Monthly Archives: August 2008

Lunchtime Thai Menu 32

Steamed Crab – pu neung

It is sometimes amazing what kind of street food you can find for a cheap price. This is steamed crab, or “pu neung” in Thai. The crab itself is not cooked in any special way. However, as usual, it is the sauce that makes the dish. In this case, it is a mixture of chillies, garlic, lime juice and fish sauce that is pounded together with a mortar and pestle. This gives you a sour, salty and spicy hot taste. This dish was only 50 baht or $1.60.

Prawns on Charcoal – kung phao

This dish has the same sauce. Though a tamarind version is sometimes used. These prawns were cooked on a grill over a charcoal fire. These were 25 baht.

Boiled eggplant with fermented soybean sauce and pork

There are a few different recipes that use eggplants. This one comes with minced pork. The eggplant is boiled in some water first together with some sugar. Then fermented soybean sauce and minced pork is fried. It is seasoned with soy sauce and sugar. This was 25 baht.

Chilli Tamarind Sauce Dip – namprik ma kham sod

Many Thai families often have nam prik of some sort served with fresh vegetables. This version has tamarind. The main ingredients include shrimp paste, chillies, tamarind and dried shrimp. This is pounded with a mortar and pestle and then seasoned with sugar and fish sauce. I am not too keen on nam prik but many people like it. I guess it depends on what you grew up with. This was 25 baht.

Breadfruit in Syrup – sakay cheum

This is another one of those Thai desserts that uses a lot of sugar. Maybe too much. You need a sweet tooth to eat something like this. This was 25 baht.

This is the last of our series of food blogs about the meals we eat on Fridays in the Paknam Web offices. We have given you over 150 different Thai food dishes so far. We ned to take a break and maybe be back later. Meanwhile, by popular demand, we will switch to a different kind of food blog where we will show you how to cook a different Thai dish each week. Visit next week to see what we will be cooking first. Each week you can leave your suggestions of what you want to be seen cooked in the comments section.

Thai Wedding Photos – The Wedding Reception

Weddings in Bangkok usually last all day. However, if you have received a wedding invitation, you are usually only expected to turn up for the wedding reception in the evening. I have already shown you pictures of the other two major ceremonies that took place earlier in the day. These were the Making Merit and Monk’s Blessing Ceremony and the Wedding Procession of the Sin Sod. Both of these usually take place at the bride’s family home. Usually only family and close friends attend these ceremonies. Then, in the evening, everyone is invited to a big meal at a local restaurant or hall.

For the evening session I dressed up a bit more smartly. During the day I wore a polo shirt but I changed to a traditional silk shirt in the evening. When you arrive, you will see a reception table near the entrance. Usually some beautiful young ladies are on duty here. They will ask you to sign a book where you can write some good wishes. They will then give you a small wedding souvenir. Usually nothing exciting but don’t refuse it. In Thailand, you don’t normally bring a present for the bride and groom. However, you can give some money. You put this in the same envelope that you received your invitation. This already has your name on it. On the reception table there is a box to place the envelope. You should put in at least 500 baht or more if you know them well. The money helps to pay for the wedding and also the meal you are about to eat. Before you go into the hall, you can have your picture taken with the bride and groom.

I was at the wedding reception to take pictures of people as they arrived. Quite a few people arrived late so we were stuck outside for nearly two hours. I thought I would then be able to get a bite to eat. But then the emcee invited the couple onto the stage with the parents for the speeches. Two senior guests were asked to give some words of wisdom and then make a toast for the couple. Then the emcee teased them by saying that they should kiss each other in front of everyone. But really they only did the traditional Thai “sniff kiss”. If it is your wedding day, make sure you don’t do anything x-rated on the stage!

