Category Archives: Northern Thailand

Smorgasbord – Posts from Your Archives – #Travel – #Thailand – Down on the farm making charcoal by Carol Taylor

A post from my archives shared by Sally @ Smorgasbord I hope you enjoy discovering how tough life is for many people here in the rural areas 🙂

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Welcome to the last in the travel posts from the archive of Carol Taylor, our resident food expert. This week the process of producing charcoal, one of the primary cooking fuels in Thailand.

This is the mud charcoal house where the charcoal is made primarily for fuel to cook…no mod cons here at all. Well not yet pretty much everything is done how it has always been done through the generations. The skills passed down and that is what I like here so much tradition still and in the main so much happiness.

But the lifestyle is hard there are some concessions to this and progress is slowly coming but much is still done the old way and by getting your hands dirty.

Making charcoal is an art…me I just said do you just throw the wood in and light it?….The look this crazy English lady got was a look…

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Travel Thailand; The Land of Smiles.

Retired No One Told Me! (6)

When you travel to Thailand be ready to be truly amazed the minute you step off the plane.

One of the first places we visited on our travel and explorations around Phuket was Big Buddha one of the most famous landmarks on the island of Phuket.

Big Buddha

Big Buddha, I have lost count of how many times we have travelled up the mountain to Big Buddha and it is always a place we take our visitors… While work is still ongoing there is always something different and new to see… My favourite sight though will always be that huge Big Buddha sat atop the Nakkerd hills sparkling in the sunlight, made of white jade he just shimmers as the sunlight catches that beautiful white jade… An awesome sight… Remember to keep covered up no bare arms and legs. Then on the way down you can stop at one of the restaurants and enjoy some lovely Thai food and of course the spectacular views around the bay.

If you travel to Phuket then you must go and visit Big Buddha.

There are many beautiful beaches in Thailand, my favourites are the ones which are not so crowded…The lesser visited beaches which are so beautiful… How to pick a favourite? Click this link and you will see why I can’t make that choice they all have their own charm. All you need is a beach towel and a camera and don’t forget the sunscreen.

beach and chairs nice pic

You have of course got the very touristy beaches like Patong, in Phuket but if you visit some of the others you can see or do some silk printing, have your portrait painted or just relax at a reggae bar and watch the waves or if you are feeling particularly sporty there is paddle boarding for which you need a fair amount of balance and it is not as easy as it looks… But you can’t travel to Thailand and not do at least one of these.

layan-beach-thailand-phuket

Sea gypsy villages are so very beautiful…They have a life of their own..self contained and self-sufficient, some have a school and one even has its own floating football pitch. Very fresh seafood, some amazing Thai food can be tasted it is all authentic flavours no holds barred when it comes to chillies … Just browse the little stalls set up in front of homes selling anything from dried fish, honeyed nuts, local goods made of silk or bags made by the hill tribes from the North and of course the normal bits and bobs to take home as mementoes of your travels.

houses on stilts Koh Panyee

I just love Krabi...Taking a long-boat to visit all the little islands is a marvellous day out just be ready to get wet and having to wade out to sea a little to get onto the boat but so much better than the speedboats for me anyway…You see far more and the boatmen know the schedules of the big boats so you can see the islands and miss the crowds.

A Thai massage on the beach or some lovely wraps and wall hangings which the beach vendors will be trying to sell to you…Lovely handmade wooden goods … purses and key rings …all sorts for sale and remember Thais love to barter…

If you are hungry the food is fresh from the boats and cooked to order…

You can get the most wonderful Thai massage on the beach while laying and looking out to sea and letting your thoughts just wander and take you where they may …

I will tell you a funny story when we went to one of the small islands massage was not permitted on some of the beaches but you could see the police boat coming as obviously boat was the only form of  access so if the boat appeared everyone upped sticks and we sat and sipped our drinks  as if nothing was going on and when they went on their merry way massage continued it was quite funny really and made me wonder whether the police really knew anyway…

My masseur happened to be male as all the ladies were busy … My lucky day…apparently, I had that look on my face( according) to hubby…I think it is called a blissful look …That massuer had the best hands…The rest I will leave to your very fertile imaginations..ladies…”smirk”

Temples or wats there are SO many here they range from the very old to the very new. From highly ornate to ones which need some TLC and to the quirky temples like this one which is made entirely out of Heineken and Chang bottles.

