Thursday, April 23, 2009

04-23-09 Songkran Accident Report

Daeng and I are getting ready to start our month long road trip through out the northern half of Thailand. We will be driving a Honda Jazz into some areas of Thailand that we are interested in.

Before we go, we though we would bring you up to date on the accident count for the Songkran 2009 holiday.

Songkran's "seven dangerous days" ended with 373 deaths and 4,332 injuries in 3,977 road accidents nationwide.

If you would like more information click on this link: Deaths are up but accidents were down....
In the report that we linked it also talks about the "No sale of alcohol" law and how it did stop much of the sales.

We will keep you up to date during our travels.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

04-19-09 Crab for Som-Tom Papaya Salad

We just thought you might like to see a little video of Daeng washing the small crab to steam for her Som-Tom Salad. Just click here: CRAB FOR SALAD

No, it does not taste like chicken!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

04-18-09 Water Holiday over in Mae Sai

I am happy to say the water throwing holiday of Songkran, Thai New Year, is pretty much over in Mae Sai, were we life this time of year.

I understand it is still going on in other parts of Thailand and Asia. Here is a video link from one of our friends in Myanmar (Burma). It is a little suggestive so I would suggest it for adults only:
Burmese Girls' Dancing at Thingyan

By the way, we agree with most of the comments of the viewers on YouTube. Check them out. The Songkran celebrations have gotten away from the original religious meanings.

Not judging but just saying, one of the Buddhist beliefs is not to use any intoxicants. Yet almost everyone drinks large amounts of alcohol during Songkran.

According to People's Daily Online yesterday: The death toll in road accidents in Thailand during the April 7-15 Songkran festival holiday has reached 441, while the number of those injured was put at 5,533, caretaker Interior Minister Kongsak Wanthana said.

Marshal Kongsak, in his capacity as deputy director of Thailand 's National Road Safety Command Center, said on April 15 alone, the ninth day of the Songkran festival, there were 506 road accidents with 48 deaths and 554 persons injured.

Marshal Kongsak said drunken driving remained the No.1 cause of the accidents, followed by excessive speed.

Motorcycles were involved in most road accidents, followed by pick-up trucks.

Thailand's long Songkran holiday is widely known for its high casualties from road accidents as a large number of Thais, particularly those who work in the capital Bangkok, usually travel to reunite with their families upcountry to celebrate the water festival.

Marshal Kongsak said Sunday was the last day of the 10-day road safety campaign and most travelers would return to Bangkok though some are remaining upcountry in their hometowns to vote in the April 19 Senate election.

The minister said he had instructed highway police and other officials on duty to strictly monitor drivers who are drinking to take them off the road.

Body pick-up - Right
Truck from the Portektueng Foundation that helps pick up dead bodies. Note the interesting cartoon stickers--one of the left has a worker carrying an apparently nude worker and on the left a worker carries a corpse tied up in a white sheet Thai style.

May God bless us ALL!

Friday, April 17, 2009

04-17-09 Choosing a Company Name

As an business man, I have been involved with the naming of a few companies. I believe that a name should try to help the people dealing with it know what the company does. Example: DIAL ONE Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, Inc. tells the customer that this company does work in three areas, cooling, heating and plumbing.

Many folks like to use their own names in the company name. Example: Jim Jones Plastering Company.

There are a few names I would not recommend. Frank Uto, the plumber, should not name his company "F. Uto Plumbing". Jim Butram, the plumber, should not use the company name of "Butram Plumbing".

Here is a water company that I came across in Thailand,
"YELLOW SURPRISE Water Company".

Great name! Maybe a better name would have been: YELLOW SNOW Spring Water".
What do you think?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

04-15-09 Songkran Day Three

Well, I made it thru the three official days of Songkran without hurting myself or anyone else. I say "Official" as there will be another 4 days of water throwing. It takes a while to slow this national party down. The total celebration usually last for 7 to 10 days each year.
In the high tourist areas, like Pattaya and Puckett, the party will run two to three weeks.
It has been a little quieter this year, I'm told, due to the RED SHIRT (UDD) demonstrations in the major cities thru out Thailand.
In talking with other people, I fear that Thailand will loose about a third of their tourist trade over these demonstrations this year. quotes: "Tourism and other businesses will be hurt by the political upheaval...." I heard estimates ranging between 33 % and 50 % reduction in tourist trade.
I must, in the defense of Thailand, say that the media does tend to over play what is happening. As an example, while I was waiting for my plane at Los Angeles airport (LAX) in 2006, the news story broke on television of the coup. The media showed tanks rolling and soldiers with guns.
When I arrived in Thailand about 22 hours later all it was was four (4) tanks had pulled up to the palace and some soldiers were making sure the kids playing on the tanks didn't get hurt.
Now, the third official day of Songkran is a day for visiting the Temple and asking to be guided thru the New Year. I did visit a large Temple up the road.
Many folks where using machines that looked like slot machines to have their fortunes told.

