How poor are poor families in Myanmar?

Poor enough to sell their children to human trafficking rings for $50 US: Trafficker of Rose-Selling Children on Khaosan Road Arrested

The story linked above is currently displayed along an article stating that Thailand has been downgraded to the lowest level (with the worst offenders) in the US State Department’s latest report on human trafficking.

…This is a direct result of the recent reporting on slavery on Thai shrimp boats and the media tying some of the largest corporations in Thailand, the US, and the UK to human trafficking (the big NY Times article ran just yesterday). The response from some of these corporations has been promising:

Through our research and development of alternative protein sources, CPF could walk away from fishmeal. However, doing so would shift the problem to the fishing industry, which is mostly comprised of fishermen earning their living in legal ways. The products of the fishing boats involved in human trafficking and slavery will continue to be purchased by other factories, and the issues around slavery will remain unchanged.

I believe it is better to work within the system, using our buying power to eradicate slavery in the region and make fishing practices fully sustainable…

– Dhanin Chearavanont
Chairman, Charoen Pokphand Foods, Bangkok, Thailand

Excerpt from: CP Foods condemns slavery and human trafficking in fishing industry

Trash Raider

There is a fat gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) in our house that raids the kitchen trash when I leave the lid off. He runs away as soon as he hears someone approaching the kitchen, but I can hear the crumpling of the trash bag as he explores. Sometimes I leave the lid of the trash off just so I can hear him exploring…. He’s been with us for a couple years now (they apparently live 5-10 years), so I consider him a friend, but he’s still very skittish.

Although he probably just hangs around the trash to catch flies, I like to believe that he’s eating our leftovers; perhaps a tasty bit of stir fried basil-stained rice here, and a few nips of mango peelings there. I’ve yet to catch him in the act, though. Even Nam, who really hates geckos, thinks this little guy’s trash raiding habit is amusing… We call him Mr. Fatty because he’s just about the piggiest common gecko we’ve ever seen.

Taco night


When Dave and Michiko visited from Japan a month ago, we had a Mexifood party. Due to what’s available here, we had to improvise a few things, but it all turned out well: I made carnitas pork and refried beans in the slow cooker (in that order, without washing the pot, using pork fat to season the beans) from the night before. A trip to the supermarket only yielded a single, cement-hard avocado, so we nuked it for a minute and mixed it in with locally available (Khon Kaen) sour cream. Finally, we deemed making corn tortillas with the masa I have in the freezer and the tortilla press my mom brought over a few years back too much work, so we made due with flour tortillas for everything, which are available at the Tops supermarket in Central Khon Kaen. Dave kindly brought over many sauces from his stash: Sriracha, Cholula, and hundreds of Taco Bell hot sauce packs from the states.

The final result: