Phi mai

Phi mai at night. It’s a small place. A central crossroads where there is a sports fields (conctrete) with a stage at one end, and behind that, on a mound, the remains of a laterite chedi overlooking the town. At the cross roads is the foods market selling fresh vegetables, fish, jasmin, lottery tickets. I buy some sweet fried dough things and some banana fritters dipped in flakes of coconut, and a sour orange and lime shake. I sit under the central tower where roosting birds are chattering loudly. The market slowly winds down. Trying to work out what all the kids uniforms mean. Some boys where an almost military cadet uniform. All tan with Shoulder insignia. Other boys wear blue shorts and white shirts, others coffee coloured shorts and very pale pink shirts. They all look so smart, clothes well pressed and clean. In spite of being poor, dressing their kids for school is something parents obviously take seriously. Thai kids look so cute. Simple hair styles, simple clothes, they are sociable. They don’t have smart phones to play with every second of the day.

But…Don’t Thai kids have homework to do? How come they’re out on the streets now? Maybe with their mothers buying the food for dinner. I see some climb aboard their mothers’scooters. Some hanging around their mothers’ stalls, waiting for them to finish work. Young teenage boys and girls hanging around the tower. All still in uniform at 7.30 pm. Very different from uk, that’s for sure.

The phanom phi mai is literally opposite my guest house. It opens at 7.30. I really want to catch it in the morning light.

Suddenly there is a loud bang and a terrific flash…what the fuck was that? Some of the lights have gone down behind the tower. There’s no screaming, no hysteria, no confusion. Everyone pauses than carries on…I look to see what the source is..but there is nothing obvious, and it wasn’t a bomb… Back at the guest house they tell me it was something to do with the electricity supply!


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