Daily Archives: February 4, 2005

Burning Trash

I live in a fairly upscale village in the San Sai district of Chiang Mai just outside the super highway. Our village, “The Laguna Homes” has all the amenities of any western country including trash pick up. However, the older homes around our village apparently don’t have trash pick up. You guessed it. At around dusk every day people begin burning their garbage and trash. The smoke and noxious gas is so bad I have to retreat to our upstairs bedroom and turn on the air conditioning to mitigate the effects of burning plastic and garbage on my eyes throat and nose. This really spoils the wonderful evening breeze and the natural ambiance of Thailand’s atmosphere. Am I the only one that is troubled by this? Will there ever come a day when Chiang Mai and the outlying districts will have Municipal trash pick up or am i too optimistic to think that day will ever come?

Newsletter – 01 – Members Only

[b]This is a private newsletter for members only.[/b]

I just want to say a big thank you first to everyone for sharing your thoughts and stories in your blogs. We are at present receiving an average of 270 unique visitors per day which I think is very good for a new web site. We only did a soft launch last month while we were recruiting new bloggers. This month we will promote the blogs a lot more with banner advertising on our other web sites. We have also launched a competition to win a Thai watch. If this goes well we will then continue with monthly competitions. The questions for each competition will be based on a “fact about Thailand” which they can learn from reading the blogs. We are hoping to have 500 unique visitors a day by the end of the month and maybe as much as a 1000 in a few months.

I am still learning about blogging techniques for this program. But, I will try and share with you some tips over the coming months. If you have anything to add then please click on “comment”.

(1) It is possible to have a unique front page for each of the main blogs. It will take time to adjust them. I will probably change mine first (at least the colour scheme) and then help others to do so too.

(2) The main bloggers can edit their timestamp by posting blogs in the past or even in the future. Personally I find this very useful and have posted quite a few in the past to bridge the gap when I wasn’t blogging. At the moment, to visitors, it looks like I am blogging every day. Actually, that is not true. I wrote most of the blogs last weekend and on Monday I posted 7 days worth of blogs in one go. Each blog I assigned a different day and time to appear. So, the whole thing was done automatically. Saves a lot of time.

From that point of view you shouldn’t post a very long blog in one go. Split it up into two or three parts. When you post them just change the date for each one so they will appear three days in a row. Doing it that way will bring people back more often to read your blogs.

(3) It is possible to either link to other pictures on the internet or upload pictures from your hard disk to our server. However, with the latter there seems to be a permission problem and the pictures don’t show. As soon as I spot that I have changed the permission in the blog so the picture can be seen.

Seeker was asking about picture wrap. The code looks like this:


You put that inside the code for the picture. Click on “preview” tos ee if it worked. You can either have that “left” or “right”. Don’t worry if you are having problems. If I am online and spot a problem I can go in and clean it up. We are all learning at the moment so don’t worry about it.


Visiting a Thai restaurant

Whenever we have new foreign teachers at the school, I always take them out to a restaurant as part of their orientation. This is partly to introduce them to my favourite Thai food on a menu. But, I also want to point out to them some of the finer points of Thai dining. After all, it is highly likely that they will make friends with Thai people and they will be invited out to eat.

The first thing to note is the use of communal bowls. When you go to a restaurant, you don’t usually order food just for yourself. If there are four of you, then you should order at least five dishes. When I took some people out the other day, we ordered: a red chicken curry, mix stirred fried vegetables, lemon grass soup, chicken with cashew nuts and a steamed fish. That was just enough for the four of us. The chicken and cashew nuts were very tasty so we ordered more. Another favourite side dish is deep-fried prawns.

What happens next is that the waitress will put a couple of big spoonfuls of rice on your plate. You then help yourself to food from any of the dishes in any order. However, you should make a point of using the serving spoon from each dish. You should also only put a couple of spoonfuls on your plate at a time. Don’t fill your plate up as we do in the West. Just go back to help yourself to more.

In Thailand, it is traditional to use a spoon and fork. Chopsticks are actually a Chinese influence and you probably would only use them for eating noodles. Actually, when the students eat noodles at school they use a spoon and fork. I don’t think that is because they are not old enough to use chopsticks. Maybe the administration is more worried about a student poking someone’s eye out!

Anyway, using just a spoon and fork is not as difficult as it might seem at first seem. Most ingredients in the meals are already cut up into bite sizes before cooking. So, unless you are eating a steak, there is no reason to have a knife. I usually also point out that the fork is only there to scoop food onto the spoon which is then raised to the mouth. On no accounts should you put the fork in your mouth. This is much the same as putting a knife in your mouth in Western culture.

At the orientation, I also give them some remarks about the drinks. Thai people always put ice in their beers. To me that seems strange. I just can’t handle drinking beer with ice. It is bad enough when they try to give you a straw at 7-Eleven when you buy a can of beer! Anyway, you can just tell them not to put any ice in (mai sai nam kaeng). However, Thai beer has more alcohol in it compared to Western beer BECAUSE you are expected to dilute it with ice! Just thought you should know.

When it comes to the time for paying the bill, it is usually up to the person who invited you out to pay. Either that or the oldest/richest person. There is a certain amount of prestige in being able to pay for everyone so let them do it. You should also remember that when asking for the bill in a restaurant you say “chek bin”. However, in a street food stall you can say “gep dtung” which is more colloquial. Don’t get that mixed up!