On the Road 2007 (Part 6) – The Animatronic Chicken Roasters of Rayong, Thailand

On a previous trip to Thailand, I wrote about the most delicious roast chicken I have ever eaten. I have many special memories of Rayong, and the awesome roast chicken stands by the roadside are certainly counted among them. I had been looking forward to reevaluating the chicken itself since the last time I visited, to be sure it hadn’t been a fluke, or just how hungry I had been at the time.
The chicken stands to which I refer are concentrated along a half-kilometer stretch of a long road into town, from the east end of Mae Ramphueng beach. We scoped out the whole stretch a couple times and stopped at the one that caught my eye.

This stand had the best chicken illustration on their sign (important!), as well as the freshest-looking birds.

Aloha shirt, ski goggles and mask, and a straw hat! What’s not to like?

Grinding away in the heat – this guy’s job really sucks

The entire setup is powered by an electric motor drawing power from the lines directly above the stand.

If shirts could talk…

My man here is styling, too.
As it turns out, this wasn’t the only stand with animatrons, but it was the only one with multiple animatrons. I saw other stands that already were, or were in the process of being semi-automated with motorized spits, and most had the automatrons as well, so I figure the same man or crew may be creating them for everybody on that strip – whoever he is, the guy’s a genius.
The non-automated spits actually require a person to turn them, which is just torture in the midday heat amplifying the heat of the coals. The stands still of course require humans for all the other tasks, and this one was manned by a mother/daughter team:

I came for chicken and by god, I got chicken (and sticky rice, biooootches!):

The sauce from this stand was good, but not great. The funny thing is, this chicken is so good, it doesn’t need sauce.
Mandatory “glistening fat” closeup:

That bottom right part is the neck – mmm, mmm good.
All links for the On the Road 2007 series:
On the Road 2007 (Part 1)
On the Road 2007 (Part 2)
On the Road 2007 (Part 3) – Koh Chang
On the Road 2007 (Part 4) – Overloaded
On the Road 2007 (Part 5) – Tamnanpar
On the Road 2007 (Part 6) – The Animatronic Chicken Roasters of Rayong, Thailand

Riot in Bangkok

The situation described in this article is rapidly developing into a riot on live television. It looks like the anti-coup protesters have erected some sort of bastion in the street in front of the Privy Council President’s house and the police may have used tear gas.
The riot police, I must say, are really disorganized and poorly trained. You can tell by their loose formations when advancing that they are not very good at controlling a crowd that is turning increasingly violent. The crowd was originally throwing what appeared to be empty plastic bottles, but have now turned to throwing rocks and other debris they find on the street. There are some frantic women in the crowd pleading the angry young men to calm down, but they are caught up in the heat of the moment.
Some of the camera crews are staked out on buildings opposite the house and have a good view of the situation only partially blocked by tree branches. From their perspective we just saw one of the protesters parading around with a plexiglass riot shield. Another camera crew on the street, about fifteen minutes later, possibly caught the policeman who lost his shield on the front lines brandishing a heavy plastic chair. At first, he was using it to block things being thrown at him, then he swung it down with great force in someone’s face.
Things do not seem to be calming down at the moment, I will keep watching and perhaps update later.

“Here’s the internet – ah, wait, you’re not supposed to see that”

Seen over at TechCrunch: OLPC Brings Porn To The Third World

According to a report Thursday from the official News Agency of Nigeria, laptops in a primary school in Abuja “have gone awry as the pupils freely browse adult sites with explicit sexual materials.”

Next thing you know, they’ll stop distributing matches in these countries for fear somebody will get burned… Whoever didn’t see this coming from the very beginning is Evian, backwards, to say the very least – how could you forget the entire point of the internet?

massively attacked

I laid down on my bed for a few minutes to watch this Massive Attack DVD that I brought from Japan. The beats were on and my mind went into caramel dreams mode… next thing I know, I’m laying in a pool of sweat and drool, and I’ve just had the best nap in recent memory – I even fell asleep on my stomach, and that like never happens (I also fell asleep on top of a pile of crap on my bed so I woke up with shapes of a pen, the TV remote, and several CDs imprinted on my body).
There are certain DVDs that have this tranquilizing effect on me, so I’m careful to hoard them and use them only when necessary. If I actually get through one of these DVDs, they never have the same effect on me again, so I have to be careful and use them wisely. Right now, there are 3 left in my metaphorical pill bottle:

  • Wave Twisters: This is actually my brother Adam’s DVD and he used to claim it was one of his favorites… The thing is, I told him about how it makes me sleepy and how I’d tried to watch all the way through at least 4 or 5 times, but he couldn’t understand why (it is interesting; it just puts me asleep partway without fail), so we tried watching it together, and… He fell asleep, too.
  • Letters from Iwo Jima: I cannot for the life of me get past the first fifteen minutes of this flick without falling asleep. I don’t know why. The subject matter is extremely interesting to me for several reasons, one of which is that the story concerns a war fought between my own country and that of my grandparents and whenever I think of that war, I wonder about how it must have made them feel living in America after having left Japan for good (oh yeah, they were probably more concerned about sleeping with rattlesnakes and giving birth in horse stables). Anyway.
  • Massive Attack – Collected Bonus DVD: I’m going to be very careful not to watch this one when I’m totally awake, because of the quality of slumber it just provided me. I love going to sleep with music on, but haven’t been able to do it regularly since I was in college – mostly because with all the stress working in Japan, I needed relative silence in order to sleep. I may experiment with my favorite trip hop albums to see if I can start sleeping with music on again. One thing I remember very clearly about sleeping with music on is that it enables very lucid dreams and REM states for me. Yes, I think I’ll try it out again.

