Friday 28 December 2007

Food glorious food in Hat Yai

Hat Yai is pretty famous for being the food mecca of southern Thailand. The fried chicken here is beyond delectable...arghlalguh yumalicious. Even in Bangkok I've seen the Had Yai Fried Chicken stands. When in the big smoke (every 3 months) I always dose up on farang food which I just can't get in my province but it wasn't until Boxing Day that I discovered the joy of buffets! My visitors are gonna kick my butt that they missed out on $4 all you can eat opportunities!

Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel is part of the the Lee Gardens Shopping Centre complete with movie cinemas, Sizzler, McDonalds and other foodie places that appeal to the masses. Nice rooms for 1200 baht including breakfast, but best of all they serve BUFFET meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner! The dinner buffet is offered on the 33rd floor with panorama views of the big ugly city. Unfortunately we didn't have room in our already full belliosos for dins but we had the breaky which is relegated to the 6th floor....but the gloriousness of the spread more then made up for lack of panorama!

They have most things on offer from choice selection of fresh fruits, pancakes, waffles, toast, eggs, sausages, rice soup, chicken soup, fried rice, drumsticks, tempura vege, chips, coffee/tea/chocolate, milk, juice...on and on and on! The only thing they didn't have was muesli and yoghurt which is my personal fav breaky meal, but I did forgive them the faux pas as my stomach was beyond fullness and I was ready to roll out of there! This is the view from the 6th floor. All this for only 100 baht (A$3.50). Dinner and lunch costs 180 baht for the buffet.

They also do 3 buffets a day directly across the road at Novotel Hotel but it's a few baht more expensive. Will have to try that one next time! So if you're ever in Hat Yai and want a more than decent feed, get yourself to an all you can eat buffet for a couple of bucks!

Christmas in Hat Yai

I used to hate Hat Yai with a passion. Every single time I went there I'd get hopelessly lost, driving in endless circles of streets that look exactly the same. Lots of traffic, dirty buildings and millions of people is not generally my thing. So I don't know if it was the Christmas cheer that warmed my spirit to the big ugly city, but Hat Yai is definitely growing on me.

Stayed at Kings Hotel which is one street away from the Hat Yai Train Station, 2 blocks from the huge local markets and 3 blocks from the main tourist strip that has farang delicacies like KFC, Maccas and Sizzlers (which have not passed my lips in over a decade!). Only 400 baht for a clean air-con room with pay TV and HOT WATER!! The stuff I live for damn it! That 20 minute shower of standing under purely hot water feeling more pleasure than is justified by something so benign as water was absolute **BLISS**. My life has become so simple!

It was quite surprising to see the Christmas festivities in Hat Yai considering Thailand is 95% Buddhist. The number of Chinese and Malaysian tourists around was phenomenal though. There was a special Chrissy show on for 4 days with singing and dancing and also saw a lady boy dance off competition which was undoubtedly the highlight of the evening!

The thing that put a warm glow in my belly though was the petrol station on the drive to Hat Yai but outside of the city. They were blaring out Jingle Bells and other Chrissy tunes and all the super jolly servo attendants were wearing Santa hats. A brilliant way to start my Christmas morning so far from home!

Monday 24 December 2007

It's all just a little too much...

Oh give me strength... Pig Man (aka Samak), the new 72 year old supposed Prime Minister has vowed to grant Taksin amnesty and to return the ousted PM to Thailand. This means that he will not be held accountable for the thousands of killings that he approved of for the 'war against drugs' and the 73 billion baht (2 billion dollars) tax free deal for the sale of his telecommunications business that he secured as the Prime Minister of Thailand. Surely the people can't be so blind?

See MCOT news for more on this.

Thailand is a sinking ship....

Prediction 1 is fulfilled... Samak (aka Pig Man) has won the election. No surprises there. Reading the news this morning I felt sad reading quotes from people from the north-east who voted in "Taksin's Party" (although Samak denies any ties to Taksin!). They say that Taksin is the only politician to ever care about them so they want him back. They came to this conclusion because Taksin gave them cash handouts to help relieve their poverty. In truth, and dare I say it - any educated person can see it for what it is - Taksin is a political genius because he knows that if he has the Isaan NE voting loyalty he will win every election, so do what it takes to make them happy. Just look at the figures for eligible voters and the extremely uneven population distribution.


