Monthly Archives: August 2008

Return to Khun Samut School

In early July 2008, I shared with you some shocking pictures of the Ban Khun Samut School where the buildings had collapsed into the canal. I have written about this community a number of times. This is the place where the local temple is surrounded by water at high tide. Even though the school was moved further inland in the early 1980’s, the sea has caught up with it again and during high tide the playground is flooded. I was back again at Khun Samut Chin this morning and I wanted to share with you some of the latest pictures of the school.

As you can see from these photos, in just over one month, the classrooms have been raised and they also have concrete supports. The old wooden supports had been eaten away which resulted in the collapse. There is still more work to be done but the school has re-opened. Apparently it was only closed for one week. I guess it was to their advantage that there are only 30 students so it was easy to move them to an empty classroom. The local government came to their aid and sent some money their way to do the repairs. Though it wasn’t quite enough.

It was exactly one year ago that I came to Khun Samut Chin to take part in the fund-raising effort at the temple. There were at least 500 people on that day including dignitaries such as the governor of Samut Prakan Province. A lot of money was raised for the temple. Other groups have come since and they have raised over one million baht for the temple. I also believe they have spent one million baht on building a sea wall around the temple as well as new buildings. But, none of this money went to the school which, in my mind, is just as important for the local community.

I was glad to receive an invitation to return to Khun Samut Chin for another fund-raising, though this time it was for the benefit of the school. There was a large crowd of people, though maybe not as much as last year. Nor did the governor of Samut Prakan make an appearance. People feel they are making more merit if they donate to the temple rather than a local charity. However, over 200,000 baht was raised. When I went to the school I could also see that they had received a number of donations of classroom equipment. There was also some company employees who had volunteered their time to do some painting. I am glad to see that the future for the school looks brighter. Though, as you can see from the above picture, the classrooms in the second block have started to lean as well.

You can see more of my pictures and read about this community at our sister site I am planning to go back again in October to volunteer as an English teacher. I will share some updates with you later.

Iron Maidens

Prapawadee won the gold medal.

“Thailand won a gold medal!”

I came running out of my cubicle and did my celebratory dance in the hallway at the office when I learned that Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakon brought Thailand the first 2008 Olympic gold.

My coworker David hollered from his office, “What sports?”

“Women’s weightlifting. Yes! Woohoo!”


“Yes, Dave.”

“Are you kidding?”

I got Dave out of his office and proceeded to show him the stats. Prapawadee lifted 221 kilograms (486.2 pounds).

“How big is this lady?”

“53 kilo. That’s 117 lbs.”

“Are you kidding me? She’s…tiny!”

“Oh, Dave, honey. And I haven’t told you what us girls did in Athens.”

2 gold and 3 bronzes in weightlifting, plus a bronze in Taekwondo. While the boys brought back one of each medal all in boxing.

In Beijing, the ladies are taking home one gold and another Taekwondo silver from Buttree Puenpong. The boys are bringing back the same 2 medals in boxing.

David REALLY stared at me now.

“WHAT exactly do they feed you girls over there?”

Once and for all, Thai women prove in the international stage, with the whole world watching, that we are not all Thai women are dainty little flowers, or, well, the pretty little hookers that some of them think we are.

In the sports where in Thailand traditionally considered men’s, weightlifting is not something a proper girl would do nor Taekwondo where you kick and punch somebody.

When I was younger, and before Taekwondo becomes a popular sport, the training center used to be just around the corner from my house, a stone throw from the ballet studio. 2 sons of my mom’s best friends were training there and I wanted to do it too. My mom said no because “it’s not a girl’s sport.”

I don’t think the “Not a Proper Girl Thing To Do” antics may have just been fadiing away these past 10 years. Especially with the success at the 2004 Olympics, doors have been flung open and ceilings came shattering down for Thai girls everywhere to pursue whatever sports they would like. And the continuing success of our ladies would pave the way for future generations to be world class athletes.

