Home alone at the famous Farang House of Thung Song I considered my options for the evening:
Number 1: Internet Café
Number 2: Read a book
Number 3: Visit the neighbours
I was invited to the Chinese New Year Party the guys were holding next door but couldn’t decide if I was brave enough to attend. I had no idea what to expect, no idea if anyone would speak English, and a pretty sure idea that my Thai would only be sufficient for a 5-minute conversation.
My mind was soon made up for me as I heard a loud banging at the upstairs window.
‘Haaloooo!’ yelled See as he leaned over the balcony. ‘Halloooooooo!!!!’
I made my way to the balcony wondering what his choice of attire would be this time. A towel, a cape or something slightly more normal? Ah. A towel. Awkward.
I poked my head out the window, not quite knowing where to look.
‘Hello’ I replied ‘How are you?’
‘Yes Yes fine’ he assured me, ‘you come now yes?’
I guessed he meant the party was about to begin.
‘Urmmm…I don’t know’
‘Yes yes you come!’ he stated firmly. He stared at me. I wasn’t quite sure what to say. Suddenly a huge smile spread across his face and he began to jump up and down, waving his arms furiously in the air.
‘Yahayyy you come’
Oh god. How could I refuse when this 33-year-old man was now jumping up and down on his balcony wearing only a towel?
‘Ok’ I sighed.
Remembering to leave my shoes outside, I nervously stepped into the house. There were two small tables in front of me that would have been perfect for a dwarf’s tea party. Twenty people sat cross-legged on the floor devouring the feast of rice and beer before them.
‘Farang!!’ cried one of the men as he spied me in the doorway.
Imagine shouting foreigner at someone in England? You’d probably get put in prison!
I smiled politely and sat down, trying to ignore the fact that every single pair of eyes in the room were on me. My neighbour Ati introduced me to everybody.
The man who had noticed me first was very enthusiastic about introducing himself. ‘Mr GAI’ he emphasized, whilst pouring himself another shot of whiskey. ‘You call me Mr Chicken!’ With that he burst into hearty laughter. I laughed along as he was clearly loving the attention!
An elderly man I knew very well came and sat down beside me. His eyes twinkled with laughter.
‘Mr Udon’ he stated and held his hand out to mine, cackling away. I shook his hand anyway even though he’d been at my house earlier that day firing fruit at the wall with his slingshot!
Feeling more comfortable now, I looked around the room, soaking up the friendly atmosphere. See and Ati’s house was similar to our own. Expect for one noticeable difference. A giant, dead, scaly thing hung gloriously upon one of the plain, white walls. I curiously eyed the creature, attempting to decipher what on earth it was, or once was. Finally curiosity got the better of me.
‘A nee a lye?’ I asked, pointing to the strange squashed reptile above me.
My neighbour looked towards me, his eyes open and honest.
‘Baby dinosaur’ he stated sincerely.
My mouth creased into a huge open grin.
‘No dinosaur!’ I giggled loudly, unable to control myself.
By this point, the rest of the party were eyeing me curiously! Words were exchanged in Thai with the men all confidently nodding in agreement.
‘Yes. Yes’ assured Mr Chicken ‘Baby dinosaur’.
‘Baby dinosaur’ insisted Ati
Mr Udon smacked his lips together and cackled his creepy little laugh.
‘Baby dinosaur’ he claimed, whilst passing me a scary looking piece of fish with the eyeballs still attached. ‘Eat’.
I was outnumbered. Clearly there was a dead baby dinosaur hanging on my neighbour’s wall. And now I had to find a way of successfully hiding these fish eyeballs. I was beginning to forget what I had ever considered normal.