Monthly Archives: May 2006

Thai Country Music – Pumpuang Duangjan

Pumpuang ‘Peung’ Duangjan – Life and Success

Look Thung (Thai Country Music) wasn’t always the saucy sexy blend of glamour which it is today. It used to be all very tame and bland until a shooting star appeared on the stage changing Look Thung for a new generation. It all happened in the mid-1980s.

A new songstress named Pumpuang ‘Peung’ Duangjan suddenly arrived on the scene bringing with her a rich blend of traditional Look Thung with Western pop music and style. This revolution can be traced to one man, Peung’s songwriter, composer and producer ‘Kru Lop Burirat’. An accomplished musician who could play both Western and Thai music, he mixed them both together for a brand new style. In 1985 they experimented with this new look and sound with the album ‘Aue Hue Lor Jang’ ( Wow, he’s so cute!). The album was a phenomenal success.

‘Peung’ was no ‘one-hit-wonder’. She and Kru Lop quickly released a succession of record-breaking albums including ‘Hang Noi Thoi Nid’, ‘Noo Mai Roo’ and ‘Noo Mai Ao’. While there is no doubt that Look Thung owes Kru Lop a great much, it was ‘Peung’ who was in charge of her own self-promotion. She performed on stage in a variety of flesh revealing costumes giving her an outrageously sexy look which often brought a severe backlash from music critics and the older generation. Loved, but also loathed, she was criticized for trying to ‘copy’ Western popstar ‘Madonna’ and lambasted for her Un-Thai sense of dress and flirtation.

Being undisturbed and completely ignoring her detractors, ‘Peung’ continued with her own naughty thing and her audiences just loved it. Thailand had never seen anyone like it before!

In recent times, a new generation of Look Thung artists such as ‘Yui Yartyuth’, ‘Arphaphorn Nakhorn Sawan’ and Dau Mayuree all pointed to ‘Peung’ as their inspiration. Til this day she will always be remembered as ‘the girl who put the spice into Look Thung’.

Pumpuang ‘Peung’ Duangjan – A Life Of Tears and Sorrow

This rags to riches story of an illiterate peasant girl who achieved legendary status as the ‘Queen of Look Thung’ is of almost mythical proportion.

Though born in ‘Isarn’, she was brought up in Suphanburi province just north of Bangkok. As her family was so poor, ‘Peung’ was forced to drop out of school after just one year to help her parents in their sugar-cane fields.

Being unable to read did not deter Peung from picking up a microphone and learning by heart a collection of almost 100 songs by the age of twelve. Growing up and wanting to hit the big time, ‘Peung’ entered the notorious world of ‘Cafe and Temple Fair’ concerts as a dancer and singer.

It was ‘on this circuit’ where she met her first husband.

The marriage was a rocky one and her husband later ran off with a another girl. Adding injury to insult, he returned after the affair and eloped with Peung’s younger sister – they married later. The man who married first Peung before her younger sister, was known to the public as an ‘alcoholic womanizer’ who did nothing but ‘live off women’.

Family feuds erupted and Peung’s brother was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he had killed Peung’s former husband in a fit of anger. Another of her brothers, broken-hearted at the rejection of a singer he wished to married, picked up a shotgun one day – placed it at his head and pulled the trigger.

Shortly after shooting to fame, Peung married again and had a baby son. More family quarrels erupted after Peung’s mother blamed her new husband for taking advantage of Peung’s illiteracy and having her unknowingly, sign over to him – her financial documents and earnings. The marriage did not last long and the couple seperated over his supposed womanizing and extortionate spending (of her money)

(Lottery players pay homage to the spirit of Pumpuang at Wat Tapkradan, Pumpuang Temple, in Suphanburi province)

Over time, Peung’s health just went from bad to worse and she was hospitalized several times. In 1992, though still sick, Peung travelled to Chiang Mai to see her son. Before returning to Bangkok – Peung, close family and friends stopped off to pay their respects at one of Thailand’s most revered Buddha Images located at Wat Phra Si Mahathat in Phitsanulok province. “She had wanted to pray for her son’s well-being”

Before even leaving the temple gates – Peung collapsed.

Just as quickly as she had arrived on the stage, she was lost to us. Peung died of kidney failure at Phra Phutthachinnarat hospital in Phitsanulok. She was just 31 years of age.

The passing away of the ‘Queen of Look Thung’

No-one had realized just how huge and popular ‘Peung’ really was until after her death. Holding legendary status she was renamed ‘Pumpuang – The Queen of Thai Country Music’. At her funeral at Wat Tapkradan in Suphanburi province, an estimated 200,000 people turned up to pay thier last respects. Even HM The King attended.

Sadly for ‘Peung’, her family never failed in bringing to the attention of the country, their seemingly endless battle for possession of Peung’s fortune.

Well here’s my first Thai blog

Hi I’d just like to use this first blog to say hello to you all, I’ve been writing on the forums for a few months now but have a few stories to tell of my times in Thailand.

You can check out my daily, well almost but not really, blog at . That will give a bit of a background for me as to how and why I’m here. (As soon as I suss out the tool bars I’ll be able to do hyperlinks etc so please bear with me. I’m new to all this)

At the mo I’ve been really busy starting up my new school year, it’s really hectic, looking after 3 classes of 4-7yr olds and having to do all of the lesson plans and entertainment for them, but things are happening now and I have a little more time on my hands, to explore the surrounding areas and so on.

Life here in Prachinburi is a lot slower than last year in Bangkok, in my next blog I’ll try an put some pics of the differences, see if you can spot them. I have enough images I just can’t seem to get them small enough, so any constructive critisism will be gladly taken on board, pedantic critisism will be disregarded, although I’m partial to a bit of facetiousness myself.

This blog will not just be a diary of my whinges and daily strife, I’ll leave that to the msn site, hopefully here I’ll give little insights to my views on Thailand so people who know it will recognise and either agree or not, I don’t mind, and those who don’t know Thailand will maybe learn something, or not, again I don’t mind.

Anyhow I won’t bore you any longer with this opening speech, I’ll just let you all know I’ll be posting here now as well

Thai life: a European interlude

Long-time readers might still remember the time I started posting about my Thai life on Paknamweb back in 2004, even before the existence of this Thai-blogs community. You have been with me through many ups and downs of my life here, so I want to share with you the recent events that will bring about some of the greatest changes in my life. 🙂

European interlude
My girlfriend Cherry and I are about to leave Thailand. Only temporarily though. 😉 Cherry is going to France for a few days, where she will present her research work on an international science conference in Paris. Afterwards, she’ll spend the next six months doing research at a London university, as the final part of her PhD program.

I will use this time to go back to Hungary for a long-overdue family reunion. I haven’t seen them for the last seven years! After the five years in the US at the uni, and now the two years here in Thailand, I really want to see my family again. 🙂

We’ll leave sometime in June. As you can imagine, we’re quite excited, and very busy with preparation. We cleared most obstacles already, but some necessities are yet to be done. This evening we’ll leave Chiang Mai on a Bangkok-bound bus (trains don’t leave CM because of the flood). In Bangkok, we’ll apply for the French and UK visas for Cherry. It took a while to get all the evidence together, and we had it checked with the local consulate to be sure, but you never know… so let’s just keep our fingers crossed! 🙂

I will keep writing to Thai-blogs and Thaiwonders even from Europe. I have more than two years worth of Thailand memories; that should easily last for six months, lol.

To move to Thailand was the best decision of my life. I learned much, not only about the wonderful local lifestyle, culture and values, but also about myself. I believe that my life turned out to be better than what I could’ve ever have in the US, had I stayed there for the additional five-six years necessary for the PhD.

The next six months will be a great time to test and contrast the values I adopted here, with the one I left behind such a long time ago. At the same time, I want to come back to Thailand at the end, nice as it may be to be with family. To me, Europe is only a visit to the past. My home, my life, is here now.

Thanks for everyone who kept reading my life stories through these years. 🙂


Fried Durian

Fried durian

One of the most famous fruits in Thailand is the Durian. It is widely known as the “king of fruit” and you will either love it or hate it. It is a large fruit with a spiky casing which could so easily be used as a lethal weapon. However, it is the smell which some people say is more dangerous. Many hotels and taxis ban this fruit that many people say smells like an open sewer. Personally, I don’t care for it much. I must admit it is the smell the puts me off the most. I would prefer to eat something with a pleasant aroma. However, I love eating fried durian which you can see being prepared in the above picture. The durian is sliced thinly like potato chips (crisps) and then either fried or roasted or even both. The small bag of fried durian you can see in the picture costs 100 baht. I bought some on my recent trip to Rayong. This area of Thailand produces the majority of the durians in the country. If you don’t fancy eating the smelly fruit then try this fried version. It is very addictive, so one packet won’t be enough!

Here are some facts about the durian:

  • The Thai people call it “turian” instead of “durian”
  • Over 670,000 tonnes was produced in the first half of this year
  • Chantaburi, Rayong and Trat produce 56% of the country’s total production. The remainder comes from the south.
  • In the first quarter of this year, 16,200 tonnes was exported.
  • In 2004 several people died after eating excessive amounts of durian prompting the government to release health warnings
  • People are advised not to eat durian and consume alcohol at the same time
  • A 2 kilogramme durian contains nearly 1,000 calories
  • The best advice is to eat some mangosteen after eating durian.

If you are interested in Thai Street Food, then don’t forget to read the archives at Now over 1000 sound clips and an equal number of food pictures!

The Beaches on Koh Samet

Koh Samet

Advertising for trips around the island

I recently spent some time exploring the beaches along the coastline of Rayong. This area is only two-three hours from Bangkok and counts as some of the most beautiful and exotic locations in Thailand. I spent the first two days on the mainland and you will find that the beautiful beaches there are often deserted during the week. However, if you want the white sand and crystal clear water then you need to take a boat to nearby Koh Samet. The island is only 40 minutes away and is a popular tourist destination for both Thais and foreigners. The island becomes so busy that during high season and long weekends it might be difficult to find a room for the night. However, as it is a national park you can camp there in your tent for free!

We caught a ferry from Ban Phe on the mainland to the main pier on the island at Na Darn Pier. The island is shaped like a t-bone as you can see in the picture above. The pier is at the top of the northeast corner. Most of the beaches are then situated down the east coast. Our boat arrived at about 9.45 a.m. We weren’t alone as other boats had just arrived and others were not far behind. From the pier you can either catch a songtaew for about 10 baht to the nearest beach or walk. The walking option will take you only 10 minutes and is worth it to stretch your legs and to see what some of the facilities are on offer. People say that if you have a 7–Eleven in your village then that means civilization has arrived. Well, they have one here plus a few other convenience stores. Bad in some ways to see this on an island, but good also that you can buy water and other supplies at reasonable prices. Bottled water was about 10 baht.

Koh Samet Island

Sun-worshipers on the beach

The first beach we reached was Hat Sai Kaew. It is about 800 metres long and is the most popular. The top of the beach has white powdery sand that was so bright that you had to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. It was already hot by the time we arrived so that the only people in the water were foreigners and other sunbathers. This was in stark contrast to the mainland where most of the tourists on the beaches were fully-clothed Thais. You would never see the above scene on a beach dominated by Thai tourists. And you would never see top-less women like we saw a few times on quieter beaches on Koh Samet.

Our first task was to find a place to stay for the night. We didn’t really want to waste time looking for a good beach or even a good bungalow on the beach. As we had come to research the beaches on the island we knew we wouldn’t spend long in one place. The first hotel we found was already full despite the early hour. The next one told us that they had two rooms with people checking out at noon. Unfortunately we couldn’t see the rooms first nor did we have a choice about the type of room. We ended up with one fan room for 700 baht and one air-con room for 1,200 baht! If  you read my previous blog about the hotel we stayed in on the beach on the mainland then you would know this was now double the price for a room half the size. But then, this is an island. We paid for the first night and then left our bags with the receptionist so that we could go off exploring.

Beach at Ao Phai looking back to Hat Sai Kaew

I think the biggest complaint about our beach is that there are so many boats and jet skis in the water. Most of them moored but there were some jet skis going up and down which is, of course, potentially dangerous. Hat Sai Kaew has the advantage of everything you would need and better prices for food and water. However, it suffers from over-population. Not only from the people sleeping there but also the hundreds of day-trippers who come to gawk at the half naked Westerners. To get some more peace and quiet you only have to walk 10 minutes or so to neighbouring beaches such as Ao Hin Kok and Ao Phai. The border between these beaches is an outcrop of rocks. We clambered over the first group of rocks and that was when we spotted a group of topless ladies walking up the beach after a swim in the sea. There are a few bungalows here which are closer to the beach. On our beach, the hotel rooms are behind the restaurants.

A short walk up this beach and we soon found ourselves at Ao Phai. This is as good as Hat Sai Kaew but doesn’t have so many people. Only a couple of boats in the water too. The bungalows looked much nicer here though the prices would reflect that. If you don’t want to use jet skis and don’t need a wide choice of restaurants then I would suggest that you should choose one of these quiter beaches. If not here, then a bit further on at Ao Phutsa/Ao Thapthim. To get here you can do like us and walk along the beach or take a songtaew from the pier. Walking along the beach has the advantage that you can look at all the bungalows as you go. Going by songtaew you need to decide which beach you want straight away. To get back on another songtaew will cost you as much as 300 baht to go to another beach as you would have to charter it. It took us about 45 minutes to walk slowly from Hat Sai Kaew Beach to Ao Thap Thim.

By the time we had walked back, it was noon and our rooms were ready. I wasn’t impressed with the air-con room. It smelled damp and it was small. The fan room was bigger and looked nicer. It didn’t really matter too much as we wouldn’t spend that much time in the rooms. We had a quick lunch and then planned what we would do for the next two days. Our options included boat rides, trips into the interior and of course swimming. I will tell you about activities you can do on the island in the final part of this series.

The archives for this exploration of the Beaches in Rayong can be found at Just click on the link for Rayong province. On that website you will find many useful blogs to help you plan your holiday.