Monthly Archives: September 2005

Sticky Rice with Bananas

Khao tom mud

The other day, when I was with Steve and Jit, I watched some villagers making a large batch of khao tom mat ( ข้าวต้มมัด ).  This is basically sticky rice, bananas and black beans wrapped in banana leaves. This is then steamed though it could also be grilled. You may remember me talking about khanom thian before which is quite similar. Though that one uses sticky rice flour instead.

Cooked in a steamer

To make khao tom mat you first dissolve some sugar and salt in a pan of coconut milk. You then add the sticky rice and stir slowly over a low heat until the liquid has dissolved. Next you need to tear up some banana leaves into lengths of about 8 inches long. Spread some of the sticky rice mixture in the middle and then place a halved banana on top. Complete the sandwich with another layer of sticky rice and press in a few black beans. Tie up the banana leaves with a long strip of bamboo. You then place it in a steamer, like the one above, and steam for about an hour or so. The results will look like below. Delicious.

Khao tom mat

What a day!

Finally, my final exam has ended.. I feel so happy although there’ll be other exams to come but at least, one semester has finished.

As soon as my friends and I finished our exam, we planned to do something right away. Ice-cream at first and karaoke – our decision.

Songs after songs.. three hours passed~ “Whoa, time to go home and give mummy a kiss!” So I went to take the skytrain and caught a bus as usual.

“The bus’ coming!!! Please stop in front of me because I need to sit, am so tired!!” I wished in my mind and guess what?! It really stopped in front of me.

When I stepped on the bus, “Oh my, lots of seats to sit! ~ This’ great!”

There were lots of seats, unlike everyday (I always have to stand up all the way home), too many that I couldn’t decide.. I walked and walked~ passed lots of available seats and at last..there!

I chose to sit next to the middle-aged lady ~ When I sat, “What the?!”

I found sticky corn stick to my butt – -” but despite that corn, the seat was still fine so i kept sitting there..then the lady next to me started..

She took out cotton but. I was surprised coz I never saw anyone have it with themselves everywhere before. She cleaned her ears ~ ~” Then she kept it in her bag again. “Good, you don’t throw it away on the bus!”

Then the lady took of her shoes and put her feet against the seat in front of her – -” “Good that the smell didn’t come out!”

A while later she raised her right arm and started to scratch her armpit so hard – -” “Good that she didn’t plan to get rid of her hair there!”

– – She sat still for a while after that ~ and I looked through the window.. (Since I had nothing to look at except the cute guy on my right). Then she stared back at me! “Well, I never meant to look at you..I just wanted to check out the view!” So I began to stare at the floor instead after that..”Hope she’s fine with it :p”

And then that lady.. tied her hard that sometimes it hit my face~ so I leant my head out of the seat ..”BANG!!” One guy walked pass me and hit my head – -”

At that time, I really wished I could disappear ~ I waited and waited for some other seats to be free so that I could change ~ I felt like it had gone too far unlucky :p and finally that lady stood up.. it was time for her to get out of the bus ~ I gave her space to come out and “BANG!” her ass hit me – -”

As soon as she got off, I really thought I could see the real rainbow after a big big storm :p .. I was so happy ~ then I zonked out – – –

“Holiday finally arrives … I’ll go shopping, I’ll go for movies.. I’ll ..I’ll”
!!! I woke up and again~! I found myself passing my stop – -” So I gotta catch another bus back home and it was so late.. it was almost 9pm already..

But at last, I could really be at home.. safely

What a day!!

The Teo Chew Opera

Teochew people originated in the Chaoshan region of Guangdong province, China. They arrived in Chon Buri and Samut Prakan, subsequently dispersing all over the country and form the largest Chinese dialect group in Thailand.

Today, many Teochew people have become successful businessmen, and leaders in the local communities and in government, for example, the owner of the famous Chang Beer in Thailand and many Thai ministers. It has even been said that a Cabinet meeting can be conducted almost entirely in Teochew!

Nowadays, many of the younger generation in Thailand have little to no exposure to their Teochew language and culture. Some have lost the connections to their roots or have forgotten how to speak the language. However, despite the fact that Teochew-Thai has adopted a Thai life style and culture, many Teochew cultural practices still survive, though declining, in contemporary Thailand. One of them is the Teochew opera.

Teochew opera comes to the little town of Betong in September each year, organized by the Teo Chew Association of Betong, to celebrate the anniversary of the association. Though not many people are really interested in the opera, it is the norm of the association to organize the Teachew opera as a yearly event.

The opera attracted mainly children who came to watch for fun, playing around and then left. As the stage was set up at a busy road, some passers by would be attracted to stop and watch for a few minutes. Hardly any audience would sit there to finish watching the whole opera.

The Teochew opera use traditional musical instruments like the cymbals, drums and other string instruments which I do not know the names. The performers have very elaborate make up and elaborate costumes with breath-taking sparkling sequins and chiffon cloths. The Teochew opera usually has some very interesting storyline based on the Chinese folklore. Many of the shows are very emotional and audiences have been known to weep openly as they watched. However, nowadays most of the audiences can’t follow the story lines!