As soon as the toast and speeches had finished it was time to have their pictures taken at every table. Unluckily for me, this wasn’t a small reception. I counted at least 40 Chinese-style dining tables. If we were lucky, people moved so that we could take pictures of everyone in one go. But many tables we had to take two pictures. It was nearly 9 p.m. by the time I had taken the last picture at the last table. I had been there since 5.30 p.m. and still hadn’t eaten. By this time, most of the food had gone and people were already starting to go home. So, I never did get a chance to eat any of the delicious food. I am not sure about the wedding couple, but it had been a very long day for me and I was very tired. But, you would think that now they would be happy as they were finally married. However, that wasn’t quite true. Although they were married in the eyes of their peers and elders from the community, they weren’t yet officially married. Really, to get married in Thailand, all you need to do is go down to the local district office, pay a fee and they will sign your certificate. People usually do this the next day or sometimes a few weeks or even months later. I know some couples who never never did get around to getting a wedding certificate.

Thai Wedding Photos – Making Merit
Thai Wedding Photos – The Procession and the Sin Sod

Related Blogs and Articles: Probably the most famous Thai Wedding on the Internet was of Thailand’s famous Internet teenager, Panrit “Gor” Daoruang. You can read all about his wedding and see the photos at About three years ago, I wrote a popular blog called How to Get Married Cheaply. It was a kind of mass wedding ceremony where a group of couples got married at the same time. Our Steve wrote about his own wedding in a blog called Getting Married……In Thailand and our resident Thai blogger, Oakmonster, writer about her Thai wedding in America in Temple of Love. Finally, if you are dating a Thai girl or boy, then you might find our Relationships Forum useful as it helps with cultural misunderstanding and procedures like meeting the family for the first time. You need to register to see this forum. It is quick and free to do so.

Overnight trip to Thale Noi in Patalung

I have not been posting since the beginning of 2008 as I was on assignment in Singapore and that really take away a lot of my free time. I was busy then but now I am just too lazy and have been putting off a lot of activities.

I went to Thale Noi (TN) on 28-29 July at the end of my assignment in Singapore. A temple friend who has been there many times is supposed to join me but last minutes commitment prevented him from making the trip.

28 July 2008 Morning
I took a minivan from Haadyai to TN. The minibus station is located quite a distance from Haadyai city center about 2-3 KM after the railway flyover. I made a mistake of telling the ticket office that I was going to TN and was assigned a “staged’ van. A direct Haadyai-Patalung van would have taken a lot less time.

The van took a big loop and and stopping whenever someone flag the van down, or when a passenger want to get. Well, as I am just killing time, I really don’t mind. While I don’t mind the perfume of some well-dressed ladies, the smell of sweat of some passenger can be quite bad. The van stopped at junction of road 41 and road 4182.

I would have expected the van to have stopped at 4048 instead. From there I will take a songtheow to Thale Noi which is about 8KM away. But, mai pen rai!

The Songtheow stopped at the terminal cum car park. The guest house is just 100 meters away. I did not make any reservation and I was surprised to be told that the resort is fully booked on a Monday!

The resort is also a visitor information center and you can see photos and explanations of the species of birds found in this lake. There are 187 species of waterfowls,both the indigenous and migratory one can be spotted. Unfortunately, I can’t read or understand a word to ask question about birds will even tougher.

The bungalow / guest rooms in the complex are constructed on stilt above the lake and judging from the exterior of the bungalow, the facilities must have been built more than 5 years ago and it look run down.

After visiting the visitor information center, I walk along the promenade and found this nice little guest house which was completed hardly 3 months ago. It is a semi-detached house and the owner/operator stay on the right side of the building and also operate a small hair salon. The guest house is on the left hand side with one room on ground floor (level 1) and 3 rooms on level 2. The asking price for a room with attached batch is 600 Bahts with breakfast and I managed to drive it down to 500. A hair wash by the lady owner cost 20 baht cheap.

After checking in and had a hair wash, I head for the promenade which is lined with eating shops / stores. I need to check out the details about the boat ride for tomorrow morning. They are kids/ teenage playing sepak takraw (rattan ball) and adult playing some kind of lawn bowling along the promenade.

Afternoon is for siesta especially eating too much Khao Pad and khai jiao moo sap.

Evening is spent on eating and drinking with some village folks. I think Thai men drink a bit too much of the moonshines brew. The kids have really nothing much to do also. I ended talking to them on what they learn in school. I gave away some Singapore and Malaysian coins and 1-ringgit notes.

