of the world, Buddhism is a way of making sure that the poor is looked after. They get food, education and sometimes more opportunity – one of the novices at Wat Bupparam is now lined up to go to study law at university, thanks to Queen’s grant of some soft.
The constant noise of explosion that has been lasting all night – the cannon-like sound – was coming from the River. I found a group of people gathered on the river bank where they had some temporary setup for tables, probably for yesterday’s Loy Krathong. Some fireworks are being shot and some fire crackers are exploding on the ground and just as they hit the water. They looked like high school kids. Drinking beers, playing music loud from sub-woofer and dancing. There are still some who light the Krathong and let it flow down the river. Strange was the mix of that serenity and the explosions of fire crackers.
Back at Wat Bupparam, I made best use of the fast internet connection there to upload more photos and write a blog about yesterday’s parade and photo shoot in the rain. Toi came around and was feeding rice to pigeons. Then he was back later, with a plastic bag in his hand, and asked if I wanted to come see many cats being fed. He knows I love cats. There were a few cats sitting and meowing while I was sitting there, but now I understood. This end of temple ground he fed a couple, then we moved across to near the chedi and found close to a dozen all waiting for him there. They were clearly very pleased with the quality of fish given to them, and they were not the only ones: chickens came to feed on fish, amongst the cats! Toi is grinning, ‘See, cats and chickens, together. No problem!’
Kasate brought me a few bags of fruit and juice while I was sitting up there. He said it was from the top monk, he thanked me for the photos. Wow! There were persimmon, very sweet and tasty, soy milk in packs, pork floss rolls, packs of water, very large and ripe mango and some bananas. I was having some of the fruits there, talking to him about taking photos in the rain last night. We have very little communication as he does not speak English. But he is the one who is always online here at the temple, even next to me he shows his mobile where he posted a photo of me on Facebook. He already saw the photos from last night that I’d uploaded 15 min ago, while he was up in his office in the school building.
Then Toi appeared, holding a large tray full of food. Telling me ‘come, eat!’. I was emailing links to photos to the people I’d met in the last few nights, but I managed up until where I can and put down my 5-year-old MacBook and walked across to his side of the balcony. There were some things ladies in the kitchen fixed – traditional Thai food but simple flavoured. Pork is again the popular meat here, including deep fried belly I think it might be, deep-friend fish with vegetables, simmer cooked eggplants, green leaf vegetables in soy and fish sauce, I presume, some brown rice and white steamed rice as well. In addition to that, there were some shop food: rice with sausage and fried eggs, fried noodle, and bags of warm soy milk (5 baht each, cheap, good for you to drink in the morning! Toi says). Toi says, ‘Every morning, I bring my breakfast up here and eat. Enjoy food, enjoy breeze, no rush. Just enjoy life. His eyes glow again. Knowing smile spreads. This is good. Just enjoy it. No hustle busy, running around breakfast is good for you. We watch some pretty girls park their car down there – temple grounds are commonly the only carparks available for those commuting to town by car – and he smiles again. His phone rings. It is the auntie in the kitchen. I can hear the word Japan mentioned a few times. A few min later, she brings a bowl with her up the stairs. Her legs are not good. It must be hard coming up and probably more difficult down, though it is only one and a half levels up. She brought us a desert of fresh coconut mixed with coconut milk. Yummy! I was sitting on the floor while she was there chatting (she did not want to get up to the chair I offered but instead sat on the top step), and thanked her with my hands together at the chest and head low.
I was fully loaded now, so as we declared we finished breakfast, I went back to ‘my room’, used toilet and quickly finished packing. Now I had an extra bag of fruit, soy and water… As we were saying good-bye, Toi’s phone rang again. It was the monk. I did not realise it but he was living in that back room now, that he’d unlocked and gone in after the photo shoot. Toi asked me if I want to stop by to say good bye. The old monk looked a bit more like an ordinary old man standing there at his door way, a bit weak and tired than the dignified strength he showed while being photographed. I thanked him for the fruit and drinks. He said ‘arigato, arigato’ in Japanese and smiled. Toi found me a tuk tuk driver just outside, told him it is the arcade bus terminal. And I think he added that my bus is departing soon. Driver hurried his 3-wheeler to the best of his ability without getting us in danger, using the left lane to go to the top of queue at one red light, muscling merging traffic out of his way here and there. I was leaving Chiang Mai.