on the troubles

A few people have asked how we are faring here with all the troubles in Bangkok. Thanks for your concern!
We live six hours away from the capitol by car, and are completely unaffected by disruption of the ASEAN summit, the blocking of intersections by pro-anarchy taxi drivers, and all the other bullshit caused by idiots who are seemingly intent on running their own country into the ground.
The only real effect it had on people here is that those who want to make an easy 500 – 1,000 baht per day being hired by the pro-Thaksin red shirts to “demonstrate” all started making the trip to Bangkok late last week. Oh, and also, it seems the government has extended the Songkran holiday period until Friday the 17th (today was supposed to be the last day). I was supposed to teach a remedial reading class on Friday to failing seniors. Oh, well. It seems that Thailand can always use more taxi drivers.
UPDATE: As of Tuesday, the official road deaths count for the Songkran period was at 272… This ridiculously high number is mostly thanks to drunk assholes and retarded water antics involving people dancing on the back of pickups while hurdling down wet roads at high speed. So it was safer to be among demonstrators surrounded by guns, tanks, and tear gas than it was to be on the road!

Buffalo x 8

First of all, Wikipedia has done more for me over the years than anti-fungal ointment, and depending on if you smelled my shoes when I had athlete’s foot (actually, if you were in any enclosed space with my shoes, you most likely did smell them), that’s saying an awful lot.
Secondly, it took me a good fifteen minutes to truly understand this (grammatically correct) sentence: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo
I’m totally using that for a class, because in the Thai language, calling someone a buffalo is a hugely insulting and funny thing, and “buffalo” is one English word every Thai person knows. Just mentioning it in class will produce immediate and long-lasting laughter, for students of any age. So I’m afraid it might take a whole class to parse this sentence properly.

A Day of Rarities

Nam and I ran a bunch of errands today and saw three very rare things:

  1. At the body shop: A Kujira Crown almost just like mine, but in much better condition (original everything: 4 cylinder engine, chrome trim [sob], automatic shifter on steering column indicating the car’s original purpose as a taxi in Japan [moving the shifter from the center allowed another passenger to sit there], etc.) restoration-wise. I say almost because I think mine was the deluxe version with a straight six 2600cc engine and optional (front seat only, non-retractable) seat belts. In particular, this old timer had Crown badges and some other details I had never seen before, but were probably originally on mine as well. Basically, he owns the prettier car (in dark blue). I took a look in the engine compartment and under the car a bit, though, and mine is better maintained as far as non-visual areas (plus I have an RB20 silvertop under the hood and matching 5-speed tranny, so I figure mine is a better match for me). I asked him if he would ever consider selling his. He said he’s owned it for thirty years so he’d only sell it to somebody who would take care of it… He wants twice as much as I paid for mine, but the guy who sold it to me basically sold it for the price of the engine (also because he wanted someone to take care of it). I can’t buy it anytime soon, but I know where the old guy lives just in case…
  2. On a backroad shortcut to the highway between Kalasin and Sarakham: kwai puak, also know as kwai don in the Isan dialect; this means a pink water buffalo. I thought I’d seen one in the distance last year, but it looked more tan-colored than pink. Well I can tell you now, seeing one from behind, it looked like a cow-sized pig – bright pink!. It was awesome! The hair around its face was stubbly and it moved along just like any other water buffalo on the right side of the road, walking and chewing on grass. Actually this guy’s friend was walking on the left side of the road, and he was supposed to be the third thing on this list but since he’s basically the same thing, he doesn’t get his own number.

So I wished I’d had my camera twice today, but I stopped carrying it along in the car a long time ago (it’s a heavy DSLR). Plus, we just sold Nam’s pocket camera to a friend, so maybe we need to buy phones with better cameras or something.

Red-bellied Pacu in Thailand

Our nanny’s husband has been bringing over various culinary delights (of mostly the jungle food variety) recently since he knows I get a kick out of it and so far, have not refused to try anything. In fact, he’s brought over so much that I’ve not had the time to blog about all of it yet (the photos are ready though, so everything will be covered eventually). A few days ago, he brought over a real treat.
I knew what it was right away because I’ve seen so many nature programs about Amazonian fish: That’s a small pacu. Some googling showed that it’s probably called a red-bellied pacu. The huge pacu you see on fishing shows are usually black pacu. Pacu of any kind are not native to Thailand but seem to thrive here in the tropical conditions, and since pacu can eat basically anything with their gnarly goatlike teeth, food isn’t a problem either. I’m not totally sure if Yao (the nanny’s husband) caught this in a river or a fishing park, but it could be either.
The photo above was taken right before Mr. Pacu got placed in the steam pot. We steam a lot of the fish we eat these days with little or no seasoning so Max can eat with us. Many fish in Thailand taste just fine this way, as log as you season or use a dip afterward. Pacu, however, turns out to be quite devoid of any real taste – the texture is nice and firm, but the flavor is lacking (which is not the case with, say, tilapia or striped goby, or even most river catfish around here). Pacu would be a good candidate for garlic/butter/white wine pan frying I suspect, where a bland fish can really shine.
Sure is a pretty fish, though.