Friday, July 2, 2010

playing in the sand

sun and sea

Tra Chang Fish Sauce Factory

Wiley and I decided to head to the source of fish sauce. My mom loves her fish sauce and swears by Tra Chang brand, so we went out looking for it. Tra Chang (and many other brands for that matter) are located around Rayong province (Thai: ระยอง). Rayong is really close to my mom's house in Sattahip and it was a short 45 minutes before we were surrounded by fishing boats in Rayong city. We saw the Tra Chang logo off in the distance on a building and a local (thinking it was funny that we wanted to go see how fish sauce was made) told us how to get there. We drove along a narrow isthmus packed full of drying fish, fishing boats and cement fish sauce vats.
Surprisingly, we found Tra Chang with ease and wandered in. The daughter of the owner met with us and showed us the packing and explained the process to us. Fish is brought in, salted with a little sugar, placed in cement vats for 1 1/2-2 years, drained and bottled up. Pretty simple, right?
She explained quality to us. They have two levels of quality. 1 1/2 year (18 Baht) is more diluted and is used more for general purpose cooking and 2 year (34 Baht) is more for sauces and finishing dishes. I asked if there was a 3 year and they said it would be too dark to eat. Also, glass bottles are better for storage and you should try to keep it out of the sunlight. When you buy fish sauce, look at the ingredients. There should only be three ingredients: fish, salt and a small amount of sugar. This is why the Tra Chang logo has a scale with a white brick that says "100%" representing salt on the right side and fish and shrimp on the left side.
Shrimp is on the logo because they also make grapi, fermented shrimp paste. We checked that operation out, too. The best grapi is made only with a tiny species of shrimp and salt. First the shrimp are dried in the sun, mixed with salt, fermented and ground up. The picture above with the wheelbarrow full of a the reddish purple paste is the grapi ready to be packed.
The owner (the man with Wiley and Ahmalie pictured above) was nice enough to get up from a nap and chat with us. His eyes looked they could see for miles and his demeanor was that of person who stood by his actions and by the quality of his life's work. I asked about depleting fish stocks in our oceans. He didn't seem too concerned about over fishing, because the products he uses utilize the smallest fish and shrimp in the food chain. The only costs that increase for his company are labor and energy.
After the tour we went to go get lunch out farther along the isthmus and watched a rain storm come off the Gulf of Thailand and swallow up the awaiting container boats offshore.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Adi's Thai Dinner

I told Adi to get his plate ready for dinner. He made this arrangement. All I had to do was add some rice in the middle he said. I guess Wiley has been showing him some stuff. Oh yes those are fried HOT DOGS.
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Ahmalie and my aunt's hair dye/hair growth sessions. From the looks of these photos I am convinced that Ahmalie really enjoys her Spa Treatment.
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Friday, June 18, 2010

สักยันต์ Sak Yant @ Wat Bang Pla

In Thailand, traditional tattoos are known as "Sak Yant." It means "Sacred Tap." Tattoos are made by tapping a long ink filled stylus onto the skin.
We got there at 10:30am thinking we would be served next. Oh how wrong we were. People sat there and waited for hours to get a Yant on their body. I went there with one Yant in mind. It was called Universal Blessing; sounds freaking awesome, right? I showed the monk what I wanted and he was very quick to say, "not here." He told me to look at the blue folder sitting on the floor and tell him later what I wanted. We sat there about 1 1/2 hours then decided to go get some lunch. When we came back there were more people waiting to be tattooed.
Long story short, my turn came around 6:45pm. The monk asked me again what I wanted I answered, "Eight Direction Yant." Of course, he told me no that's for men. For men? He then asked, "why?" I told him because I want it. Again he said no. Fine I decide to get the Sak Yant Hah Taew. I was so happy that this point that a five line blessing would be wonderful. I sat on the pillow with my back turned to the monk waiting for him to spray alcohol onto my back when the temple lights went out. Is this really not meant to be? Ajan Tum said "no tattoos in the dark." I was very sad that is point. He then said let's wait until the lights come on. But Adi was at home waiting for us and we couldn't just be there waiting for the lights to come on.
A man asked the monk if he could bless his old tattoos in the mean time. I walked over to Wiley with a very sad face. I decided to feed Ahmalie instead. As I was feeding her, I heard my aunt calling my name to go get my Hah Taew. I ran to my sitting pose. Ajan Tum decided he could give me my tattoo at least by candle light. He managed to put on about two lines when his phone rang. "Shit" I told myself. He picked up the phone to tell whoever that he was in a hurry to finish up a tattoo in the dark. Oh, by the way his ring tone was John Lennon's "Imagine." Ajan was ready to give my back's full attention now. Everything became really calm and peaceful when a song started again, "Imagine all the people, living in a world of peace." Ajan let the whole song play through without answering his phone. I knew that this tattoo was special. Wiley was taking pictures of me and saying, "Hey, PK I think you got the most mystical tattoo ever with candle light and music."
When I was done one of the helpers said, "I have been here a year and this has never happened." It was then 7:25pm. We were guided down the stairs by lighters lit by the Wat's helper. My most magical mystical Tattoo.
The meaning behind Hah Taew: Every sacred line of this Yant will bestow a blessing on the receiver, usually including loving kindness, success in all aspects of life, charm, good luck and protection against evil spirits and the banishment of bad luck.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pla Tung Ko

