In the Uk over the years mother in law jokes have always been a good outlet for comedians, whether the mother in law has only come down for a bank holiday period or heaven forbid has moved in for a couple of weeks. Well my mother in law is Thai, and we probably only see her for a grand total time of about one month a year, but Mother in law jokes are not something that I rush to tell her.You see Khun Maa is like a regular crocodile Dundee so jokes about Mother in-law are not recommended. This and the next post are a few short tales of Khun Maa (คุณแม่) (Mother) and her traditional Thai ways.
Just outside of Hua Hin is a small coastal resort called Khao Tagiap, basically translated as ” chopsticks hill” . We took Khun Maa up the mountain to visit the temples and view the fantastic scenery from the top of the mountain . Alongside of temples and great scenery comes large amounts of monkies that are looked after by the monks, and you are allowed to buy some bananas to feed them.
As normally happens when you have in your possession a large bunch of bananas and are surrounded by Monkies, greed takes over and fights kick off between the monkies. There was a large tree trunk that Khun Maa opted to lean against in order to feed the monkies from, but did not begin until all the fighting was finished and order was restored.
The monkies began to inch closer to her in the hope that her guard would drop and stealing would become easy from the old lady, but Khun Maa watched every one of them from every angle like a skilled gun slinger with finger on the trigger at the ready. Just when most were still and the feeding could commence, khun Maa was caught with a sucker punch.
A fairly large male made his way down a branch of the tree that Khun Maa was leaning on and snatched a banana right out of her hand. The large male had about 5 seconds of joy as he sat there feeling rather smug with himself, before Khun Maa caught him with a back hander to the face. All you could hear was this thud noise as he fell out of the tree and hit the ground running, making a hell of a noise as he went.
It was a punch that Mike Tyson in his glory days would have been proud of, as for that specific monkey he probably went off to nurse his nose. The rest of the monkies must have taken heed as all waited their turn for a portion of banana as Khun Maa made sure that the big monkies did not take from the smaller one’s, but what a punch and what reactions for a lady in her late seventies. He certainly messed with the wrong one there and I guess you could say he would not be making a monkey out of Khun Maa.
Khun Maa centre of photo
You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It
On the back of the boat trip I thought it would be nice for us all to take in some Thai culture and Thai history at the Museum.On completion of looking around we stopped at a small refreshments place on the site for a cup of coffee. Khun Maa took her seat outside at a small table whilst we went to fetch some refreshments. My wife decided that she could not resist a nice big piece of jam sponge with masses of hundreds and thousands on top and quickly ordered it, whilst I stuck with the coffee. Khun Maa had ordered water and I took this out for her along with my wife’s delicious looking piece of cake.
Now I was fairly sure that Khun Maa does not eat cake, being traditionally Thai and sticking to the well-known and trusted tastes she is used to (Phat Krapow, ผัดกระเพรา) and having none of that sweet foreign stuff. I saw a way that I could perhaps pull a joke on Khun Maa and said in Thai ” This is your water Khun Maa and this is your cake” ( นี่เป็นน้ำของคุณและนี่เป็นขนมเค็กของคุณ) to which she replied uhhhr. Now this is a Thai expression which is hard to spell and hard to explain, it is something my wife does when on the phone talking to another Thai person. I think it sort of lets the other person know that you are still there, have heard them and possibly agree with them and I went back in to assist my wife with the other refreshments.
On returning to the table the joke had back fired as my wife’s cake was a shadow of its former glory of 5 minutes ago. Khun Maa had eaten most of the cake and enjoyed it immensely, meaning I had to go in and order my wife another piece. Khun Maa was told of the joke and found it rather funny herself. How times have changed, I had never seen her eat anything like that before and felt sure this small prank would run smoothly and the cake would be untouched. You just never know, we were surprised, but very pleased that Khun Maa eat this.
Bangkok Canal Trip (Bangkok back waters)
The National Museum, Bangkok
And Then There Was One
The outside of Khun Maa’s house in Nakhon Sawan was beginning to look rather drab, dull and sad and certainly needed a bit of a face lift, so the family had ideas about getting the builders in to perhaps re-render the outside and then re-paint.
Knowing a fair bit about this I mentioned that it was not necessary to re-render the place as all it required was a few minor repairs and a darn good re-paint. I further added that instead of spending money on builders, we could all chip in and do the work our selves. I do remember things going a bit quiet at the suggestion of this, but all the family confirmed that they would be on site the next morning which incidentally was a Saturday and the start of the weekend.
The next morning at 8am all were on site and I set everyone up preparing surfaces, filling in cracks and rubbing down with sandpaper whilst I went with our niece to source the paint. Khum Maa said she would like a good healthy cream finish, so armed with a paint chart of the chosen colour, we asked for the highest quality and most durable exterior masonry paint that they stocked.
With all the preparation and a few repairs to undertake I knew that the painting part would not begin for a good couple of days. A good day’s work carried out on day one and I estimated at this rate we would be done and dusted in five days. I should have known better as the next day saw only one helper turn up and he only came to play foreman. My workforce had disappeared over night and I was to plough a lonely furrow. Two weeks later completely shattered from the heat and bites from head to toe by insects Khun Maa’s house was complete.
The walls were a rich cream, the windows were a dark oak stain finish and there were no cracks or defects any where to be seen. Khun Maa’s house now sat proudly alongside her neighbours and Khun Maa wore a constant smile for a good few days. Neighbours came to tell her how beautiful the house looked and the farang son-in-law was not a bad sort of chap after all.
The foreman from his chair finally advised that perhaps the brick air vent exposures should have been done in white. The reply I gave was not passed on. It was basically ”you know where the paint and brush is”.
However next time I will definitely go along with the builders coming in and leave the foreman to deal with them.
For more information, articles and short stories about Thailand and traditional Thai ways, please visit http://www.engagingthailand.com/
Temple life a bg part of the life of Khun Maa