ตอน สานุก is pronounced half way between 'don sanuk' and 'ton snook' and is something that keeps happening to me and I don't know why. I seem to find it everywhere I go purely by chance. We had been out during the morning doing the usual chores like fetching water and taking Waan to the Vehicle Licence Authority to renew her Thai driving licence. We keep it up to date because we know we're going to need it sometime soon to buy a new pickup truck and the dealers won't accept a UK driving licence.
It is one of those jobs I don't mind tagging along because you meet people with normal lives and officials who will explain stuff to you. It always makes an interesting morning out. This is a way of life for husbands and wives of Thai nationals. That every so often you have to deal with yet another of the relentless stream of chores like Yellow Card, Thai ID, Driving Licence, new Passport, renew one or others visa, and usually it doesn't come cheap either. What we have to go to Bangkok - you mean pay for four flights, a hotel, restaurants, and the Embassy? Yep and that's another 20,000 Baht spent just to get a permit translated. Each time Waan's passport, which is every five years, needs renewing it requires driving to London, check into a hotel because you have to be at the Thai Embassy at 07.00am, and drive home about £250.00 lighter at four in the afternoon.
But the Vehicle Licence Office is Thai. I like it here. I can sit and watch the HGVs going in to be MoT'd and eat and drink and while the time away. Yep, you heard right, at the DLT (Department of Land Transportation not the Hairy Cornflake) you can have breakfast and lunch and a cold beer and get change from a hundred Baht. If you want good food at a low price look out for DLT offices. They are near all the major towns.
Now I accept you think I am yanking your chain but I am genuine here. If you are backpacking or touring and need a stop then try out a DLT office. I am not the only one who thinks this, there are many farang online who see it the same as I do. These Licensing Centres are a place of entertainment. Above left is what to look for if you want to try it out. Middle is yet another truck being tested and right my mid-morning snack of larb ghai and a can of beer and I can tell you the larb is perfect.
When you finish snacking go into the office and you will find plenty to read and giggle at. Below left the office reception that says 'One Stop' which at this one stop directs you to the first floor for vehicle testing, outside across the yard for driving tests, third floor for driving licences, and ground floor for MoTs or as Thai call it, a Vehicle Passport. That'll be five stops then not one stop? Below middle is a ex-pat's photo but I love it so I stole it. In Thai it is correct but the English translation is just superb and if the examiner is female I'm in, and the photo on the right speaks for its self.
Thai do make funny signs on purpose. They love word play. But not in a Government building, no here they have Civil Servants, and Civil Servants ensure absolutely accurate translation.
Don't stop reading, I'm not done. How about a no smoking sign for people taking their driving test? 2000 Baht fine no less. The driving test is only 500 Baht. But my absolute favourite in this test centre was the 'do not do' sign in the exit corridor.
No driving or riding tests today either because it is chucking it down with rain. Driving tests are done off-road in Thailand and the examiner here didn't want to get wet. It just keeps on getting funnier.
Waan suddenly says 'OK love we can go now'. I was right fed-up at her wanting to leave and she wouldn't have it that I really didn't want to go yet. But I want to look at some more signs darling I protested but she was having none of it. To be fair she has spent two hours falling in line.
There's no night market tonight in Aranyaprathet but at the end of the road to Wangprapa Resort is a wide road that is turned into a smaller market with an array of street stalls. We had a wander along it looking at various cheap products while we wait for Waan's family to arrive. Of course they are my family as well and when touring if you befriend a Thai you quickly become assimilated into their family which is no bad thing.
The kids and Waan's sister arrive and we head off for the moo yang - again. The bill is negligible so who cares? As we leave the market I try to take a photo of a little girl and her father tells her to be polite for the falang. I tell her she takes a very beautiful photo and you must make your dad very proud. He smiles and thanks me and why wouldn't he. Family is important to Thai, especially Isan folk, and they love their children but girls are an investment. When she grows up she will be valuable.
Westerners find the idea of sin sod, or dowry, distasteful but in the poor regions it was the only means of securing a young family's future. A man's family had to pay for a girls hand in marriage and he then inherited all her family's wealth. Isan is no longer a poverty stricken region but they like their traditions so if you are a falang with a Thai partner be respectful of their customs and do what your partner asks you to do.
We went back to bro-in-laws house and in the front yard, which is an extremely big front yard because it is an Army barracks, was Ton Sanuk. I wasn't surprised but I told Buarum I was coming back for the night. What is the party for I asked. One of the soldiers is going to be a monk. Which makes this his stag night of sorts but these are open house parties and if you want to join in they will welcome you with open arms. Literally.
These shows are brilliant. It costs you nothing, you can get very drunk on beer and Hong Thong, you can eat, dance, and party till dawn. Here was no exception because the party was full of soldiers but by far the best is at a wedding where Thai, just like the English, let their hair down and forget the rules but best of all, Thai like to party and that does not include fighting. Nobody ever kicks off at one of these events.
So if you make friends with a Thai family, young or old, ask them if there are any weddings going on. Or ask if there is any sanuk tonight. If you hear loud music or see bright flashing lights in someones garden or a park go along and join in. It doesn't matter that you do not know anyone or even if nobody there speaks English because you will soon have women giving you food to eat and men handing you bottles to drink and the first thing they will ask is "Where you from". Because in Isan the more the merrier, nobody will ask, 'Are you with the Bride or the Groom's family', because nobody cares. And you may have been to party's before but you have never been to Sanuk.