Eligible Voters











So, out of 15 and a half million voters in the NE, 9,274,002 voted for PPP Samak/Taksin party. It does not take a genius to see that if you don't have the vote here, you are stuffed. In every previous election the Democrats have struggled to get votes. This election, they won by a landslide in the south and in Bangkok (which is momentous in itself) and almost secured the vote in Central Thailand. No surprises that the north and north-east, Taksin's hometown and purchased voting regions, they lost big time.

This is the overall national vote ->

Political Parties

Constituency MPs

Proportionate MPs














Democrat Party







And then we have the regions ->




Democrat Party


Democrat Party


Democrat Party


People Power Party


People Power Party


Central ->




People Power Party


39 (39.8%)

Democrat Party


35 (35.7%)





Democrat Party


49 (87.5%)

People Power Party


2 (3.6%)





People Power Party


44 (58.7%)

Democrat Party


16 (21.3%)





People Power Party


96 (71.1%)

Pua Paendin


13 (9.6%)

Ruam Jai Thai Chat Pattana Party


7 (5.2%)

Democrat Party


6 (4.4%)

Figures from The Nation

People are commenting that Samak may not actually become Prime Minister due to the 300 electoral fraud complaints that need investigating in the next 30 days. The Electoral Commission is expected to hand out red cards that disqualify parties for electoral fraud. And who knows if the king will get involved and refuse to sign in the new PM. It sure is going to be an interesting month in Thailand.

Sunday 23 December 2007

Thailand Votes in a New Government

It's voting day today! People started dribbling in around 7 am this morning to our local sala (like a small town hall) that is just across the street from our house. Very quiet affair actually.

This is my
forecast for the very near future -->

Pig Man is the new Prime Minister of Thailand.

Mass protests (organised by Sonthi) in Bangkok citing corruption of various sorts including vote buying and receiving secret funding from former corrupt PM, Taksin.

The army don't agree with the new democratically elected government but knowing they can't stage another coup (basically because the King asked them not to, but not in as many words of course) they do all in their power to find legitimate corruption allegations toward pig man and his party...which they will but going on Thai time this government has no worries for at least another year.

So I guess it's a welcome back Taksin and goodbye to any semblance of corruption free politics in Thailand.

Thursday 20 December 2007

Sexy Dancers paid to draw political crowds...

This is hilarious!

"Scantily clad dancers were hired to spice up a political rally ahead of Thailand's weekend general election, prompting the Election Commission to declare Wednesday that "sexy shows" are inappropriate campaign events.

Five dancers dressed in bikini tops, hot pants and stilettos gyrated on a stage, as loud music blared between speakers.

"We wanted something exciting to draw people to the event," said Chavalit Bunyeun, head of the commission's provincial office, which organized the event. He noted that the plan didn't really work: "Even though we had dancing girls, there were less than 100 people who came to hear the candidates."

Complete article here. Photos from The Nation weblog

It was so amusing to watch this on the news that I tried to find the video clip of it but alas could not, but the photos give you a hint! Gyration of the nation!

Thailand Election

I'm getting scared. I am actually getting a knot of anxiety slowly developing around my solar plexus. The Thai elections are coming up in 3 days time and considering the events over the last 15 months, this is going to be interesting to say the least.

I can't even begin to write about the complexities of Thai politics but it seems to all boil down to vote buying. If you line the poor people's pockets, they will turn out en masse to support you. It's all about appearances. Look at the news- that party has thousands of people supporting their rally, they must be good, lets vote for them too. Oh, no one supports that party, I'm not going to either. Party 1 = the puppet party of of ex-PM Taksin (proven to be vote buyers in the last election). Party 2 = the Democrat party who don't buy votes and are trying to clean up Thailand's widespread political corruption.

The majority of Thailand's population are from rural areas in the north (Taksin's home town) and north-east (Thailand's poorest people) so it seems obvious that whoever they vote are going to win the election. I concede that I'm probably a bit biased living in southern Thailand and listening to my husband's reasoning but even from my own observations it seems so blindingly obvious that the candidate for the People Power Party (the man that eerily resembles a pig) is just a puppet being ruled by someone more intelligent with money to burn. In yesterdays televised election debate with Thailand's major parties (including the leader of the Democrats), Samak (a.k.a. Pig Man) didn't participate. Does anyone ask why? Taksin openly supports PPP (by video tape asking Thai people to vote for them), Taksin's kids are showing up in support of them. 3 men from Hong Kong (Taksin has a house and many business associates from HK) are being investigated for illegally bringing 60 million baht into the country last week. Hmm very suspicious indeed.

One of the reoccurring themes in Thai culture or Thai lifestyle (for want of a better word) is their inability to future plan, to think about long term consequences. It's all about the here and now. Very Buddhist, but not exactly practical. It's true that farang do think too much but there has to be a middle ground between the two. So why am I feeling anxious? All the polls point to Mr Pig being Mr Big by next week. Thailand's new Prime Minister.

If you want to read in depth info about Thai politics go to bangkokpundit's blog on all things political.

Tuesday 18 December 2007

When a Tree falls, does anyone hear it?

Oh indeedy we do hear it! Loud and with a slightly accelerated heart beat (for the men that are standing under it!). Some big ass trees met their maker today and although karma will surely bite my bottom, I was rejoicing for their demise. They are the trees of our not too futuristic bungalow!! Hoorah hooray skipidy doo and da...

Was quite exciting to see it all going down. First we stood around for about half an hour while the dudes tried to sling shot a piece of thin rope attached to a weight into the first branch. Try after try it would hit too high or too had to be in the perfect position. When it finally caught, they threaded a thicker rope through and a third time an even thicker rope. The purpose? To pull the tree in the right direction (as you can see J and FIL doing on the right). I've never seen anyone move so fast as the tree toppled right where they were standing a millisecond previous!

Then the second tree came down just a winds started howling and the heavens threatened to open up again. This mama was a bit of a stickler however and needed a bit of assistance. The tightroper was literally doing this as the tree started falling. This is no 20 year old..this dude is about 60! Limber fella.

It's all about taking little steps to get there!

Monday 17 December 2007

Just call me Noah...

The news this evening confirmed my suspicions...that the rainy season in southern Thailand is dragging on ridiculously long. It's not enough that I have mould spots on my clothes and my bedding is perpetually just a little bit damp for the last 3 months, but there is literally no end in sight! Narathiwat Province, which is not that far from here, is experiencing the worst flooding in 40 years. The following news article showed the unusually heavy snow storms that parts of America are experiencing at the mo.

So, being the thinker that I am, it led to the obvious connection of how every continent on earth is experiencing undeniably strange weather (floods, snow, drought) and increasingly catastrophic disasters (earthquakes, volcanic activity, floods, droughts, etc). Of course it's taken the politicians long enough to actually take any action which certainly stems from their fear of shelling out even more cash rather then any actual concern for mother earth. Previously the pollies denied global warming was a reality caused by our own behaviour, regardless of the facts, they claimed it too expensive and far too financially damaging to industry to change anything. It hasn't been until the last year or so that the latest projections show that to do nothing, to take no action will actually be infinitely more costly for the global repair bill. Scientists who have been aware of GW for decades but getting nowhere in talks with the all powerful politicians had to change tac to make it a financial issue rather then a theworldisfuctifwedon'tchange issue. This is reminding me that I should see An Inconvenient Truth by ol' Mr. Gore (I'm so disconnected here!).

A few indicators of a distressed world:
myriad countries reporting hottest year on record in the last decade
unprecedented glacial melting
rising sea levels
longest droughts on record
highest rainfall on record
increasing intensity of tropical storms
...and that's just the tip of the rapidly disappearing iceberg...

If you want to read more country specific indicators check out this slightly dated but really interesting website

I've got to say that I'm pretty happy that the new fearless leader of Aussieville Kevin Rudd had finally signed the Kyoto Protocol that stagnant John Howard refused to sign for the last decade. Hoorah for change people!

Speaking of change, I'm gonna ditch the bungalow plan and start building an ark...

Sunday 16 December 2007

Bungalow schmungalow...

I swear to all the heavenly devas that if you stop the rain long enough to build my bungalow I shall find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and consider giving you my first born child.

I believe it has rained every single day for the last 3 months in my province. The only respite I had from it was when we went to the island which bizarrely resided in it's own ecospheric bubble.

I heave a sigh as I think of my beloved free zone bungalow that I thought I could visualise into existence by New Year. Ok, perhaps it's now Thai New Year....sob sob, in April!

Thursday 13 December 2007

Go Thailand!

Can I just say that Thailand is whuppin some major ass at the SEA Games!

How beautiful is this... Muay Thai fighters showing their love for the King upon winning today. I just love it.. it's so pure, so genuine, such devout adoration. I can't really see myself having a shrine and proclaiming my love for Australia's leader Kevin Rudd or good ol' far removed Queen Liz any time soon. It's a beautiful thang and I'm aglow with it.
Go King! Go Thailand!

