Yesterday I went on a pub crawl around our village. It is my romanticised way of saying that I walked around the village and had three pints in various shops.
That’s all right, it gives me a connection with my past.
Anyway, the last but one ‘pub’ (shop), was near the house and she was closing. I had one and offered to pay.
“You are going already?” she asked.
“You are closing the shop, I can see you locking up, I’ll move on,” I said a little disgruntled, but not much.
“There are robbers and thieves about,” she said in a hushed voice. “Please don’t take this personally”.
“Where?” I enquired.
“Everywhere,” she replied, peering into the darkness. “Since the government reduced the price they pay farmers in our village for their rice from fourteen to six thousand baht (£280 to £120) a ton people can’t afford to live, so they are robbing shops. Five were done in Phichai yesterday. I live alone and am very frightened.
I could see she was too.
“Not people from our village?” I asked
“Nobody knows. Nobody can understand it,” she continued, “food is going up every week, but the government monopoly says it can’t afford to pay more than six thousand”.
It is safer for me and my visa if I stay out of Thai politics, so I said nothing, but a bag of poor quality Thai rice, what my wife called ‘very old sweepings from the floor’ when I bought her a bag of it from the Co-Op in Barry, South Wales a few years ago, cost me £1.99 for five hundred grammes.
A Thai ton is a metric ton of one thousand kilos, which puts its clean value at nearer £4,000 All right, it has to be collected, milled, shipped, bagged and sold, but it still seems to me that the farmers in our village and everywhere else are getting a pretty poor deal.
Like when my wife sold twenty kilos of surplus bananas a few years ago. She got 140 baht for the lot, about £2.80 Now she gives the excess to her mother, who also lives in our village, to make toffee with and it is gorgeous.
All the best,
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Podcast: Our Village