How about all of you? Can you sleep with music on? Does certain music act as a sedative for you? How about DVDs?

I traded my 100Mbps FTTH for mangosteens and monkeys…

…And I think I made the right decision. This article by Robert Cringely hits home, though. My theoretical download speed is now 1/50 of what it was last year in Japan and the theoretical upload is 1/200. Actual speed ratios are about the same, however, downtime here is pretty awful as you can see by my sporadic blogging – sometimes lasting for almost a week. The whole censorship thing is pretty lame, too.
On the flip side, the mangosteens and monkeys sure are tasty!
Let me tell you a secret about (relatively) insane connection speeds: When you are wired to the net through a $50/month hikari connection, your connection speed is a non-issue. You are waiting for the rest of the internet…

On the Road 2007 (Part 5) – Tamnanpar

After visiting Koh Chang, Nam and I headed back toward familiar territory: The miles-long stretch of beach at Rayong. We booked into the same hotel we had stayed at two years before, and I used the net cafe next to the lobby to find a good place to eat.
A review of Tamnanpar Forest Restaurant caught my eye, so we went off on a leisurely drive to find it since we were in relax mode and had no plans in particular. We were in for a surprise!

The view as you enter the grounds from the parking lot of Tamnanpar.
The weather was overcast (we had been plagued by rain showers the whole trip), and rain had muddied the waters, but the forest atmosphere was truly magical. Somebody has invested a lot of money, love, money, time, and money in this restaurant, and it really shows.

As I get older, flowers and insects become more and more captivating.

Two things I never thought I’d see written in English
“Best Public Toilet of the Year,” you say?
The very thought of a Best Public Toilet intrigues me… Who awards something like this? Is there an impartial panel of judges that visits public toilets on their free time, tallying piss stains on concrete floors and drunken scrawlings on gecko-infested walls? What is their stance on squat vs. western toilets, or paper vs. water/fingers?
Wondering about such things are a waste of time, however, because as it turns out, Tamnanpar inarguably has the Best Public Toilets, Ever. Take a look for yourself:

This is what you see when you are standing in front of a urinal.

Speaking of urinals, I could pee here all day.

Paper AND a spray hose – no standing buckets of fetid dookiewater here!

The majestic pathway to the magical men’s restroom


LADY! I think you can get in trouble for taking photos like this in most places.

The inside of the LADY room, courtesy of Nam.

The center display of the main dining hall. Very cool.

Nam in front of some of the waterfalls in back of the restaurant.

Billed creature with webbed feet.


Another Skink Thing.
The food at Tamnanpar was very good, but not exceptional. However, the restrooms more than made up for any culinary shortcomings.
Unfortunately, we did not stick around for the nightly entertainment which includes an “Indy Jones” dance troupe performance of some kind – we’ll have to go back again with a video camera sometime. If you’re ever in Rayong looking for a cool place to visit, you might want to check this place out.
All links for the On the Road 2007 series:
On the Road 2007 (Part 1)
On the Road 2007 (Part 2)
On the Road 2007 (Part 3) – Koh Chang
On the Road 2007 (Part 4) – Overloaded
On the Road 2007 (Part 5) – Tamnanpar
On the Road 2007 (Part 6) – The Animatronic Chicken Roasters of Rayong, Thailand

For you. Who me? Yes, you.

You asked for all of my Thai-related posts; this category contains most of them: Thai Society/Culture
This is a chronological listing starting from around the time I came to Thailand to ask for Nam’s hand in marriage (spring ’05).
The other Thai-related category on my site is Our Wedding in Thailand, which is just aptly-named as hell, if I do say so myself. It contains the exploits of two elephants, several hundred wedding guests, and the imaginary Jennifer Lopez living in my head, so proceed with caution.

Tuna Boat (?????)

Right around the time I finished university in Japan, I was in a bind. I had no money and limited prospects finding a job I wanted to do – I wanted to try working in a big company for the experience, but didn’t want to follow the normal job hunting procedure. Pretty much all of my classmates were set up with jobs or postgrad studies, which was worrying, but at the time I felt powerless to change the situation. The state of the Japanese economy was in constant decline, and there just were not many jobs around.
On the other hand, I didn’t want to return home to the states not having even tried to make it in Japan, so it was time to figure something out. I had a friend who was working for a fishing newspaper, who floated me the idea of working a maguro gyosen (tuna boat) for a year as a stopgap to finding “real” employment, and of course to save some coin. This is the Japanese equivalent of working on an Alaskan fishing boat, because as it turns out, it’s damn near impossible to find a job on a tuna boat these days. In the end, I didn’t look very hard, because everybody I asked said it was a bad idea.
Right around the time I gave up on the tuna boat idea, a random encounter at the bar I tended led to my first full time job. That, in turn, led to ten years of Salaryman. And into my current incarnation as teacher, as well. What’s next? Since life is cyclical and things tend to end where they began, I sometimes find myself thinking about tuna boats. But maybe not (JP language link).
And maybe not an Alaskan fishing boat, either.

Iguana skillet

I woke up today and stretched out on my balcony like I do every morning. The hybrid eucalyptus/native vegetation forest has grown to twice its height since I arrived here at the end of last year, and the native wildlife has really settled in. It’s nice to watch fireflies playing tag before I go to sleep and wake up to bird calls new to my ears. This morning I looked down on our cooking area and saw an iguana chilling out on my cast iron skillet (note: It might the same kind I photographed at my university a while back).
He cocked his head at me as I approached:

what up, foo?
This out-of-focus photo is the only one I took that shows his full tail length. Amazingly, he let me approach to within macro distance, so the other shots came out somewhat better:

(as always, click on photos to open a larger version in a pop-up)