Monthly Archives: May 2009

Nongbon Water Sports Center

On the eastern outskirts of Bangkok there is a new lake that offers watersports at a price that everyone can afford. Lake Nongbon (beung nongbon) was built by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) in 2006 but wasn’t officially opened to the public until last year. Annual membership is a crazy low price of 40 baht per year for adults and 10 baht for children. Foreigners are charged the same price. For this you can have free lessons in three kinds of watersports. These are windsurfing, dinghy boat sailing and kayaking.

We went to check out this sports center this morning. There isn’t much information on the Internet in English so we didn’t know what to expect. The lake is behind the two shopping malls of Seri Center and Seacon Square. Access is on Chalermprakiet Road which passes the entrance to Suan Luang Rama 9 park. Go a bit further and turn left at Soi 43. There is a large sign across the road here so it is not hard to miss. I noticed also that air-conditioned bus 206 and non-air 11 passes this soi. The water park is at the bottom of the soi. I have posted road signs at ThailandQA Bangkok Forums.

The 254 acre lake also has a well equipped sports center which comes with a convenient waiting area and library. We arrived early under the presumption that many people would be doing that in order to beat the heat. However, we soon found out that although the center and park is open from 8.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., the water sport activities don’t start until later. There are two rounds. The morning round is 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. and the afternoon round is 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. However, we didn’t see any activity until after 11 a.m. I guess many people still do not know about this place yet.

While we were there watching, we saw two overseas families and about half a dozen Thai teenagers having fun with windsurfing and sailing. The youngest sailor seemed to be only six years old and seemed very skilled at managing the dinghy. If you need some coaching then there are people on hand to help you out. However, I am not sure how much English they know. The information brochure was only in Thai. But, at 40 baht a year who are we to complain! For further information you can contact them at 02 328 0236.

How to cook… Crispy Egg Salad

This week we have a crispy egg salad for you which is called “yum khai foo” in Thai. In the ingredients pictured below, you have on the left onion, bird eye chilli, palm sugar, tomatoes and two eggs. On the right you can see carrots, lime, Chinese celery and blanched ground pork. You can also add some garlic.

To cook you need to fry the egg first until crispy. Take it out and drain on some tissue before cutting into bite-sized pieces. Mix together bird eye chillies, fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar. Lightly crush it with the flat blade of the knife. Next add the blanched ground pork, sliced onions, tomatoes and carrots and mix it well. Finally add the sliced egg and chopped Chinese celery. We will have another Thai Food Recipe for you next week at and

How to cook… Yellow Tofu and Beansprouts

Old Patong:Dogs

In Old Patong, every bar, bungalow, house in the village,etc had at least one dog, many had many more than one!

When we moved into our little house near the bend of the road, by the cooling waterfall in the scenic village of SaiNamYen, we “inherited” a mess of dogs and cats!

At first, we were clearing the small front yard garden when we noticed several snakes slithering in and out. We immediately went to the local concrete block yard that was on the Patong Wat road near Thai boxer Juan Pedets house.

Acquired several thousand bricks, with the idea to entirely brick the front, back and side yard of our little place. This would later come back to haunt me!

Several of the young kids in the village happened by as I was crawling around the huge brick stacks and sitting the bricks down to make a patio. Soon, half the men in the village joined in, they worked fast and soon the entire yard was a big brick patio…:-)

I broght out several bottles of Mehkong & HoneYok and as well as candy for the children and yet another impromptu party began.

When we mentioned to our maid, the sweet “ETT” about our fear of cobra’s,etc, we found over the next few days that we had acquired 7 cats, a mother cat with litter. Soon we also “seemed” to have 6 of the local dogs that thought the food we left out for the cats[fish,etc bought every week from the traveling fish market that blared his loud speaker, often around 7AM “PLAMOOK”, our cats and dogs ate well. The villagers of course thought we were millionaire for feeding “their” animals.

Anyway, during the days, we were usually off to Thai Garden Restaurant or body surfing in the warm blue Andaman Sea and we took little notice of our newly aquired mini zoo of dogs and cats, BUT, all that changed EVERY NIGHT when “our” dogs would bark, fight, and generally make extreme noise ALL NIGHT LONG EVERY NIGHT!

Often, we’d go to the back porch, the pooches never fought in the front yard, but only fought near our bedroom in the back yard, and yell or throw something at the mongrels, this was a mere temporary halt to the constant dog battles. After a few weeks, we got used to it and slept threw “most” of their loud behavior…

One day our dear maid “ETT” said “hoak ma,jet meow, mai dee” and within a few days, we had only a few of the cats left, but the 6 dogs NEVER left!

Along the beaches, packs of dogs would run up and down, sometimes the local police would shoot them if they hassled the tourist too much, but usually they were from local bars/restaurants and in the afternoon they’d congregate at the beach, near Patong Bungalows and work their way from the northern Kalim side of the beach to the extreme south where the rice paddy emptied into Patong Bay.

