Highway rest stops in Thailand

Coming from Japan to Thailand 15 years ago, the state of the roads here was lamentable, and many of the streets/rural highways in the Issan region and around our city weren’t even paved – or had big enough holes to break wheels and axles, a common sight back then.

I used to go on university trips every term and we would often take the uni bus or minivans on long road trips, ostensibly for work, but more just to get out and travel. This was always a nice perk for government university work, because we could often take the whole family, as well. It also made me very aware of the lack of highway rest stops in Thailand.

Actually, the default highway rest stop in Thailand is fulfilled by large gas station facilities, most notably those run by the PTT group. PTT stations come in all sizes, from a few pumps and a convenience store to larger mini mall-type complexes. However, on the toll roads around Bangkok and central Thailand, there are a few privately run rest stops, most notably the huge one between Bangkok and Chonburi located here: ศูนย์บริการทางหลวง กรุงเทพ-ชลบุรี มอเตอร์เวย์ ขาออก. That ones been around as long as I can remember, and it’s huge (long, actually) and chaotic. It’s also got the most foreign food shops of any highway rest stop in Thailand, with a lot of western fast food joints like BK, McD’s, KFC (maybe even 2 branches IIRC), Indian food, pho, dim sum, sushi, etc. As a side note, it’s also very easy to miss the turnoff if you are speeding along the toll road there.

On our recent trip to Hua Hin, we happened along another private rest stop in Samut Sakhon called Porto Go. It was not as big as the rest stop mentioned above, but it was newer and cleaner (there’s also one in Ayutthaya, apparently). These new rest stops with clean facilities make road trips a lot more convenient than they used to be!

Tong Peng

At the beginning of our trip to Hua Hin last week, we boarded a plane for the first time since the pandemic started, and flew into Don Mueang. Nam’s older sister picked us up and we went to see a van we would pick up on the back end of our trip and have lunch. She took us to Tong Peng, a family-oriented Chinese restaurant in the Chok Chai area of Bangkok, south of Lad Prao.

As a sidenote, it feels good to blog about travels again – it’s been too long.

I’m always a sucker for roast ducks and meats on display.

So, no screwing around – the roast duck on rice was good but not great. The sauce/gravy was too sweet and… fruity.

Shu mai, yes! Delicious!

Pork + quail eggs + shiitake = Yes, I ate both.

Included to document the Saran-wrapped chopsticks that were legit a pain to unwrap.

The crispy pork was a visual disaster with the same fruity sauce. It tasted, again, disappointingly good, and not great.

“Tong Peng”

Included for future ordering purposes – we will be here again, but for something else, maybe a family dinner.

Google Maps link: Tong Peng ภัตตาคารตงเพ้ง

Loi Angkarn – Scattering of Ashes at Sea

We just got back from a weeklong trip to the Hua Hin area. We thoroughly enjoyed being at the beach for the first time in a few years, and always love HH, but were there mainly to spread Nam’s grandmother’s ashes and a great uncle’s ashes on the water. This is known in Thai as loi angkarn (ลอยอังคาร ณ ปราณบุรี).

In a weird twist of fate, it was arranged to do this at the very harbor in Pranburi/Pak Nam Pran where we set off on a honeymoon cruise with family and friends who came from overseas to our wedding in Thailand 15 years ago.

I wish to cover this more thoroughly and post pics in upcoming posts, but for now I’ll leave the video that just finished processing (our Osmo Pocket finally got some use since the start of the pandemic).

Linkdump AF 2022

Across the Multiverse: A four chapter story with an epic revelation at the end.

I did not get that far, but I got a lot of chill.


Technicolor Tokyo: Screenshots from CyberPunk or real photos?


Phra Rahu: This week I learned of Rahu worship in Thailand, which is extremely interesting and apparently widespread, and although I’ve seen images and statues of Rahu before, I never really knew his story – it’s interesting!

The Story of Phra Rahu
There are many variations of the story of Rahu, which stem mainly from Hindu, Buddhist, Tamil legend. The most common legend is the Hindu one which describes Rahu as an Asura (demon deity) who was transformed into Rahu after drinking an elixir which would assure his immortality. The legend goes on to say that Rahu stole the elixir from the Hindu Deities, but he was seen by Chandra (the moon god) and Surya (the sun god). Chandra and Surya informed Mohini (the female avatar of Vishnu) who promptly chopped off the Asura’s head.
A small amount of elixir had already been sipped by the Asura before Mohini could chop off his head, so his head and upper body had already attained a state of immortality and became Rahu.
Rahu takes his revenge upon Chandra and Surya by swallowing the moon and the sun every time he sees them, thus causing an eclipse.

https://www.pattayaunlimited.com/thailand-deities-phra-rahu/

Pocket full of shells

We had to take our Mazda 2 Elegance (TH only sedan model) into the new dealer down the highway to fix the most annoying vibration in the world (which will require removing the dash so I’m totally not doing it myself). Anyway, someone cut me off on the way home just as this came up on screen in the windblown (windows open because it’s nice) Kujira:

It was oh so aggro.

