The day before I had baked a pineapple upside down cake for Duang's son's birthday so we were bringing some of it to the village to share with some of the village children - especially Peelawat and Kwan.
Duang drove the new truck part of the way and did very well - much to my relief.
We arrived in Tahsang Village to find life going on just as it does every day. Various women and children were sitting on the raised wood platform with a thatched roof. While the women were busy talking and tending to the children, the children were busy playing with whatever they could get their hands on - empty plastic bottles, containers of powder, and plastic bags. There are not many toys available to village children.
We broke out the cake and the children including 8 month old Peelawat quickly devoured it. At about that time, Duang's oldest brother came by with his food cart.
Throughout Isaan, you will see food carts. Some food carts are pushcarts. Many of the food carts are side cars attached to motorcycles. Duang's brother has a typical side car food cart. He has a cart that has a small propane gas bottle and burner, unrefrigerated food case, a small ice chest, and a tray of various soda bottles along with plastic bags along with bamboo skewers. Sometimes he will also have a pot of soup or some other prepared food.
In the food case he had hot dogs, along with various meat based dumplings and turnovers. In Isaan the hot dogs are deep fried rather than boiled or grilled. The meat snacks are put on bamboo skewers placed in small plastic bags along with shredded raw cabbage to be eaten with chili sauce. To wash down the food, he sells small plastic cups of soda with ice from his ice chest. Duang bought food and drinks for everyone - 80 baht - $2.14 USD - a small price to pay to be able to photograph some of my favorite "models" - Fheng, Kwan, Mai, and Peelawat.
Most people in Isaan do not have photographs of themselves as children or photographs of their children. They have not been able to afford the luxury of photographs. This is quite different from my personal experience. I have many fond memories of going through my family album and listening to the stories from my parents related to the photographs. The album was filled with pictures from my parent's childhoods as well as my and my sister's early days. Duang does not have any photographs of her childhood and I have a sense of loss for her.
I know that I can not change the past but I believe that I can make the present a little better for some people in that regard. I enjoy taking photographs of the village children and then giving some prints to their parents.
It is not my intention to change Isaan to be like the America of my childhood. I only want to provide some joy in a small way to some people in thanks for all the joy that I have experienced here.