Monthly Archives: June 2005

Thai Fishermen catch 646-Pound Fish

Thai fishermen caught a 646-pound catfish believed to have been the world’s largest freshwater fish ever recorded. The 8.9 feet Mekong giant catfish was netted May 1 by villagers in Chiang Khong, a remote district in northern Thailand.

The Mekong giant catfish — which shares the title of largest freshwater fish with a close relative, the dog-eating catfish — was listed as endangered in 2003 after research showed its numbers had fallen by at least 80 percent over the past 13 years. Fishermen believe the catfish species has been declining largely because of dams and environmental damage along the Mekong River — home to more species of giant fish than any other river.

Learn Thai for Free

I know many people visiting these blogs are also trying to learn Thai. This is not always that easy if you are studying alone or just from books. In association with Sriwittayapaknam School, we will now be giving you some weekly lessons in the “radio blog” section to the right. You will see the playlist on the front page of Just choose which lesson you want to learn. More lessons will be added later.

Could role models stop university hazing?

Stories about recent university hazings have been all over the Thai media for quite a while, creating an impression that Thailand’s universities are nothing more than playgrounds for sadistic jerks.

To counter-balance this impression, I would like to share with you a story about my uni, Chiang Mai University. From the time I spent here, it seems that Thai university life is comprised of two separate worlds; that of the undergraduate majority, and a smaller group of grad students, post-docs, researchers and professors. Unlike in the US, there is very little interaction between the two groups here. Perhaps if the two worlds were more open to each other, undergraduate students could have role models, inspiration and clear goals. Perhaps much effort would be spent to reach these goals, making it necessary to abandon childish and cruel practices which have nothing to do with the spirit of higher education.

An example of such inspirative role models was featured in The Nation, in the article quoted below:

A doctor from Chiang Mai University has developed the country’s first stereotatic instrument to help suregeons perform brain operations on tissue that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Associate Prof Dr. Sithiporn Bunyanit said it had taken him and his team 10 years to perfect the aluminium device, which he had named the “Surada Stereotatic instrument” after his wife, to highlight the product’s Thai origins.
The instrument helps suregeons operate on small areas of the brain with greater accuracy. It leaves smaller incision marks, reducing the risk of damage to brain tissue and the nervous system.

“Patients can talk to the surgeon during the operation. Thay also need less time to recover after surgery and the procedure costs less,” Sithiporn said. Similar foreign versions of the tool cost of Bt 7 million ot import, but Sithiporn’s instrument sells for only Bt1 million and is of the same quality. The country has about 20 stereotatic instruments used in state hospitals in big provinces.

Maharat Chiang Mai Hospital and Prasart Chiang Mai Hospital have already used the Surada Stereotatic device to operate on 200 patients.
Sithiporn said he would present his invention to the Health Ministy to push for production of the instrument so that other hospitals across the country can be equipped it. – THE NATION


Farang Kee Nok

I am Thai American. Born in Chicago, Illinois. I learned to speak thai, before I was able to speak English. It was the seventies, when there wasn’t much of a population of Thais around. Thai food wasn’t even a novelty, but so extremely exotic that there was maybe 1 or 2 restaurant that was only frequented by people missing their homeland’s cooking. There was no “Ethnic” section in grocery stores, definately not a jar of peanut sauce sitting next to the chili oil that we have now a days. This is “the when” I grew up in.

The majority of my family was/is in Thailand. I was surrounded by Americans with “Proud to be American” flags swaying butterfly collars, and “Liberty” bell bottoms. I was fully immersed in American Culture with my first bouts of school. Till then, I was in the loving arms of my small family and our greater “Thai family”, which were my parents friends. There is a social phenomenon when there are not many of a certain group in a foreign land. You can see it everywhere, “little Germany”, Chinatown…Khao San Road. This is what I knew.

