Daily Archives: May 18, 2006

Some Suphan Buri Sights

In my last blog I talked about the defeat of the Thai by the Burmese in the 1760s. Conflicts with Burma are a recurring theme in this area. A short distance away, at Don Chedi in Suphan Buri, is a memorial to the 1592 victory over the Burmese.

We spent a pleasant day taking in some of the sights in Suphan Buri, but really just scratched the surface. Writing this blog, I realise that one of the themes for the day was animals.

Our first stop was the complex of attractions at Bueng Chawak. There are many things to see here, an aquarium, various animals, birds, and plants. Of course, we only saw a fraction of it. It would probably take a whole day to do it justice. It was a popular place, full of children, parents, and mini-van loads of monks. Even a talent show. Though it wasn’t the destination I would have picked if I had been on my own (I would have gone for more history) it was a nice feeling: Thai families having a day out.

Our next stop was the Buffalo Village. This has been described as a tourist trap, and it is true that they charge farang prices, even though my Thai friends bought the tickets.

The village contains some pleasant gardens and examples of traditional Thai houses, but the main “attraction” for me was the buffalo show. It occurred to me that this is the sort of thing that we sell to foreign tourists in New Zealand. In our case it is demonstrations of sheep shearing, rounding up sheep with dogs (sheep are big in New Zealand), and ploughing (with tractors). But here the buffalo do the ploughing and I didn’t see any foreign tourists, just local Thai people, including the ever-present monks.

It would be easy to make fun of the show, but, like the shows back in New Zealand, it is always interesting to see real animals at work. And of course we got to feed them in at the end. Feeding animals, especially fish, seems to be a popular pastime in Thailand.

The sun was getting low by the time we got to Don Chedi. It was immediately obvious that this was a popular and important site. To get to it we had to pass a gauntlet of stalls selling everything from electronic equipment to handbags. My friends insisted that I try the fried bugs so I was soon wandering around with a bag full of grasshoppers and various other invertebrates. I’ve eaten bugs at “wild food” festivals back home, so I was a little disappointed that in this case the cooking process had vaporised all of the flesh. Only the exoskeletons remained and the mixture was sprayed with syrup. Not unpleasant, but very sweet and I did not manage to finish the bag.

But on to the monument. There is a lot of detail about King Naresuan, and his 1592 victory over the Burmese in an elephant battle here and in this blog. The impressive pagoda was constructed in the early 20th century, over the remains of a much older monument.

Inside the monument there are many displays, in Thai and English, and some very realistic-looking models of the battle. Almost like being there. Of course, the Burmese are the ones in red in the picture above getting the worst of it.

Outside there were some real elephants, giving a better feel of the scale. And, of course, we got to feed them.

After that it was time to feed ourselves, at yet another excellent roadside restaurant. Another interesting day in Central Thailand. And not another foreigner in sight.

Secret to understanding Thai language

My Mother in Law knows the secret to farangs understanding Thai language.

She has not bothered to learn any English and she makes no attempt to slow her speech down, speak clearly or use a simplified vocabulary. She just rambles on to me in her normal way. Normally she chooses a time when I am busy trying to do something else.

She will come over and talk at me, perhaps making some joke that she herself laughs at. This will last about 5 minutes and at the end I will have a confused look or maybe even explain “Mai Khao Jai” / I don’t understand.

Take note, these next couple of steps are vital in her secret plan to help me understand Thai language.

After I haven’t understood the first time, she simply repeats herself again. Again at full speed and again going for about 5 minutes.

Again I have a puzzled look and try to explain to her that I cannot understand.

Next she says the same stuff again, but this time louder (presumably just in case I am deaf) and she emphasizes things with the use of her finger.

By about now I am getting ready to understand Thai. Perhaps she will need to repeat herself again even louder and then by that time I “understand” or agree to whatever she is saying. I make understanding looks and nods and say “OK” in the hope that she stops talking at me.

She usually adds a few more sentences just for good measure and then having my agreement and “understanding” she wanders off to annoy someone else.

So there you have it. How to “understand” Thai with ever having to study.