By Dacota Shell and Meghan Villalobos
While in Kalasin, Thailand, we went to a village where we participated in traditional rice planting and fishing. Before doing the actual planting of the rice we were given traditional farming outfits and upon arrival we were given special socks to protect our feet in the rice paddy and hats to protect us from the sun. We then went to the rice paddy and saw that it had already been prepared and rice bundles were available for us to plant. Once we were in the rice paddy, local Thai farmers taught us how and where to plant the rice. We were taught that you grasp the rice stalks (usually about 2 or 3 stalks) between your index finger and your thumb, then stick those fingers and the rice into the softened mud about a foot apart.
It was interesting to learn how to plant rice, but we did notice that we were going at a slower pace than the actual Thai locals. When we were finished planting, we saw that the Thai people were filling spaces that we had missed and we really enjoyed how at ease they were about us missing certain areas and fixing our mistakes.
After the rice planting we were urged to keep on the protective socks and we were moved to the fishing area. The nets and fishing supplies that were needed for fishing were already in the fishing area due to the local Thai folks. They then explained the two different fishing methods we were going to be experiencing. The first was a traditional weighted net that you drop into the water, and once it settled on the ground you stepped on the net to find the fish. If you felt a fish with your feet you would dive underwater to catch the fish.
The second method was a large net hooked to flexible wooden poles and it was put into the water. The net was left in the water for a few minutes, then briskly pulled it up to see if there were any fish in the net. Once a fish was caught you would grab it towards the head and slide your hand down so the fins wouldn’t poke you. After you would put the fish in the collecting bins.
It was really interesting to fish with the villagers all watching us. You could tell when you weren’t doing something correctly because the villagers would try and communicate with everyone and they would laugh – all in good nature. But it was very fun to experience how the local Thai people fish and to see how much fun the Thai villagers were having with us participating in those type of activities.