29 July 2008, Tuesday 06:30 (the photo’s timestamps are Malaysia/Singapore time)
Woke up by the loud speakers and I don’t have any clue as to what it being broadcast. Head for the beach and took this boat to the lake. The view is spectacular although it is a not a good time to be in thale noi. The best time is October to March, according to the locals. The lotus would have boomed and the bird population peak.

I shall return for a self-drive visit next time with my buddies. As Malaysia-Thai immigration at Sadao open at 6:00AM Malaysian time, we will have time to drive to TN directly in time for the early boat ride.

Ritual to Stop Storm Surge

During the last few weeks, everyone has been talking about the predicted storm surge that could hit the coastline of Samut Prakan any time between now and October. A storm surge is caused by high winds pushing down on the water of the Gulf of Thailand. This will then make it rise higher along the coastline by about two or three meters. Much of Samut Prakan, as well as my house, is in the danger zone. This morning at 6.30 a.m., Anuwat Maytheewibulwut, the governor of Samut Prakan Province, took part in a ceremony at the city hall in order to keep the citizens of our city safe. It was called “Stop the Wind, Stop the Water”. In the above picture that I took this morning, the governor is placing a jasmine garland on a statue of the Buddha which is in the posture of “calming the ocean”.

During the ceremony, a total of 499 religious people, representing the four main religions in our province, took turns in praying and chanting. The religious groups that took part in the ritual were: (1) Christians, (2) Muslims, (3) Sikhs and (4) Buddhists. Each group had about 15 minutes each starting with the Christians. The prayers concluded with chanting by several hundred Buddhist monks present.

The ceremony ended with giving alms to the monks. I guess we can now all feel a bit safer now that the local authority have appeased the gods and spirits of four major religions. They even prayed to the statue of King Rama V. But, we shouldn’t knock it. All the talk has made quite a few residents fearful of what might happen if we have massive floods several metres deep. I live in a four storey house so I shouldn’t have a problem. However, I will pay attention to the brochures that have been distributed around town telling people to stock up on drinking water and canned food. It is the people along the coastline like Ban Khun Samut Chin that I feel worried about. A storm surge in that area would be devastating.

Thai Wedding Photos – The Procession and the Sin Sod

I was telling you before about the Thai wedding I recently attended. The first part of the ceremony was for Making Merit and the Blessing of the Monks. On the wedding invitation I received, the next event was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. This is the parade of the groom and his family and friends from his house to the house of the bride. Though typically, they normally start their parade just around the corner. This starts as soon as the monks have left as they no longer take part in the wedding ceremony. The procession is only for members of the groom’s family and friends. They are basically escorting him to the house of the bride’s parents where the elders will discuss the dowry payment. Leading the procession are a group of young ladies performing the ramwong dance. A lot of hand movements are typically used for this. Behind them are a traditional Thai band used for such processions – they have long drums and cymbals. Next comes the banana plants and sugar cane plants. After the ceremony has finished, the banana plants are planted in the garden. By the time the couple have children, the plant will be ready to provide food and nourishment for the baby. Taking up the rear are the people carrying the gifts and food for the family of the bride.

As the procession approaches the house, they see that their way is blocked by three gates which act like a kind of “toll-gate”. To pass them, the father of the groom has to negotiate the price of a safe passage. At each gate, usually made up from silver and gold coloured belts, the price of the toll becomes higher. As you can see from this picture, a female member of the bride’s family wants a higher price than the one offered. The father of the bride has to make sure that he has enough money envelopes to pay off all the female relatives standing at each gate. Eventually they arrive at the house. The gifts are brought into the front living room and the banana tree and sugar cane plant are left at the front door to provide their own symbolic doorway.

Inside the house, senior members of each family carefully inspect all the wedding gifts. The amount of the dowry, or sin sod in Thai, to be paid by the groom to the bride’s family, had been agreed upon several months before. They were now making sure everything is in order. The food is an offering to the dead ancestors. The ceremony tells them that the couple are intending to get married. Common offerings include banana, coconut, boiled rice, meat, alcohol and Thai sweets. The number of trays offered has to be an even number to represent the couple.