Called Wat Pa Maha Kaew or the Temple of a Million Bottles it is a Buddhist temple in the Khun Han district of Sisaket province, Thailand. Made from over 1.5 million bottles it took two years to build the main temple.

Can you just imagine a temple built completely from bottles and beer bottles?

Wat Bang Riang

This one is Wat Bang Riang a little drive from Phuket but well worth the trip …

I can’t go without mentioning briefly the food of which there is so much to love…Those Thai flavours are so amazing…

My Favourite Khao Soi a yellow curry with crispy noodles which packs a fiery punch as well.

You can’t visit Thailand and not visit a market…They are many and varied from the huge markets which sell everything to the little local market with 10-15 stalls which sell the essentials and the fresh fruit and vegetables are so very fresh..just picked that morning… Not forgetting, of course, the floating markets.

 

That’s all for this post  I do hope you have enjoyed it. I am looking forward to your comments and if you also hit the share buttons I would love that ….Thanks, Carol xxx

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Enjoy the rest of your weekend I hope you have a lovely Sunday and the weather is kind to you xxx

 

Travel Thailand… Street Food and Markets…

street food and markets

The one thing which I hope will not change for a very long time is the street food stalls and the markets.

As a child, I remember the thriving markets my mum used to take me to and now they are all gone disappeared…Yes, cities like London, York and others still have thriving Markets with organic produce and speciality goods but proper local markets seem to have all but disappeared.

It is different here wherever I have lived or visited in Asia there is a market or two…every single day no matter where you live. We can drive from one town to another through local villages and there are markets, not just the odd one but many they are the heart and soul of Asia to me..wonderful street food and beautiful fresh produce…They range from a small group of 10 stalls just selling meat or vegetables to huge markets selling everything.

Small local market

They keep the soul of the place going there are real communities which care not just an estate of houses where no one even sees their neighbours and shop online… A place where there are real friendships and community…Where people share and I have been overwhelmed with that…people I don’t know …people who do not speak a word of English who come to my gate with Mangoes, bananas, little delicacies for us to try and we, in turn, share our produce and when I cook I give them a little plate to try, a jar of pickles… A real community…

bangkok floating market

There are floating markets where you are hauled over to the floating boat to check the wares with a boat hook ..beautiful handmade goods, wonderful fresh fruit and freshly cooked food… If you haven’t experienced the wonders of a floating market then you haven’t lived.

floating market thailand-502480_1280

The vibrant fruit and vegetable market where I  shop open as early as 3 am in the morning...

I normally arrive around 6 am -7 am …they are still bustling with people and shops buying their fresh wares…People on their way to work or coming home from work getting their breakfast…All freshly cooked to order…

Tessabaan fresh vegetables and lady

The markets are generally held right in the middle of a community or on the outskirts… You can buy anything …One stop shopping..food, clothes, household items, bedding, electrical goods, a puppy or a kitten… Fresh fish, dried fish, still alive and wriggling fish, frogs which here in the North are a staple, rats…yes rats…tasty I am told by the stall holders and they feed on rice they say, so clean not like the sewer rats …But they have them here in the city where I live..where do they come from I wonder…I will not be enquiring or be eating…This I draw the line at…A big black line..nada, No, I am not even going there…

Bugs and insects, so many varieties all piled high,

Crispy Fried Insects

Deep fried and crispy, ant eggs, soy eggs, 100-year-old eggs the list is endless… If you would like to create an authentic Thai recipe in your own kitchen then here is the authentic recipe for ANT EGG salad…I hope you enjoy!

Pigs heads…and trotters…My father used to love a bowl of Pigs Trotters… So we were not so very different back then…

Pigs & Chickens

Stalls piled high with Pork, Beef, Fish…

It is a virtual treasure trove of new discoveries for me …I think every single market I have visited holds more new delights and things I haven’t seen or tasted before…Some I recognise…Much I don’t… Much of what is sold is localised from one area to another so always a surprise or a find…I love it!

Do I have a favourite…No!

There are so many and they are so varied that I would be hard-pressed to do so…

I am quite used to seeing stall holders fast asleep on their stall, under their stall, I suppose with having such long trading hours you have to catch a nap when you can…Some even live and sleep behind their stalls ..you will see evidence of this..clothes drying, a telly, sleeping children and babies for some it is a fact and a way of life…

market-3233394_1280

A way to earn a living, some more successful than others…some only sitting on the pavement surrounded by a few wares to sell…All the produce..generally very fresh, picked that morning…

I suspect many people here live from day to day…hand to mouth… depending on what they sell…

Some quite young but many very old… their only income..here there is no cushion, no social handouts, if you have nothing to eat …That, is exactly what it means … Nothing to eat!

