If you are wandering around the market, you might spot a hawker cooking little delicate rice pancakes on a steamer. These are called ‘pak moh’ or ปากหม้อ in Thai. The steam cooker usually has at least one cone-shaped cover which is used in the cooking process.
As you can see in the pictures, a piece of white cloth, either cotton or muslin, is stretched over the opening. A gap is left for the steam to escape. The batter is then spread thinly over the cloth. This batter is made from rice flour and tapioca. The cone-shaped cover is then placed over the top. She then turns her attention to the other steamer where the pancake is ready. She spoons in a small portion of a filling and then folds it together. This is then scooped up and put into the foam tray. She then spoons more of the batter on the now vacant cloth.
By this time, the other rice pancake is ready and she moves across the cone-shaped cover and starts again with the other filling. The fillings vary from store to store. It can be shrimp or pork, beansprouts, chopped parsley, long green beans and sweetcorn. The woman in this photo was working very fast going back and forth between the two steamers. It was fascinating to watch. It seemed popular as there was quite a crowd of people waiting.
It is amazing how sometimes wishes do come true!
It was only last week that I was praying to make a return trip to Bangkok aka Krungthep Maha Nakorn. Well, I got into office this morning, and I was surprised to be assigned for an appointment / meeting next week in Bangkok.
However, this is not going to be a holiday in Bangkok, but one of those lightning fast trips — I would be arriving in Bangkok at about 22.30 on Wed, Sep 7, 2005, and I have to fly back to KL on 1500 Thur, Sep 7, 2005.
Geez, that leaves me with less than 14 hours to be in Bangkok. Minus all the meeting of people, the checking-in at the airport and all the nitty-gritty, I have less than 1 1/2 hour for my own leisure!!!!!!
Hey, how come my office overseas assignments are becoming like perpetual wait periods at the airports? Perhaps if I do not sleep at my room at Royal Orchid Sheraton, I would be able to see a little bit of Bangkok after dark?
Any Bangkokians bloggers wanna meet up for a late night supper? Or perhaps, a few Bangkokians to show me what’s Bangkok between 0000 and 0700??
Anybody who has never experienced a traffic jam in Bangkok has not truly experienced Bangkok and anybody who has been a regular driver in Bangkok traffic jams should be granted a special award for courage and patience under extreme pressure.
My route to and from work was pretty straightforward, on paper. I travelled straight down Petchburi Road to soi ekamai 63 to get to work. On the way back, I had to go down to Sukhumvit road and drive a full circle to to get home due to the one way traffic on Petchburi road. Without traffic, the journey to work would take twenty minutes. But I didn’t live in a Bangkok without traffic. I lived in a Bangkok that had loads of traffic. Going to work wasn’t too bad, it usually took 45 minutes to an hour, depending on what time I left home. Coming home was a nightmare. They were building the skytrain along Sukhumvit and it could take anywhere from an hour to 2 hours to get home. There was one night when I was stuck in traffic approaching Siam Square, my petrol refuel light was on, and I hadn’t moved more than 2 feet in 45 minutes. I could see the petrol station up ahead…it wasn’t terribly far away but I was so scared I broke down in tears.
One day, I complained to my coworker about driving in all the traffic and she asked me how I got home. She was truly shocked to find out that I travelled on the main roads all the way home. She couldn’t believe my ignorance and gave me the greatest gift I ever received in Bangkok…a shortcut.
By winding through a series of lanes between Sois 21 and 63 I could cut out a big chunk of the traffic jams. At first I was uncomfortable driving through such narrow lanes which were flanked by the high walls that surround the grounds of residences and condominiums in the area. But it wasn’t that difficult really. Mirrors were mounted at blind corners so you could see if there was traffic approaching and the gated entranceways to properties provided enough room for you to pull in if you had to make way for a car trying to pass from the other direction. There was still a lot of traffic in the short cut, but it flowed better than the main roads. Plus, because I had to weave around a lot it was a more interactive driving experience. It was also a good way to discover different places to eat and shop. But it was not good in rainy season. You never knew when the next turn would bring you into a flooded soi.
After hearing this question throughout our trip to Thailand I finally thought long and hard about why we can’t go to see the elephants. For decades I have avoided taking my kids to the circus, animal shows, or some zoos because I was against seeing animals exploited for entertainment purposes. I just could not see past the animal’s eyes when they are subjected to doing tricks simply for our pleasure and amusement. Mostly, seeing the gigantic elephants in their little spaces whipped until they can stand on those little stools with their hind legs really got me to think….Animals weren’t born to amuse us, why should I pay money to go see an elephant stand on a stool or play soccer?
