A couple months ago, when it was still “cold,” we visited a temple that we’d been hearing of for a while, Wat Ban Donnad (Wat Ban Don Nad?). At the end of a long, broken dirt road that runs through several villages, we ended up here:
You can see our destination out on the island:
We honked our horn, and a young monk on a small outboard came putt-putting out. Max saw the boat and it was on.
Max was wearing his inflatable life jacket all day in anticipation of riding on a boat.
The monk was shy, so I spared him the embarrassment of a face shot.
There’s no electricity on the island, so we brought yard-long candles in addition to the usual food offerings. Giving these to a temple is the most popular form of making merit in Thailand. We talked to the monk that greeted us on the other side for a while, and he seemed to enjoy playing with the kids. Then he showed us the new temple they are building with massive slabs of timber floated down the river from Laos.
We walked around the island for a bit, then headed back to the boat.
We’ve since visited the landing again, but didn’t cross over because there was a temple festival with crowds of people, and they were packing themselves onto the tiny boats to cross over and back. In typical Thai fashion, the people sitting on the edge of the boats were half-heartedly bailing them out until the water inside reached their ankles, at which time the rate of bailing doubled or tripled – this would repeat until the boats reached their destination. When we saw this was happening, we decided it would be okay to pay our respects from the shore on this side.
Just about a month ago, we had a big storm come in at night due to a typhoon battering Taiwan. It rained a lot more than normal, even for rainy season, and the pond in front of our house must have flowed over onto the road at some point during the night. I say must have because I didn’t actually see it happen, but found some evidence to that effect including washed up debris on our curb and a half-dead pla salit (Snakeskin Gourami). Upon poking with my finger, he wiggled a bit, so I decided to try reviving him in a spare six liter PET water bottle I had in the yard.
I filled it with water from the pond and slipped him in through the top, and after performing carefully measured agitation to stimulate oxygen transport over the gills (read: shaking it for a while), Mr. Gourami “turned that frown upside down” and started swimming around.
Max was delighted and immediately dubbed the fish “Bitty” (it was not until later that I realized he was trying to say “fishy,” but by then I had gotten used to calling him Bitty as well).
Bitty received due adulation from his attending 2.5 year old host, including being assaulted with long cooking chopsticks and drinking straws joined end-to-end (which daddy was using to occasionally blow air into the bottle just for the hell of it). But as cool as this fish was, and as much as Max loved him, I decided to let him go at the end of the day because I wanted him to go live with his friends in the pond. Also, I had no desire to find out which aquatic plants he could eat by trial and error – I knew he ate plants because that’s what it said in my go-to SE Asian fish book, Fish and Fish Dishes of Laos by Alan Davidson.
In addition, Max gets bored with new toys almost instantly, so we thought we could get away with Bitty just suddenly disappearing… This is how we ended up going out as a family to buy a small aquarium less than two hours after I threw Bitty back in the pond, but that’s another story.
For now, I choose only to commemorate a boy and his fish: