Daily Archives: October 24, 2005

Phra Samut Chedi in Samut Prakan

Every October, at the end of the rainy season, people from Samut Prakan, and the surrounding area, come together to worship Phra Samut Chedi and enjoy the annual temple fair. The idea for this temple dates back to the time of King Rama II. He wanted to have the temple built on an island close to the mouth of the Chao Phraya River. His intention was to let everyone know entering the kingdom that this was a Buddhist country. Unfortunately he died before his dream could be realized. However, the task was taken over by King Rama III who began work on the temple in October 1827. Subsequent kings added to the height and size of the temple in order to make it more impressive for foreign visitors. King Rama IV even had 12 sacred relics of the Lord Buddha enclosed inside the chedi.

The temple fair starts every year with a grand parade through the city of Paknam. On the first float heading the parade is the red sacred cloth which is later wrapped around the chedi. All of the local people come out to pay their respects to this sacred cloth. After the parade has finished its circuit of the town, it goes to a local jetty where it is placed on a boat. It is then taken upriver to Phra Pradaeng where the local people there have their own opportunity to pay respects to the red cloth. About two hours later the red cloth was again brought down river, but this time to Phra Samut Chedi.

Here, the Governor of Samut Prakan, together with local dignitaries, took part in a procession around the chedi. Above them they held tightly onto the sacred red cloth. Like any other procession around temples, they did this in a clockwise direction and it was done three times. Although the red cloth was quite long, people scrambled to grab onto a piece of the cloth. It is considered a great method of making merit and people didn’t want to lose out on this opportunity.

Inside the temple grounds, the red cloth was handed over to members of the Rungjaeng family. By tradition, only this one local family is allowed to stitch together this cloth and then carry it up the side of the chedi to the top. Despite some members of the family being quite old, they were very agile as they walked along narrow edges carrying what must be a very heavy cloth. None of them had safety harnesses on. After about 15 minutes, the red cloth was in position and it was dropped down to cover the top part of the chedi.

The temple fair is now on for nine days and nine nights. I am planning on taking plenty of photographs to show you over the coming days. As long as it doesn’t rain. Storm clouds are covering the sky as I write this. Highlights will be the food photographs of course, but I will also try and get pictures of the wall of death, the floating head, the two headed baby and other such fairground attractions. There are also nightly concerts with big stars such as Dan & Beam, So Cool and Bodyslam. The fair takes place all day, but in the evening there will be thousands and thousands of people. It will take an hour just to walk 100 metres.

Wit’s Catering….

Sawasdee Krab!

Fall is coming on strong which means the holidays are just around the corner and that means office parties, social get togethers and lots of eating. For me that means firing up the kitchen at Wit’s End for more Thai cooking like today. Instead of meeting at a restaurant or coffee shop like usual my Thai Meetup group had a potluck meeting. Everyone had to fix a dish or bring something.

For this weeks blog I thought I’d share my culinary potluck adventure. This month things also means more cooking because in two more weeks it’s Halloween and I volunteered to make Pad Grapao Neua and Grapao Gai for our office Halloween potluck.

That’s the curse of being know as-

a. someone that can cook
b. can cook something exotic like Thai food and
c. is actually pretty dang good at it!

At least that’s what other people say about my cooking not me I swear! I haven’t had a customer dissatisfied yet, well, except for that time I had two friends over and one could not eat beef or anything spicy. So what did I serve, fiery Pad Grapoa Beef and Basil. I forgot I swear! But I still haven’t lived that down….

At work my department has meetings twice a month. These meetings aren’t the most exciting event in my day but they are pretty informative. Sometimes the boss has lunch catered but maybe that’s a bribe to make sure everyone shows up! So what do I do? As a glutton for punishment I offer to make Thai food for lunch at one of our meetings in December. Let’s see about 20 people, and knowing me I’ll fix at least five different dishes plus I have to get all this stuff from my house in Washington to my job in Maryland and I don’t own a car. Just like me to let my mouth write a check I have to figure out how I’m going to cash!

Today’s menu is way easier but I was running late getting started cooking this morning and be at the pot luck on time but you know I work best when I’m under pressure and some chaos going on. My secret is have everything I need to chop, pick, pluck or cut prepared ahead of time. This is how I managed to make two seperate dishes at the same time with a two hour late start and still be only an hour late. I also keep everything within an arms reach then I can stand in one spot and just pivot all day long.

Satay? Ok!

You can never go wrong with Satay Gai or curry flavored chicken skewers. You can also never make too many ‘cuz trust me they’ll go fast! I like these because they are fairly easy to make just take a day or so to make them my way.

The recipe is simple, actually I cheat a little, buy the Satay mix and Satay peanut butter sauce in the package as you see here. Any decent Thai or Asian market will sell this since it’s a popular brand. You can follow the instructions or make it the way I do which is a little different but worth it. I learned this from an ex-faen who could make Satay beef that would melt in your mouth like butter! Oh man!

The Satay mix has two parts. Part A is the mix for the chicken and Part B is for making Peanut Sauce. I only use the mix for the Satay and buy the Peanut sauce in the jar. That’s UN-official Thai cooking to get it out of the bottle but I remember when I tried making it the authentic way and I don’t want my fire insurance to go up again. But enough yapping, let’s cook!

Continue reading