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Prachuap Khiri Khan ประจวบคีรีขันธ์

We had the best time at this place. The sand was so soft with very warm water.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Keson at Tambon Khlong Khone

We drove about 45 miles out to restaurant Keson for lunch. A good day trip with the family. Khlong Khone is famous for its grapi, or shrimp paste. Grapi is one of the things that separates Thai food in Thailand from Thai food abroad. It is difficult to find high quality grapi outside the Thai border. Also, the Thai palate has become accustomed to the pungency of grapi, whereas Western palates have not. This restaurant, Keson, in Khlong Khone features grapi in many of its dishes. Such as the fried fish coated in a grapi batter and nam prik grapi served with a variety of veggies and fresh river pla tu (mackeral).
During our meal, which overlooks the river and surroundings, a boat arrived at a neighbor's house loaded with tiny shrimp to make grapi. We were able to watch them salt and mix the shrimp while we were eating our lunch.
The owner-couple use to run a Kao Geng place which served one to two choices of curries on rice. Tour groups started to show up at their door steps so someone suggested that they should make it into a restaurant. They removed their daughter's bedroom from the house and converted their living space into a restaurant.
Its a family run place with two cooks at the kitchen. All their ingredients arrives fresh daily. Servers are cousins kids and any relatives who are willing to help out. They are at a crossroads of hiring more help but too scared to let other people cook for them. The taste will change and they do not want that.
While we were their other people from BKK also drove out to eat there.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

blood bath in Bangkok

18 dead including 14 civilians, 4 soldiers and 825 injured in bloody clashes. So far what the hell is going on? So sad.

this video show how fast things out of hand.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

just being cute

Kids being very cute.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Threading (Khite) – A Natural Hair Removal Alternative?

Our lunch was so good we decided to walk around the area a little bit more. I couldn't resist myself from trying this. Yes, we were in the middle of the sidewalk. My lady gave me a great treatment. Her training took longer then she wanted too. She was told it should take about 5 days to learn how to work the threads but it took her a little more then 10 days to finally get the hang of it. On a weekend she can work up to 15 people a day @ 100 baht a pop it's very good. I'm still amazed that I did this. Some people watched with curious eyes others watched with terror. A powder was put on my face to insure for an easy clean pull. Hard to believe one can get such a clean face with some powder and strings. Will I go back? not sure yet may have to ask me in about 3 weeks.

Friday, April 2, 2010

dancing in the rain

Adi loves to play in the rain. This was a down pour of about 15 minutes.

Ari Station N5 Soi Ari #2

PK's cousins Aye and Cherry suggested we check out this street for good foods. It is in the middle of a lot of government buildings, schools and businesses. When you see a cluster of workers like this, you are guaranteed finding a location full of higher quality food vendors, especially for lunch. We strategically arrived right before the lunch rush to scope it out.
Between Ari soi 1 and 2 there is a lot of the standard fare, but the food is fresh and there is more attention to detail.
Aside from buying a bunch of snacks to take home, we settled on this noodle restaurant that has been here for thirty years. I have discovered that longevity is another sign of quality. Noodle shops are everywhere, but these noodles and garnishes on top were made with care.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Delicious Seafood
menu was easy to read with very few choices.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mae Kaa (The Grocery Lady in The Truck)

We have finally figured out the best way to purchase groceries. The big grocery stores have questionable quality, besides we like to support local poeple. The morning market has good quality, but who wants to get up at 7am to go to the market to shop for dinner? The evening markets are convenient, but quality can be bad (who wants to buy squid that's been sitting out in the sun all day?)
This couple drives by our house at around 11am every day. The quality is unsurpassed and they have a surprising amount of variety for such a small venue. The cooler is packed with meats and seafood, veggies, and dry goods like salt, sugar and coconut milk.
Their journey starts at about 12am buying groceries to stock the truck. This is why their quality is the best. They get the most fresh meats and seafood before the other markets do. Her husband drives their truck while she sits in the back all day long. If she doesn't have what you want you can request it to be delivered the following day.
They have been doing this for about 12 years. Their days are long but they seem very happy, although one day I found her sleeping as they drove up.