Puang Reeds

What be a Puang Reed I hear thou asketh? A PR is the Thai term for an elaborate funeral decoration such as these. I like to think of them as Ree Rees though because "puang" translates to "wreath" in English and "reed" is directly from wreath... so it is literally a wreath wreath (which is just no fun to pronounce) hence my reerees analogy. Although these glad-wrapped cardboard thingamewhatsits look completely odd and very different from anything you'd see at a western funeral, they originate from floral wreaths which we are more familiar. The new modern form, which I personally find less attractive than the real flower deal (but is much cheaper) is made of towels placed in symbolic forms, surrounded by lace or an umbrella surrounded by plastic flowers which can surprisingly be quite attractive. The writing splashed across the front is the people's name who are donating the faux flora. The boards are displayed at the funeral and afterward are either donated to the temple for monks to utilize (brollies and towels), burned with the body (although not common practice) or are 'given' back to other people needing them for the next funeral (after a cash donation to the temple of course!). You have NO idea how many funerals there are in village Thailand. Coming from a sparsely populated country myself where you only go to close friends or family funerals I had only been to 2 funerals in my whole life, then coming here where I have been to about 50 in less than 3 years is quite a dramatic change. Huge population, huge families and close villagers all equate to your presence being required at a lot of funeral parties.

Last night we were called upon by the local funeral commentator (job opening anyone?) to write up a couple of signs for a dearly departed's funeral today. The dude dropped off 4 boards which we started writing the names, however 5 minutes into it we were distracted by other business. After about 10 minutes we refocused on the task only to find the boards were missing! How the hellaboo can 4, metre high boards just disappear? After searching the house high and low they were finally located in the corner of the garage! Not surprisingly J's mother had silently removed them from the room (lightning fast on tippy toes!). Thais are notoriously known for being superstitious, particularly regarding ghosts. You can't keep puang reeds inside your house...they are for the dead so it is obviously a very bad thang to attract the ghosts into your humble home. Who knew that only a few minutes of inattention would attract so many otherworlders... J's ma is obviously in the know (or just plain crazy ahem hem). Anyhoo, after wacking up a few signs they were duly put in their rightful place in the garage so as not to disturb the dead...or undead for that matter.

You just never know what kind of job is going to be thrown at you here!

Monday 10 December 2007

Insider info: the low down on Jatukarm

The other day at one of the festivals at our village temple I stumbled upon a rickety old pavilion filled with dozens of styro boxes surrounded by copious amounts of string, being held by none other then The Buddha himself...well, icon him anyway. I always thought Jatukarms were made in secret dark holes where mystical beings came to play. I'd heard chanting going on in my visits to Nakhon Si Thammarat the original home of Jatu, but had never actually witnessed the creation of them. This little deserted workshop we found was really quite fascinating..I'm still not sure if I committed the ultimate sin by walking around there but since I was with a Buddhist, Thai, former monk (my husband) I took the chance that I was within forgivable realms.

I assume the white net over the boxes that you can only just see is to catch all the gecko pooh! Ooh blaspheemer, only mussing wit cha. Really though, the white cloth (in my interpretation) acts as a protective canopy over any highly revered icon throughout Thailand. The machines are for pressing the amulets into the circular shape.

But now for the really naughty bit... I peeked inside one of the boxes! There must have been thousands of Jatukarms filling these boxes. I can tell you my heart was palpitating being so sinful and I did flee from there not a moment after this pic was taken with guilty haste. I didn't even touch them (as someone else in my presence may have!) but guilt by association damn it, it's a force to be reckoned with and I shan't have bad karma thrust upon me!

Site revamp messin around...

I've just done a revamp of my website and I may have mussed things up for my subscribers.. if you need to resubscribe please forgive my unsavynetness. If you've only just stumbled on me or if you're a secret stalker (whom I love!) please feel free to subscribe for updates or contact me (not that I'm desperate to talk or anything..much!)

Saturday 8 December 2007

Sharing the love of all things P...

People often wonder just what it is I get up to living in Thailand. That was the main reason I started this blog…to release the mystery and allow myself the joy to yabba on in my native tongue to the faceless hordes. If you’ve read this post you’ll be aware that we have an officey type business at home with the internet, post office, whathaveyou.. Unless you’re under the impression that this brings in millions of mula a month ohoho you are sadly living in the fantasy world that I wish to abide in dressed in my solid gold dressing gown while my butler answers my emails.

