Author Archives: oakmonster

Nothing Much Has Changed

Ban Ta Klang Elephant Village

It’s 2013. The time when information is available at the tips of your fingers. The time when the world is so connected, whatever trends at one end of the world would catch on in the other in the matters of hours and days.

Not too long ago, a person I just met asked me just about all of the routine questions.

Her: So, what nationality are you?

Ding. Routine question #1.

Me: I’m Thai.

Her: From Taiwan?

Ding. #2

Me: No. Thais are from Thailand. Taiwanese are from Taiwan.

Her: Oh. So, Bangkok?

Me: (surprised, actually) Yes.

Her: Do you ride elephants?

Me: Yes. My dad only uses our rickshaw on the weekend.

Her: Really?

Me: No.

Sure, she skipped “What nationality is your husband? American?” and that “Oh she must’ve been a mail order bride and/or rescued prostitute” look that briefly registered on her face before moving on to, “So, how did you guys meet?”

True, she also skipped, “I LOVE Thai food! Pad Thai is my favorite!”

But it’s 2013. Six whole years after this incident.



United We Stand

My dad, who is now on Facebook, posted this today.

Surprised to see me? Yep! Still alive and kicking in the sunny Southern California over here. The Return of Khun Stephen Cleary spurs me to start planning my return to Thai-Blogs as well. It’ll take me a while to put my multicultural hat back on, but I’ll see what I can do. 🙂

How have y’all been?

Corn Fritters International

Corn Fritters Challenge

I love to cook.

It’s a love that developed only about 7 years or so ago that has turned into a passion.

You would think that I would make Thai food all the time, and that because I grew up in a household with cooks who had “Chao Wang”, “palace cooking” or essentially very traditional Thai cooking background, would be able to do all sorts of Thai food.


Shamefully, I must admit that I haven’t made any Thai dishes at home. And never actually wanted to learn.

This little princess might have had a humble start in home economics classes in Thailand, and a few hours in the kitchen with aforementioned palace cook as my mom wasn’t going to let her daughter loose on foreign soil without having a few Thai dishes under her belt. But I never did enjoy cooking anything let alone Thai food.

Something changed after I got married. Blame it on the unemployment period between visas that forced me onto the couch to watch copious amount of Food Network.

I emerged one day with a decent knife skill and aspiration to be an Italian chef.

Italian cuisine feels safe. Very simple to put together the fresh ingredients and LOTS of love. It leaves a lot of room for mistakes. Something I didn’t feel I have with Thai food.

Thai cuisine, outside of the basic stir-fries, seems to involve complicate prep and delicate balance of the ingredients and complex flavor profiles. I figure that if someone else can make it better than me already, I should probably let them. So Thai food has been strictly from restaurants for me.

Thai food always feels like a chore to me. That spoiled little rich girl just didn’t want to grow up.

That all changed last week.

I joined a group of friends and cooks to take on monthly cooking challenges. Every month we would be assigned a new theme to work on so we could expand our culinary horizon.

Last month brought us to corn fritters, a very Southern American dish. Americans usually do it up like donuts or pancakes with corn, served with maple syrup.

I have never had American corn fritters. There wasn’t a restaurant around that makes them. So what’s a Thai girl to do?

But then, I suddenly realized that Thai people have corn fritters too but we eat them as a savory snack: Tod Mun Kaopoad.


Another person in the challenge made the Indian counterpart with all sorts of spices.

Well, what do you know? It seems that every country has its own version of this after all! Like many other dishes, there is always a counterpart somewhere else.

So, off I went on the culinary journey you can read all about it here.

I finally cooked a non stir-fry Thai dish!

And now I want to do more.

I finally have enough confidence in myself as a cook to attack Thai cuisine.

Guess who’ll be in the kitchen with the maid all day when she gets home in November? 😉

Love it or Phuket


If you’re not laughing at this, that means you HAVE studied my overview of Thai pronunciation. Otherwise, well…


I found out about Black Songkran’s showdown from Los Angeles Times website.

Here in LA, if Thailand makes the home page of LA Times it’s either a) slow news day, b) some fit really hit the shan, or both.

US news media is absolutely worthless in times like these. As I ran from the computer to turn on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX all we got was local political talking heads. CNN Headline News added insult by having Nancy Grace on yapping about something so sensationalized it shouldn’t even be news.

I ran back to the computer and fired up BBC News, Bangkok Pundit, and Twitter search for #thailand. I followed the chatters well into the night. I called it quit around 1 a.m.

I took my cellphone with me to bed just in case someone would call. I didn’t sleep much that night, and actually even had myself a nightmare.

Obviously, my nightmare was nothing compare to what people were living through on the streets of Bangkok that day/night.

But being so far away with news so few and far between because of the time difference, I’m sure many Thai expats like me in the US were worried sick. (For some reason, I’m sure CNN in Europe would pay more attention to the WORLD.)

The next morning, I repeated the drill with my internet lifelines. On my phone. At the office. I informed my boss of the situation and warned her of my expected absentmindedness for the day.

As day broke in the US, the chatters again died down. I didn’t worry any less.

My dad was okay. My brothers were out of harm’s way. Everyone I know so far were nowhere near the action.

So what am I worried about, you ask?

I fear for my country. I fear for the people.

I fear that Thailand I knew and loved would no longer exist when I woke up in the morning.

I cried for my country and my King. My heart broke as I watched my countrymen took to the streets with molotov cocktails and soldiers firing back.

Anger. Frustration. Hurt. Sadness. Anxiety.

I know these emotions well. They were cozying up to me when I knew my mom wasn’t going survive her fight against cancer.

They were the emotions of those who mourn.

Even though Thailand is still Thailand, in away She is no longer the Mother I knew.

My Motherland had died.

Perhaps She had been dead for a couple of years, but the loss wasn’t so profound until I saw the bus went up in flames and a video shot in the night of protesters throwing molotov cocktails at the soldiers and running them down with cars.

Supposedly, same blood flows through all of our veins. Supposedly, we are all of the same Father.

No more.

To be Thai, by definition of the word, is to be free.

How brothers and sisters turned against each other–not only Reds or Yellows, but also Buddhists and Muslims–we are enslaved to hatred, and in the political scene, greed.

We on the sideline only could watch from the far tower as our brothers and sisters figuratively–and literally, come to think of that–burn our country down.

Nothing much we can do but watch.

And pray.