Remember that incident in Hawaii when a circus elephant went on a rampage and ran loose in the streets running over cars and people? Quietly, I was rooting for the elephant. Run little guy… go get lost in the woods where they will never find you!!! Run, run, run!!! We all know how that situation ended. He was shot dead! “Sorry folks, we plucked him from his mother’s womb so that he can make you laugh; now we had to shoot him because he went wild on us.” (Can’t imagine how that could happen.) And to my shocking amazement to hear that peta.com (people for the ethical treatment of animals) even has a campaign to boycott Thailand because of the “Phaajaan” ritual. I’ve seen the ritual and boy, I pray that in the next life I do not come back as an elephant. And what about all of the stories in the newspaper about the bad mahouts? I have to do my part and refuse to contribute to the cruelty of these animals by signing petitions to help them, boycotting the circus, and avoiding the zoos etc…. All of this compelling evidence and strong viewpoint and my kids still wanted to see the darn elephants. The kids are always whining…. “it’s not fair you got to see them, I want to ride the elephants like you did when you were little in that picture; I want to feed them bananas and sugar cane”. WHY CAN’T WE GO TO SEE THE ELEPHANTS!! You see, it was easier when they were little. Now that they have their own thoughts and feelings I can’t make it go away by distracting them or bribing them.
So now I’m faced with this dilemma, should I squash my feelings and take my kids to see the elephants? What can one little family prove by boycotting the zoo or the circus? I explained this to my dad. My dad suggested that all I can do is instill them with the feelings I have for the animals, inform them of the viewpoints and let them make their own decision. “You can’t deprive your kids of seeing these creatures close-up, they won’t be able to make up their minds by just looking at pictures from a book or scenes of a video. Look how strongly you felt about the animals when you saw them close-up. Let them see it with their own eyes. Besides, there’s not many places in the world where you can reach out and touch an elephant.” Isn’t it amazing that dads can say the right things at the right time? DuHHH! Fine, we will go see the elephants! So, we set off to the Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang. As you can see from Jasmine’s first impression of a lively creature taking a bath… I’m thinking that she thought elephants weren’t supposed to be so life-sized!
For those of you who have become regular readers of my weekly blogging welcome back to another pulse pounding episode! Not to infer by ‘pulse pounding’ I mean this time out Wit is writing about the Thai bar girl scene in Thailand since for sure that’s something I know nothing about 😉
However with any luck, as the title of this weeks missive implies, it’s my plan to serve up a hot and spicy helping of blog! Those of you who read my stuff regualrly may have noticed a particular reference or two pop up on occasion, namely my addictions to American coffee, listening to my huge collection of pleing Thai เพลงไทย and most notably my culinary favorite that fiery hot stir fried beef and basil Thai creation otherwise known as pad baigapoa neua ผัดใบกะเพราเนึ้อ
It’s my Holy Grail in DC to find a Thai resturant that serves pad baigapoa hot enough with the suicidual spicy kick I like where I don’t have to ask the waiter to bring me a puen prik พวงพริก to heap on enough chillies. Sure I could always send it back to the kitchen but really to be honest I feel enough kreeng jai เกรงใจ that I don’t want to bother the cook with my farang death wishes haha.
However recently I think I may have finally found my match! A few weeks ago I stopped in to check out a fairly new Thai resturant in my neighborhood only about 5 minutes walk from home. I was looking to treat myself to some nice Thai cooking after a frustrating day shopping at the local monster mall dealing with mass human insanity, which I can’t stand, then to top it all having to walk away without buying what I went there to get in the first place! So I decided to seek some solace in some good Thai grub and stopped into this new place I had seen to check it out as it is literally on my way home.
For the middle of the afternoon it was slow with hardly any customers but the service was quick and friendly. After settling in at my table I managed to stumble through my usual request of pom yaak pad grapao neua phet mahk, pom chawp Thai phet, mai chawp farang phet, ok? ผมอยากผัดใบกะเพราเนึ้อเผ็ดมาก ผมชอบไทยเผ็ด ไม่ชอบฝรั่งเผ็ดใหม? which I hope serves two purposes, one I get to practice my Thai and two if I said it correctly then they know I meant business and I’m wanting the real deal and not pussyfooting around with ‘watered down’ spicy Thai just because I was born on the wrong side of the planet from Thailand. 😉
My genuinely friendly waiter (unfortunately something rare in most resturants I’ve been to) after bringing me a nice cool glass of Thai tea smiled and left with my order probably quite bemused at my poor mans Thai. But before I even had a chance to dig into my homework which I always carry with me he was coming back with my order! The pad baigapoa looked so good and smelled delicious I could only hope he understood my request to make it hot enough to stunt growth but I was impressed with the service and everything so far. I asked him how come it was so fast and he said with that famous Thai smile “No problem sir, we have microwave!” Ye Gods! A Thai resturant with great (looking) food, service and a Thai waiter with my same cheeky sense of humor? That’s right up my alley! If the food was as hot as I like it I knew I would be in love. 🙂