The opera performers in Betong came from North-east of Thailand. They travelled around Thailand and even been invited to Malaysia to perform during special festival. At first, I was amazed by the Teochew people for preserving such opera arts so well. However, I was then told that in fact the opera performers themselves are not Teochew and do not know Teochew. Sometimes they don’t even know what they are singing about. They learned and memorized the opera act so diligently just as a means of living…

The opera show

The opera show/The innocent kids

The young audience/Watching attentively

On the River in Bangkok

Bangkok and Bangkrachao

Yesterday I was telling you about my visit to Bangkrachao in Samut Prakan. This is an area that, despite being so close to Bangkok, hasn’t been developed at all. Look at the satellite picture above. The northern side of the river is Bangkok. This is the busy port area of Klong Toey. On the southern side is nothing but palm trees and banana plants. You can clearly see the lake in the middle of Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park (bottom middle of picture). Steve and his wife Jit live just north of the park. From here we walked along a narrow path to the river. After about ten minutes of waking we came out at a private jetty. Steve told me that you ring the bell here and someone would dash out of a nearby house and jump into a boat. Normal cross-river passenger ferries would cost you only a few baht but this one costs 10 baht. Not bad when you consider that sometimes you are the only passenger.

Boat on the Chao Phraya River

Jit suggested that we hire the boat for a while and just explore up and down the river. I jumped at the chance. I love exploring rivers. She then proceeded to negotiate a price of 200 baht to go down the river about 3–4 kms and back again. The boatman agreed and we jumped into his long-tailed boat (the propeller is at the end of a long shaft). The first picture above shows you the view looking across to the high-raised buildings in Bangkok. The buildings the opposite direction were very different in comparison.

Floating house

Here is one of the first examples. The little girl and her dog live on this floating house which goes up and down with the tide. Well, I hope it does as she will soon be flooded out at the next high tide!

House on stilts

This house on stilts is more typical. Notice the sala-like jetty where they can get into boats or just lie down in the shade. At dusk members of the household would go down the steps to take a bath and wash their hair. On the left is a lean-to for their boat. You can see that they have electricity because of the electrical pole in the water. Looks like they also get television. On some houses I saw red post boxes. I wonder if the postman approaches from the river or land. I suspect by the river is easier.

Ship on the river

I took several hundred pictures on this boat trip. Too many to show here. I will finish with this last picture showing the wake being produced by a big container ship. Ironically the name of the ship is “Smooth Sea”. Luckily this ship was on the other side of the river as it could have given us a pretty rough ride.

I wish to thank Steve and Jit for showing me around their area. It was a wonderful day out.

The Loop in the River

The loop in the Cho Phraya River

A few months back, I told you about a visit I made to a unique area close to Bangkok that seemed to be stuck in time. A large loop in the Chao Phraya River and a shortcut canal has virtually made this area an island. Indeed you can only enter it by bridge or by boat. Despite its closeness to Bangkok (see picture above) the area has hardly been developed at all. There are still many isolated communities surrounded by palm trees and banana plantations. There are no high-raised buildings. There are no factories.  More importantly, 7–Eleven hasn’t arrived. Well, not yet. They are starting to creep in from the opening in the loop.

I had been meaning to go back to explore the area more thoroughly, so I was really excited last week to receive an invitation from Steve and his wife Jit to come and visit them in Bangkrachao. Steve has been a regular reader of our Thai Blogs for a while and he knew of my interest in this area. Steve and Jit are on a six month sabbatical from their work in Alaska. They have been building a house on her family’s property and it was now ready to move in. Their house borders the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park which I visited last time. In the first picture, you can just make out the large green area of the park towards the top.

Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park

When I arrived at the park, I gave Steve a call as arranged. He told me to wait by the inner gate and not the one by the road. I was curious about this as I thought we were going to his house first. Then a few minutes later he came walking out of the park with his wife. Apparently there isn’t any road access to his community yet and they have to enter through the park. However, this is not such a bad thing. How many people do you know who have a large beautiful park on their doorstep? Not that they need it. As you can see in the picture above, their community, to the north of the park, is surrounded by palm trees and banana plantations. There are interesting and quiet walk along the narrow paths in just about every direction.

One of the paths around the community

This picture shows one of the main paths through this community. Jit told me that there were about 50 families living here. Some houses were next door to each other and some were more isolated as they were surrounded by small banana plantations. Steve told me to be careful of falling coconuts. Outside one of the houses, a group of people were busy making some candy. Jit explained to me that the whole community had been helping for the last few days to make this dessert. They were planning on using the candy to make merit to mark the end of the Rains Retreat early next month. Jit introduced me to her uncle who was busy ripping open a coconut. She then introduced me to various other relations including her father. At this point I decided to ask her what percent of the villagers were related to her. She didn’t seem to understand my question. So I asked her, how many people in the community were related to her. She replied, everyone!

Making candy

It was really nice having Jit show me around as she was very knowledgeable about what was going on. She told me that the chewy candy they were making was made from peanuts, popped corn, sesame seeds, sugar cane juice and plain white sugar. It tasted really nice. True to Thai tradition, as soon as I had said how good it was, she gave me a whole bag full! Nearby, a steamer was busy cooking another delicious dessert which I will tell you about another day! After a brief stop for a delicious meal, we then set off on foot to the local jetty to explore the river by boat. I will tell you about this trip in part two.


In the meantime, visit Steve’s blogs: