How time flies by when you are busy or possibly, it also flies by when you are daydreaming about times gone by like I often do! Anyway forget what’s happening now and lets go back to my early years in Thailand and the subject of Buffalo poo!
I bet that you didn’t know that in many parts of Thailand, Buffalo poo is cherished and very much sought after. Even from an early age, I was taught to watch where the Buffalo poo’d and then guard it with my life.... the poo that is, not the Buffalo!
Now here is a tip for those of you who either have or want to own your own Buffalo, although I haven’t seen too many of them around Dalbeattie recently!
The secret is to try to conceal the poo in case someone else gets to it first and then you have to leave it for a few days. After that, go back, scrape away the poo and discard it unless you have another use for it! You then carefully dig the ground underneath where it was and if you are lucky you will find a number of beetle like insects. They are black in colour, not too pretty looking and about the length of your thumb.
After you have gathered them all up, they can be cooked on an open fire and added to a stir-fry, together with your own home-grown rice although again, I haven’t seen many rice fields around Dalbeattie, although it’s often wet enough!
The beetles were considered to be a great delicacy and you will probably find that they will be much sought after by your neighbours, at least they were when I was a young girl in Thailand!
Anyway now that I have your mouths watering, that’s enough about my culinary skills for now and lets go back to almost 50 years ago, when I was a young innocent girl, well a young girl anyway, in Thailand!
My early childhood years were happy and fairly normal for a young village girl, other than almost drowning that is! Like most children in that era, I had many household tasks to perform at home in order to help our large family of 8, although I still managed to have time to happily play with my friends and get up to all sorts of mischief.
Then the dreaded day arrived!!! I was 7 years old and I had to go to school for the first time. I was so excited although I can't really remember if that was because I was looking forward to going or it was just the fear of the unknown.
My school was about 2 kilometers from my home and as my family were always busy trying to earn a living on the land to provide for us, I had to walk there, sometimes alone but often with friends.
As we were poor, I walked to school barefooted and although there was a school uniform, consisting of a blue skirt, white top and with a ribbon tied into a bow, I didn’t initially have one. Unfortunately, we couldn't afford to buy a uniform and although the Government did provide some to families like ours who were poor with one, there was never enough to go around for everyone who needed one.
In the village, we were often lucky to receive a batch of second-hand clothes that had been donated by rich people in Bangkok. We didn’t really have a choice of what we wanted though; we just had to accept what we were given.
Fortunately my mother was good at making ends meet and found that one of the items of clothing that we had received was a pair of ‘flare bottom trouser's that were fashionable at that time. Ingeniously, she cut the bottoms of both legs of the trousers and used the flared parts to make 2 school skirts for me and they fitted perfectly. Sadly, I’m somewhat bigger now so they wouldn’t fit me today!
When walking to school there were two different routes that we could take although both of them were scary in their own way. One of the routes was along the road but there were stories about men in a big white van that traveled up and down that road looking for children. My parents always told me not to speak to strangers in case we were kidnapped and used as a slave or for begging in the city so because of this, I was always worried and looked out for the van!
However, it wasn’t just the fear of strangers that concerned us as children as in the raining season, the roads and verges often became flooded and what once was once a shallow ditch or stream soon became a deep raging torrent with a real danger of us falling in and being swept away.
The second route to school was a winding and hilly footpath that went through the forest. Most of the path was beautiful and there were many types of fruit growing there such as Forest Mango and Tamarind, for us to pick and eat. However, if we went that way we also had to walk past the graveyard and that was a very spooky place indeed. It was nothing like the cemeteries that we have here in Scotland, as it was overgrown and very dark. When passing the graveyard our vivid imagination thinking about what horrible things may happen to us always went into overdrive
Due to the uncertainty of rain water, it was fairly normal for families like ours to dig a deep hole in the garden up to around 2 meters deep, in order to store the water for use at home later. Sadly one year, a young friend of mine ran home into her partially flooded garden, forgot about the hole in her garden, fell into it and drowned. It was a really tragic event for everyone in the village and certainly one that I will never forget.
At school, I was fairly average academically although I loved to sing and dance. I was extremely popular for this talent and regularly took part in concerts and performances. Unfortunately this became an unfulfilled ambition of mine, as I had wanted to study music and dance later at college but never did.
At school, when you consider that the maximum class size allowed here in Scotland is around 20, we had more than 50 pupils in our class with the same teacher, teaching all of the different subjects from 8am to 3.30pm every day.
Now that is what I call hard work!
Well, that’s enough daydreaming for today and back to the reality of my business today but looking forward to joining you again in Part 4. Unfortunately this was to be a sad and unhappy period of my life :(
Posted by Noi McIntyre on August 11, 2019