Departing bangok tomorrow. There is a pall hanging over Tok and I, knowing that it will be some time before we are together again. We've shopped for last minute things… mostly things for Tok. She purchased the rudiments- dryer, curler, scissors etc so she can cut hair at home to earn a little money. I gave her everything I had left in Baht, hope it will tide her over until I can generate some cash to send to her from seattle.
What follows are a collection of Amazing Thailand bits that I noted and may or may not have included in prior messages. Some are a bit thin in explanation, but I have other things to do tonight…
The time bell ringer
Bangs the gong 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 for 10 pm
Tok and I were eating Phad Thai one evening in Lom Sak. I heard a clanging sound, someone rhythmically hitting a piece of metal. Tok says "It's Ten PM" "How do you know that?" I ask her. "The time man." She says. I notice a man leaving on motorbike across the street. The sound I heard was the man banging on a piece of metal hanging from the road sign. "Clang-Clang…Clang-Clang!" Ten times for 10 o'clock. I am amazed. They actually have a time keeper who goes around ringing a gong to tell the time. I ask Tok if there actually is a man whose job it is is to ride around town and gong the time. Of course there is.
Roti Boy 4/19/2006 9:24 AM
Everyday in Siam Square there was a long long queue at the Roti Boy shop. Roti's are buns that have a butter and coffee cream dressing applied to the dough before baking. They originated in Singapore decades ago. They started as a mix of bun and cookie, then became a soft cream cookie melted on top of the bun. From early in the morning until late afternoon, there would be a line of people around the corner and down the alley waiting to get their Rotiboys. Reminds me of the similar craze when Krispy Kreme doughnuts opened a store in Issaquah Washington. Another outlet in Siam is Papa Roti. Papa Roti's buns aren't quite so buttery and have a slightly crispy top. Tok waited and hour in line to buy some Rotiboys for us. They are very tasty, but hardly phenomenal. They go through thousands of these things every day. (we have since see Rotimom, RotiBuns and somewhere is Rotigirl)
Anti Thaksin ring tones 3/9/2006
The prime minister of Thailand is having a difficult
time right now. Something about a business deal where he sold his shares in a communication company, and made millions of Baht – tax free. A little article in The Nation reported on that political ringtones can be awkward in some situations. People have downloaded anti-Thaksin ringtones for mobile phones. A reporters phone started ringing "Thaksin ok pai" ("Thaksin get out" I'm guessing) during a press conference with the agricultural minister – who is a good buddy of the prime minister. Even funnier, the ringtone was audible when the TV news reports of the press conference were broadcast later that day.
Croaking Lizards 3/14/2006 9:59 PM
Every night I have heard a loud croaking sound. Starts with a series of short chirps then a loud Wah!-Waah!, several times. And I do mean these things are loud – about like the cawing of a crow loud. I asked Tok several times what was making that sound. She said it was like a gecko, but bigger. I wasn't sure what that meant – things get lost in translation very easily. I've heard it several times from the north wall, near the cabinets that make up the wall of Mama's bedroom. Tonight I got my flashlight and peered over the top of the cabinet, and there was a large head sticking up! As big as a tablespoon big! Big yellow eyes, pale green skin with soft pink dots. It ducked down the wall when I shown the light on it. I went and got a mirror and went into Mama's bedroom and put the mirror against the wall so that I could see down the space between the wall and the cabinet. Wow, it's a lizard of some sort- a BIG one. Has to be at least 9 inches long. I didn't think a little gecko sized creature could be making so much sound, now I know what it is. I learned that these guys are called a "Tokay". The name approximates the sound they make. So many strange and interesting creatures about. I like to kid Tok, every time I discover another one. "Are we going to eat them?" She always laughs at me. I learned that the croaking sound is a territorial call. Mama got fed up with the animal waking her up and tried to fish him from out behind the cabinet one day. She kept shoving the palm broom behind the cabinet. The Tokay finally came out and stopped by the window. I ran to get my video camera, shot 3 seconds of video and it ran down behind the cabinet again. A few days later it was gone. I was afraid mama had killed it, but it reappeared a couple of weeks later. Loud as ever…
Houses on stilts
Many Thai houses outside of the towns and cities are built up on stilts. Some are several feet above ground, most are above head height, some are 15 feet up in the air. I've wondered about the reason many times. I asked Tok about it and she gave the reason for the tradition. In former times there were wild elephants and tigers in Thailand, having your house up in the air protected you from them. Well, there are no tigers or elephants now, so why do they continue to build houses this way? I've come to realize a few things about this construction that makes a lot of sense, for here and other places in the world where they build stilted houses.
When you house is 10 feet up in the air, it is more difficult for enemies or bad guys to gain entry. The house is up where the breezes are. The space beneath the house is shaded, and open to any breeze, thus is cooler. The space is also protected from the rain. It gives a place to cook, work, store things and hang out. Being up on stilts also prevents most of the critters like rats, mice, frogs, snakes and numerous bugs from coming into the house. Most of the houses are supported by concrete columns. I've seen the molds they use for the columns behind the hardware store. The concrete columns have steps formed on the upper end, to support wooden floor beams. The beams are bolted thru holes cast into the tops of the columns. The base of the columns has a footing molded into them. The columns are set about two feet into the ground. I don't know if they set them into a concreted hole or not. Having stilts made of concrete keeps the termites from eating them, and making their way up into your house.
I like the stilted houses. I like the open spaces beneath them and the way people work and live under the house. The interior of any house gets quite warm in the sun. There is generally no insulation beneath the roof or in the walls, so the sun heats the roof and walls, which re-radiates into the rooms inside.
