|Mmmm.....bacon: the candy of meats|
|Everybody else ate Thai style. I don't know the name of this dish, but it's sour. |
The sour taste is from tree ants.
|It was actually pretty tasty, and I must have eaten a rounded teaspoon of these ants.|
I asked Tung where they get these ants and she told me they get them from trees. I don't know what kind of tree, but they definitely have a sour taste, like lemon or vinegar.
After breakfast and some more sitting around, I felt very groggy. Never could quite wake up it seemed. Tung and David got their hats on and took me for a walk to see the family farm. This was very relaxing and felt good to get out in the beautiful countryside, walking along the rice paddies. They have not had much luck with rice this year because of lack of rain.
|Having left the house compound, we took a winding path|
along fields towards the family plots, worked for generations.
|Here's a view of how the paddies are laid out. We walked raised paths |
with the sunken paddies on either side. The paths were about 36" high,
to stay out of the water when the paddies are flooded and the rice is planted.
|This little structure is a resting place to get out of the sun, eat|
your lunch, take a nap, whatever. We stopped for a break.
|This is how they used to harvest the rice. It was stuck up in|
the rafters of the little house. Nowadays they use machinery.
|Mama showing the front of the |
tractor they use now to harvest rice
|And the rear part. I bet it saves a lot of work.|
|I saw these bottles laying around. David said he began to pick|
them up, but was told to leave them lying there. Harvesters
use them to put tasty looking bugs and frogs in for
a snack later. I'm not kidding.
|Tar, (short for Guitar) accompanied us most of the way. Pretty good |
for a little kid. David carried him home part of the way when we were
finished looking around the land.
|On the way home saw these on a tree. It's a tree fruit. Tung calls it ma furang (sp?) and the taste is very sour|
and a little sweet. I've since had them as part of a salad
in food I've had in Bangkok, pretty good.
When we made it back to the house it was a pretty lazy scene. Papa was nowhere to be found, all the kids were listening to music or playing video games and the adults were hanging out where it was cool. Tung used her newly-acquired hair cutting skills to cut the neighbor lady's hair.
|She asked me if I wanted a haircut, but I decided to see how|
this one turned out. I've since had a haircut from her
and it wasn't half bad.
|Still feeling very listless and tired. Just sitting around with|
my feet in the dirt.
|Mama dusting everything down|
|Cooking some nice looking little fish for lunch|
|Miss Tung showed me this papaya tree in the back yard|
and said she would make me a fresh papaya salad.
|She picked it off the tree and peeled it with a knife|
|Then there's a special tool, sort of like a cheese slicer,|
that carves up the papaya into these things.
|Couple weeks later I bought one in a market for 10 baht.|
I'm never gonna use it, you need to many
ingredients to make this dish correctly.
|You shred off as much off as you can until the seeds start|
to show, then you throw it out for the chickens to peck at.
|One processed papaya, set aside.|
|Mama has a really big ceramic mortar and a heavy wooden|
pestle. Toss a little of the papaya in there along with
peppers and garlic. Those peppers are hotter than jalapenos,
but not near as hot as habaneros.
|Muddle it a bit. She didn't chop anything as I remember.|
|You hear this "pok, pok, pok" sound as she works. There's a|
popular Thai restaurant back in Portland called PokPok.
|This is sugar, looks like raw sugar.|
|Add some cherry tomatoes|
|I think this is lemon juice...|
|Nam pla, or fish sauce. Man I love this stuff. I don't even|
bother cooking chicken anymore unless I've marinated
it in this stuff
|For that extra umami-boost|
|Keep muddling it, moving it around with the spoon|
|This is the way we mash it up....|
|....mash it up, mash it up...|
|That's about right. Throw in the shredded papaya and toss.|
|Serve on a platter. Man, this is one spicy dish.|
|We at it with these Thai vegetables called gem nan. Tung said she only sees them in Korat.|
|Everybody loves this stuff, even the little kids eat it|
like candy. Did I mention it's spicy? Really spicy.
|After lunch I took a walk down the road and saw these reeds|
laid out on the side of the road.
|Turned around and saw some sort of operation going |
on behind this screen.
|They were making mats!|
|The weaver is named Ruan.|
|Sun had a razor and was stripping them somehow, getting ready for the weaver to use.|
I don't know how they were dyed.
|I really should have bought one or two. But by this time|
I'd started to consider my finances a little more.
|Walking down the road a bit further I found a group of|
men playing, of all things, bocce ball.
|They had the court marked out with string, and it was played on a|
plain old uneven dirt surface.
|They were really good. Two in particular were the best|
players I've ever seen and the others seemed to be betting.
|I was just walking along and they beckoned me over,|
so I sat down for about half hour and watched. No English.
|Continuing along, I see a community rice processing facility,|
the village water supply to the right there in a big pond,
and the water tower in the back to the left.
|Back home again and everybody's chilling,|
wondering where I had wandered off to.
|Here it was with everything intact. The egg cartons stacked up, cricket feed set out,|
everything pretty well taken care of I guess, in the sort way one does cricket
husbandry. Enclosures were built of concrete blocks.
|First step was to remove all the egg cartons condos and shake the crickets out so you could|
get at them. Then several people just scooped them up and put them into plastic tubs,
walking on bamboo poles so as to not squish too much of the product.
|A look into one of the collection tubs.|
|This was after hundreds of egg cartons were removed.|
|Showing the slick tiles around the edges which kept them from climbing up.|
|The entire affair was screened in with mosquito netting, not sure what for.|
|They were divided up and weighed|
|Then water was poured on them, not sure why...maybe drowning them a bit makes|
them more manageable. Then it's into plastic bags they go, ready to be cooked up.
