Feeding the fish on a 4-year-old’s birthday

There I was, minding my own business, no literally, working on my news feed for the day for huahinexpatnews.com. Four motorcycles showed up at my front gate, loaded with 13 people, one being my friend Non, who was off work for the day.

“We’re going to feed the fish,” she told me via her phone translator. “Do you want to come?”

I’m a deadline kind of guy, so I said I had to finish. But as they were leaving, I recognized it was a unique opportunity, and that the work could wait. There were 12 women/girls and one young boy. This was going to be fun.

But I did have to get on the back of a motorcycle for a long ride in traffic and then on dusty roads. Our destination was a temple west of Hua Hin, where we had been previously. At that time, we also visited an elephant village behind the temple, where a mahoot took some memorable shots of me and an elephant.

There were so many parts to this adventure, I’m just going to post the photos below, with commentary.

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This is our group, Non back row middle. I don’t know anyone’s name.

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Our destination – a temple fish pond. These ponds are amazing. So many big tilapia, perch and catfish. Drives me crazy!

The geese, ducks and pigeons were plentiful

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The geese, ducks and pigeon were plentiful.

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Feeding the fish – on the way to the pond we stopped at a pet food store for about 15 pounds of fish food – $2.

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You will see a number of photos of this little girl, who turned 4 today. She has the best personality and very bright.

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After we threw all that food into the pond, the group decided to rest at the kids playground. I decided to walk around and found this makeshift Muay Thai setup. That’s Thai kick boxing.

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After I took this photo and started to leave, a man, maybe 55-60, came over and motioned for me to stay and take pictures. He was going to show me his kick moves. I thought he was going to work on the big bag. He didn’t.

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Following are a few shots of him trying to kick the water bottle above his head and me trying to time the shots to his kicks. We both had mixed results.

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Missed it!

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I missed it but bottle goes flying

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A female Buddhist nun on cigarette break

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This is where the group ate a light lunch, at those tables on the right. There were 13 people eating, more than 20 dishes ordered because the portions were small. Total tab: 230 baht, or $6.

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OK, remember that guy with Muay Thai? This is the same guy. He saw me walking with my camera and asked me to take this photo.

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The group for food

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I wasn’t hungry, so I decided to explore while the others ate. Like I said, we had been here before, but now I had the opportunity to look a bit more closely.

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Like this piece outside the monastery.

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These wooden figurines of elephants and horses are in a tree planter behind a statue.

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I’m not quite sure what to make of this makeshift Buddhist alter.

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This just seems so incongruous – a beautiful Banyan tree next to an aluminum water tank.

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Quiz: Is the rooster on a wire or a step?

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Posted in Hua Hin, Thailand, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A year later – Back to Black

It was about a year ago that Thailand’s beloved king of 70 years died. King Bhumibol’s cremation and funeral ceremony will be held Oct. 26, and once again, everyone is wearing black. We did this for a month after his death last year and now they expect everyone to do it again.

DSC_1282Another symbol being used is the marigold. The government is promoting their use for honoring the dead king. So, naturally, I’m showcasing a marigold gift plant in the front of my container garden. From flowermeaning.com:

Symbolism of the Marigold Flower

Aside from being offered as a sacrifice to gods from Christian, Aztec, Buddhist, Hindu, and Pagan religions, this little flower has strong ties to the sun and its power to resurrect. All types of Marigold offer the same basic meanings because they all share the same bright yellow, red, or orange color. Modern meanings focus on the sunny color and beauty, giving the flower a meaning of optimism and success. Marigolds were carried as love charms or spells in the Middle Ages by both genders who wanted to attract someone new.

What Does the Marigold Flower Mean?

Aside from being an important part of any organic garden as a pest deterrent, the Marigold has loftier meanings like:

  • Despair and grief over the loss of love
  • The beauty and warmth of the rising sun
  • Winning the affections of someone through hard work
  • Creativity and the drive to succeed
  • Desire for wealth
  • Cruelty and coldness due to jealousy
  • Sacred offerings to the Gods
  • Remembering and celebrating the dead
  • Promoting cheer and good relations in a relationship

It is hard to express the relationship the Thai people had with their king. The coming ceremonies are a huge deal. At least 250,000 people are expected in Bangkok for the ceremonies, and there will be 85 replicas of the cremation pavilion all around the country for Thais to pay their respects. Here is some information about what is happening:

Everything you need to know about the Funeral of King Bhumibol

By Richard Barrow

Nearly a year has passed since the passing of King Bhumibol on 13th October 2016. He was Thailand’s most revered King in living memory and the nation’s sorrow has been overwhelming. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people have queued up in the heat and rain to pay their last respects.

