My cousin Riki's house in Bangkok is in a village in the middle of a swamp--or what use to be a swamp. When I first visited, in 1997, every house in the village had a boat for the family "car". Houses line the canals--the klong--each with steps down to the water.
We arrived by four wheeled taxi, though. The taxi let us off at the gate of the Buddhist temple. We walked past the crematorium, past the temple, through the 40-60 dogs lounging in the shade. People abandoned dogs at the temple to be cared for; no Pet Protectors there! No neutering or spaying either.
We dragged our suitcases over a narrow foot bridge and came to a sidewalk with water on both sides. Riki's house is along this sidewalk. Her house is on a cement foundation, with the first floor more of an open air family area and the living area on the second floor.
There are watermarks about 1 1/2 feet up the walls of the first floor, left over from occasional floods.
I visited her again in 2009, with my uncle and aunt, Dick and Jean Hall. The Halls were missionaries in Thailand and in Laos in the late 1950's, when the Vietnamese war spilled over into the ongoing civil war in Laos. Dick and Jean took me to visit friends in Thailand and Laos, telling me stories of their lives and people as we traveled. I met the 80 year old dentist who taught Dick to pull teeth in Namtha. I met the Lao man who was inspired to become a doctor when, as a child of 8, he watched Dick do surgery on a man with a shotgun wound to his face. I met many such people and heard their stories!
I plan to create a book, using my sketches and notes of that trip, featuring Dick and Jean's stories. As I develop this project, I plan to send out occasional posts such as this one. You are welcome to comment!