North East, or Isaan ภาคอีสาร paak3 ee1saan5
The north east of Thailand, which is the most populous in the country, is generally referred to as Isaan. The people of Isaan share a 50/50 heritage with Thailand and Laos, and the language, food, and culture are representative of that. The land here is the most arid, dry and hot. That’s why the region specializes in mainly farming. Cough.
Economically, the region lags behind the rest of the country. Partly it’s because the environment is not conducive to farming, but also because of many socio-economic reasons I’d rather not go in to. The latter is why the majority of the Red Shirts come from this region. The quality of education in this region is very poor, and unfortunately it negatively affects life for Issaners.
As many of the inhabitants are poor farmers, it results in plenty of thin tan women – popular among foreigners tired of the lazy fat pale women back home (I guess I’m tired of them too, haha). If a foreigner asks a Thai what’s there in Isaan to see, the Thai will answer with a grin, ‘women’. But Thai’s of other regions generally look down on Isaaners as dumb water buffalo, and they think tan skin is ugly. They don’t understand why foreigners have interest in them. It’s like wealthy Chinese men coming to America and snatching up all the ugly poor white women, and taking them back to China for marriage. I honestly wouldn’t mind, but I wouldn’t understand it either . . .
Anyway, Isaan is famous for its yummy sticky rice and grilled meats (which IMHO goes great together). It’s entirely okay to eat with your hands here, as they’ll be pleasantly surprised that you ‘eat like a real Thai’. The kaen (แคน, kaen1) instrument and the music style mor lum (หมอลำ ,maw5 lum2) comes from this region. Most of your taxi drivers also come from Isaan.
image credit: thai-blogs.com