The part I like of the holidays is the kids.
They really get into the spirit of water.

They will wait patiently for someone to come by and then throw a little water on them.
Now that is some hang time for that small pail of water.

The part I still can't get used to seeing is pails of water being thrown on folks driving motorbikes.

Yesterday, I saw a man from Myanmar (Burma) that was all cut up and bruised because he was knocked off his motorcycle by someone throwing a pail of water on him and his wife.

Tell me this isn't dangerous!

Daeng is still selling her Som-tom Papaya Salad and I'm still hiding out to stay dry.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

04-14-09 Songkran Day Two

Well, it is the second official day of Songkran here in Mae Sai, Thailand. It is 11:30 in the morning and I can hear people screaming and the sound of pails of water being thrown outside.

Here is a video from yesterday with some soldiers: Songkran 2009
Just so you will know the Thai protest leaders called for an end to rally. Here is a link to the story on Troops move into position around the last stronghold of demonstrators
The slide show on the link above is AWESOME! It is just to the right of the picture of the tires burning.

Here is a fresh video of a little ride on a side road of Mae Sai. It will give you some idea of how our little town looks. It also shows a fire truck spraying water on folks. Just click here: Mae Sai Ride & Fire Truck
As an old guy, like most other mature folks here, I have had enough water, already. Most of us old folks stay inside during the daytime.
And like I said, sometimes you can not get down the streets. Here is a video from Bangkok, not of soldiers, but of the party yesterday. Songkran Bangkok
Well, that is enough from me today. I'm going to try and sneak home without getting drenched.
Tomorrow is the last official day of Songkran and the first day of the New Year. It also known as Temple Day. Ninety-five percent of the people in Thailand will visit a Buddhist Temple tomorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2009

04-13-09 Songkran - Thai New Year

Today is officially the first day of Songkran or Thai New Year. The banks, all government offices and everything that does not deal with servicing this celebration is closed for the next three days.

Mae Sai, Thailnd, where we live during this part of the year, is now very crowded as people come from all over to celebrate with families and go shopping.

Daeng told me this morning that she had to buy a lot of food and supplies for her Som-Ton Papaya Salad Stand as even the morning market would close down some tomorrow and completely on Wednesday. To my understanding, Wednesday is the only day in the year that the morning market closes down completely.

During this time many folks make New Year resolutions - to refrain from bad behavior, or to do good things. Songkran is a time for cleaning and renewal. Besides washing household Buddha images, many Thais also take this opportunity to give their home a thorough cleaning.

The throwing of water originated as a way to pay respect to people, by gently pouring a small amount of water on other people’s hands or over a shoulder as a sign of respect.

New Year celebration, Rodnam Damhua, a traditional way to celebrate with elders. Most Thai people go back to their hometowns to meet their elders.

Among young people the holiday evolved to include dousing strangers with water to relieve the heat, since April is the hottest month in Thailand (temperatures can rise to over 100°F or 40°C on some days). This has further evolved into BIG water fights and splashing water over people riding in vehicles.

Today it seems the emphasis is on fun and water-throwing rather than on the festival's spiritual and religious aspects, which sometimes prompts complaints from traditionalists.

Myself, I love to watch the Thai kids using squirt guns and throwing water to celebrate.

In recent years there have been calls to moderate the festival to lessen the many alcohol-related road accidents as well as injuries attributed to extreme behavior such as water being thrown in the faces of traveling motorcyclists.

We love and respect the sprinkling of water to help cleanse the spirit but feel that the throwing of buckets of water on people driving on motorbikes is an act of terrorism!

The year it is against the law to sell alcoholic beverages during the next three days, April 13th-15th. Personally, I don't think that will slow down the parties at all.

According to the Thai New Year is celebrated every year from April 13 to April 15. It coincides with the New Year of many Dai calendar (possibly also Thai lunar calendar) in South and Southeast Asia.