For the last month or so I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time on the internet (so unlike me!) being productive rather than surfing the net finding bizarre things like how women can now pee standing up with the use of strange cardboard accessories!As fascinating as that is, I’ve stumbled upon several good sites that advertise work from home job opportunities (ooh brainwave - I could market said accessories in Thailand!) including freelance writing, paid forum contributions and PayPerPost.

Pay Per Post is now offering 20 buckaroonies (US$20) to sign up and write reviews and seriously, anyone in their right mind living in a village in the back of beyond earning pittance would jump sky high to receive. Coincidentally enough I fall into that category. PPP rocks because it’s not a get rich quick scam (which I desperately wish I could find!) but an opportunity for people to get a bit of extra income here and there. You’ve probably noticed I have a bit of Google Adsense set up which to be honest isn’t doing a lot so I figured that since I have a blog and since I have an opinion perhaps these two could join forces to get a little somefin somefin back.. hence the PayPerPost get paid to blog addition. You can write about web sites, products or services and earn cash for providing your opinion, which if I do say so myself, I'm an expert at. I found the love of PPP on millions, well dozens, of websites so I thought I'd join in the fun. Opportunities for posts are displayed webboard style with how many words are required and how much is paid. I hope my lovely readers will understand where I'm coming from adding the PPP element and be sure to let me know of any at home work opportunities that come up aaand to join PPP themselves if the desire overtakes you... really you can just click the pretty purple button to monetize your own blog by blogging..what a novel concept!

Thursday 6 December 2007

Father's Day in Thailand

Forget New Years, Loy Kratong or the thousands of other celebrations in Thailand...Father's Day is Thailand's most celebrated festival! December 5th is the King's birthday and as such is the nation's daddy day. This year is particularly poignant as it marks the King's 80th birthday and his 60th year on the thrown. One of the most special things about living in Thailand is to experience how patriotic and monarchistic Thais's actually a beautiful thing. Thais love their king as if he was part of the family. He is literally the father of the nation.

At around 7 pm the entire nation was syncronised by lighting candles and singing King Bhumibol's official song. In our village (and apparently country wide) all the lights are turned off at the ceremony and the live radio from Bangkok is turned on (so we know when to sing). The village officials get on stage and light their candles, passing the flame on to the people who then light each others candles. Looking at hundreds of lit candles in the dark and listening to the impassioned singing of the people to their king is quite incredible. Of course the lady leading the singing in our village was quite ear piercing and grimace worthy. It's the first video I've taken so excuse the quality. Play it on the highest volume possible to get a taste for the real experience!

The festival also hosted lots of kids dancing both traditional style and of course 80s Madonna style as per norm with girls of about 10 dressed in stilettos and fish net shirts inducing much cringing whilst watching them dance.

Living in the south we are often treated to Manora dancing. It is captivating and sporadic and the music somewhat haunting. Listen to this to teleport to the southern regions of Thailand.

Pre-Father's Day Celebrations

It's been a busy couple of days in the village. Monday was a setting up day for the big pre-daddy day festival. Tuesday was the pre-dad day and Wednesday was possibly the hugest day in the Thai calendar...Father's Day!

Pre-Father's Day day was held out at our beautiful local lake. The event even made the news on Tuesday night due to the provincial mayor being in the hood. The security was rather amusing... 2 police escort cars and a security guard car coming up the rear. At least they weren't packing machine guns (which is not unheard of).

Lots of activities and displays were on show and lots of free food which is always a winner with me! The Department of Environment set up an impressive stall with displays on how to recycle, make compost, make environmentally friendly detergents and explained environmental issues such as global warming and the effects of el nino, etc. It's heartening to know that some sort of environmental education is present in Thailand because often it appears to be nonexistent.

Other activities included the Dharma Wall where people could write their good thoughts and hopes. Then the Release the Demons tree where you write your bad thoughts (3 guesses what I wrote!!) and the monks come to chant and release the negativity to the universe. You may notice the yellow theme.. yellow is the King's birthday colour and Father's Day is essentially a celebration to the King (and every Monday of the entire year) so everyone, and I mean everyone wears yellow.

Here's some of the sweeties on offer...all free of course!

The best part of the day was when thousands (possibly a million) fish were released into the lake. This lake is part of the temple lands and is protected from fishing so the fish are free to go forth and multiply, hoorah! The government allocates money to a village fund a few times a year and hands out hundreds of thousands of baht to each village for community care activities such as this. People were also free to take bags of fish home to breed for whatever purposes. There were literally hundreds of bags of fish being released...brilliant work that makes me all warm and fuzzy.