Aegle marmelos

This is a bael or bael fruit AKA Bengal quince, wood apple, stone apple or seer phael (head-fruit). In Thai it’s known as matum.

The size is between an orange and a grapefruit.

In Thailand, bael is usually found in the form of dried slices, which are reconstituted in water to make juice. Our housekeeper brought over a few from her tree and I was surprised at how hard and heavy they were. We did as she said and boiled them, but then accidentally left them out on a hot night and the next day, they had fermented in the shell and burst, oozing a heavy syrup onto our counters. I threw them into the pond out front as an offering to Shiva, although he seems to favor the leaves instead of the fruit.

Chris Delivery

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being Chris Delivery’s bodyguard (I got the job by looking “ex-yakuza.”) Fortunately, there were no kidnapping or assassination attempts, but he did get jumped by several groups of screaming fans wanting autographs and v sign photos (and, I suspect, a romantic evening under a private mango tree).

The talk he gave at our university was heartfelt and entertaining, and a great success by any measure. Props to my friend, Ajarn Kedsiree Jumpeehom, for setting it up and thanks to Chris for putting on an awesome show.

For a television personality with several shows, books, and other assorted projects known to pretty much everybody in Thailand, Chris is humble and just a generally great guy; he pretty much hates being grouped in with the snobby TV star set and keeps it real. I pretty much flipped when I heard that he personally teaches all of the classes at his English School in Central World (there’s a list of other teachers there so maybe he teaches all of the classes some of the time).

Here’s some shots showing the venue (the Main Hall at Rajabhat Maha Sarakham) and the turnout (around 1,500 at the start by my count, plus many more walk-ins changing with students leaving for classes part way through)

Pre-show meet & greet:

Pictured: Dean Sunee, Aj. Mayuree, Aj. Teera, Aj. Kedsiree, Chris Delivery

 

Almost go time:

Gauging crowds by counting rows, but sorely needing a wider lens:

Gauging crowds with the motorcycle index:

Gauging crowds with the broken toilet index:

After we reached Khon Kaen Airport, my detail ended by safely escorting the principal to the secure area, and I immediately proceeded to the airport shop to acquire a cold six-pack. All members of the escort team proceeded to the nearest McDonalds and many freshly-constructed McRibs were consumed the way Buddha intended them to be, with a freezing can of Leo. All in all, it was a great day, even if I did crash my goddamn car to start it off.

BooksThailand.com

A few weeks ago, my bathroom reading materials had dwindled down to the point of having to reread some old favorites. Then, while browsing a Thai-related forum, I spotted a banner for booksthailand.com. They are apparently a used bookstore on Koh Chang that have started selling online.

Long story short, they are my new go-to place for books here in Thailand. They accept PayPal or bank transfers and the prices are very reasonable considering the price of new English language books here.

They are currently running a “buy 3 get 1 free” promotion that I used for my first order. I paid via PayPal and quickly got an email from one of the staff stating that one of the books I’d ordered was out of stock… So when I had time, I chose another instead. Then, they hustled to get the delivery out before the long holiday starting the next day. In short, the service was excellent.

Now, to top it off, I’ve won two free books in their latest monthly competition! (I’m so sad I have so little time to read these days.)

In short, if you are living in Thailand and have a need for books, you should definitely try them out.

Why the newspaper died

Clipping from the Bangkok Post, early 2011

At first I thought this was an early April Fools thing, but it wasn’t. The Bangkok Post was/is the widest circulated English language paper in Thailand (possibly initially funded by the OSS/State Department!), and printed a half-page article on how to properly shovel snow. In Thailand. Apparently, somebody sent a complaint to the editor that was printed in a subsequent issue. This was addressed by claiming that this article was pulled from a partner news source, which is just a ridiculous defense… They really should have claimed it was an early April Fools thing.

Back Home Again, No Time Again

It’s still quite cool during the days in Maha Sarakham and actually cold at night. Last year we only had a week or two of this weather, so it’s been great to have it continue for almost two whole months.

These past two months, I’ve been all over on family trips to Phimai, Chiang Mai, and Surin, and for work to Nam Nao, Saraburi, Trat, and Koh Chang. Next weekend I’m taking my Master’s class to Wang Nam Keaw for a weekend survey. Then hopefully, I can take a break from too much traveling for a while. The babies miss me when I’m gone (or so I like to think), and I miss them too.

The photos above were taken with my Galaxy 5 phone on one of our neighborhood walks – the open areas in our development are fast disappearing, so we are getting in as many dirt road rambles with the babies as we can.

Why Android is the best for now

Two words: Google Maps

Yes, I know you have it on the iCrap, too, but Google will never make it as good for you. Fact.

I’m heading off on a trip to visit some 3rd year students interning in Saraburi, Trat, and Koh Chang for a few days. Leaving at 5AM tomorrow, so I’m starring destinations and saving route info (toll and non-toll, with different ferry options to the island) ┬áin Google Maps on my PC. Tomorrow, I’ll be able to access it all from my phone. This is the kind of techno-wienery I’ve been dreaming about since I was 7.

Day 1: Maha Sarakham to Saraburi and Trat (city)

View Larger Map

Day 2: Trat (city) to Koh Chang Destinations

View Larger Map

Watching the Nam Chi

Thailand has been suffering from record flooding in recent weeks. What sets this situation apart from years past is that previously safe areas have also been flooded out. Rainfall has been heavy in some areas, but what seems to have caused the problems this time is the steady meddling with waterways and ignoring what might happen when they overflow.

Maha Sarakham is said to be at risk from today until October 31st.

I think the area where our house is should be okay, but of course there is also the possibility of the roads being wiped out, so I went aggro at Big C last week and stocked up on loads of boxed milk for Max and diapers for both of them. Also, the Nam (river) Chi flows in a long curve along the back of the Big C parking lot before running parallel to the highway to Kalasin, so it’s a good place to see the water level.

I hope I never have to use the rubber raft I brought over from Japan.

“Hayaku” Time Lapse Journey

Turn up the sound, sit back (for 8 minutes), and watch this:

I hate listening to Royksopp, but I like it used in videos.

This brought back a flood of Japan memories. It’s funny how my memory has become compartmentalized by country. I have a set of memories that affects things I do every day. They pop up when I’m driving, cooking, or buying something at the store. I remember doing the same thing in different settings years ago. I can remember details like what it smelled like that day or the looks on people’s faces*. For the most part, these memories are very private and I feel like an island – but then I remember I can talk to Nam about most of it, and I don’t feel so alone.

What about the babies? They are going to grow up knowing at least two very different lands and languages. That is just their starting point – I can only dream of what the future holds for them.

* As I was writing this, I flashed back to driving in Bordeaux almost 15 years ago in a rented Opel Vectra (turbo gasoil) and almost t-boning a young guy in an VW Golf because I went on the wrong green light. It was such a bad mistake, the guy would have been totally justified in getting angry about it, but he saw I had realized my mistake and instead just nodded and gestured in acknowledgment.

Charismatic

Metropolis has a remembrance up about Charisma Man: Man of the Moment

click to see full size

I remember the first Charisma Man strip in the Alien; I might have even saved it somewhere. The strip was hilarious because it was just so apt. I had no idea that it was used as an insult outside of Japan, though.

Note: On the official site, it seems the merchandising has gotten out of hand. Space suits and condoms sounds more like Western Woman’s type of thing.