Pages like this one and this one and this one got me interested in the cold war antenna array known as the “Elephant Cage.” It was built by the US military in Udon Thani province, northeast Thailand, at an air force base used for signals intelligence back in the day, and suspected of housing a CIA black site in more recent years (although it is now apparently a mushroom farm/museum open to the public). Wikipedia describes the Elephant Cage as thus:
The AN/FLR-9 is a type of very large circular “Wullenweber” antenna array, built at eight locations during the cold war for HF/DF direction finding of high priority targets. The worldwide network, known collectively as “Iron Horse”, could locate HF communications almost anywhere on Earth. Because of the exceptionally large size of its outer reflecting screen (1056 vertical steel wires supported by 96 120-foot towers), the FLR-9 was commonly referred to by the nickname “Elephant Cage.”
None of the Elephant cages exist anymore, although parts of the one in Udon might still be found around town, if local stories are to be believed. I just wanted to compile all of the photos I’ve bookmarked in a single post.
Holy shit, no wonder Northeast Thailand is so misunderstood:
The closest the Mekong River comes to Maha Sarakham province is around 170 kilometers away, in Mukdahan. One of the tributaries of the Mekong, the Chi River, does flow right through Maha Sarakham province and city, so it is connected, but if you want to use that logic, I nominate the Adriatic Sea as a wonderful Thing to Do in Maha Sarakham Province.
Also, the Mekong probably shouldn’t be grouped into Nature & Parks anymore since the water is barely flowing at times and most of the wildlife is dead and gone. The most accurate description for the foreseeable future is, “Heavily Exploited Power Source Where Giant Catfish Once Lived.”
I clicked the green See 1 Experience button shown in the lower right corner of the graphic above (the actual page is here). It took me to a page called OVERVIEW MEKONG DELTA (My Tho – Ben Tre)… Both of those places are in Vietnam for fuck’s sake! Not sure if Trip Advisor is aware if these two countries are not same same or if they are aware and it’s all just keyword games (because the word “Thailand” is in the link for a page having nothing to do with Thailand), but either way, it’s fucking despicable… Shitty travel sites should at least be responsible for lightly educating the shitheel tourists and backpackers they foist on the locals, yo.
I threw together a bunch of leftovers and it turned out real fine… Pon Yang Kham beef is the best in Thailand, from a Thai/French cattle hybrid. It will never be world class, but it’s the best of what’s available in Thailand.
Tropical Storm Podul (North Korean for “willow”) has been dumping on us since around midnight and I spent the day trying to prevent everything we own from being flooded including vehicles, property, and cats, as well as preparing to sign a lease for our new juku and organizing teaching materials for a seminar at a vocational college in Roi Et city tomorrow (which just got postponed until next week).
The highway we were supposed to take:
The area we were supposed to go:
A new skyscraper being built in the shape of a wot (alt spelling: wode; the circular pan flute of Isan):
The newly-created Roi Et Coast Guard station:
And finally, a common sight in the countryside that always brings a smile to my face:
That’s the road to Max and Mina’s school, a couple minutes from our house on the old Maha Sarakham University campus. Nam also found a big pla salit (gourami) stranded in our driveway, and I pushed his armored side along until he could swim back down into the flooded street. When she told a friend about this when we went shopping later in the day, he asked quite seriously why we hadn’t eaten it!
Note: Most of the photos on this page are borrowed from social media and were forwarded multiple times before I used them here. Please let me know if you’d like attribution.
When Nam is driving, I like snapping photos from the passenger seat. Up here in Isan, this type of photo is defined by capturing the camera in the side mirror and long green fields of rice when it’s the right time of year. Otherwise, it’s just a big, hot, dusty expanse.
This is what it feels like in the city, even when you’re not rushing a kid to the hospital:
Quotes are in the title because my CRF is only 250cc; it’s the correct term for Thailand in both the Thai language and the English dialect of Thailand.
From the YouTube page: This is the incredible moment a hero biker saved the life of a young girl having an epileptic fit – by rushing her to hospital while her family were stuck in a traffic jam. The girl’s father Sorachat Sadudee, 51, was driving home after picking up his two daughters from school in Phitsanulok, central Thailand on Thursday (23/05) evening. His youngest daughter Kaimook, eight, told him that she felt sick and very tired, so he tried to make his way home as quickly as he could.
So here’s my prediction: What started as civet crap coffee and moved to elephant crap coffee will eventually result in the production of human crap coffee. Because, let’s be honest, Kopi Luwak can reportedly be very smooth (the ones I tried were not), but most people drink it because it’s something new and exotic, and because they secretly want to be like the baboon.
Why haven’t I heard about this until today? My new mission: Create an equally delicious Northeastern Thai version without ever having tried the original: Yam Praduk foo, pork rinds, gummy worms, and blood sausage cubes thrown together in a bag of Banana Party snack chips!
Maybe I need to spend some more time planning first.
We visited a nearby reservoir, Kaeng Loeng Chan (they really need to simplify the official English spelling), on the weekend. They were holding a work rally to cover the newly-created Health Park with grass sod and quite a few people showed up to volunteer (or as a Thai would say, to make merit).
We got bored of the manual labor after less than an hour and walked around the banks of the reservoir instead, taking photos and looking at dead crabs. The water seems too murky and oxygen-depleted to support fish close too shore, but they must be out there somewhere. Maybe I’ll take the kids fishing out there sometime.
The Nation published a cool infographic about what climate change means for Thailand. Having lived here for over a decade, I have noticed huge changes in the seasons and climate. When I came, the first few years contained long drought periods (one year in particular it didn’t rain for almost five months), and the long-term trend since then has been one of persistent flooding instead of drought.