Today was full of good surprises. Pidow, my Thai mother, invited me to be her date at the wedding of a fellow teacher’s son. When I heard loud laughter, blaring music, and a loud, flamboyant, “Hello!” I knew my ride was here. Pidow had brought two of my favorite co-workers, Lanpoon, the only other teacher my age, and Tatan, the life of the party. Together we drove to Roi Et, a neighboring town where the wedding was held in an elaborate hotel.
It was very different from an American wedding. The bride and groom had no bridesmaids or groomsmen; only their parents. A picture show began the two-hour affair, followed by several speeches from what I assumed to be close family and friends. It ended with four different guest singers and another slide show. During the ceremony, we were served a six-course, family style meal. It’s really more of a dinner show at 10:30 in the morning than the often boring nuptials we attend. Afterward, the newlyweds take pictures with everybody. Even uninvited foreigners. (Lanpoon is in white next to the bride, Pidow in orange, and Tatan on my left.)
Back in Suwannaphum, I learned that Tatan had bought me a motorbike. I’m renting it from him, but he bought it because he knew I needed one and there isn’t anywhere to rent them in town. He doesn’t speak English, but he’s very sweet and absolutely hilarious. After he handed me a brand new, pink helmet and the keys to a very feminine bike, he fixed his out-of-control comb over and strutted away.
“He is single,” Pidow told me, “because he no like girls. He like boys.” Just in case I couldn’t tell.
While Pidow’s husband was changing the oil and fueling the bike for free (he owns the car shop in town), two decorated elephants were coming down the street (I was almost too late to get a picture), followed by crowds of people, singing, drinking and dancing to the band that was bringing up the rear. Apparently it was just another parade to earn money for the monks to build a new temple — the seventh one in this small town.
I was grabbing my helmet to leave when Pidow told me no and put me in the car. I figured they were sick of showing me around, but I guess not. We went to a street festival where singers were on a stage at one end and fancy tables lined the rest of the block. We ate another sumptuous meal, including duck and fish with spicy mango. Both were amazing, just like my day.
Riding back to the hotel on my new scooter, I felt loved, lucky and spoiled. Just like home.