The date of the festival was originally set by astrological calculation, but it is now fixed. If these days fall on a weekend, the missed days off are taken on the weekdays immediately following. If they fall in the middle of the week, many Thai take off from the previous Friday until the following Monday. Songkran falls in the hottest time of the year in
Thailand, at the end of the dry season. Until 1888 the Thai New Year was the beginning of the year in Thailand; thereafter 1 April was used until 1940. 1 January is now the beginning of the year. The traditional Thai New Year has been a national holiday since then.
Until recently Thailand was almost entirely an agricultural society and this has been a perfect time to take break from the business of earning a living. The rice harvest is in, and replanting has to await the coming of the rains.

Oh, and don't forget the dancing!

There is also a very lively three nations boat racing event and other local entertainment for all to enjoy.

A NATIONAL HOLIDAY IT IS as the whole country stops and parties for five or six days. Three years ago we were in Pattaya, Thailand for this holiday and the streets were all closed to traffic as the people were parting in the streets. Here is a video link to show you: Songkran Festival Jomtien Beach

Jomtien Beach is the next beach east of Pattaya.

Another benefit of living in Thailand is the holiday-loving Thais get to celebrate New Year three times each year: the Western New Year on January 1, the Chinese New Year in February, and the Thai New Year in April. Yea, more parties!

I love parties but I'm leaving the internet cafe that I'm writing in. I going to try and make it beck to the pad without getting too wet.

I'll hide out for the afternoon and come out into the world again tonight.

They don't throw water after the sun sets.

Here are some more videos wishing you a "HAPPY THAI NEW YEAR from the girls and boys in Pattaya (Sometimes in Thailand the best looking girls are boys!): Pattaya New Year 2008 Part 1
How about some more water or some chalk?: Songkran in Pattaya.......wanna get wet???
Okay, that is enough!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

04-11-09 Daeng's Som-Tom Papaya Salad

With the start of Songkran, Thailand New year Celebration, officially starting Monday Daeng's Som-Tom Papaya Stand is going in full swing.

I went with her this morning to take pictures of her trip to the market and to set up her stand.

We got up about 5:45 AM and she had coffee and toast, in bed. I figured I had better be nice to her since she is a business owner.
She got up and sang the "Good Morning Song" to me. It is nice to see her happy because when she's happy, I'm happy. Funny thing how that works.
We had to stop on the way to the morning market as the gas gauge said: "EMPTY". It was nice to see the price of gas has come down to 25.37 Thai Baht a liter. That is about $2.75 a US Gallon.

We drove up the road to the morning market. It was a very busy time even at 6:40 in the morning on Saturday.

We parked our motorbike and headed to the fish area of the market so Daeng could buy crab. She bought a kilo of live crab for 50 Thai Baht (TB). We left the crab there to pick up on the way back.
Next stop was to buy a green vegetable called "ka-boom". It is served by itself with pieces of cabbage along with the Som-Tom Papaya Salad.

Then she also bought a small vegetable that I don't know the name. It is used in the making of the salad. It looks like a round cucumber from the outside.

She also bought ten kilograms of green papaya for 63 TB. The exchange rate for Thai Baht (TB) to the US dollar is 35 TB to 1 USD. We left the papaya there to pick up on the way back.

We did stop and looked at some pineapple but did not buy any as we already had to much to carry back.

Next stop, long green beans,


and tomatoes.

We went to the top of the market and bought some palm sugar from the Chinese man that has a speciality shop.
We than walked back thru the market and picked up all the items that we had purchased.

We loaded up the motorbike and headed over to Daeng's stand area where she stashed the items we had purchased. She hid them under her tables and chairs so no one would see them.

That was everything except the crab. The crab we took with us to her Mother's place where she steamed the live crab to cook.
She also washed some brine shrimp. She is using brine shrimp instead of bamboo worm as the bamboo worm is to expensive this time of year.

It was funny to watch the crab run around the cooking area and Daeng picking them up and throwing them back in the pail. I picked one up and it pinched me so I threw it back down. Daeng laughed at me.

After everything was cooked and cooled she loaded up everything. The motorbike was full so I walked over to the area of her stand.
When I arrived she was already setting up.

One of the reasons that folks like to buy salad from her is she is very clean in all her preparation.

She washes everything and makes sure it is extremely clean.

By about 11:00 she is ready for business.

Daeng thanked me for helping her with sarcasm in her voice and told me she could handle everything from here.

