Monthly Archives: April 2005

Longest Reclining Buddha

Many guidebooks say that the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho in Bangkok is the longest in Thailand. Even though it is 46 metres long, it isn’t the longest. Others claim that the Reclining Buddha at Wat Khun Inthra Pramun in Ang Thong is the longest at 50 metres. They are also wrong. I can understand why they are mistaken. I have visited both of these temples and these Buddha images are gigantic.

The longest Reclining Buddha in Thailand is in fact here in my home province of Samut Prakan at Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang! Not many people know that. In fact, probably not many people have seen it. I took my visitors there today and they were completely bowled over by its size. It is not only 53 metres long, but it is also as tall as a four storey building! On top of that, you can also go inside. Pretty amazing. But, I think the neatest thing was the shrine for the Buddha’s heart. I have heard about this kind of thing before. Sometimes they put a heart through a hole in the back of a Buddha image and then fill it in with cement. But, this one was huge and also had veins!

I suppose my only disappointment was that you couldn’t take a picture like the one at the top which I had to scan. It looks like when the Reclining Buddha was originally built, there was no building surrounding it. Now they have built a temple around it which makes it difficult to take a picture of the whole image – as you can tell from my photo above. But, nevertheless, it is still impressive.

You can see some more photos and comments I wrote at my other web site at If you explore that web site carefully, you will come across a Buddha image which has six toes!

One year of real life: reflections

Thinking back

An anniversary
Last week it’s been exactly one year that I left the United States for the Land of Smiles. Looking back at the circumstances of then and now, lots of things changed since Richard and Game picked this greenhorn up from the Bangkok airport at midnight. I think I can safely say that this one year in Thailand has been more dynamic than the previous five years living the stale, relatively secluded life of an international university student.

From a financial standpoint, the year was a complete disaster. Not even my highest earnings here came even close to the comfy, 60,000Bt/mo salary I enjoyed as a researcher/teacher in the US. It took quite a lot of time (and quite a lot of my savings) to get used to living by local standards on local wages.

From a career standpoint, it appears at the moment that it was a downward move also. No surprises on either accounts. But I wouldn’t be the person I am if the above two factors would be the only things leading my life. I pity such people sometimes. Their boring 9-5 jobs, seeing the same people, the same places every day; living a life where genuine smiles, genuine happiness are as frequent as a white raven, not to mention real love. Their ineptitude makes them chained to a never-ending threadmill; they are permanently stuck doing the same, set routine over and over until retirement. The highlight of their lives must be when they are finally able to pay off their 30-year mortgage.

These five years in America taught me the lesson that most of these people figure out only when it’s too late. Everyone knows the cliche: lotsa money and a bright career alone won’t give you happiness, blah blah. The difficulty is actually believing it. Well, the painful lessons in the US made me believe in it for sure!

A lucky twist of fate showed this busy resume-builder a way out from the prison that he and the society were so eagerly building around him.

I still think back sometimes about what would have happened if I never knew about Thailand. I’d had to just endure my disgust and put up with the American lifestyle in lieu of any better alternative, living a loveless, cold life like the rest. If for nothing else, these five years were useful in finding out more about myself; mostly through the values I found repulsive, and in turn, wishing for the opposite.

Here, only after one year, I found everything that I was looking for during the previous 10 or so years on two other continents. Seeker is not seeking anymore. Money and career -sure, it would be awfully nice to have plenty of both now, but I can get those any time in my life, with some luck and relatively little effort, like before.

It’s the true, timeless values that make life worth living. The words to describe these values are used so frequently that they are reduced to meaningless cliches now. For me, one year amongst Thais was the way to discover the true meaning of these words again, from people who give it all, sincerely from their hearts. This is what helps to overcome the difficulties that come with such a lifestyle. Finally, a place where I feel I can fit in.

At last, I found home.

Thai Restaurant Menu – 02

We had some friends from the UK visiting today. We took them out to a nearby seafood restaurant called Sompong which is on Srinakarin Road. It is less than 10 minutes away by car. The last meal I wrote about at Paknam Seafood worked out at about 200 baht per person including beer. That was about US$5 each. What do you reckon this meal cost? The six dishes we ordered were:

ต้มยำกุ้ง – tom yam gung
lemon grass soup with prawns

ห่อหมกปู – hor mok poo
crab curry in a banana cup

ต้มข่ากุ้ง – tom khaa gung
chicken coconut soup

ปลากะพงอบเกลือ – bplaa gra-pong aob gleua
steamed fish

กุ้งชุบแป้งทอด – goong choob bpaeng tort
fried shrimp

ข้าวผัดปู – khao put poo
Fried rice with crab

Normally when there are four people, you would order about five dishes. This doesn’t include the rice but in this case, as it was fried rice I have counted it as a dish. We all drank beer. The total price was just under 1,200 baht, which is about US$7.50 each. Expensive for me, but for most Westerners that would be considered cheap.

Listen to Thai Music for Free

I don’t know about you but I really enjoy listening to a variety of Thai music. If you are learning Thai, it is also a great way to tune your ears. I took the above picture last weekend at a free concert by the Thai pop group Armchair. It is amazing how many free concerts that are around. The big stars not only go to city halls and arenas but also to local schools.

If you want to listen to some Thai music but have no idea what they are saying, then you should visit one of our web sites called There are hundreds of songs there which you can listen to for free. Many of the songs have also been translated into English by members of our forum.