In the late afternoons and early evenings, the water buffaloes would also leave the paddy behind Patong Beach and walk up and down the beach for several hours, some of them would end up in various bungalow yards and spook the tourist, but usually didn’t cause much harm.

The big pack of late afternoon dogs however would try to “herd” the water buffaloes, but the big brutes would have none of the hounds humor and ever once in a while you’d see a dog howling into the air from the sharp tip of an upset water buffalo!

ANY bar/restaurant that you went to or ANY place you sat on the beach in Old Patong, a local dog would immediately SIT on your feet. After a while, you just got used to it, they usually didn’t bite, but sometimes did bit the tourist, locals, even the seasoned expats, especially if you were on a motorbike, which all dogs recognized the exact tone of the muffler and for some reason, certain motor bikes infuriated the dogs and they’d make a wild run as you were motoring otherwise peacefully down the road.

The “ice boys”, the kids that delivered ice on their little skeleton of a honda 50cc with sidecar to hold the ice/water, were ALWAYS a target for the dogs, you’d see the iceboys going FULL THROTTLE down Soi Bangla[Bar Rd]with a pack of angry dogs chasing them from bar to bar, restaurant to restaurant. The iceboys were literally the fastest thing on Patong Beach…an icy blurr…

Traveling around various provinces of the Kingdom in the old days, most places you’d go had dogs, most were friendly.

Our Muslim friends ALWAYS stayed clear of the dogs and vice versa.

In Old Patong, the only dogs that wouldn’t sit on your feet or chase you down the road were the dogs on Crazy Daves bar, a velvet painting of dogs sitting around a table playing cards/gambling. This picture always seemed to perturb Father Charlie, who said “that’s not right, those dogs don’t have a soul”…

I wonder…

The Clone Buddhas

Last time I went to sleepy Sangkhla Buri it proved to be a surprisingly popular destination, the Karen National Liberation Army had arrived the day before, the Burmese Army arrived later that day and the Thai army came the following one, they then all went into the woods together to play a game of hide and seek. Things are quite different nowadays, no lounging in the guesthouse smoking Karen ganja to the chorus of M16’s firing in the distance, no locals ducking down as they pass the windows in their houses and no Karen. There is however a safe road to get there by and the opportunity to pop into Burma and see where the Karen lived before the Burmese killed them all.

For the few tourists in Sangkhla Buri town going to see and being disappointed by the diminutive three Pagodas is almost mandatory, crossing the border into Burma there though is for only the odd adventurer. The Burmese border guards were happy to show me their logs on request and a quick flip through showed only two or three people crossing a day.

To the veteran Thai border hopper the Burmese border town of Payathonsu comes as a bit of a surprise. Unlike crossing at Mae Sai or Ranong there is no thriving Burmese town on the other side, booming from supplying bootleg Japanese porn, fake Vi@gra, cheap whiskey, cigarettes and clandestine liaisons with young girls to waves of Thai visitors. There is no huge market mimicking a Thai equivalent on the other side or row of expensive hotels catering for wealthy Burmese and Thai with dual pricing charging the Burmese anything from 1/10 to half what they charge visitors.

Payathonsu looks much more like Burma proper, that’s rural Issan 30 years ago (or Thailand 30 years in the future, the way things are going) for those who haven’t been there. A small village of dirt roads, antique cars, mostly wooden shacks, some modern buildings, the odd period mansion with grounds and a small market. What makes Payathonsu worth the visit is the small sign on the side road as you enter the village that points you to the hill temple.

Several kilometers walk out of village, veer off the dirt road in the Thailand direction across the fields a mountain temple reveals itself. Calling a temple unspectacular by Burmese standards could still mean it is better than best Buddhist temple in any other Buddhist country, when it comes to Buddhist construction Burma towers over the other Buddhist nations. But this temple is unspectacular by the standards of any Buddhist country. Sure it has a nice mountain view from the top, so do many, the novice monks chant all day just as nicely as any other novice monks, a little more numerously for such a small temple, but in no ways unusually. What makes the temple so special is the cross field path you walk to get to it. A seemingly endless row of hundreds of 8ft tall Buddhas flank you on both sides as you make your way there. Many unpainted, many dilapidated, but most pristine, it seems to have had more than one building stage and is perhaps ongoing. Walking between the Buddhas for a few minutes you get a feeling it’s so surreal it’s almost erie, this is what a world taken over by plastic surgeons would be like. Just when you thought you were all Buddha’d out and seen it all, the Emerald Buddha, the Golden Buddha, the Reclining Buddha, the Lucky Buddha, Ronald MacBuddha you can be still be taken aback by the Clone Buddhas.