~ best RATM cover, evah! ~

Jeff Goldblum – The Future is on LSIs (Rohm)

When I started out as a copywriter in a medium-sized translation office in Miyakojima, Osaka, I had more translation and technical writing jobs than anything very creative… but in that first year, a huge job landed on my desk, unbeknownst to me. The job was simple, the client wanted a rewrite and “native check” from a random gaijin on staff – me. The original headline was a single sentence, roughly worded. Something like, “We can see the future on this LSI.” Of course, nobody knew (and to this day, nobody knows) what an LSI was, so: “Large-scale integration (LSI) is the process of integrating or embedding thousands of transistors on a single silicon semiconductor microchip.” In semiconductor manufacturing circles, it refers to a specific kind of microchip.

I tried to convince the client to replace “LSI” with “microchip” for a few hours, but to no avail – the nomenclature was set in stone. So I suggested “The Future is on LSIs,” and promptly moved onto the next job. I was used to knocking out several quick jobs a day, so I didn’t really give it a second thought. Until I was watching TV one day half a year later and saw Jeff Goldblum, in the desert, with a spiky haircut, speaking words I had written:

It was my proudest day as a copywriter.

Later in my career, I would work with advertising legends like Leo Burnett on hot accounts like Sony Vaio, Virgin Records, and the Honda Insight, but I would always be drawn back to that hot day in the translation office in Osaka.

Toyota 2000GT in Thailand

Tucked somewhere in between a bunch of other cars in an underground parking lot in Bangkok, a true legend is waiting for Sumitomo/Dunlop brake seals that are probably impossible to find… Reading this forum post from 15 years ago reminded me why I had to change out my entire brake system for the Crown. There simply were no replacement parts to be had. My calipers were also marked Sumitomo, and I sent all of the parts to someone who needed them online.

It would be a real dream to see the king of Toyotas cruising down the tollway in BKK. Just like this:

(Photo borrowed from 70-80’s Thai Retro FB Page)

Sold my CRF today

Took some more photos and sold it for half of what I bought it for 8 years ago. It was fun to ride and served me well, and it was also the first vehicle I ever bought new… but I haven’t been able to ride it the past couple of years due to COVID, and the ethanol fuel mandated in Thailand just goes bad very quickly. I ended up having to replace the fuel pump and injector because the fuel had degraded into something nasty. Anyways, we put up an ad yesterday and got several interested parties calling today. A bike dude from Ubon Ratchatani made the drive out and bought it on the spot. I hope it serves him well.

I had replaced the decals with a more colorful set in order to appeal to a younger buyer, and it worked exactly as planned. This sort of strategy seems to work well for us.

My CRF250M originally looked like this:

I originally bought it used in this color and actually had a new one rush made for me in the same color at the Honda factory in Rayong when the old one didn’t work out. I liked this color scheme because it reminded me of my dad’s black 280zx with gold trim from the 80s.

Yam Pla Muk and Larb Moo

Just feel like posting some old food photos that have been sitting patiently in a folde called “blog” on my desktop for a couple years.

This is Yam Pla Muk, or Thai Squid Salad. I don’t remember exactly where we ordered this one. “Yam” is a type of Thai salad that’s spicy, sour, and kick-ass: Thai salads… These are among my favorite foods here, and we eat them all regularly.

This one is larb, which is also one of the Thai Salads mentioned in the link above. Specifically, it’s larb moo, or pork larb. Larb is also known as a meat salad (which is obviously the best type of salad). This plate of larb is from a restaurant specializing in it and other meat dishes in Sangkha, Surin. We visited there last year when Mina’s great grandmother passed. It was the first time we’d been to this restaurant, even though we’d been going to Sangkha quite often to be with relatives for new years. I’m not sure if we’ll visit there again any time soon, although some of Nam’s aunt’s are moving into her grandmother’s house.

The Reddit Tidal Bore Videos

Sit back, relax, and be amazed by the wonder of cheap smartphones:

POV 1 – Blue Life Jacket Van Damme

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POV 2 – You May Poke Your Eye Out But Still Never Stop Smiling Girl

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POV 3 – (HOLY MOLY?) Red Shirt Guy with Gyroscopic Grip

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And of course, the brilliant Reddit stitch up of all 3 clips: 1 Wave, 3 Angles

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So what are we looking at?

This is a tidal bore, a strong tide pushing up a river. This one is locally known as a bono, or, a wave of seven ghosts, because there can be seven successive layers of waves. People surf on these, yo! It seems that the location is Cape Binjai, Sumatra, on the Kampar River. By all means, please subscribe to Rina’s YouTube Channel because she has the best smile even when getting bowled over by angry waves!

Thank you for reading this post and please excuse the crappy manual formatting above (necessitated by irritating autoplay videos) – don’t worry, I’ll never get around to fixing it properly!