You might have noticed that the blog pages are openly very slowly today. That is mainly because of the large amounts of people listening to the music. You see, both of these web sites, and about 30 of our other sites, are all on the same server. In just the last five hours alone, there were 10,000 unique visitors to the music web site. Which probably means there will be at least 40,000 visitors today. These people are not just from Thailand. But from all around the world. (In comparison, is only getting 1,000 unique visitors per day but we are expecting that to double over the coming months.)

If you are not sure which song to listen to first, then visit the following page. It has charts for the most popular songs for today and for thelast 7 days.

Our music web sites include:

We now have added an e-mail feature to the main blogs. You will see a link to contact us on the right hand side. If you would like to comment on the blogs as a whole, or would like to share your ideas of which direction the blogs should take in the future, then please send me an e-mail. Your participation in the future of the blogs is appreciated.

To cook or not to cook

“mai aow pedd” – not spicy please

Enough of the serious stuff. I’m officially off the soapbox. For now, anyway. 🙂

There are TWO big reasons that I am an embarrassment to my Thai roots.

First of all, I can’t handle spicy food. Pathetic, indeed.

The phrase Mai Pedd (not spicy) is constantly on my lips. Brandon can eat spicier food than me. Actually, a few white guys in my circle of friends have Thai tastebuds, as in they can chomp on a prik kee noo (Thai bird chili) and don’t flinch.

All that odd look I get from noodles vendor when I asked for a Kueytiew Tomm Yum Mai Pedd (Tomm Yum or hot and sour noodle soup, not spicy). Love the tangy flavor of vinegar and lime, and the ground peanuts, but I can’t take the chili. Or asking for the Somm Tumm (papaya salad) vendor to clean out their spicy krok (mortar and pestle) because even the residual chili on the krok is too spicy for me.

I’ve always had a sensitive stomach. Ask my school nurse. I could be seen in her office at least once a week because of my geyser of a nosebleed, or bad stomach ache. So my mom eliminated chili pepper out of my diet altogether.

When Brandon and I go out to Thai restaurant, or even when we were in Thailand, we’d order our food Pedd Noi, a little spicy. With a white guy at the table, they’d assume it’s the Farang level of Pedd Noi, a distinctly lower level of heat than a Thai Pedd Noi. So, it’s HIM they’re toning down the spicy for, and not this Thai girl. Ahh…my face is saved yet again by having a Farang husband. 🙂

Secondly, I can’t cook Thai food to save my life.

For crying out loud, my friend Irena of Russian descent, can make Tomm Kha Gai (chicken coconut soup) that rivals a Thai restaurant. All I can muster is Kai Jiew (Thai omelet), Kao Padd (fried rice), Padd Pahk (stir fried vegetables), and Padd Sohm (apparently the cabbage stir fried with bacon and garlic is Princess Sohmsawalee’s recipe, hence the name) but that’s about it. I can yumm up some ham or sardines. (That is pretty much applying garlic, lime juice, chili, and fish sauce on something to make it hot and sour.) And so much for all those years in home economics, huh?

Oh yeah, and I can make steam rice on stove top, or over a camp fire even, in case there is no rice cooker to be found. At least I learned something from Red Cross Youth.

But that’s what you get when you grew up in a household with maids and cooks.

It is not common for middle to upper class Thai families to have a live in maid or two who not only do the housekeeping but cook. My family home actually is a 3-unit attached town home, designed by my dad. Back in the days, there were our family, my uncle’s family, and my grandmother under technically one roof. Each of the family unit had their own maid, plus the central laundry lady, gardener, and cook and her husband the driver who also cooked. The cook’s family also lived with us.

A few months before I was shipped out to Southern California for school in 1993, my mom enrolled me in intensive cooking class with our cooks. Almost every dinner, and Sunday lunch, I would help prepare the meals taking a few breaks to jot things down in my notebook.

My mom didn’t start out as a great cook either. There is a story about her burning rice when she and dad were living in Minnesota. Same situation applied, mom didn’t need to before because she had maids growing up. Amazingly, the pampered ol’ Dad was the one who cooked back then. But mom gradually learned, and took a few cooking classes. She still didn’t cook as much until when the cook planned her retirement. Mom picked up the duty and really got into it.

Now, she’s one hell of a cook. Ditto our maid Pueng who started off with my grandmother. She didn’t cook before either, but now…Oh – my – god! Pueng’s panang beef is the stuff Thai dreams are made of!

Here in Long Beach, I have a whole cabinet full of instant Thai food seasonings. Satay marinade, green curry mix, and this and that my mom taste-tested and sent over. The only thing I actually use on a regular basis is the instand Johk mix. Sure I can buy them in LA too, but it’s nice to get a package in the mail from home once in a while.

Half of this stuff I can’t use because of the chili content. It has to be super diluted, and then I have to build the flavor back up.

I eventually solved all of the Thai food issue. I always have a delivery menu of a Thai restaurant on hand, and at least one authentic joint close by. (Any Long Beach area reader, I highly recommend the Treasure Pot on Alondra and Downey.)

Sure, it is embarrassing when someone asks me, a Thai woman, if I could make Thai food. I may not be able to throw a Pad Thai together, but at least I could give a good restaurant recommendation.

Hey, if I can’t make them right, why bother trying? Let the professional do it and get a real taste of home instead of having to call the HazMat team to come clean up my kitchen.