Monthly Archives: April 2005

Curried Fish Cakes

I was first introduced to these fish cakes, “tod mun plaa” in Thai, in the school canteen. The deep fried cakes looked interesting but I was a bit nervous of the “green” bits in them. It looked like they were green chilies. However, later, after I had started to pay an interest in how the street food was made, I soon realized that it wasn’t chili but in fact green beans!

This is quite an easy dish to cook. The ingredients include: minced spinach mackerel, red curry paste, egg, finely sliced long bean, finely shredded kaffir leaves and seasoned with salt and sugar. After being mixed in a bowl, you use your hands to make small patties about two inches in diameter. These are then deep-friend until golden brown. Very delicious. Look out for them the next time you are in Thailand.

How patriotic are Thai people?

(Wow! My technophobic self has finally figured where the link to blog on this website is!)

“So… They proceeded to return to their own land, because the years have left a kind of emptiness when we spend too many of them on a foreign shore. But, if we do return, we find that the native air has lost its invigorating spirit and that life has shifted its position to where we have deemed ourselves only visitors.
Thus, between two countries, we have none at all.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne

I sometimes say that, to me, the notion of nationality is little more than the field I fill in on forms. Although I am admittedly one of the least patriotic people I’ve ever known (I was born in Thailand but only lived there for about three years and then moved round and round the world – I’ve now lived in seven countries), I know it’s untrue. It seems to me that wherever you go, people judge you and have immediate preconceptions about you according to your race and nationality. And that really galls me. Not that I’m at all ashamed of being Thai, but people in the West seem to associate Thailand with particularly unscrupulous things. Where Thais (or at least the few I know) often go on about the fact that Thailand is the only country in South-East Asia not to have been colonised, my British friends immediately conjure up images of prostitution, poverty, and transvestites (well, I am a teenager, and transvestites seem to be a source of never-ending amusement for my guy friends).

I think referring back to history can indeed fuel some people’s patriotism, but it’s quite hard to do so when the international media is depicting the Thai government as behaving in a rather banana republic-like way, especially with their dealing of the Islamic insurgency in the South and human rights records. (Hmm… I’m speaking like a peace activist, aren’t I? Sorry!) I think my brother worded it best when he frustratingly said “When the Americans have problems, they get boots on the ground, they get armaments… and what do we send to quell the problems in the south? Paper cranes!!!” I’ve no doubt it was a very symbolic act on Thaksin’s part, but gosh, is that actually effective? Judging from the continuing friction, I gather the answer’s “no”.

So, how do you guys perceive nationality and patriotism? Is it still relevant? How do expats, Thai or otherwise, feel about it? I’m sorry if I’ve been unduly harsh to Thailand in this article or if it’s descended into something of a rant. It wasn’t my intention, though it does sort of reveal something of an inferiority complex regarding nationality. I’m not quite sure if I’d ever feel ‘at home’ outside of Thailand, but, judging from the fact that my Thai pronunciation and accent have gotten so bad that market vendors immediately switch languages to poor English when I address them in Thai, I’m not sure I’d ever feel ‘at home’ in Thailand either.

Thai Book of Lists

Digging around on the computer today I was deleting some old Word and Excel files that I no longer used and I found an old document of Thai Lists that I thought you might enjoy reading.

I used to work for the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum here in Washington. My job was managing the bookstore inside the main gift shop. The museum itself holds several records, the Worlds Most Visited Museum for one and the gift store is, I believe, also the worlds largest. It was like a Department Store with three floors of the typical tourist souvenir junk except for my floor (of course πŸ˜› ) which was all books and in fact the largest single retail collection of books on aviation in the US..another record!

During the height of the tourist season we were always overrun with tourists from all across the US and every country in the world including Thailand. When I found out a customer was Thai I would begin speaking to them in Thai and sometimes the reaction was quite funny. One time a customer almost fell over in shock to hear a farang speak passable Thai πŸ˜‰

During the winter months with most of the tourists safely back home a lot of times I would have nothing to do most of the day so one day I was browsing through one of the books in our general science section.

This was a cool book with some interesting lists, many including Thailand. Sometimes Thailand or Thai culture was number one, sometimes it was farther down the list. Bored and also intrigued I started writing them down for an e-mail to send to a Thai friend. I wrote all the ones I found in each category including Thailands place on the list and who beat them out for number one. I forgot I had saved it on my PC so here it is some cool facts and lists that might surprise some of you so enjoy!

Top Ten Book of Lists on Thailand (and other stuff)

Countries with the Highest Pet Dog Populations

1. United States – 61,080,000
10. Thailand – 6,900,000

Countries with the Most Rice Production (Paddy production in tons)

1. China – 197,648,870
6. Thailand – 29,711,797

Longest Reigning Living Monarch

1. King Bhumibol Adulyadej – Thailand
Born: Dec. 5th 1927
Accession: June 9th 1946

10. Carl XVI Gustaf – Sweden
Born: April 30th 1946
Accession: Sept. 19th 1973

Beliefs with followers world wide

1. Christianity – 2,050,616,000
5. Buddhism – 367,538,000

Largest Buddhist Population

1. China – 105,829,000
2. Thailand – 52,383,000

Religions in the US

1. Christianity – 159,030,000
2. Buddhism – 1,082,000 (tied with Islam)

Longest Place Name for a City or State

1. Krung teip mahanakhon bovorn ratanakosin mahintharayutthaya mahadilok pop noparatratchathani burirom udomratchanivetmahasathan amornpiman avatarnsathit sakkathattiya visnukarmprasit The poetic full name of Krung Teip (Bangkok), Thailand a total 167 letters long!

