Thailand | Experiencing Huay Hee

 

Today was family day, so Katia and I got to spend most of the day with Magu Isa. After the roosters (who are, I may remind you, right underneath us) woke us at 3.30am, we crawled out of bed and joined the family around the fire in the adjoining room. We couldn’t help but gape when she soaked our rice with MSG and picked bugs out of the pot.

It was strange to feel so obtrusive and out of place, like unsolicited observers. The son spent his time before school playing with Magu, then joined us in breakfast (rice and egg) before running off to school. Magu then took us up to the rai, which is a fantastic thing. Built on the steepest of mountains, these rice patties are exposed to the warmest of sunlight, and we marveled at their beauty. They are also very intimidating to climb, and we could hardly keep up with Magu, who, by all estimation, has a good 30 years on each of us. We were ushered into a little shade hut, where we sat on rice bags and stared at her dashing up and down the mountain gathering dee (a large, pumpkin-like cucumber). She showed up various plants and provided us with snacks – seeds and the like. On the way back, the women impressively carried the dee in large baskets hanging from their heads. I carried but three and found myself struggling up the mountainside.

We gave in to nap time and then met with our troupe at 2pm. After dinner, we finally saw our Pati (the man of the house), who was mysteriously absent until this point. He was extremely kind and almost jolly, eager to look at pictures of Colorado mountains and ask questions via hand gestures. We managed to throw together a small family tree, which included children and ages. The Sweet December festival was around us. One group of villagers would go around singing and eating snacks at each house, gathering more and more people with each visit. Katia and I tagged along for a bit, then wandered back home after hours of singing and bonding with our Pati.

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