If I am lucky enough to make it back to Nakhon and set up some kind of a life for myself someday in the future, it will undoubtedly be at least partly due to the highly original, Everest-hearted, Liverpoolean Alan Jones. Here Alan has been cajoled into the role of St. Nick - surely the skinniest candidate in recent memory. I am sure the charms of his two elves played some part in his willingness. They are two of Alan's English students ( I see the airline ticket sales spiking as I continue) This photo conveys a lot of the weirdness of village life. Can you think of an appropriate caption? I met Alan on my first trip to my night market. Out of the sea of jet black hair and dark chocolate eyes shot his white top and robin's egg blues. Within minutes he had invited me to travel with him free anywhere in Thailand (to deliver the traditional Thai instruments he makes), invited me to Thanksgiving and Christmas at his house, invited me to visit an orphanage his friend ran, and introduced me to his lovely and phenomenal wife, Wish, who, he proudly informed me (sounds so much nicer than 'bragged' doesn't it?), once had a dance commissioned by the Queen herself. Here is Wish making some of the dance costumes she uses in dancing and teaching dance.
Dance in Thailand is not simply something done for fun like at a night club (which they also do), nor is it a separate 'art form' one buys tickets to go see. Rather it is an integral part of life and all ceremonies. It tells stories and identifies place and expresses emotional and factual history.
Originally from Liverpool, Alan is a self-made man who had his own IT company in England. He came to Thailand to see his friend and former partner John, who had married a wonderful Thai woman and started the orphanage in Pa Plak ("I lost, so I had to stay on to run the business a few years after we sold it," Alan explains with his dry English humor. My favorite joke of his, after quite a lengthy stroll, finishes: Why didn't I bring X? He's an idol f*cker!). At the orphanage Alan met Wish, who was voluntarily teaching dance to the kids. Thanks to the language and cultural barriers, and a lot of acting like a gentleman, Alan managed to trick her into marrying him!
Kidding aside, Alan and Wish are truly both Jai Dii, or good-hearted, though that does not nearly match the compliment in Thai. In Isan if you are Jai Dii, you are excellent and everything is copacetic. If you aren't? Well, go peddle your shit elsewhere. Alan built a terrific small house and gardens in Wish's village, where they have the wood shop too. Alan's brain is always turning- his latest concept is a Center for Traditional Isan Culture and goods. Here is the pond in front of his house. The wood house on the left is an all wood old style Thai house. My photos don't do it justice. It is exquisite.
These are one style of drums they make, some with heads on and others awaiting them.
Since it is Thailand, the remnants from the drum heads are smoked and eaten!
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