I said "Good Bye" since she had a BIG knife in her hand.

You can see more of her cooking at the is link: COOKING FOR THE KIDS

Daeng’s recipe for this salad is:

• 2 cups green papaya peeled and shredded (substitute: green
hard mango or cucumber).
• 2-3 cloves garlic
• 1-3 small red chilies
• 1/2 cup long been or green bean, cut into1/2 to 1 inch lengths.
• 2 tbsp dried bamboo worm (for westerners - use 2 tbsp dried
brine shrimp)
• 1-2 tbsp Thai fish (anchovy) sauce
• 1-2 tbsp lime juice or tamarind juice
• 1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
• 1-2 small tomatoes, quartered
• 2 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
• Daeng likes to add about 1 small fermented crab (I do not
like the fermented crab as you have to pick out the pieces as
you eat.) You weak stomached folks may want to stay away
from this fermented crab. Fresh, steamed crab works great, too.

First, she peels the papaya and rinses with running water to
remove the acid. She uses a knife to make little cuts in the papaya
and then cuts it long ways to get skinny pieces about the size of a
tooth pick. Another way is to remove the seeds and shred the
papaya with a grater. Set aside for now.
Next, place the garlic cloves and the chilies in a mortar and
mash with a pestle until crushed into chunks. If you use fermented
crab this is the place to put it in.
Then place the papaya and the remaining ingredients in the
mortar and gently combine all ingredients by mixing with the pestle
and a spoon.
For more spicy - add more chilies, less spicy - use less chilies
and a little more sugar. Westerners (farangs) seem to like the
sweet taste.
Serve cold but have some fresh cabbage sliced along with some
sticky rice to dip into the “Som Tom” sauce.
Note: The bamboo worm does not taste like chicken, it tastes like shrimp.

Friday, April 10, 2009

04-10-09 Red Shirts (UDD)

Although I try not to get political, the Red Shirts, United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), are demonstrating here in Thailand.

Now, it is great to know that we are living in a country that allows freedom of speech and peaceful demonstrations.

As stated on, the demonstrators are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was elected in 2001 and re-elected in 2005 but ousted in a military coup in 2006. Thai newspaper The Nation reported Wednesday several thousand people surrounded the home of Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda, whom Thaksin accused of orchestrating the coup.

According to government officials, 10,000 police officers and military troops have been deployed in central Bangkok. Pattaya is also on high alert because the 14th Aesan Summit is starting today.

From the LA Times reports, Chanisa Rangtes, a 27-year-old receptionist, said the gathering of protesters in central Bangkok caused worse problems than the usual traffic jams and noise pollution.

"This isn't going to do any good for our society. People will get hurt and it will ruin our reputation, which is already getting bad. In the end we don't get anything," she said. "I'm not sure if it's even really about democracy."

After reading many newspaper articles and watching hours of television news channels I agree with Chanisa Rangtes.

As far as I am concerned, it is nice to be an American where you can just vote for someone else and change the present elected official that does not do what the majority wants.

The demonstrations by the UDD are hurting Thailand economically, too. Who want to come to Thailand with the news media showing unrest here.

I now have a RED SHIRT.

We are safe in northern Thailand and getting ready for the Thailand Holiday of Songkran (New Year).

Monday, April 6, 2009

04-05-09 Church in Mae Sai, Thailand

I just wanted to add to yesterdays blog my visit to the Rev. Sunit's temporary Church in Mae Sai, Thailand. I don't consider myself as a religious person although I do have some spiritual beliefs. If you don't think that there are powers greater than yourself, the next time you are at the beach, try to stop a wave.

One of the things that I have noticed over the last 67 years is that children that are taught in religious ways tend to be better citizens. Whenever I see kids at Church, or Temples, or what ever name you use for the gathering of people to worship, it also makes me fell good.

Yesterday, after Daeng went to work at her Som-Tom Papaya stand, I got dresses and walked about a mile over to the home that Rev. Sunit had moved into this week. He was going to try and use it as the temporary church, as well.
As I walked up the road I could hear the sound of people singing. When I got the rest of the way up the road the building was full and people siting and standing outside the church, too.
Kids from Ban Nana, "Childlife", were there, also. If you would like to learn more about "Childlife" here is a link to the video: "Fences Between Us!" .

It was nice to see Daeng's Mother there, also. She is the lady in yellow.

Both Daeng and I want to wish the Rev. Sunit, his family and the congregation the very best with their new home even if it is temporary.