Edna visits an Akha hilltribe
My little letter box has been overwhelmed by messages from your very
intelligent readers imploring me to conclude the tale of my trip to the Akha
tribe in the hills above Mae Taeng, where I went in search of a chastity
belt for my teenage daughter Tabatha.
So there we were in the parish pickup truck ascending a rough and slippery
dirt track, the rotund Sister Mary Garson at the wheel bouncing up and down
merrily on an inflated inner tube, my equally well rounded Downes syndrome
daughter at the window and me, ‘slender Glenda’ as my late lamented hubbie
used to call me, sitting in between like a slither of salami betwixt two
monstrous meat balls.
On reaching the hill tribe village, after a grueling five hour journey,
Sister Mary went off to greet the village headman. Tabatha immediately
befriended a gaggle of little children and went off to play on a rope swing
with them. Poor little mites, raggedy t-shirts that could do with a good
scrub with over-sized football shorts and not a pair of shoes between them.
But they seemed happy enough. My Tabby has a great gift for making friends.
It’s one of her many qualities. She has no inhibitions, which reminds me why
I went off in search of Sister Mary passing a few scrubby huts on stilts
with chickens running about underneath and the odd sow feeding an assortment
of runts. There was an old woman in a trilby hat crouched down in a doorway
smoking a pipe. I took a whiff of it and it made me come over all squiffy. I
can’t imagine what the old girl had pushed into her pipe, but it clearly
tickled her fancy whatever it was. Then I noticed a couple of teenage girls
who were busy applying lipstick and asked them to direct me to the headman.
I was glad to see they had learnt how to cover up their breasts in the
interim. The Reverend Donald can be thanked for that. They took me to the
headman who was holding up a variety of chastity belts for Sister Mary to
inspect. For some peculiar reason she sniffed each one. They looked very
similar to the hats the Akha women wear. Black, a very sensible color for
the purpose because I wont be taking it off to wash more than once a week,
embroidered with pink, yellow and green cotton and replete with little
silver balls, old coins and rather dubious looking seeds. Sister Mary was
shaking her head because none of them would fit Tabatha. She’ll have to have
one made to measure, she said. So off I went to fetch her to the fitting
She was still on the rope swing and pushing the other children away when I
found her. Most of them were now crying. The old woman with the pipe has
been called in to do the measuring and the fumes from her burnt out old bowl
infiltrated every dry crevice in the hut, but fortunately it had a calming
effect on Tabatha who was on the verge of one of her tantrums. Sister Mary
took a keen interest in the finer measurements of the fitting, which was
fortunate as I was virtually keeling over as a result of the strangely
intoxicating odor being emitted by the old woman.
I don’t recall much after that. I know we had to sleep over on a very hard
floor and that I was interfered with by a pig’s snout in the middle of the
night. I also vaguely remember eating something filthy off a banana leaf.
But as for the rest it’s all a blur. Suffice to say we have returned safe
and sound to Chiang Mai and the Akha women, ever enterprising, are selling
the embroidered chastity belts in the Night Bazaar. 600 baht if you bargain.
And so everyone is happy, except for the sly squid salesman who has been
thwarted in his lascivious designs on my daughter’s nuptial dowry.
Blessings to you all,
Edna Gosling (Mrs)
A very thorough search at Tescos
I am a 60 year old professor who has taught at medical schools in Thailand
for over 10 years. Last Sunday, my wife, who is also a retired university
instructor, and I made a small purchase at Lotus Tesco Kamthieng consisting
of a can of tennis balls, an extension cord, a plastic watering can and a
container of wet towelettes to clean the computer screen. We paid for our
purchases, dropped the receipt in the bag and exited the store.
Imagine our surprise when we were physically stopped by the security person
who had watched us pay for our purchases. This person searched our bag for
several minutes without asking for the receipt. When the receipt was
offered, the person continued to search the small bag, taking each item out
at least two times and comparing it in detail to the receipt. As no time
were we offered “excuse me” or “thank you” or even a cursory explanation. We
finally left, after attracting many stares and becoming quite embarrassed.
We have no idea why we were searched as nobody else was searched either
before or afterwards. It was such an unpleasant experience that we
complained (yes, we speak Thai) to the Customer Service representative who
responded by doing absolutely nothing but giggling.
We have shopped at Lotus since it opened in Chiang Mai, but no more. We have
no problem producing receipts or allowing the usual check of purchases, but
a check, recheck and third check of such a small purchase was ridiculous. We
won’t subject ourselves to that again.
SA Padua, PhD