Nearly a year later, many Thais, and foreigners like myself who work in Thai schools, are still wearing black. Soon the day will come that nobody wants. The cremation of King Bhumibol.

Many foreign tourists and expats have asked me how the funeral will affect their holiday in Thailand. Here the latest information.

WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:
  • October 13 is a new public holiday marking the death of King Bhumibol
  • The royal funeral will take place from October 25-29.
  • The actual cremation ceremony will take place on Thursday, October 26.
  • October 26 has been declared a public holiday so that people can attend the funeral
  • People can go to the Grand Palace to pay last respects until September 30
  • The Grand Palace and The Temple of the Emerald Buddha will be CLOSED to the public, including tourists, from October 1-29. It will re-open on October 30.
  • There will be rehearsals for the royal procession at Sanam Luang on October 7, 15 and 21. I expect you will be able to take photos of this. But please dress respectfully.
  • The royal crematorium on Sanam Luang will be open to the public from November 1-30, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • The BTS skytrain will be free all day on October 26. On October 25 and 27, only the extensions from On Nut to Samrong, and Wongwian Yai to Bang Wa will be free.
  • The BRT bus service from Sathon to Ratchapreuk will be free from October 25-27
  • There will be free boat services from 9am to 4pm on October 25-26, and from 10am to 3pm on October 27. The boat service will go from the Commerce Ministry pier, the Nonthaburi pier and the Rama VIII Bridge pier in the North, and from Sathorn pier and Tha Pimarn pier in the South.
  • There will be restrictions on boat movement on the Chao Phraya River from Krung Thon Bridge to King Taksin Bridge. The main periods of time are from noon to 9pm on October 25 from 6am to 11pm on October 26, and from 8am to 2pm on October 27.
  • The Chao Phraya Express Boat will not stop at Tha Chang, Tha Phra Arthit and Tha Rajinee piers temporarily, but stop at Thewes pier in the northern part of the river and Talad Yodpimarn in the south instead. Ferries operating from Phra Chan Nuea, Maharaj, and Tha Chang piers will use Pinklao pier on the Bangkok side of the river, while ferries which operate from Tha Tian pier will use Rajinee pier instead. Tourist boats will use Pinklao pier on the Bangkok side of the river, as well as Rajinee pier.
TIMELINE OF FUNERAL:

October 25: A royal merit-making rite will be held to mark the start of the royal cremation ceremonies in the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall inside the Grand Palace.

October 26: The body of the late King will be moved from the throne hall to the royal crematorium at Sanam Luang where the royal cremation will be held.

October 27: Following the cremation, a royal ceremony will be held to collect the royal relics of the late King at the royal crematorium.

October 28: A royal merit-making rite for the royal relics will be held in the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall.

October 29: A royal ceremony will be held to enshrine the royal relics at the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall at 10:30 a.m., and the ashes of the late King will be kept separately at Wat Rajabopit and Wat Bowon Niwet.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Q: Can I attend the funeral?

A: Literally hundreds of thousands of people will be attending the funeral of King Bhumipol. I expect that as long as you dress respectfully in black, you will be able to attend. But, don’t expect to get close to the actual ceremony. I hear also there will be a special area reserved for foreigners. I will post more information on this when I get it.

Q: Can I take pictures of the royal family and the funeral ceremony?

A: You certainly cannot. You have to be accredited members of the media to be able to take photos and they will have many restrictions. And also, only a select few can get anywhere near the main ceremony. I am not going to even try.

Q: Will clubs and bars be closed during the funeral?

A: There has been no official announcement about this yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a ban on the sale of alcohol on October 26. The actual cremation will be taking place in the evening and it is unlikely that any bars will open that night. It is also possible that there might be a ban on the sale of alcohol for the main three days of the funeral, October 25-27.

Q: Are tourists expected to wear black?

A: You only need to wear black or grey if you are attending the funeral on Sanam Luang or at one of the many ceremonies held around the country.

Q: Will the shopping malls be closed?

The big shops rarely close for anything. Nothing officially has been announced on this, but I expect you will find the malls open as normal during the funeral. However, on the cremation day, and particularly in the evening, you might not find many people out and about. They will probably be at home watching the funeral on TV. So, smaller family run shops would most likely be closed on at least tOctober 26.

Q: Will the Grand Palace be open?

A: They have already announced that the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace will be closed to the public during most of October. It will re-open again on October 30.

Q: Will temples near the Grand Palace, like the Reclining Buddha and Temple of Dawn be open?

A: I expect these will be open as normal.

Q: Is it best to avoid Bangkok during the funeral?

A: Bangkok is a big city and there is no reason to avoid it. However, there will be a big movement of people to Sanam Luang, the site of the royal crematorium. It is best to avoid all roads and the river in that area during the five-day funeral. In particular on October 26. Khao San Road is also in this area and I wouldn’t personally stay here during the funeral.

Q: Will tourist attractions be open during October?

A: I expect most will be open as normal. However, government-run museums will be closed on the public holidays on October 13, 23 and 26.

Q: Will anything be closed on the royal cremation day?

A: Many leisure kind of activities and attractions will be closed on October 26. An owner of a golf club has already told me they will close on this day.

Q: Will public transport like the skytrain, buses and boats be open as normal?

A: Yes, of course. Life does go on. But, they’ve already announced that some services will either be free or have reduced fares. I would think that the skytrain will be very busy at major intersections like Siam, Victory Monument and Saphan Taksin. The busy period will be October 25-27 with October 26 being the busiest.

Posted in bangkok, Thailand, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Hua Hin Food Festival

It’s amazing sometimes what I will go through just to get a few pictures for a blog entry. Last night was an example of the extreme.

I’ve been helping promote the Hua Hin Food Festival for weeks on my Hua Hin Expat News website (www.huahinexpatnews.com), and was curious to see whether it was worthwhile. My only problem was transportation.

I could have opted for a motorcycle taxi at 100 baht each way ($6 total), or taken the public songthaew taxi for 30 baht each way. With either choice, I still had to walk the quarter mile to the main road. The motor taxi, however, would drop me off at the front entrance of the festival, while the songthaew would drop me off 3/4 mile from the entrance.

I opted for the far cheaper option, with the walking. Then the fun started.

First, a green songthaew drove right past me as I waved on Petchkasem Road. So I waited. And waited.

Then a red songthaew came by. I am not familiar with the route of this taxi so asked the driver if he was going to soi 19, where the festival was held. He nodded yes, I got on, and he ended his run at soi 51. A bit short of my destination.

On top of that, he left me a quarter mile from the main road, where I needed to be to catch another taxi, either home or continuing on. When I reached the main road, I seriously considered turning back but I chose to push on and caught a green taxi. After all, I was halfway there.

It was a longer walk from the main road than I remember from my trips to the immigration office, which is located opposite the Queen’s Park, where the festival was being held. From outward appearances, with cars parked on both sides of the road for a quarter mile before the entrance, it looked like a good crowd.

It was. Lots of people, including a sprinkling of farang (us white people). There had to be 100 food booths, strung along four corridors under the open sky. Fortunately, there was no rain, as there was the night before.

It was all quite overwhelming. So many choices. In addition to the local Thai restaurants, there were also elaborate stalls set up by the big hotels and resorts here, staff all in uniforms. This is certainly the biggest food event I’ve seen here, showcasing much of what Hua Hin has to offer.

Thai Street Food – VIDEO

After walking the aisles a couple of times and taking the photos below, I thought I might select some food to take home. First stop was a stall with a whole roasted pig on a slab in front. Asking for an order of sliced pork – takeaway – the young woman looked around and realized she had no packaging for takeaway.

Apparently, most of the food vendors left their takeaway plastic at home, thinking this was a mostly sit down and eat crowd, which it was. After seeing that a few more stalls also did not have takeaway plastic, I decided to eat at home, where I had duck breast marinating in soy sauce, rosemary, Greek basil and garlic.

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kanom beuang

Again, the long walk back to the main road, where a green taxi miraculously showed up within 5 minutes. With the green taxi, you have to change songthaews at the fresh market area, which is a mile from my house. After changing songthaews, I would still face about half that far to walk, so I decided to walk once again instead of taking the second half of the ride. But first I made a stop at a small mobile food stall that sells kanom beuang, chips with coconut sugar cream and other fillings. I had noticed in the taxi as we went by the stall that it was the same woman I buy from when I go to the beach. She recognized me. 20 baht for a very nice snack.

Was pretty exhausted when I finally made it home. Here’s some food festival:

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The floating white balls are fish balls, but I do not know what the dish is called.

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Looks like he’s making pad Thai, a signature Thai dish of flat noodles, usually with shrimp or tofu.

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The grilled fish here is very good. One of these whole sea bass cost about 180 baht ($6)

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50 baht for duck and rice ($1.70)

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Pasta station for one of the hotel restaurants

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Even a band

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No takeaway

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Just in case you want to see what the back of an empty songthaew taxi looks like

Posted in food, Hua Hin, Thailand, Uncategorized | Tagged ,