It was fascinating, and I'm really impressed Mama timed it so we could be there for it. The whole process seemed to take less than two hours and then there were no more crickets, just people brishing off and stacking up paper egg cartons for use with the next batch of cricket condos.
We got a bag and walked back to the house, heated up a wok and in they went.
|Put a little fish sauce on them and keep 'em moving...|
|...don't want to let them burn...nothing worse than |
|Mama takes over after a little while.|
|Along with the crickets, we had a pork stew with boiled eggs in it. There|
was a lot of sugar in this stew, and the hard-boiled eggs were boiled
for a long time after they were thrown in there. I think I'd leave out the
sugar and make it spicy.
|Eaten with rice and crickets.|
We stopped by a neighbor's house who had a little business making furniture out of palm stalks. I didn't think that was a use for those things. Not really good to put a cup on, but maybe could put some glass on the top to create a better surface.
|I think David's gonna buy one of these table sets. There were tables, chairs and recliners, all out of the same material.|
|Taking it all in.|
|Got his Aussie hat on there. Made me wish I had my cowboy hat.|
|The lounges were pretty comfortable.|
When the cricket show was over with, evening was rolling around and the sun was going down, we made our way back down the road towards the house. Some teenage boys who had been making themselves scarce all day came walking out to show us all the paper and wire contraption they had been working on.
|We were there for a 3 day weekend for some reason or other. Oh yeah|
the Buddhist holiday which made the 3 day weekend possible.
|What is it?|
|Dousing a wadded up ball in what looks like flammable liquid|
|Held in there with wire...this is a hot air balloon!|
|Get the thing over the fire somehow. It's pretty big.|
|There we go, it's starting to fill now.|
|Now we're talkin'.|
|There we go...|
|Up, up and away!|
|It really took off.|
|Remarkably stable, and that fire will last.|
|I think it's halfway to Cambodia by now.|
Well, that was rather exciting! Everybody stood around and had a pop or a beer talking about it. Time to start snapping some pics. It's getting on to evening.
|Really had a good time.|
They told me I'm welcome back anytime, but I'm not quite sure how I'd find it again unless I went with Tung. It was a fine experience, great way to relax and get exposure to rural Thai life. I think I could get used to it. I don't think I need the excitement of a big city, but that's what I got at the moment. Maybe I'll look into some other places some day, where the air is clean and temperature is not so hot, where people smile and really mean it and it's possible to live on quite a bit less than Bangkok. For now, it's nose to the grindstone and try to get some experience under my belt.
If you're interested in a nice Thailand home stay vacation maybe Tung can fix you up somehow. Not sure I could label this experience "bed and breakfast" really, but it's definitely a few steps above camping. Might have to have some creative sleeping arrangements. Contact Tung <email@example.com> and see what she has to say about it.
Finally done there more than a month late with the second day of this trip. I'm going to leave it here for a while, and end up with some pics of me in one of my classes dated Nov. 14, 2012. The kids are great, I like this age group better than high-school, but I think that's just my own shortcomings in classroom management. I must admit most of the highschool kids were amazing and only about a fourth of them made my life a living hell. I am a beginning teacher after all, and they really ate me alive. I learned never let them know you're angry: they win and you lose. Sister-in-law has some years of teaching experience on me, she had some really good advice concerning classroom management, and I must get a handle on that.
My visa expires today, Sunday Nov. 25. I have to go to Laos tonight, packing into one of the dreaded mini-vans for an all night trip to Vientienne. Monday have to just hang out and wait for new double-entry tourist visa paperwork to be processed there at the embassy, then spend the night and head out on the 9 hour drive back to Bangkok Tuesday morning, back home Tuesday evening, then back at work on Wednesday morning. What a hassle. Costs about 6,000 baht ($195), and then I'm good for another 180 days. Anyway, looking forward to getting a taste of Laos. Duty free shop. [edit: everything I saw in Laos seemed exactly the same as Thailand. Of course, I didn't get out to see much of anything.]
Signing off for now, hoping you all are well and had a great Thanksgiving. Here's some shots of me in a classroom with some kids. I know, hard to believe.
|What's up with the socks you ask? Hey, this is Asia. Everybody takes off their shoes.|
|Here I am, faking it. I'm not a teacher, I just play one on television.|
P.S. Everybody takes their shoes off when you go inside here, just about everywhere. Here's a pic of me at the dentist's office.