Monthly Archives: November 2008

Dos & Don’ts to Voting in Thailand

(Photo courtesy of )

According to half the nation recently and the political fiasco going on, it seems that Thailand is about as democratic as you are martian. We have one ‘middle-class’ side claiming that everyone from the countryside is about as intelligent as a mangosteen and the other (the folk from the countryside that is) claiming that anyone with a high school certificate is about as mad as a rabid dog.

So ensuring that only the best caliber folk get the job of next managing the country, what is really needed is a list of dos and don’ts to voting. And a list has been just written – made up by only the finest academics. Leaked to us by some totally unreliable source we met in a Sukhumvit Road pub, here it is, yet another exclusive.


* Do take the advice of your local stray dog; the thing has probably smelled more crap than you have Bangkok exhaust fumes.
* Do take the advice of the blind guy selling lottery tickets; over the years, he’s seen more honest politicians than you ever will
* Do, if the creep offers to buy your vote, chuck a rotten egg in his face; he will certainly have deserved it.
* But… do, if yer shorta cash just take the money; vote for his opposition after though, and then chuck an egg at him.
* Do vote for the youngest person possible; chances are his mind will be less corrupted.
* Do ignore any wanna-be politician who spends tens of millions on his campaign; if he wins, the first thing he’ll be wanting to do is to get all that money back.
* Do, if you fancy it, vote for a woman; country’s gotta realize that a government made up of 98% men doesn’t do much good.
* Do listen to the recommendations of your local drunkard; he makes more sense than any bad-breathed canvasser ever will.
* Do perhaps vote for the best looking guy; if he wins, he may not need to spend all his salary on a pack of mistresses.


* Don’t vote for anyone whose huge mugshot billboard lines the streets of Bangkok; the geezer’s gotta realize how sick of his face you are.
* Don’t vote for any bloke who is over the age of 60; he’ll end up spending all his salary on Viagra.
* Don’t believe your canvassing politician is personally interested in you; if he wins, he’ll be more interested in finding a flock of new minor wives.
* Don’t vote for any guy who has been a politician for the past 30 years; he has probably switched more parties than you have clean underwear.
* Don’t vote for anyone who wears a red shirt; he only cares about his fuming-mad former fugitive boss in exile.
* And… don’t vote for anyone in a yellow shirt; you don’t need the country’s system to be taken back to that of 150 years ago.
* Don’t vote for any businessmen; if he wins, he’ll be paying far more intention on winning contracts for his company than of your whimsy complaints.
* And… don’t vote for any former cop or soldier; they have to realize that after 75 years the locals are sick and tired of men in uniforms meddling with politics.
* Don’t, if you live upcountry, vote for any idiot who drives his pick-up blaring propaganda at 7 o’clock in the morning; he has to realize that folk are sick of such noise pollution.
* Don’t take advice from any dodgy monk; his greasy palms will be itching for backhanders if he manages to swing the locals’ votes in the right direction.
* Don’t listen to the recommendations of your local village headman; his advice will be as believable as the monks.
* Don’t vote for anyone whose father is a former politician; you’d prefer someone who doesn’t take the advice of his old-man day-in day-out.

More of the Dos & Don’ts/Thailand series can be found here at:

Cremation Ceremony of King Rama VIII

These black and white pictures are of the cremation ceremony of King Rama VIII at Sanam Luang in Bangkok. The photos were taken for Life Magazine in March 1950. I have also posted some video clips over at

Phra Meru of HRH Princess Galyani

In memory of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana Krom Luang Naradhiwas Rajnagarinda, an exhibition of her life has been set up at the site of the crematorium (Phra Meru) at Sanam Luang in Bangkok. The crematorium building is probably one of the most picturesque buildings in Bangkok built during this century. Though surprisingly, it is only a temporary building and it will soon be dismantled. If you are in Bangkok now, you have a unique opportunity to see the place where the cremation took place and learn a bit more about the background to the ceremony. The exhibition will run from now until 30th November 2008. Expect big crowds every day as many Thai people are interested to see this exquisite site. The following information is from the official website at The pictures I took myself during my visit to Sanam Luang yesterday.