When we say we have nothing to eat… What we mean is ..nothing we fancy ..we want to buy more food to put in our fridges, our store cupboard…

It is a whole different world and one which many have not seen or experienced…But hey…it is out there and we don’t know how lucky we are…

Thank you for reading and I do hope you enjoy these glimpses that I give you of my travels if you do please share on your favourite social media channels…Thank you…

If you really want to see even more from me???? There are many strings to my bow…If you still want to find out more…

I am a crazy English lady with a quirky sense of humour…  I look forward to meeting you x

Connect to Carol( Moi)

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/

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Until  next time xxx

Salt Farming in Northern Thailand.

Travel Thailand Salt Farming

I have decided not to carry on with my other blog as it is too much running two blogs and eating into my writing time…so to preserve my sanity and to be able to finish my books and read more…I am transferring some of the posts to this blog and updating them… I hope you enjoy them…

via Salt Farming in Northern Thailand.

Travel Thailand… The Ancient Art of Weaving…Thai Silk…

The Ancient Art of weaving

Since moving from sunny Phuket to Northern Thailand, I am discovering a wealth of cultures. It is both fascinating and makes me in awe of what I am discovering. I am both surprised and delighted to see a lot of the ancient arts such as weaving are still being preserved and passed down through the generations.

Over the next few months, I will be bringing to you other ancient arts which are still being widely practised here in rural Thailand. It is really lovely to see age-old skills being passed down to the young and quite often you will see the very old their daughters and their children all playing their part in keeping these traditions going.

Weaving is one of Northern Thailand’s oldest and precious arts:

The skill which is learnt from a very young age at their mother’s knee.

There are many designs woven into the cloth, flowers, birds, animals, simple geometry and some of the most intricate flowing water designs which are for the very experienced weavers.

The cloth when it is made is fashioned into many things, beautiful bags, traditional Thai wrap around skirts, jackets and wall hangings to name but a few.

The silk-making process from beginning to end:

This video shows a silk village in Thailand and how the silk made from start to finish.

The weavers originally migrated from the Sipsong Panna region in Southern China where the practice of breeding silkworms goes back at least 5,000 years.

In Northern Thailand, they are known as the Lue people.

lady weaving.jpg 8

 

Devoted Buddhists who live a simple life and always have a ready smile for strangers like me. As you drive around the small country roads you will still see many of the looms underneath the wooden stilted Thai family homes where mum and the old nan still weave beautiful fabric to make a living.

My pictures show one such woman who very kindly allowed us to take pictures of her weaving under her home.

lady weaving

 

The looms handmade of bamboo wood and once known as the universal loom in Southeast, Asia is now called the Lao hand-loom from North Eastern Thailand the area is also known by locals as Esarn, Isaan or maybe something completely different so many different spellings and no one seems to know the correct one.

As we say TIT( This is Thailand)

Did you know ??? The very famous Lao, Thai Khmer silks were woven on the very same looms for many centuries.

Where does the silk thread come from?

The silkworm.

silkworm-931555_1920

 

What is the silken thread made from?

It is made from the threads that the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori. The process is known as sericulture the silkworm feeds on white mulberry leaves although they will eat other species of mulberry and have also been known to feed on Osage orange leaves.

Jim Thompson is a name which is synonymous with the production of silk production in Thailand and very highly sought after. On the Jim Thompson Farm in Nakhon Ratchasima, visitors can see the entire silk-making process. However, the farm is only open for a few weeks during the cold season. If you are ever travelling around Northern Thailand then I hope you get the opportunity to see the traditional art of weaving and silk making for yourself.

I hope you enjoyed this article on the Thai tradition of weaving those beautiful silks if you did I am happy for you to share with your friends and if you do …Thank you 🙂

 

 

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Salt Farming in Northern Thailand.

SAM_9065

Driving to Nong Khai towards the Mekong we suddenly started to see lots of roadside stalls selling salt and then I remembered nothing grew here because the land was so salty …No rice…Nothing!

Proud of their salt producing heritage there is now a 3 day Salt Festival with talks, educational displays and the most beautiful sculptures crafted from salt.