The money is laid out on a cloth. This is largely symbolic as it is often returned to the couple to use after the wedding has finished. But, traditionally, it is as seen as payment for the “mother’s milk”. Again it is for the ancestors to see that this marriage is legally binding. The amount of money offered has to be an even number. If the wife desserts her husband for a reason that is not valid, then he can claim it back. Next the bride and groom present each other with gold rings and necklaces. The senior relatives then bless the money and other gifts. In the picture above, you can see various kinds of leaves in the bowls. All of these have auspicious names. Such as “gold leaf” and “silver leaf” which will mean that they will have a prosperous life.

Next the relatives, in order of seniority, will come forward to bless the couple. They will tie the “sai sin” on the wrist of each couple. To do this properly, you need to stroke the wrist of each couple first and then tie the knot. You can say a blessing at the same time. They will then prostrate in front of you, unless of course you are a junior member of the family. If you have come to this part of the ceremony, then you will see that there is a bowl next to the couple which you use to make an offering. You put the money in the same envelope that you received your invitation. This is usually pink. It already has your name on the outside so there is no reason to write anything else. Most people give at least 500 baht. You can give more if you are close to the couple. Weddings are expensive so this money helps pay for it.

The main part of the wedding ceremony is the blessing of the couple with lustural water. For this wedding, this took place at about 10.30 a.m. or 90 minutes after the procession to the house. If you want to skip the earlier chanting and the negotiation of the sin sod, then just turn up late for this part. This is often done at the house, though some people arrange for this to take place at the wedding reception in the evening. The ceremony is presided over by a senior member of the family or an invited guest who knows the rituals. A kind of spell is incanted which bless their future together. Then the “twin crown”, called “mongkhon faet” in Thai, is placed on their heads at exactly the same time. This is similar to the “mongkhon” worn by Thai boxers during their blessing ceremony. However, this version comes as a pair as there is a thin thread connecting the two. The dots, using the white paste earlier blessed by the monks, are then put on the forehead of each couple.

Relatives and friends then line up to take turns blessing the couple. If you decide to attend this ceremony, then you will need to pay attention to see how it is performed. Notice that the bride is sitting on the groom’s left. So, you first bless the groom. There will be someone standing by the bowl who will fill the small conch with the blessed water. You will probably spot some of the “silver leaf” and “gold leaf” and even “love leaf” leaves floating in the water. Hold the conch in your right hand with the left hand supporting it. Then pour some water up and down of the outstretched hand of the groom. At the same time, say something like “may you always be happy and live a long life together”. Make sure that you don’t use up all the water as you need to repeat this ritual for the bride.

By the time the last person had blessed the couple and photos had been taken standing next to the bride and groom, more than four hours had passed. I am not sure about the happy couple, but I was certainly tired. I had just taken nearly 1,000 pictures during the morning. But, it is not over yet. The main wedding reception was scheduled for that evening. I will share with you pictures of that later.

There was actually one more ceremony that took place though I wasn’t invited. This is called the “arranging of the pillows” or “riang mon” in Thai. This takes place in the bedroom. The sin sod is placed on the bed together with the auspicious leaves. The bride and groom lie down on the bed with the sin sod between them. The bride to the left and the groom to the right. Someone who has been happily married for many years will then give instruction to the couple about how to lead a successful marriage. As this is a family website, I won’t go into details of some of the topics discussed.

Main sources of information:
Monks and Magic by B.J. Terwiel (White Lotus)
Essays on Thai Folklore by Phya Anuman Rajadhon

Related Blogs and Articles: Probably the most famous Thai Wedding on the Internet was of Thailand’s famous Internet teenager, Panrit “Gor” Daoruang. You can read all about his wedding and see the photos at About three years ago, I wrote a popular blog called How to Get Married Cheaply. It was a kind of mass wedding ceremony where a group of couples got married at the same time. Our Steve wrote about his own wedding in a blog called Getting Married……In Thailand and our resident Thai blogger, Oakmonster, writer about her Thai wedding in America in Temple of Love. Finally, if you are dating a Thai girl or boy, then you might find our Relationships Forum useful as it helps with cultural misunderstanding and procedures like meeting the family for the first time. You need to register to see this forum. It is quick and free to do so.