Sunday, May 28, 2017

Rainy season and Bamboo Shoots


Every season in Thailand ,brings with it a special fruit or vegetable that can be harvested during it's time, usually for a couple months.This time of the year is no exception (the rainy season) and with it comes two of my favorites.And additions, to use in cooking many Western and Thai dishes .Mushrooms and Bamboo Shoots are plentiful this time of the year , and can be found at every Tuesday and Thursday market here in our small village of Whang Pho , you can also find then for sell on roadside stands all along the highway between here and Kanchanaburi , with most of their customers coming from Bangkok, after a trip in the country ,to visit the many caves and waterfalls and the famous hot springs ,up the road from us .They love to stop on their way home and buy fresh veggies along the side of the road and from the country farmers , they just taste better than the supermarket veggies for some reason, maybe it's all in our minds.






 Ciejay and me grabbed a bucket and a long knife and headed up to the mountain just a few hundred yards, from our house. Ott, our neighbor always goes there every few days during the rainy season and ,always comes back with a rice bag full of bamboo shoots for the meals she cooks for her family , and she always shares fresh bamboo shoots with us . We wanted to give it a try for myself and also to be able to write home to my family back in the USA , that I had cut,boiled and peeled and cooked bamboo shoots fresh, right out of the jungle , what an adventure. And what a adventure it turned out to be , noone warned me about all the mosquitos, that we would encounter while cutting fresh bamboo shoots, I thought they were going to eat me alive, we got a bucket full and then got out of there . I did it one time and that's enough for me , now it's Market Day for my bamboo shoots from now on. We haven't given mushroom picking a try yet because, most of the places where they grow are closely guarded, and also a secret known only to the gathers, because mushrooms are a real money crop for lots of the Thai families in our area,lots of mushrooms grow around our mountains and jungles.



Today ,while we were visting a neighbors new home being built , the workers were taking their lunch break and they were eating fresh bamboo shoots , they invited me to share (and you know me when food is offered ) so I joined in and what a wonderful tasty dish they had prepared right there on the construction site , fresh bamboo shoots and scrambled eggs with thai chilies and onions, of course. WOW, was it ever good.. When we were leaving the boss came up to me and gave me a bag of fresh bamboo shoots to take home and cook and enjoy, which I did .



A bamboo shoot is the start of a young bamboo plant,if not harvested, it will grow into a tall bamboo plant.The leaves that cover the shoot are black and covered with tiny hairs. The black leaves are peeled off untill you can see the off-white meat inside.The white meat turns yellowish after it is cooked.When the shoot is cooked on the day that it is harvested it is very sweet.



There are many different types and sizes of bamboo shoots depending on the plant. Big ones are usually sliced and used as an ingredient in a main course dish.The little ones (half a inch in dismeter) are cut into finger size pieces and eaten as a vegetable with sauces like nam prig gapi.



In Thailand, bamboo shoots are available during the rainy season,May through October.Otherwise,they are available in cans and jars . In the US,bamboo shoots come in cans and glass jars, pickled or sour, non pickled.



When I lived in America ,I never saw fresh bamboo shoots for sell ever, but then again, I was not married to my sweet Thai wife ,except the last few years we lived there .And I had never visited an Asian Market until , I married Ciejay, and even then before ,moving to Thailand ,I was not use to the spicy and smelly (sometimes)Thai dishes, or their way of cooking things .Ciejay's sister would come for a visit and bring all kind of strange stuff with her and when they started to cook , most of the time ,I would leave the house until all the smells were gone ,and I would try and eat a little of what they had cook and act like I was enjoying it , some things I did , but some things I endured, for my sweet Ciejay's sake .



Now I am happy to report , that after 10  years here in the LOS , that, I not only love the Thai food (almost everything ) , but I also love all the strange and wonderful , spicy and pepper, smells that come out of the kitchen when Ciejay is cooking .



One of my favorite dishes of course ( the reason for this post ) is FRESH BAMBOO SHOOTS, added to many Thai dishes and also to eat as a fresh veggie dish with various sauces that Ciejay mixes up, I love them hot ,drizzled ,with fish sauce and served over a steaming hot cup of Jasmine rice . Wow I'm making myself hungry, glad dinner is almost ready , and of course there will be several dishes made with the fresh bamboo shoots from our friends, the builders. For those of you living here in Thailand, do you like fresh bamboo shoots? and do they grow in your area and do you or your Thai family or neighbors harvest them for cooking at home or as a money crop ?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Loving our Village of Wang Pho

All my life,everywhere I have lived, I have always looked for things to be proud of ,rather than looking for things to criticize or complain about or find fault with,and here in my adopted home of Thailand I try to do the same. I am proud of the fact that here in Thailand we have to freedom to live and love and enjoy all that life has to offer , as long as we live by the rules.I am proud of the fact that most expat folks who make Thailand their home and realize their dreams come true ,are very decent people. I could go on and on about things that I am proud of here in the Land Of Smiles And Gentle People . I would like to say that the thing that I am most proud of is the little village that I call home ,Whang Pho. All of our local leaders do all they possibly can to make sure that all the people that call Sai Yok their home ,live in the cleanest , safest,and most enjoyable place they can make it . I have even notice that they pay close attention to even the smallest detail to make sure that it looks good and not a eyesore , and the thing that amazes me the most, is that they seem to understand the meaning of maintenance.

This coming year , my goal is to look for all I can be proud of and if at all possible to thank the person or persons responsible and give them a big pat on the back, and to remind myself that  This is Thailand. Lets all give it a try. Just one more reason why We're Retired in Thailand and Loving It.  Malcolm and Ciejay










Wednesday, August 31, 2016

And oldies but a goodie

This is a old post but lots of folks have asked about how we made it to Thailand and our plans , so here is a post I posted when we were here for a bit. Hope you enjoy.
Most post from Thailand bloogers are about their life upon arriving and about daily living and,traveling in the LOS, but not to many on what causes us Expats to decide,plan, save and finally,make the move to Thailand.So ,I thought I would give it a go. A friend introduced me to Ciejay ,we dated for three months and then we married ,on the fourth of July 2002. A year later Ciejay's father in Thailand passed away and we made plans with her sisters and their husbands who also lived in America to come to Thailand for the 100 day celebration of her fathers life , a tradition in Thai culture.We all flew together and rented a van to take us to their home place , and where the 100 day celebration would be held .We had talked it over and also planned to spend a week ,after all the visiting and family affairs were over, traveling around and seeing the sights .It was my first trip to Thailand and I fell head over heels in love with the country and the people.I ask Ciejay if she would move back to Thailand if we could find a piece of land to build us a house on? ,would she move back to Thailand and we would retire here ?. Being the sweet person that she is,said"YES "which was a total suprise to me because she had just the month before got her green card that enabled her to stay in American ,and being married to me was renewable every ten years with no problem.No every three months visit to immigrations or anything and she could work pay social security and taxes and retire at 62 just like anyone else in America ,a dream of a lot of Thai people.What a surprise answer. Well we spent the week traveling a lot, and visiting relatives and really looking for land and a house that we liked and the place where we wanted to spend the rest of our lives . Well, we could not decide where or what , but on the last evening of our trip before flying out the next day, we decided to visit her brother in a little village called Wang Pho in the providence of Kanchanaburi,right on the famous River Kwai.As we turned off the highway 321 and started driving down the 5 kl. and I do mean down the mountain, into the little village , my heart soared within me and I said to Ciejay "if the village is pretty and we like it , and can find a little piece of land , this is the place ". Well we visited her brother and a neighbor had a small piece of land out of town , with no road to get to it , or water and power was not close at all ,we said thank you ,but no thanks. It was getting dark when we got back to her brothers and we said "well we will have to plan another trip sometime when we had time to look around for land" . We both agreed that this was the place , I loved the small village and it just had the right feel to both of us.Disappointed that we could not find something we liked, as it was getting late, and we had a three hour drive to Bangkok and were flying out at 6:30 the next morning, I told Ciejay to ask her brother a simple question , if he knew of any land with a empty house on it , and to our surprise he pointed 100 yards up the road and said "yes my friend and his wife divorced 8 years ago and the house is not quite finished inside and the bathroom roof has fell in , but it was for sell ", but because of bad Karma and Thai's belief in ghost and bad spirits no one would buy it, Me and Ciejay being Christians Karma and ghost ,didn't scare us at all. The house was all locked up and all the windows had security bars and screens and they were all tinted to keep out the hot sun, so as dark as it was outside and inside we could not even see inside thru the windows. we looked at each other and said let's do it . We ask her brother if he had the friends phone number, and after a while he found it ,and called . He ask if it was still for sell and how much and the friend said 400,000 baht , my brother -in -law said to him this my sister give her a discount , the friend said ok ,300,000 baht , we said we'll take it.We didn't have any extra money on us and it was night time and we ask if we could send money when we got back to the USA. He said "mai pen rai " I give you 6 months to pay me all at one time,no want payments . We said ok and told Ciejays brother to look after it for us and we would send him money every month for 6 months to pay it off and for him to keep the money ,till we had sent it all, and then pay his friend , He said ok "I keep in bank for you" ,all was settled, we now had a piece of land and a house in Thailand . Located within 1/2 mile of the town square , the high school , the hospital , the city hall, and the local police station, at the foot of the mountain and I mean right at the foot and 1/2 mile from the River Kwai, What a dream come true. We could not believe it .Our other American, brother -in-laws and their wives thought we were crazy , and maybe we were crazy , but we had a dream . We went back home , I had one more year before I could retire (62) with 75% my social security , 100% if I worked till 70. but I was ready to retire, and we had a house in Thailand .Remember I am just a worker bee in America not CEO or owner of a business , no,401 K plan and no monthly retirement pension coming from years of service with one company. Just my monthly S.S.check . So I worked one more year and in 6 months we had sent money to pay the house off and we planned to move over in March of 2004, but we knew that we needed money to remodel the Thailand house and buy furniture and everything else we would need to make the house a home . We sold our cars , everything we had accumulated since we were married 3 years ago , I personally had nothing as I lost it all in a couple bad relationships before Ciejay,if you know what I mean. So when a friend suggested that we sell produce with and for him and we would split it all 50/50, we said ok and changed our plans to leave on Oct the 6th for our house in Thailand , hopefully with enough money,to do what we needed to do ,to make the house a liveable home .We sold produce from June the 1st, till Oct the 1st ,7days a week rain or shine and on the 6th of Oct. 2004 we arrived in Thailand with 11 suitcases of clothes and pictures and important papers , and our dream.
If you liked reading this post (short story) and a little about our lives ,as well as our retirement , please let me know with a comment ,I've got a couple more stories that, I think you might enjoy too , let me know what you think. Malcolm

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Monkeys on the road

MONKEY TOLL ROAD

HERE THEY COME, GET READY, DON'T MOVE TILL THEY PAY UP
LET THE KIDS DO ALL THE WORK , WE'LL GO LATER AND TAKE WHAT WE WANT

I THINK THEY'RE STOPPING


YEP WE GOT EM NOW

GET LOTS I'LL OVER FOR MY SHARE AFTER MY NAP

ONE PICTURE ONE BANANA



LOOKING LIKE A GOOD HAUL

OPPS


TAKING OUR TIME

DON'T RUN SO FAST MOM


Yesterday ,on the way home we stopped at the produce stand at the top of the mountain to buy some older bananas,and papayas to feed the birds and squirrels ,(keeps them from eating my fruit before it gets ripe ) and on the way down the curvy road on the mountain, the monkeys had set up a road block ,demanding bananas as payment before you could go thru , I was sure glad we had plenty to spare as our payment and after a few snap shots and banana and papaya, payment we were allowed to continue on our way .

Really this happens all the time at this one spot in the road when the weather is good the monkeys will come down from the temple up on the mountain and beg for food when they know the tourist busses are coming thru, they are sooooo cute and every female is carring a baby or two. I like them and I am glad they stay in the one area, I have never seen one in our village and we are only 2 kl from where they gather, always a fun place and treat, to take our guest to see.

Do you have monkeys where you live? and if so do they become a pest or do they stay in one area like ours ??? In Whang Pho, you can not only swim with the elephants , but you can feed the monkeys too. FUN FUN . Malcolm