Thailand memories

28/03/2009 by Christopher Buxton

Now as the cold rain slaps my face, it’s time to record those crucial moments before they fade into the wet grey of England’s Spring.

Daniel’s barn now stands proud and scaffoldless in its field – the workers have departed – and it only awaits Tony’s paint brush. Away to the right the cotton bushes, grown from seed this year have delivered a rich harvest.

I close my eyes and sink into the green of Siripan’s garden – seen from so many decks and floors of buildings. I hear the rasping of frogs and the apologetic hiccup from the resident gecko. The orchids writhe and blossom in mid air.

The temple of elephant carvers – whole backyard devoted to totem poles of elephantine shapes.

The shops on the Tarpei road – so many dusky interiors of dark shelves and rich glowing fabrics

Ness’s party and the joyful abandon of Tony’s singing a duet with Siripan over Love Potion Number 9 getting the timing exactly right.

On a morning bike ride Siripan encounters a snake writhing near vertical in its attempt to escape an oncoming lorry. It dances into the path of her bicycle. She lifts her feet just in time to avoid its lashing coils.
Caught in the headlights on the narrow back road the body of the neighbour’s drunken nephew lies motionless across our path. Tony goes to rouse the neighbour and together they pull the boy’s unresisting body homeward. With a suicide this year the family feels cursed by evil spirits.

Up early in the morning to meet with a group of bird watchers led by a heart surgeon. We are all ages. Our leader can spot a speck in the distance and train his telescope in seconds. His enthusiasm galvanises us all. Here a kingfisher; there a falcon breakfasting on its prey; we just miss a sunbird.

Our trip to Udom and Siripan’s mother as giggly and tactile as ever, teaching me the scansion of classic Thai poetry and Dun so good humoured and On so optimistic and beautiful.

Tony’s decisive driving, so concentrated, sensing the opening gaps, aware of drifters and blind drivers avoiding the flocks of heedless motorcyclists that blow about the road like mad starlings.

Siripan’s sumptuous meals, her photographs from Myanmar – her passionate advocacy of that country and its need for foreign visitors to sustain the ordinary people.

Siripan’s and Tony’s fierce commitment to Thailand, its arts, culture and natural beauty

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Written with love and gratitude