(Check back on this one I want to post the complete name for Krung Teip in Thai Script – anyone know where I can find it? πŸ™‚ )

ed. note
My Thanks to MrBradUSA for showing me where to find the full name of Krung Teip in Thai Script. Thanks also for the typing lesson since I had to retype the entire name here since the website where MrBrad found it would not let me simply use cut and paste. I hope I got all the spelling correct! Here it is.


10. Meallan Liath Coire Mhic Dhubhghaill A city in Scotland 32 letters long, looks kinda wimpy by comparison huh?

Tallest Hotels

1. Jin Mao Tower – Shanghai, China completed in 1998 88 stories tall – 1,214 feet high

3. Buiyoke Tower 2 – Bangkok, Thailand completed in 1997 89 stories tall – 1,013 feet high

6. Thai Wah Tower 2 – Bangkok, Thailand completed in 1996 60 Stories tall – 853 feet high

Primetime viewers on Network TV 2001-2002

1. Academy Awards – 26,832,000 viewers
7. TV Show Survivor: Thailand Special – 14,124,000

Countries with most external debt for fiscal year 2000

1. Brazil – 237,953,000,000 Reals
10. Thailand – 79,675,000,000 Baht

Worst Fatalities
Motor Vehicle and Road Disasters

1. Afghanistan Nov. 3rd 1982 Soviet Army Truck collides with a fuel tanker – explosion and vehicles involved kill an est. 3,000 people

2. Thailand Feb. 15th 1990 Dynamite truck explodes killing over 150 people

Travel and Aviation
Busiest International Airports

1. Heathrow Airport, London UK – 53,796,000 passengers in 2001
8. Bangkok International, Thailand – 21,394,000 passengers in 2001

Goal Scorers in International Soccer

1. Ferenc Puskas – Hungry/Spain played from 1945-56 and scored 84 goals
9. Kiatisuk Senamuang – Thailand played from 1993 (still active) and scored 59 goals

So there you have it. I wonder what could be in the lists for 2005? Hottest chillies? Wettest New Year? πŸ˜‰ We’ll have to wait and see.

That’s it for me this time check back next week when I take a trip to Thailand in the movies! Anyone got the popcorn?

Till next time,

พบกันใหม่ ครับ

Sakla Fishing Village

I really like it when new people come to visit me. Especially when they say to you “Let’s go somewhere you haven’t been to before. Let’s go somewhere that’s off the map!” So, that is what we did today. We got into the car, just after lunch-time, and crossed the river by car ferry. We then drove down south towards Chulalongkorn Fort (point 1 on map below) which is on the Gulf of Thailand. I wasn’t going to the fort today as I had been there many times.

What I wanted to do was to try and hire a boat (point 2) and head along a canal and out to the coast (point 3). As you can see on this map, there is a large area with no road access at all. In some areas, the tide has started to come in and some temples are now completely surrounded by the sea. You can only get to these villages by boat. I found someone who would rent us a boat for 500 baht but he said we wouldn’t be able to get all the way to the coast as it was low tide. We should have come in the morning. So, we changed our plans and decided to visit Sakla Village instead (point 4). I will do the boat trip another day.

On the map book in my car, the road is marked as only going half way. So, obviously it has only recently been paved. This fishing village is in the middle of no-where. Literally. I don’t think you would find many tourists coming this way. It is a shame because they would miss out on witnessing a lifestyle which is rapidly disappearing in urban Thailand. The main occupation of these people is fishing and the selling of produce such as shrimp paste and dried shrimp. Families have been living here for hundreds of years, since before the Ayutthaya period. Their dialect is similar to the Mons and they have their own unique culture and customs.

The shops and houses are built close to each other on the banks of the river and its branches. We walked down the narrow paths alongside the rivers for a while before crossing a bridge to visit Wat Sakhla. This temple has a unique looking prang which leans alarmingly to the left. A bit like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is supposed to be several hundreds years old and built of wood. The main Buddha image is very highly revered. They apparently have a festival celebrating it at the end of the year. Maybe I will try and come back for that.

That was a good trip today. I think I should try and make an effort to visit one or two new places every month. I am sure there is a lot more to see in Samut Prakan. The Tourist Authority is presently running a campaign for Unseen Thailand. Let’s see if I can find some more places that tourists don’t often get to see.

Yes! A mom of three!

Thank the stars I found a family-friendly website about my homecountry that I can actually let my kids go free on. I have learned more about Thailand from this site than being one for 30ish years!

Thank you Richard for giving me the opportunity to blog about all things Thai!

A little about myself… I was brought over while still in the womb and let loose in Southern California (San Fernando Valley- specifically). My parents thought that our family would not be here for long… or just until we got a degree and then we would just move back to Thailand and I would marry a nice traditional Thai guy. Well, things changed, people changed, blah..blah blah. After my mother checked in to the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, our traditional Thai family went haywire from there. I turned rebel-American and married a Harley Love’n, beer guzzling, badboy! My honey (aka. husband of 15 years) was the answer to a traditional conservative thai girls dreams. The opposite of my controlled life…

Living up to everyone’s expectations wasn’t easy… I’ve learned to let it go. Many soap opera tears later, I got that degree and moved on with my life. Now I have 3 wonderful “loog kung” kids that are proud to represent many nationalities. My job is to educate them on their heritage and cultures. Thank you again Richard for this wonderful opportunity! I look forward to reading and sharing about all things Thai!