This is what I like to do when I travel. I don't get as many opportunities as I like, but I probably get more than my fair share. To be able to eat with locals at their house in their style is unique. It is an added bonus when it is excellent Thai food!
Now I don't want to leave an impression the Thai people eat like this everyday. Not at all. But on special occasions they break out the barbecue and grill local meats and vegetables. They can't do this too often because these meals can be expensive for their standards. Rice is a much more common meal with maybe some chicken.
But this was during the Sonkran festival so it was a special occasion. I had met some villagers while I was there during the festival and was invited to join. I will never refuse these opportunities.
This is not a barbecue in the tradition we are accustomed in the USA. These are small sets placed on the ground level. Typically the barbecue bowl has charcoal underneath a perforated metal plate. The meat is placed on top the perforations to facilitate heating. There is a troughed ring around the barbecue where water is filled. The juices from the cooked meat run into the water basin where vegetables are put, to cook in the juices. This is later eaten as a soup. Good stuff!
There is usually a local person in the village who rents these barbecue sets as most villagers cannot afford. It's a good deal for the renter, because he's also the guy selling the meat for the meal! In this case I was happy to rent them at less than a dollar each, as well as buy the meat. They supplied the veggies from their gardens. I think I paid about $50 total for everything. Well worth it for this experience.
It was mostly women at this feast. They were just locals from the immediate area or related to the family whose property it was on. I think it's mostly women because the men don't seem to be as social, from my perspective. But there are other reasons as well, including the husband has left the household, he remains inside the house to drink Thai whiskey, or he simply died. Many village men lead a hard life with not much health care. As a result, early death is not uncommon.
Regardless, I spent most the evening socializing with these older women. I probably shouldn't say that, as they were likely younger than me. But Thai women, especially in the village, seem to age faster to me. Likely because life is hard and sun exposure is great. Also, they can't afford cosmetics to keep their skin looking young.
I can say they were delighted to have me there with them. Maybe because I bought the meat! No, I think they were genuine about it. At least that's what I've convinced myself.
They got me into some kind of wrist wrap thing here. I really wasn't sure what it was about at the time. I thought it was a friendship symbol at the time but I've since googled it.
It is a Buddhist tradition where the string represents the Buddhist sutras or threads. It's called a "sai sin", and it's a reminder to live by Buddhist principles. Those principles include treating everything living with respect and compassion. The Buddhists really do have a great religion.
After dinner it was photo op time with these lovely ladies. Then I was off to my rented place in the village within walking distance.
I know they had a good of a time as I did. Everyone (well, nearly everyone) likes to interact with people from other cultures. Not only to learn how they live, but to proudly show you how they do, and display their traditions. I was honored to be a guest at their home.