Posted by: twistsoffeet | May 30, 2010

The Special Mushroom


I had been traveling around Thailand, when I ran into a friend from Seattle and his Thai wife in Phuket.  My friend’s wife was called O, and she introduced me to her cousin, Sirilakongnoporn, the first part of the name is correct, as is the last part, but I couldn’t pronounce or spell her name at the time, so I certainly can’t be expected to get it right now   Anyway, she was simply called ‘Ouie.”  Don’t ask me… I do not have the slightest idea how they come up with these nicknames.

(I once knew three women working in a hostess bar named, “Ouie, Nuie” and “Guie,” and their friend was called “Bibs.”)  I just don’t get it.

Anyway, Ouie was intelligent.  She had a degree in accounting and finance, and she had a job in Bangkok.  She was not your typical tiny Thai nymph.  She was a very attractive, intelligent, comfortably-sized Thai woman, who spoke very good English, was a good person, and didn’t want or accept anything from me.  And I miss her very much.

After a couple of weeks together, I had to leave for a couple of weeks.  When I returned, we hooked up as though we had been together forever.  She asked me to go with her to visit her village on a small tributary river to the Mekong. (Note: all rivers in Thailand begin with “Me,” meaning river, and in this case, it was the river Kong.)

My friend from Seattle had warned me, or maybe just given me an idea, of what a special thing it was to be invited to the village that a woman was born into.

Ouie had been married previously, and had a four year old son.   She got a divorce when her husband came out of the closet and declared he was gay.  He took off and was last seen working the gay tourist sex trade on Soi Cowboy (the Gay red light area in Bangkok for tourists).  Ouie had told me that after her husband, she was pretty much over Thai men and was very cautious to let anyone into her life.  The sign that she had accepted me was that she wanted her family to meet me.

We left Bangkok about 6:00 AM on a train headed north east.  We traveled about nine or ten hours before we got off the train and onto a bus.  This bus was actually pretty nice because it had no chickens or pigs, and more importantly, it had air conditioning.  We got off the bus in the middle of nowhere, and were met by a pickup from a neighboring village.

Apparently, it was a big deal that Ouie had been seeing a westerner.  The pickup took us for about two hours to the edge of the universe, nowhere, and we were met there by a man on a motorcycle with a side car.  This was the only vehicle in her village.  We rode the last two hours with Ouie on my lap, in the side car and our small amount of luggage strapped onto the motor scooter, before reaching her village.

This was a village that was different from the long house villages of eastern Laos and northern Vietnam (ie. not a black Thai or Red Thai village). Ouie was a member of the Mew or Mao tribe. The families here lived in their own huts on stilts, fairly close to the river bank. The family lived in one room in the upper level and the pigs and chickens etc. lived down below except in rainy season when all lived together. Fishing was a major source of protein and as everywhere in south east Asia rice was everything.

Upon reaching her village the celebration was begun. No there were no fireworks or general craziness but food was in abundance. The whole village turned out too welcome me and make me feel at home.
Since we had arrived late after a long day of traveling we ended up crashing in a hut that had been made available too just us, and the pigs snorting downstairs.

When I awoke the next morning Ouie was already up and about, she explained that her mother had gone into the jungle too look for a special mushroom that was required for a special meal she was preparing for me.
I spent the day trying too communicate with villagers, trying too learn how too thrash rice and how too throw a net into the river too catch fish.
When Ouie’s mother returned with her mushrooms after about eight hours of searching she prepared a feast. All I can say too describe said feast is that it included rice, fish, pork, chicken lots of fresh vegetables and a very special mushroom. If only I could be so fortunate as too be able too cook meals this wonderful.
WE finished the night off with Ouie going with the women and me with the men where we drank through bamboo straws a fermented whiskey made from palm sap (?) and was either horribly disgusting (absolutely) or incredibly special (also absolutely).
This ranks as one of the if not the absolute finest experiences of all my travels. I will state here I absolutely Love Ouie, but it was my failure that kept us from permanently getting together. She was Buddhist and I believe it or not am a staunch Christian. However if  I was able to get back in contact with her today I would marry her in a heart beat. I am not weak or fragile but my heart breaks over this lost love this lost opportunity for happiness. I can only wish her well and pray for her happiness and well being.

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