We can kick butt, and quite literally too for Buttree, and take names. We can be whoever and whatever we want to be.

Girl power, indeed.

Oh, and for the record, I did eventually get Taekwondo lesson later when I started dating Brandon who was going for his second black belt at the time. Made it 2 steps away from a black belt before an ankle injury benched me for good. So there. 😉

Thai Wedding Photos – Making Merit

There are an increasing number of foreigners who are marrying Thai women or Thai men. And according to our Forums, there are also many people coming to Thailand to attend weddings as guests as they are asking questions like “What do we wear to a Thai wedding” and “What gift do we give the bride and bridegroom?”. As I was at a Thai wedding last weekend, I thought I would share with you some of my photos. I was the official photographer (I also do funerals but that is another story) so I took about 1,900 pictures on this day. I have been to quite a few weddings in Thailand, so I will try my best to give you an explanation of a typical wedding. These may vary throughout the country but most of them typically have the same elements. In urban areas the wedding might only last for one day, but upcountry the celebrations often go on for three or four days. These are pictures of a typical wedding in Central Thailand.

A Thai wedding in Thailand is not your typical wedding that you may have experienced in your home country. There is no church wedding as such as the first ceremony usually takes place at the home of the bride or the new home of the wedding couple. Traditionally, an odd number of monks, usually nine, are invited to bless the home of the wedding couple and also all of the participants in the upcoming wedding. The wedding cannot take place on just any month of the year or even day or time. Auspicious months for a wedding are usually days in the waxing phase of the moon on the second, fourth, sixth, eighth and twelve lunar months. These are all even months as the number two represents the couple to be married. The ninth lunar month is also considered to be lucky. However, you should never get married in the tenth lunar month as it is considered very unlucky for your marriage. This is to do with dogs who are usually in heat at that time of the year. No-one wants to be associated with copulating dogs. Once the month is chosen, they then consult an astrologer who will then choose the precise date and time for the ceremonies to start.

The monks are invited early in the morning. Usually for this part of the ceremony, only close family and friends might attend. The five precepts are first recited and then the monks chant auspicious text from the scriptures. While this is being done, some water in a bowl, with a candle dripping over it, is being made sacred. At the completion of the chanting, the wedding couple simultaneously, again representing their unity, offer food to each of the monks. After the monks have finished their meal, the couple then make another offering of flowers, money in an envelope and essential items for every day life for the monks. Any merit made during this ceremony is then passed onto ancestors and absent relatives by doing “kruat nam”, where water is poured from a container slowly into a bowl. The head monk will then mark the foreheads of the couple with three dots using paste which was blessed during the ceremony. He then blesses the couple with the holy water. As the monk departs, he will sprinkle water over the other guests. To receive the blessing in a proper manner, you need to put your hands together in a prayer-like gesture.

As you can see by the above picture, most guests are sitting outside the house at round tables. They are being served food and drinks. Though, strictly speaking, they cannot start eating until after the monks have finished their own meal. Inside the house were the parents and grandparents of the couple to be married. Everyone else was outside. When you receive a wedding invitation, you will often have the times for three different ceremonies. Quite often these days, they are held on the same day. For this wedding, the ceremony to be blessed by the monks and to make merit started at 7 a.m. and lasted over 90 minutes. It might be a bit boring with all the chanting and if you are not a Buddhist then there isn’t much you can do other than eat and drink. In addition, you will most likely be sitting outside so will only be able to hear the chanting. Most people don’t turn up for this part. Or, if they do, they will arrive late. You don’t have to wear anything formal, just something smart. This is now the end of the first part of the wedding day. The couple are not married yet. They have just received a blessing from the monks. The monks now leave and don’t take part in the next ceremony.

Click here for part two of the wedding ceremony.
Click here for part three of the wedding ceremony.

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.

Popular Thai Desserts

This week I am going to share with you pictures of the more popular Thai desserts that are easily available on the streets in Thailand. These desserts will only cost you between five and twenty baht.

