Under the house at night

Natural Food, Wild Choices in Isan, North-East Thailand

Byron George
7 min readFeb 26, 2022

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Thailand’s climate and peaceful people have access to the most amazing sensations in food choices that I have ever tasted. Sah Erng near Tha Thum is one of those small villages where the subsistence farmers live. They survive by growing and selling their produce along with a certain knowledge of what many in the west would not consider edible.

Some of my most pleasant natural food discoveries ever have been from my many visits there.

Imagine walking through the sprawling village of old timber houses on stilts, all of the varying quality, some just shacks, and others slightly better. All the roads in the village and leading to the villages nearby off the main tarred highways are of compacted dirt and banked up above the paddy fields that provide the staple rice to the co-operative that sells the rice grown to the larger producers. Their harvest is stored, and the farm paid for its contribution after refining with sacks of rice and a subsidy from the government, at least it was how it worked when I used to visit. That has become politicized in recent times as these poor families voted against the wishes of the old school establishment. Much the same as in many countries where a class system dictates.

The dirt roads around the village often lead to the grounds of the local Buddhist Temple as that is the center of their lives and deaths. It was on a stroll around the edge of the village and close to the wall of the temple grounds that I was hailed with the usual shout and beckoning of “Farang, Farang.” That is what we foreigners are known as and as I was a bit of a rare sight in the village it wasn’t unusual to hear as I walked by many houses, where residents sat outside sheltering from the tropical heat and humidity. Farang is pronounced as if the ‘r’ is an ‘l’ and it always raised a smile and a wave from me around the village as people got to know me.

That particular day as I was hailed I saw 3 guys sitting on old, upturned tree trunks cut as seating and a flat piece of old plywood on another as a makeshift table. On the tabletop were some glasses and a bottle of clear liquid and above these grinning guys inviting me over was what must have been about 100 bees buzzing around a wild hive hanging from a tree. I went over to join them as with hand signals…

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Byron George

Positive & sensual author; loves diversity, travel, other cultures, pan, poly whatever! LGBTQ+ Positive, Growin’ old disgracefully. www.authorbyrongeorge.com