Any way, when I was old enough I went to school. Not just any school, but the dreaded Catholic school. Duhn, da, duhn. Just kidding. Though this is where I learned where I was not like everyone else. I was taught that my years at temple and beliefs in Buddha were essentially the opposite of everything they were trying to instill. When everyone was seeing each other on Sunday school, I was in the temple learning…ghaw Gai, Kow Kai. These were not the only thing that added to a growing isolation…though thats not the right word. Let’s move on.

I grew up in Chicago. A place already known for its CHICK-Ka-go accent. Add that to learning how to speak English from people with a Thai accent. I had the ultimate accent. Where, when you move to the suburbs, they will fix it. I spent 7 years in speech therapy at my public school, where I would learned to speak with a “perfect” accent. One in which both CHICK-KA-go, a place I was born, and my Thai accent, a part of my history stemming past myself, was each year being changed.

After some time in Chicago, we went on a family trip to visit my Boo. Now I want to stop here. Boo is not that cute saying urban hip hop slang, people call their girlfriend, or boyfriend. Its my grand-dad. I got to see a family that is so huge, that it was like its own country all by itself. Thats how thai families are. There is no second, third cousin. There is no in laws. There is family. Plain, and not so simple. There was a wonderful connection that I never felt before going to Thailand.

However my demeanor was not thai. I have always been known by my bad temper, and for a thai that is not polite. For it is a sign of weakness, for one should be in control of their emotions. My fluency in thai was not as good as it used to be. I would always talk about America proudly, and my American friends, while they all stated the greatness of Meng Thai. It was not a competition. It wasn’t a debate. It was family members getting to know each other. We were of the same blood. We had the same ancestors that would protect us from evil. We had many of the same skeletons in the closet. Though we were different. We were from different cultures…kind of. We were from different upbringings…kind of.

My uncle called me “Farang Kee Nok” as a loving nick name with a little kick. 15 years later, when I had not seen him, he calls me this with a smile before I am able to wai. I know my uncle loves me. I know that he does not have any malice in his word or intentions. I have learned that thai family members have no problem stating things, that Americans would think insulting. We have different cultures. That is the way the world turns. My uncle’s nick name: Farang=American/Englishman Kee=poop Nok=bird. Translation American Bird Poop. I have spent a many nights in the heat of Thailand’s chirping cicadas and grasshoppers, Chicago’s lights, and above krung Tep’s exhaust fumes thinking about “Farang Kee Nok.” White all around is the poop. Brown is the very core. Then there is a sick mess in between that is the combination or the two. Is that what I am? Culturally speaking. Finally, is it such a bad thing?

This is my first blog. Thank you for reading it.

Overseas food

Thailand has been overcome by the influence of Japanese culture since the end of last decade. The debate I want to discuss today is about the growth of Japanese food in Thailand. Clearly, Japanese food has overtaken all other oversea foods available here. In nearly everywhere you go there are Japanese restaurants. Some of the foods which are available and Thai are interested in are German, Chinese, Laos etc.

These days, most department store restaurants are not Thai restaurants. Thai restaurants are not very popular because most of the Thai food is available in local markets. Today, I went to Zen Japanese restaurant in Siam Center. I’ve been there a couple of times already. However, my last time was last year when I was back here in Bangkok. The amount of customers hasn’t changed much. These days, the majority of customers are University and High School students. Zen is an expensive Japanese restaurant compare to other Japanese restaurants available. Fuji, however, is a cheaper Japanese restaurant and the number of these restaurants have increased dramatically. Fuji is the largest Japanese restaurant you can find in Thailand. Also, there are other kinds of Japanese restaurants available in forms of Ramen (noodles), Sushi, Shabu Shabu etc. The restaurants which serve these foods are the likes of Oishi Ramen and Shabushi.

German food has become increasingly grown over the past few years. This is because the birth of a famous beer brewery restaurant on Rama 3 road. There has been a huge demand of German sausages and beer since then. However, German food is not as popular as Japanese food. Thai people prefer to eat Japanese food more because it has the Asian taste and it is not served in a huge proportion like German food.