Finally, after a year and a half, the house was finished and we were ready to move in. Building a house, from scratch, in Thailand is a real challenge that I would not recommend tackling. My wife handled most of the man-management and I must say that without her stabilizing influence, I would never have made the distance.
This story however, concerns only the day we actually moved in.
In my experience, Thais have a remarkable way of making simple tasks incredibly complicated but with being a resident of Thailand for a few years, I have learned mostly to take this in my stride. If you can adapt and you’re not a workaholic from New York, living in Thailand can be quite special. The trick is to enjoy whatever you are doing. No stress here.
But wait, did anyone ever explain to you about the relatives coming to ‘help’, the monks coming to bless the place and the part about used or old furniture not being allowed over the doorstep until the new furniture has arrived. No ?
Well, let me continue…….
So, my wife stationed herself at our new abode while I finished packing up the last of our possessions at the apartment. Throughout the day, various suppliers were scheduled to be delivering the new stuff. A new sofa set, new bedroom suites, a new dining room suite and so on. Most of the ‘old’ stuff was already en-route.
Having emptied the apartment and returned the keys, I hopped aboard the removal truck with the last of my belongings and headed off to the new house.
Arriving shortly after, I was rather surprised to see most of our possessions neatly piled up on the front lawn while the house remained completely empty. There were removal men sitting around, some smoking, some sleeping but none doing any ‘removal-type’ work. I enquired of my wife, what was occurring.
This is one of those examples of ‘if you’re not Thai, you will never understand’.
I am not Thai.
Apparently, the old furniture cannot be brought into the house until after the new furniture has arrived. Nothing can be done about it. That’s the way it is. We have to wait.
I sought further clarification from the misses but it was clear that to move the old stuff inside first was simply out of the question. I decided it simply was not worth contesting.
Presently along comes the first of the delivery trucks carrying the new stuff. He has to wait because there is apparently a pecking order of which new stuff can go in first. I exhale loudly wanting to get on with things. Everyone looks at me as if I’m insane and gives me that ‘farangs don’t understand anything’ look.
All the removal and delivery men understand this ritual fully and continue with their smoking and snoozing.
Nothing…… continues to happen.
Next, cousin Paiboon turns up in his pick-up truck with his wife Baa, Gran’ma and his three boys. ‘Some extra hands’, I think to myself ‘now we’ll have this sorted out in no time’!! (Just my British sense of humour coming through here.)
Gran’ma wants to know where lunch is and scowls at me for not being better organized.
Another delivery truck arrives and this one is carrying something that is of high enough status to be allowed entry. I can’t remember quite which pieces of furniture hold rank over others. I really must try to remember these things !!
Gradually, pieces of furniture are brought in and positioned according to the wife’s instructions and generally some progress is made. I particularly like the way the dining room is shaping up and I am very pleased with the new furniture.
Paiboon and Baa help out with setting up some temporary cooking facilities in the back garden. (Although the house is finished, the kitchen still requires a little work). Gran’ma continues to complain about there being no food ready and the boys want to know when the TV can be plugged in so they can watch Cartoon Network.
More new furniture arrives and things are now starting to take shape. The bedrooms are starting to fill up and the lounge is getting organised. Finally the boys have somewhere to sit and watch the TV. Did I mention that they are twins of sixteen and their older brother of eighteen. All three, neither use nor ornament!
The wife’s sister Jum and her husband Pi Toon arrive next and join Paiboon and Baa in the back garden. I always find it amazing how much food Isaan people can cook with nothing more than a clay pot and a Calor gas blowtorch.
Everything is now inside, although a bit disorganised and all the removal men have left.
The relatives have contributed little in the way of manual labour all day but at least now the food is ready. I look to the dining room, it really is very nice.
Paiboon and Pi Toon join me in the dining room and ask me if this is where we will be eating. I say ‘yes’ and without a word they push my brand new dining table and chairs into the corner so that they can spread out mats on the floor to eat off.
Oh goods news, the monks are here now, just in time for dinner !!
Next, there is some kind of religious ceremony which I did not fully understand but it is basically a blessing of the property, giving thanks to Buddha for providing such a nice house (good ole’ Buddha) and a warding off of evil spirits. This last part didn’t seem to work too well on Gran’ma but maybe that’s because I’m a non-believer.
And finally, the monks lead a procession around the house with everyone holding onto a long piece of cotton and carrying an object from the house, a cushion or something. Serious chanting is also involved here.
Finally, everyone buggers off about 11.00pm leaving me and the wife up to our armpits in removal boxes and washing-up. We’ll unpack tomorrow.