(1) Khao Niew Sangkaya – Glutinous Rice with Thai Custard Topping
(2) Khanom Chun – Layered Dessert

(3) Khanom Taan
(4) Puak Kuan & Tao Kuan – Taro and Mungbean Pudding

(5) Khao Niew Dum Na Kra Cheek
(6) Sang Kha Ya Fak Thong – Thai Custard with Pumpkin

(7) Wan Kati – Jelly with Coconut Cream Topping
(8) Khao Niew Tut – Sticky Glutinous Rice

(9) Med Khanoon – Jackfruit Seed in Syrup
(10) Thong Yib – Pinched Golden Egg Yolks

You can see more of my Thai Food pictures at and If you have any questions, then please post them in our Thai Food Forum at

Understanding… The Thai Lunar Calendar

If you have ever been to Thailand, then you probably already know that the calendar here is slightly different. Here we use calendars that show the Buddhist Era. This counts the years from the time when the Lord Buddha passed into Nirvana. This predates the Christian Era by 543 years. So, even though this year is 2008 A.D., in Thailand, calendars show it as 2551 B.E. Although Thailand adopted the solar calendar system in the late 1880’s in order to synchronize with the Western calendar, the new year started on 1st April. This continued like this up until 1941 when it was changed to 1st January.

Thai calendars show both Buddhist Era and Christian Era dates. They also have another set of dates which belongs to the old system which calculates the Thai Lunar Months. This is when it gets complicated. Lunar months do not match the solar calendar. For example, although we are now in August which is the 8th month, it is in fact the 9th lunar month. So, why is important to still show the lunar calendar although it hasn’t been used officially for several hundred years? Well, all Buddhist holidays and festivals are based on the Thai lunar calendar. It tells people which day of the week is “wan phra” or the holy day and which days we should celebrate holidays such as Khao Phansa and Loy Krathong.

One of the questions we often get at Forums is when will Loy Krathong be celebrated this year or the next. This is because many of these holidays are not fixed by the solar calendar. Here are the official dates according to the lunar calendar:

Magha Puja Day – full moon day of the third lunar month
Ashana Puja Day – on the fifteenth day of the waxing moon of the eighth lunar month
Khao Phansa – on the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month
Loy Krathong – on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month
Phra Samut Chedi Temple Fair – on the fifth day of the waning moon in the eleventh lunar month

A complete cycle of the moon, from the new moon (dark moon) to the full moon is 29 and a half days. To make up for this, months alternate between 29 days and 30 days. Like I said before, August this year is the 9th lunar month. It has 15 days of waxing moon (known in Thai as “keun”) and 14 days of waning moon (known in Thai as “raem”). Next month has an equal 15 days of waxing and 15 days of waning. For most of us, today is Thursday 21st August. But, on my lunar calendar, it is “5 raem 5 kam deuan 8”. The first “5” is for the 5th day of the week which is Thursday. Then “raem 5” is the 5th day of the waning moon. Finally, “deuan 8” translates as the 8th month. I should also mention that “kam” refers to the period starting after sunset and not the start of the day.

Let’s take a look at some of the festivals mentioned above. First an easy one. Loy Krathong is celebrated every year on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month. The 12th lunar month is usually in November though it is sometimes earlier. This year, the full moon is on 12th November 2008. In Thai this is “keun 15 kam deuan 12”. For the next example, we will take the start of the Buddhist Rains Retreat which is called Khao Phansa. This starts on the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month. This year, the 8th lunar month started on 3rd July. In Thai, waning is “raem” which is the period after a full moon. This happened on 17th July and so the next day is then “raem 1 kam deuan 8”.

After a while it does become easier. You just need a Thai calendar that marks the lunar months. To find out the dates for the Buddhist festivals and Loy Krathong for next year, it is possible to buy 100 year calendars. However, be warned, they have made mistakes in their calculations before and some years we celebrated major Buddhist holidays on the wrong day!

Related Blogs: Understanding… The Thai Equinox