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Letter from Issaan - Part 7 and final


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Letter from Issaan – the trip back.

Basically it was a trip back from the boonies to BKK, at the end of the holidays season, in one of the 100’s of pick-up trucks that do that trip at night to bring workers from the poor provinces back to the city after having celebrated NY at home. The car left the boonies village at 4.00 pm, and It took a grueling 13 hrs, first on very dusty roads, then motorway, very bumpy, racing long distance busses on four sides, absolute mayhem.

(On the 4 days leading up to NY, 288 people died on the road in this country, highest rate in Issaan, half because of alcohol, the other probably because of busdrivers on speed, tailgating, big buses and trucks cutting of little vehicles, and pick-up trucks overloaded to double their weight capacity. )

The one I was travelling in had 3 adults + a 1 yr old in front, a good household load of personal freight (e.g. bags of sticky rice the seasonal migrants take for their own use, bags, cardboard boxes, plastic bags,and other receptacles with clothes, an oscillating fan, a saw etc etc.) in the loading tray. On top of all that perched another 13 (!) adults and a child. Simple single cab Toyota ute!

The entire trip was driven by one feisty 23 rd old woman, playing non-stop Issaan ‘truckdriver’ music at full bore on the stereo. Offers of sharing driving were turned down “this is work, farang no work permit, cannot drive’ “my brother will drive part of the way.” I don’t think she trusted younger brother, or any brother or man at the wheel., because brother only took over at the end in BKK, where he knows the road better. Considering the terrible behaviour of the mainly male drivers here I can understand her. The woman spoke only 4 words of English, but I developed a great respect for her, she was unwavering in her concentration, and an exceptionally safe driver, probably the only one on the road who respected appropriate distance to the car in front, and was always scanning the peripheries and both mirrors for unexpected dangers.

I was very fortunate to be given the main passenger seat, I thought about travelling up top for a while but was strictly told I couldn’t. I was too tall, couldn’t squat properly (My squatting is not bad, thanks to Brendon, but I cannot sustain hours of it) etc, basically it was seen as not appropriate for me to sit on the back of such a full vehicle.

So I sat in front, on a vinyl carseat that got me wet and sticky, much of the time holding the 1 yr old, who fell asleep with my travel pillow under her head. When she after a few hours woke, and started wailing, the passenger next to me picked her up and gave her a bottle. She drank most of it while going around sharp corners. (carefully, but such a topheavy vehicle still leans over a lot in corners. So at the end of the bottle she was heartily sick, luckily mostly over herself, and my neighbor. Ten minutes later, a pitstop (stops for loo, stretching and food every three hours), she was changed by mum, who rode on the back (younger=lower status). Who then handed her back with yet another bottle. I tasted what went in it and it was like slightly diluted sweetened condensed milk. I suggested that she’d be better off with water (good solid child, not starving) considering the earlier vomiting. I was looked at with a face like “Falang men are all mad, don’t understand babies”. Yes, half an hr later again some vomiting. Next clean up, and I carefuly after that replaced the full with the empty bottle on which she sucked happily while going back asleep.

After 13 hrs of this, almost no change in position, my body ached everywhere. I was stiff and sore and very happy to get out. Imagine what the people crouched on top of the bags in the never ending wind and bumpiness must have felt. Yet this trip was visually something out of a Ghost movie. We passed and were overtaken by other similar vehicles, even fuller, with people restrained from falling off by a rope across the back, some hung asleep slouched over the rope. Because the dust, the wind, and the relative cold, many were wrapped up in towels, thin blankets with bivouac type woolen hats that covered most or all of their face. A short still image of a group of ghosts or zombies picked up in the headlights, to disappear into the night again. Yet, at the Pitstops, our dozen or so was cheerful, joking, stretching and generally appeared happy.

By the time of arrival in BKK, I was dropped off in front of my appt first, then they went on to drop off the others all over the city. My bags were tied up securely in a way that would have forced the whole ute to unload, so I said, OK deliver to me later. When I checked this morning, the message was that when they finished dropping of the last one around 9.00 am (!), they just went to sleep. My luggage will probably arrive this afternoon, since the ute goes back to the village, departing around 5.00 pm again. (Later: the car dropped them off at about 3.00. The driver had seen the appt block I stayed in, classified it as posh, and been embarrassed to go there in daylight before she washed the red Issaan dust off.

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  • 1 year later...

Reading Cent's repost about driving in Thaialnd reminded me of the trip I made last year from Nakhon Panom back to BKK, with about 24 other people in a truck.

I went to re-read it, and it showed me again that the most poignant memories I have of my time with an (ex)BG over two years were not the memories of sex, but those of the experience of living in the village, the peculiarities and personal foibles of Issaaan women.

That's the stuff I'll remember when i'm 90, when the reason it all started (being overcome with lust and Singha) will be long forgotten.


I want to encourage anyone writing here to tell us more about their real life experiences, not just (or only) a listing of their sexual history.

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  • 3 years later...

Repost, at request of a member.

Started at last post of this series, so the first one will end up on top.


Any comments even after 4 years welcome.


I always enjoy long stories with local colour, such as Cent's old Isan experiences.

I encourage any newbies to dig into the archives, just go to the earliest of the stories, tripreports, nightlife etc, back to 2001, some of them are fun reading.


If this bores you, just skip them.

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