The royal crematorium for Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana is built in the form of a religious structure with a wooden top, facing the west. It is a crematorium in the shape of a four-sided castle, with modified corners, decorated at the top with a seven-tiered white umbrella of state. The structure measures 39 meters from the base to the top of the royal umbrella, 31.80 meters in width, and 39.80 meters in length, built of wood, with an inner steel structure, decorated in patterns with a special paper plated with metal and glazed in gold.

The base is in two levels, equipped with stairs on four sides. The first level, known as the undulating base, is decorated with the figures of heavenly beings in a kneeling position, holding Bangsaek (ceremonial fans made from cloth, leaf-shaped and embroidered with gold, with a handle) in their hands. Lamps are in the middle, decorated along the backrest of the undulating base. Inside are figures of heavenly beings standing and holding royal paraphernalia. The second level, called the crematorium base, is in a lion’s leg shape, with stairs leading up from the first level from all four directions.

At the center of the large central hall is the pyre for the setting up of the royal urn to be cremated. To the north of the pyre is the rail jutting out of the balcony as an inclined bridge for the moving of the royal urn from the Golden Palanquin with Three Poles into the crematorium. The crematorium is decorated with special paper on the inside and outside, with gold as the main tone, and supplemented by varied soft tones, befitting the tenderness and grace seen in the traits and behavior of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana Krom Luang Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra.

Entry to the crematorium site is free. It is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Don’t forget to pick up a free brochure with a map and information of the buildings. If you wish to enter the crematorium or the building where the Royal Family made merit, you can expect to wait in queues for up to two hours or more. However, there are no queues to walk around the gardens and take pictures much the same as I have done here. There is parking at Sanam Luang but you are advised to take public transport. Sanam Luang is often used as a site for royal cremations. Tomorrow I will post some old black and white pictures at of the cremation ceremony of King Rama VIII.

How to cook… Stir-fried Morning Glory

This vegetarian dish, using morning glory, is called “pad pak bung fai daeng” in Thai. The last part “fai daeng” refers to the red flame that leaps up when you throw in the vegetables. You can also do a version using minced pork. The ingredients for the vegetarian version are shown below. They are morning glory, garlic cloves and bird’s eye chilies.

You can cook this dish in several different ways. If you want it to be spicier, you should pound the garlic and hot chilies together with your mortar and pestle. This is what they do in shops. But today, we added the crushed garlic first to the oil in the wok and fried until golden brown. Next came the morning glory. We then seasoned with oyster sauce and soy sauce. Chilies came last. Some shops also add fermented soy beans. This is a brown sauce which I find a bit salty.

Visit our Thai Street Food archives at for hundreds of pictures from these blogs.

Tarzan Goes to Thailand

Not all of the Tarzan movies are set in Africa. The ape man went to India and even New York. But, I didn’t realize that he had also been to Thailand for the 1963 movie “Tarzan’s Three Challenges”. The movie starred Jock Mahoney. Halfway through the film, according to wikipedia, Mahoney contracted dysentery, dengue fever and finally pneumonia. His weight plummeted from 220 pounds to 175 pounds. This led to a continuity problem during the movie as he was always wearing a loin cloth.

Here is the synopsis: “When the spiritual leader of Thailand dies his evil brother Khan tries to prevent his brother’s heir from assuming leadership. Tarzan is summoned to come to Thailand to protect the heir to the throne (a small innocent child) from Khan. When Tarzan arrives he must face three deadly challenges, the final one being a spectacular fight to the death with the dangerous & powerful Khan. The climactic fight is edge of your seat excitement as the two men clash with swords on a net stretched over huge cauldrons of boiling oil.” – Source

The top picture is of Tarzan fighting in front of the Temple of the Buddha’s Footprint in Saraburi. I have posted the movie trailer over at and you can see that there was a cast of thousands at this temple. Another location was Khao Luang Cave in Phetchaburi Province. Looking at the pictures below, and the proximity to the Buddha images, it makes me wonder how they got away with filming this movie. But then, didn’t they film Mortal Combat in the temple ruins and palaces of Ayutthaya and even blew up a few columns? I guess money talks when it comes to getting permission to film.

All of these pictures were taken for an article for Life magazine.

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