INSERT ANIMAL NAME – Crap coffee

The only real way to experience true crap coffee flavor!

The most expensive coffee in the world is being produced at the elephant camp we take the kids to almost every new year, on the way to Surin province: World’s Priciest Coffee Is Hand-Picked From Elephant Dung

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.

Sunset Cast

Sometimes I miss lugging around a DSLR.

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.

Climate Change in Thailand

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.

LINK: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30355898

Who Owns Victory Monument?

 

The district where this most famous of Bangkok landmarks (created to mark conquest over territories in Indochina that have since been returned ) proposed building a museum and pedestrian tunnels underneath it, but it was stalled because nobody knows who owns it!

A historian expressed surprise that no government agency has claimed Bangkok’s most iconic war memorial. But he also notes that ownership of a historical site has always been something everyone took for granted.

“We never asked ourselves this question before,” Thamrongsak Petchlertanan said in an interview. “Because we always knew it was government property. We never observed who actually owns it.”

The monument was built in 1941 to celebrate Thailand’s victory in its conquest of French colonies in Indochina. Inspired by modernist aesthetics at the time, it features an obelisk rising from a base guarded by five hulking statues representing the four branches of the armed forces and civilian volunteers.

The victory it marks did not last. After the end of World War II, Thailand – who joined the Axis powers following Japanese invasion in December 1941 – was forced to return the territories to the French government.

So, I guess it’s settled then – it should be auctioned off to the highest bidder, who can turn it into another Bangkok shopping mall (underground!!).

You are legend?

Rachada has never been this dark or curry-free.

It’s the Friday night before a four day weekend, and the streets of Bangkok are uncrowded. It feels like a dream. I’ve come back from our trip to Pattaya with my coworkers, Teera and Kwang, in their Almera.

We’ve just checked into a hotel on Rachada soi 20, and will go out exploring the empty city in a while. I’m looking forward to not feeling crowded in this city for once.

Giant Thai Lemon

My mother-in-law gave this to us last week, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen one. The flavor is 90% lemon and 10% pomelo (grapefruity), which is surprising since it looks mostly like a pomelo. This probably means it can be used as a lemon substitute for many cooking applications , and in fact, Nam put it in a killer Tom Kha Gai last night. The pomelo flavor was not noticeable at all. Overall though, it wasn’t quite as sour or pure as a normal Thai lemon – the flavor was a bit muddled.

In the first pic, I included a few objects for size reference: A small bottle of Sriracha, an Old Spice deodorant stick, and a tube of CPU grease. You know, random things I use every day, strewn all over the kitchen counter.

Triumph Motorcycles Production in Thailand

Triumph is alive and thriving in Thailand (300 units/week):

OK, but why did they ever go to Thailand in the first place?

“It was primarily for us to be able to do certain processes that we wouldn’t be able to do in the UK… So, every company has had to make a choice, in terms of where it’s going to source its components from globally. And some companies are comfortable with saying, “OK, I’m going to go and work with a supplier in China, or – I’m going to buy my complete engines (in some cases) from a different company”. That’s never been Triumph’s way of doing business. John Bloor has always taken a viewpoint that we want to be in control of the things that we believe are important, in order to get the quality of the product right, and to be in charge of the supply chain.

I’ve never been to a motorcycle factory here, but I’ve been to automotive component factories on industrial estates in Chonburi and the production lines managed by major Japanese companies are almost on the same level as ones in Japan.

Thai workers can be trained to do work every bit as well as their Japanese counterparts, this I have seen. I’ve spoken with factory managers, floor supervisors, and line leaders as well, and the consensus is that clear instructions and objectives are what determines good product build specifically here in Thailand. Whereas Japanese workers might take it upon themselves to point out problems or suggestions as part of their constant improvement process, a Thai worker is more likely to express pride in their work by doing exactly what they’re told.

Unsurprisingly, this probably mirrors the evolution of the Japanese line worker as well. Not all Japanese production lines or systems are created equal, and I’ve seen employees discouraged from adding any input during production meetings, and simply told to shut up when being vocal about bad parts or processes. The thing is, this used to be the norm… Now, it’s probably the mark of a company that isn’t going to make it. Every takeover I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a few) has involved a shakeup of production systems, because everyone wants to force their own culture on the new fish in the pond. The thing is, going through every one of those instances in my mind now, I’ve never seen the production line workers being told to communicate line problems less, only more.

The other thing is, I’ve often been told by Japanese supervisors sent overseas (overwhelmingly in Asia) that the local workers act like Japanese workers used to act decades ago – with no voice and just doing what they’re told (which inept supervisors liked and smart supervisors realized was not sustainable).

 

Mainstream Thai Funk Sample

Tracing a sample from Thai funk –> modern hip hop:
I saw this particular song filter through Soundcloud and various Thai funk compendiums over the past five years; what a great riff!

Original (Onuma Singsiri – Mae Kha Somtam):

July 2017 Usage (Action Bronson – The Chairman’s Intent):

On a related note, it’s great to see the resurgence of Ajarn Chawiwan in Thailand again – I’ve seen her a lot on TV recently. I have footage from when she performed at our wedding oh so long ago. I want to show it to her sometime soon.

Maha Sarakham Police Using Sasumata

This is an interesting video I found on FB, purportedly from this article in the Nation, although I can’t find it there. It’s interesting mainly because the nonlethal weapon sasumata (known as a “man-catcher” in English) was adapted from an an ancient and very deadly samurai weapon of the same name (in Japanese, the English translation of which is “spear-fork”).

Ancient Sasumata (spear-fork)

Modern Sasumata (man-catcher)

 

Text from the Nation article:

Muang Maha Sarakham police demonstrate how to use sticks to subdue a suspect on Tuesday.

A video of Maha Sarakham police using Y-shaped and hooked sticks to subdue a frantic drunken man, which went viral on Monday, was part of a wider strategy, it was revealed.

It is part of Provincial Police Region 4 training to reduce injuries to suspects and arresting police when attempting to subdue knife-wielding or agitated people, said Muang Maha Sarakham precinct superintendent Colonel Chairoj Nakharaj. He said that once a week since last year, each precinct under Provincial Police Region 4 has had a team of four officers trained in how to use three Y-shaped and one hook-shaped stick to subdue suspects. The hook stick is used to pull a suspect off their feet and the Y-shaped sticks are used to hold them down.
Chairoj said the method is used only when deemed appropriate. The incident in the video, which went viral after its was posted on the precinct’s Facebook page, took place on Saturday after police were alerted to a drunken man wielding an object that looked like a long knife wrapped in a cloth at the Maha Sarakham Bus Station.
He was arrested for creating a public disturbance.

Related links:
Sasumata demonstration video at Japanese school (YouTube)
Teachers pin down knife-wielding man with two-pronged ‘man catcher’ (JapanToday article)