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The dead guy and chickens


During one of my sojourns to Thailand with the Army, we were training with our Thai counterparts. As with all Army training, we were to culminate the exercise with an FTX (field training exercise). We headed to a remote Buddhist temple compound to set up my team’s operations. We were directed to an outlying building that was to serve as our sleeping area for the next 4 days. This was an open-air building in typical Thai style. It was on an edge of a slope that went down to the nearby stream. The area was covered with undergrowth. Perfect snake country. By the way, kinda like Indiana Jones, I hate snakes.

As we moved our stuff into the building, we noticed a rather large bundle lying on a ledge near a window opening. There were some incense sticks and flowers next to the bundle. We did not think too much about it at the time. We went down to the stream and explored the area. When we came back to the building, our Thai counterpart informed us that we were moving into the main temple.  Being the translator, I asked why. Apparently, the monk felt that we would be more comfortable in a building that did not contain a dead guy. Yep, the “bundle” was a wrapped up dead guy. I never got the reason why they had not cremated the body, but I assume it was because they wanted to wait until we were through with the military exercise.

The main temple was a raised platform wooden building. It got us off the ground and allowed for a better airflow in the hot and humid conditions. It even had a nice sized tree next to it, which helped with the shade. However, I found out that tree was also a curse. I had never realized the chickens would roost in a tree. I had a revelation at 3:00 in the morning. The whole business that roosters crow at dawn is bunk. For whatever reason, around three in the morning every night, the roughly 10 roosters that made the tree a home would start to crow. Every stinking night. Buddhist philosophy and respect for the monk prevented us from having free-range fried chicken for dinner. So, I got to spend a few nights of my life next to a dead guy and those freaking chickens!

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