Nong Mae Taeng,
Sai Ngam District, Kamphaeng Phet
A few weeks ago, I have introduced a bit of Nong Mae Taeng, but it was only a historical part and relation to Thammasat University. Then, this week I decide to talk more about how people in this region interact with each other.
First of all, let’s look at the origin of the villagers. Despite the fact that Nong Mae Taeng is located in Kamphaeng Phet, the upper centre of Thailand, most of them originally immigrated from Isan, the northeastern part of the country. There are many provinces such as Maha Sarakham, Roi Et, Khon Kaen, Sisaket, and Kalasin. Plus, people nearby Kamphaeng Phet province also moved to Nong Mae Taeng. There are Phichit and Phitsanulok.
As I had a talk with them, I knew the main reason why they decided to move to a faraway place like this. Most of the villager told me that the land in the northeastern part was very dry in the past. It was very hard to even grow rice and harvest it in time.
Later on, there was someone suddenly coming out and telling that the land in Nong Mae Taeng was very flourishing and nourish unlike the cost which was very low. Likewise, the weather was really good for planting and agriculture.
At first, they didn’t believe in what that guy told them, so some of their relatives came for a survey. However, during the journey, it was difficult to reach Nong Mae Taeng. They needed to take a train and stop at Nakornsawan Province. For the rest of the path, they had to take a truck.
After the exploration in Nong Mae Taeng, those who visited the land first went back to confirm that all rumours were true. Gradually, each family immigrated to Nong Mae Tang. Then, it is no surprise at all if they can casually and fluently speak in an Isan accent nowadays.
Therefore, when many people come to live together, interact with each other or even share similar characteristics, a new social group is formed. If anyone has different attitudes, he or she will be isolated from the society.
The villagers told that there used to be many thief before and their buffalos were always captured or stolen. Sometimes, the thief even came and shot a fire to the villagers. Obviously, these people did not belong to Nong Mae Taeng society, so people got rid of them by helping each other catch the thief and shot them in the field.
It may seem a little bit frightening about killing the thief, but it did happen and really showed that the villagers collectively have the sense of unity.
Moreover, many Isan traditions appear all around this village. For example, during the time I was there, most of my meal are northeastern foods.
Also, many local products of Nong Mae Taeng are like those you could find in Khon Kaen or Sisaket, including Kratip—a sticky rice container made from dried leaves of the nipa palm, mat and carpet. The pattern of these goodies is Isan style.
As a result, these kinds of elements become a culture of the community. Everybody in the village knows how to make the products from generation to generation. It is the way of life of people. In school, there are many subjects related to the local culture such as handcrafting a mat and planting vegetables.
There is more about this society. After a social group has their own culture, another important thing was born. It is a social value of this village because they contain knowledge and experience of local residents together. Each person from different provinces of Thailand share, exchange and develop new tradition, so their iconic social value was created.
The students at Nong Mae Taeng school can apparently represent the existence of the social value. To give an example, in the past the mat were only made of leaves, while today they also used an old cloth. This is how they develop their social culture to be a social value. The materials may be different, yet a true value or an initial function of the products is still the same.
Apart from that, focusing on the way they interact within the community, I can also see that changing of media world can also affect the people’s habits.
Even though Nong Mae Taeng is not located in an urban area, the new technology still affects their way of life. As mentioned above, they used to be curious about the news before. Unlike at that time, the residents seem to believe right away to what they hear. This is because there is a radio signal in the village. No matter where you are in the area, you can hear out all announcement clearly.
Normally, it will be on air around 8 o’clock in the morning. There will be a spokesman of the village to report what is going on in the society. All special events will be updated by this. When I was there, our team decided to hold a children day’s event, we also got help from the villager’s radio to invite them to join our event. Likewise, they even announced each household’s money support for our meal. I was very impressed.
The spokesman is a reliable person as he has lived here for so long. He is the only one responsible for this duty. Therefore, people will believe in what he says right away.
In contrast, people used to be sceptical in every single thing. They will not believe in it until they can prove themselves. This change may result from the convenience of new media allowing people to acquire to information more easily than ever before. So, when they hear it every day, they become accustomed with it. They feel that it is just a normal daily interaction of each member via radio, so everything is fine. They need not worry about the fake rumours since the resident in Nong Mae Taeng now have more sense of unity among each other and make their own social group.