Out in the rural areas, most of the household trash is burned. Everything. A lot of plastic bags, food containers and other things that make a nasty pollutant smoke. They don't have garbage collection. There just isn't the infrastructure to support it. And burning is easy. That means that just in Thailand, there are thousands of these fires every day. Add that to the large portion of the rest of the world who do the same thing, and I imagine we have a lot of junk going into the air. Sure, north Americans, and the European union countries have stopped or curtailed burning garbage, but that is a small portion of the world population.
Thai newspaper coverage
I have noticed something about news coverage in Thailand, at least in the English language newspapers, and what I can glean from the TV news. They don't put a lot of stories of death, destruction and "things to fear" in the paper. There are two national English language papers – the "Bangkok Post" and "The Nation". They print stories that are mostly concerned with politics, social issues, financial dealings, world news and human interest. Very muted are the shootings, road accident spectacles, lurid coverage of murders, rapes, robbery, fires, child molesters, and other horrors that the north American news and papers love to dwell on. They do report these things, but they are limited to a few column inches, not pages and pages of such events.
The Thai language newspapers I can't tell you about. There seems to be a number of them that are a bit tabloid in nature. There is always a photo of people that have been murdered, often in the drug world. They show the bodies splayed the way they were found, like "true crime" photos. Usually they will pixilated the faces, or immodest portions displayed.
Doug and Matt go to concert
Doug and matt were telling about going to the Bangkok100 concert last night. They were carrying beers in their hands when they went to go in, but the guard at the gate told them they couldn't carry beer in. They pointed at some people passing beer thru the fence a few feet away. The guard said that was okay. So mat went into the gates and around to the fence. Doug handed the beer to him, just a few feet away from the guard, who nodded them on. Then Doug went into the gate, met mat, got their beers and went in too the concert.
Afterwards, there was a truck of roadies from the show going by picking up people who where trying to get away from the concert area. They jumped on the truck with some 30 other people. At one point the truck almost couldn't make it up the hill. They didn't know where the truck was going, but it was away from the show, in the general direction they were headed.
White men can't squat
Business Terms form BKKpost
Professor W Chan Kim and Professor Renee Mauborgne brainchilds;
Red Ocean Strategy or Bloody Ocean Strategy: Competing within the existing industry and weaning customers away from competitors
Blue Ocean Strategy: Creating new demand in the marketplace. The competition is irrelevant. Focusing on a target market (say B class and higher) and concentrating on innovative products with good design.
"Sunrise Market"Motorbike trailers
People use motorbikes for many forms of transporting; people, goods and products. One of the interesting uses is to haul a little trailer. These trailers are two wheeled, made of metal or wood and have an extended push bar across the front. People place the load on the trailers so that the push bar is lightly loaded, place the push bar over the seat of the motorbike, and sit on it to hold it in place when moving. This method, of course, begs the question, "what happens when you hit a bump hard and your butt comes off the seat?". The answer of course is that the trailer will be "un-hitched" and go flailing across the road. But this seems to rarely happen, as many people use the 'seat of the pants' hitch method, and you would think that they would stop doing that and make something else if un-hitching was a common occurrence. Tok and I hauled a bag of cement, 6 boxes of ceramic tiles, a new toilet and sundry hardware in a cart like this. I had to keep the speed down of course. Today we hauled two big bags of fine sand, and two more bags of concrete. Nearly flattened the tires on the cart. I had to be the trailer hitch; it was too heavy for Tok to control.
Relaxed property boundaries- open doors
Bugs and critters
You can't go with out shorts and shirt
The miserable mosquitoes
Ants, beetles, flying ants, roaches, red ants, bees
Frogs, skinks, tokays, lizards, toads, mice, rats
The big four wingers when it rains
The ants go crazy
And the little ants that carry away the bodies
Thais don't wear baseball caps
When they do, they are on straight
Many Cambodians do – motodup drivers uniform
BKK post the some farmers are going back to using buffaloes. The fuel for the motorized buffaloes is getting too expensive.
Half of the Thai Fishing fleet grounded due to fuel costs.
Oil Wars. If you think the war in Iraq was about Oil, and even if you don't… just wait.
Short doorways and eye-poking umbrellas
Thai school children wear uniforms
What will happen to the frogs if they widen the road?
Tok told me they posted notices that they are going to widen the two lane road that runs by her house to four lanes. All of the property that is on the road has a 23 meter set-back (about 75 feet) that is owned by the government. They will use the space to enlarge the road. The road is posted as Road 21, which means it is a major roadway. Although it will be good for travel and commerce, there will be some sad consequences of this progress. Along the roadway now, especially in the village areas are some magnificent trees, which will of course be cut down. A lot of shade will be lost in front of peoples properties. Between Toks house and the road is a pond. Many properties have drainage pipes to carry away the water, Toks doesn't. so the water accumulates between the raised driveways of hers and her neighbors property. Many frogs and other creature are living in this pond. That will also be gone. Not to mention moving the noise of traffic that much closer to the house. Oh well. Progress.
Not talking or listening to people talk sure gives you time to think.
i am in thailand at the moment. to be added or deleted from my travelogue, send request to this address. view previous posts at: http://thaikarl.blogspot.com/
Karl, Did you happen to record the sound the TookGaa made? I heard one as a ringtone here a while ago and have been trying to find it on the web... no luck so far. I have some great pictures of them if you are interested. One is hanging by one leg/others. Jerry(email@example.com)ReplyDelete