Before I show and tell you about the salt I will show you how I use salt …Which produces the most succulent fish you have ever tasted and eaten with Som Tam Green Papaya) Salad and Sticky Rice ( Kow Neow) is one of the most amazing meals you could wish to eat.

Salt-fish-Thai

BBQ Salt Fish

Just take 3/4 stems of lemongrass and tie in a knot, stuff it in the cavity of the fish and then roll the fish in sea salt do not descale the fish as it will not stick. Put on a BBQ and cook until fish is just cooked, nice and juicy turning the fish a few times this takes about 30/40 mins and you will have the most succulent fish you have ever tasted.

How is the salt produced:

Thailand’s unique cuisine with its sweet, sour, bitter, spicy and salty tastes which combined make a Thai meal so memorable. Salty eggs, fish, salt are used in many dishes and the most iconic Thai fish sauce takes pride of place on every table. A meal would not be complete without salt or fish sauce being used in every dish or as a condiment.

Do not try to put salt in a traditional western salt grinder or shaker as due to the humidity here it will just clog or cause the grinders cogs to rust.

Used firstly as a preservative long before fridges were invented, salt has become as essential as breathing.

Here in Thailand it is not only used in food but in the spa industry. Now, who hasn’t been to Thailand and hasn’t had a traditional Thai massage?

Thai massage-2096580_640

From popular skin exfoliating, scrub massages it has great anti-bacterial properties and helps to prevent itching and provides relief from insect bites and stings.

Add lemongrass to your salt and a wonderful massage will let all your stress and jet lag just fade away.

How is salt made? 

salt farming

The ponds are flooded with salt water and left for about 10 days until the sun has evaporated the water leaving the salt, which is then collected and carried away in shoulder baskets to be bagged ready for sale.

salt farming (13)

There is very little if any shade on these salt flats to protect the workers from the sun and it is hard heavy work.

salt farming (10)

 

Health Benefits of Salt.

For years  I have been warned about the use of too much salt whereas here because of the heat and humidity I have used more salt in my cooking and diet.

I have changed the salt I use and use Pink Himalayan Salt or more recently as we live close to the above salt flats I use the mineral salt fresh from there.

The taste is vastly different from the salt I used to buy and I use less as it is saltier but since living here my Blood pressure is now normal…and for those who know me I have never been normal…lol..but it is.

Asians have for many years believed that we have an energy body as well as a physical body. All of our glands, organs, blood and skin consist of cells. They believe that our health depends on the health of those cells. Different cells require more or less of cell salts e.g nerve cells require larger amounts of cell salts but blood cells carry a higher amount of certain cell salts.

Hence salt plays a larger role in the diet in  Asian countries as they believe cell salts provide a rebalancing of the body to enable its natural disease function which controls the bodies mechanism to function fully.

I am finding northern Thailand such a lovely place to live the people are friendly and I am discovering so many fruits, vegetables and ancient crafts which are still being used and passed down to generation after generation.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share or reblog.

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All images are from my own private photo collection I have no problem if anyone uses them as long as you just ask my permission.

Want to see more from me???? I am a crazy English lady with a quirky sense of humour…Still, want to see more from me???

Connect to Carol( Moi)

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

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Happiness is like a kiss. You must share it to enjoy it. Bernard Meltzer

How true is that?….. I seem to have drifted away from how I started my very first blogs and I am not sure if that’s the right thing to do or not…..I always started with a quote and found some really great ones which I could relate too. What do you think?

Today we went to collect our grandson, he was staying with his brown Nannie ( as he calls her) no racism intended. They live in a little village in the middle of no-where in Northern Thailand.

We were made soooo welcome..chairs were bought out and we sat and the whole village came to see us..some had not seen us since our very first visit to Thailand a few years ago, others we recognised even though they were mere children on our last visit. Lots of happy smiling faces.

The welcome was second to none..lots of smiling faces and the food came out…Thai dishes galore….it was lovely.

I came away with fresh lemongrass and galangal, morning glory, kale and honey still in the comb..all wonderfully freshly picked, dug up and gave to us with so much love…I, of course, left the wine glasses I had taken for next time, with the promise I would bring more wai Khao( white wine) for the ladies…a treat for them.  The men drunk some Thai whiskey we had bought and some ( not sure ) of the origin but infused with honey and ginger…it tasted quite potent.

A lovely afternoon.

I of course slipped and stacked it…..I hurt my big toe and received an impromptu Thai foot massage…which was very nice.

Until next time stay safe, laugh a lot and be happy 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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