[pinterest-pro type=”pinit” pin_url=”http://siam-longings.com/1people-and-places/isan-thailand-culture.htm” pin_image_url=”” pin_counter=”horizontal” pin_desc=”An abbreviated attempt to present something of the culture of Isaan.”]
isan thailand culture
Has anyone ever been to the Chaiyaphum or Chonburi province in Thailand for holidays?
I recently spent 3 weeks in Thailand, (Bangkok, Pattaya, Sri Racha, Phu Khieo) I asked this question because i seen next to no other ‘farang’ in the out of the way places i went to, just wondering if anyone else can share some information on their experiances with me.
Thanks for the great answers guys, i now understand why i didn’t see any farangs when i was in Chaiyaphum province, i really envy those guys living there.
Sure Chonburi has some farang – mainly people living in the Pattaya and surounding areas, but I think in general most farang who stay in Chaiyapum (I never went there) or other up-country places are basically living with there girlfriend/wives families in really low cost setting.
In the up-country places like Chaiyapum (Isan, etc.) I assume these few farangs that live in the other areas prefer to stay ‘really localized’ and not deal with other farangs because they prefer the ‘real thai culture’ of these up country places. If they get lonely they can easily visit Bangkok.
isan thailand culture
Apart from being in the Isaan, there is little option but to refer to descriptions of the Region. One very good one is Wikipedia‘s article Isan, with its section on Isaan’s Culture. It would be prudent for the student to have an eye toward the History of Isan, as well, for history strongly influences culture.
As does language. But more on that in a bit.
First, I doubt anyone would find anything to quibble with concerning this short paragraph from Circle Of Asia:
Covering one third of the country, Isan is Thailand’s poorest, harshest and least-developed region. Its resilient people constitute the bulk of migrant workers in Bangkok. Linguistically and culturally, Isan people are more akin to the Lao and Khmers than to their Thai brethren. Aside from remnants of their culture, the ancient Khmers left a legacy of architectural and archaeological treasures across Isan, many of which are still standing today. Although few tourists visit this region, travelers are quick to affirm the friendliness and zest for life that characterize the local people. Their folk music is distinctive, typically represented by melodies played on bamboo khaen pipes and the ponglang, which resembles a xylophone. Northeastern food is very spicy and includes a huge variety of local specialties.
Even though this region is now fully incorporated into Thailand and all residents are Thai, the Lao Isan language, unique diet, ritual and culture continues to thrive among this people group.
A short piece titled Lao Isan – Religion and Expressive Culture at EveryCulture.com also has some merit.
But no Westerner can truly intuit Isaan without living there — or even experiencing something like volunteers undergo at a program like Isan Survivor.
Three paragraphs back, I quoted a statement that claimed language, diet, ritual, and culture were continuing to thrive amongst the Isaan people. Yet, there are those who see it very much otherwise.
If you can handle the 2004 paper ISAN: THE PLANNING CONTEXT FOR LANGUAGE MAINTENANCE AND REVITALIZATION from SLLT (Second Language Learning & Teaching), that is nestled away in the website of the University of Southern Queensland (Australia), this excerpt may spark your interest:
This paper takes the standpoint that Isan as a language, and possibly as a culture, will, after a long process of language shift rather than a sudden reduction in a number of speakers, die in the next 100-200 years. Tossa (1999) is less optimistic, and argues that the next generation is crucial, with mutual incomprehensibility already manifesting itself in the case of urban and rural Isan, and significant culture death already occurring. Without a written language, the likelihood is that Isan will never attain “safe” status as an official regional language of Thailand, and consequently will be one of the 6,000 “local vernacular languages” that will die out (Kraus, 1992, cited in Ash, Little Doe Fermino & Hale 2001).
This paper also takes the point of view that if Isan people so wish, nothing should be done to prevent this death, and that in this case Isan as a language and a culture should be recorded, catalogued and preserved in libraries and museums for mainly academic purposes.
That hardly sounds anything like thriving, does it?
I am in no position to argue for or against this. After all, I have not been to Thailand in seven years now, finding myself most certainly isolated (financially) with my small Pension here where I live in Canada — sadly, roughly 40 kilometers from the hospital in which I was born some 62 years ago. But I do read how rural Thailand farmers are finding their children less and less willing to embark upon that same lifestyle. Young people have grown soft, the young men sporting the smooth hands and long, slender fingers one would expect of lifelong office workers.
By the way, for more on the disappearing language situation, try this paper written by a Thai (Wajuppa Tossa) — it is titled STORYTELLING, A MEANS TO REVITALIZE A DISAPPEARING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE IN NORTHEAST THAILAND (ISAN).
I had intended to perform better with today’s post, but researching it has exhausted the time I had budgeted to work upon it. And this is actually now a July 17 (2012) post edit! I think I will simply put the post to rest with these following somewhat related references. Just note that in this first reference, I have not tried the musical download, so I have no idea whether it is safe — you are on your own.
For Em Records’ latest foray into unchartered musical territory, we are concentrating on the sor from Thailand, the traditional two-stringed violin that is a mainstay of Isan musical culture. Whether it’s playing beautifully-crafted …
Publish Date: 07/14/2012 16:37
Exploreisan Amazing Isan Thailand Travel Advice. Travelling Isan north east Thailand. It’s never easy moving to a new country, with a new culture and new language. This is my third attempt and there always seem to be steps …
Publish Date: 01/24/2012 4:46
… Talent Body Painting (Video) Thailand’s Culture Minister Sukumol Khunplome said Monday that she will seek an explanation from… … Leptospirosis outbreak reported in Isan. Added by Thailand News on July 12, 2012. Saved under Isan …
Publish Date: 07/12/2012 13:55
History, Art, Culture and Buddhism in Northeast Thailand I. You might have a bit of trouble reading the print in the photo, but it is a paper by Dr. Boonsom Yodmalee of Mahasarakham University, the title being “Isan: Past and …
Publish Date: 02/15/2012 23:00
Teaching Isaan language and culture in schools, however, is still politically sensitive. Central Thai is Thailand’s only officially recognized language and the government has long fought to keep Thais unified under one …
Publish Date: 03/01/2012 17:33
29 Oct – 3 Nov – Northeast Thailand, bordering Laos, is fondly known as Isan. Isan language and culture are melting pots of Lao and Khmer influences. Generally more backlaid than any other regions in the country, Isan is …
Publish Date: 11/18/2006 3:31
What Is North East Thailand Known For?
Like Landmarks and things like that
For their ‘Isan’ culture
LPHS International Day ’08 – Isan Thai Dance
Uploaded by LPHSCCC on Aug 21, 2008
In hopes in spreading cultural awareness, the LPHS Cultural Connections Club hosted its first International Day on May 21, 2008.
Isan Thai Dance
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