Life In The Laugh Lane

Arrest the city!

If Chiangmai were in America, the entire city would be arrested. No one seems to agree on what the Loi Kratong Festival in November means or celebrates, but I think the closest translation is “legal chaos.” In the USA, the army would surround the city, build a huge, maximum-security fence around it, or simply arrange a nuclear accident. They would not want anyone to know people can have that much fun.
I’m not sure what the laws in Thailand actually are, but some of them wouldn’t work in America: roadside liquor stands everywhere, run by the very young or the very old and everyone in between, selling name brand Rotgut or homemade hooch; madmen riding bikes as three blood molecules float through their rumladen veins; exploding firecrackers larger than hand grenades on streets, in bars or over your neighbor’s fence; launching blazing lanterns that disappear over the horizon or drop on your neighbor’s roof. My favorite holiday used to be the 4th of July, when Americans toast some ancient independence from England and watch fireworks from afar. Now my favorite is Loi Kratong: I celebrate my independence from America while helping blow up my new homeland.
America is more comfortable with Christmas holidays when the main religion is Commercialism, so the entire country can go shopping, give and get lots of gifts no one needs, go shopping again to return them and buy more stuff for a fraction of what it cost two days before. Wal-Mart has a bank of red-suited retirees under a sign saying: “Five Santas! No Waiting!” One line is the Express Santa for kids who want ten toys or less.
Starting on Halloween in October in America, Christmas carols blare in stores, at the office, in the streets and on the phone when you’re on hold. By the time Christmas Eve rolls around, you crave a Silent Night after you’ve heard a gazillion versions of it by every known musician alive or dead. Here are a few of your old favorites with words altered to fit the season here in Thailand. Gather the whole family, warm up some Chang beer, throw another bamboo log on the fire, sing yourselves silly and have a Merry Mai Pen Rai Christmas day!
Crickets roasting on an open grill
Sunburned skin flakes off your nose
Yuletide karaoke guaranteed to make you ill
Some trekkers smoking mistletoe
Everybody’s eating everything that walks or flies
A stick of fresh hot toads and frogs
A family of seven rides by on one motor bike
Dad, mom, the kids, grandma, two dogs
We know they’re tourists on their way
Bringing lot of katoys and good girls take home pay
And even Mrs. Claus is gonna spy
To see if Santa falls in love with a Thai
• • •
You’d better watch out. You’d better not cry.
You’d better not pout. There’s no mai pen rai.
The minister is coming to town.
(Episcopal? No. Methodist? No. Presbyterian? No.)
He’s made a big list of every Farang.
You think you’ve done right, but he’s got it wrong.
The minister is coming to town.
(Lutheran? No. Baptist? No. Prime? You got it.)

He sees you when you’re leaping through hoops for your visa
And now he’s got to see 10,000 baht or you’ll be stuck in Burma
• • •
Do you hear what I hear?
Said the shepherd boy to his sleeping beau
Do you hear what I hear?
Crunching on the wood close below
Termites! Termites! Munching on the bed!
Let’s get up and eat them instead!
Call the neighbors. They’ll expect to be fed.

And the world’s
shortest version of
Frosty the Snowman:
Frosty the Snowman
came to Chiangmai
Christmas Day.
He was fine at nine,
half-dead at ten,
by noon he melted away.

For more information about Lake Chapala visit:

Scott Jones
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