What is Khemmarat to me?
It has only been my second day at Khemmarat, Ubon Ratchathani, but already, I feel so at ease. I know two things to be true: The people of Khemmarat are kind, and they love their community. There is never a dull moment on my journey to seek happiness in Khemmarat, as every moment here, there is a surprise after surprise in this beautiful village.
From my first impression of meeting the Khemmarat community at Ma Khong Home Stay to the traditional “Baai Sri Suu Kwan” welcoming ceremony, I feel like I am here in Khemmarat exploring a culture unlike my own in Singapore. The people of Khemmarat lived in happiness and freedom.
Khemmarat community is a village on its own, located some distance away from the provincial capital city, Ubon Ratchathani. Happiness seems to be their way of life. Thailand is often known as the “Land of Smiles,” and in Khemmarat, you will find the country’s most friendly people here.
Experiencing “Baai Sri Suu Kwan” Welcoming Ceremony
On our first evening in Khemmarat, we had an amazing experience to witness a traditional “Baai Sri Suu Kwan” welcoming ceremony. There are numerous traditions that the people of Khemmarat still practice today. One of them is “Baai Sri Suu Kwan,” a very popular welcoming ceremony in the Khemmarat’s culture.
Special guests are paid tribute by the Elders through a uniquely Khemmarat welcome. There is singing, dancing with music in the traditional style while we received the sacred threads, or “Sai Sin” as known in Thai from the Elders. The “Sai Sin” is tied to our wrists with blessings from the Elders in this welcoming ceremony.
You can watch this 5-minute video to find out how experiencing a “Baai Sri Suu Kwan” welcoming ceremony is.
The People of Khemmarat
Mum Mum Nuch
"Being happy is to let your heart shine through your smile."
During the press conference held in Bangkok, we got to meet our local heroes for the first time. The “local hero” is a representative of their community, and I got my first impression about the people of Khemmarat from my “local hero” Mum Mum Nuch. I am like a huge fan of Mum Mum Nuch because she looks S̄wy māk (means very beautiful in Thai). So, I was thrilled to see her again here in Khemmarat.
"Being happy is to enjoy and appreciate being in the moment."
I affectionally address these beautiful ladies of Khemmarat as 妈妈 (Ma-Ma means Mum in English). They treat me like their own, and there is never a moment I felt like as if I am a foreigner in Khemmarat. Ar Lhao and I had so much fun traveling around Khemmarat with these Ma-Ma. They had so much enthusiasm in them to share with us their culture and daily life.
I am also so amazed by these Ma-Ma, which I cannot help but exclaim WOW... They are so good with technology, social media, and photography. Some of these photos you see on my posts might be taken by one of the Ma-Ma.
"Being happy is to do what you love."
Khemmarat is known for its woven fabric product. . Talking about dedication, she is one of the most dedicated women I must have met.
Her beautiful hands deeply lined from decades of work, permanently stained blue from the repetition of indigo dyeing. To produce the woven fabric to make the traditional "Pha Khao Ma" (also known as loincloth), the by-product of cotton has to go through the indigo dyeing process.
"Being happy is you can be happy about anything."
We visited the Thai-Laos Fresh Market on an early Saturday morning to see the fishermen at work and explore the market. Porn attracted my attention, and she enjoys posing for our cameras. She looks so happy, and she seems to be enjoying her work so much selling fresh seafood at the Thai-Laos Market.
From my interaction with the local people, my personal take on the people of Khemmarat is they are very welcoming. I find it easy for me to get a taste of local life because the local people are welcoming to foreigners, and they are more than willing to share about their community.
"Being happy is to be selfless and contribute to your local community."
This is the local volunteer from Territorial Defense Volunteer Division at the Thai-Laos market, and he has been contributing his service for more than 40 years. During our trip around Thai-Laos Market, we had a brief conversation with him, and he shared with us that his responsibility is to collect border fee from the Laotians.
Many sellers from Laos come to Thai-Laos Market to sell vegetables, dried food, and fresh food. This is where you can find two-way goods trade between Thai and Laos. People from Khemmarat get to taste and purchase Laos products.
The Children of Khemmarat
"Being happy is to live in freedom."
The children are the future of Khemmarat. My personal thoughts are that it is vital to keep the traditional Khemmarat’s culture alive. There is a need to provide a means for youth to continue learning their traditional culture and finding pride in keeping their community. Khemmarat, Ubon Ratchathani is relatively unexplored, and not many people are aware of the existence of this unique community. One such method is to attract more tourists to visit Khemmarat to create demand and growth for the local products. I am very sure the people in Khemmarat will feel even happier to see foreigners.
"Being happy is to be yourself."
Come to Khemmarat and seek happiness yourself.
You will fall in love with this community as much as I do.
My Other Posts on Ubon Ratchathani:
- Let's fall in love with Ubon Ratchathani: https://readme.me/p/25962
- Finding Happiness in Khemmarat, Ubon Ratchathani: https://readme.me/p/25962
- The Khemmarat Ways of Life: https://readme.me/p/26163
- All Mums of Khemmarat: https://readme.me/p/26271
If you like to read the Thai version of our journey in Ubon Ratchathani, here are my Thai teammate Ar Lhao posts: