The latest in the series. Enjoy.

May 26 – Sang Som

This is a cheat post because most of the of the words aren’t mine and the photo isn’t either. However the topic is an experience open to you when you visit Thailand so it falls into the general theme of my blog contributions.

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If you are into rum then give Sangsom a go when you are here. It is a local rum version and I think pretty tasty. If you do enjoy it then at 40% proof and $12.00 a bottle life looks better and better after each glass. The official history of Sangsom can be summarised as follows:

The name “SangSom” means “moonlight” in Thai, and it perfectly captures a smooth drinking pleasure under the gentle ambience of the moon (pretty good in the sun too).

Driven by a passion to create world-class quality Thai liquor, Mr. Chula Kanchanakaksha, who is widely acknowledged as Thailand’s best master blender for his unique ability to balance both the art and science of spirit blending, created “SangSom” in 1977. An exclusive ageing process in oak casks and the use of fine Thai herbs as key ingredients have been the secret of the distinctively ‘Thai’ taste of SangSom that is loved the world over.

One of the best recipes for a Thai Mojito cocktail, that wonderfully refreshing tropical lime, mint and rum drink can be made using Sangsom and looks like this:

Thai Mojito: serves 1
1 lemongrass stalk
½ fresh lime, seeded and quartered
8-10 fresh mint leaves
2 ½ teaspoons sugar
2 oz (1 shot) Sang Som Rum (or other dark rum)
4 oz (½ cup) sparkling water (club soda)
1 round slice of lime
1 sprig fresh mint

Remove the outer layers of the lemon grass until you reach the lighter inner layers. Trim the bottom of the stalk and mash it with the back of a knife. This will release the essence of the lemongrass into the mojito when muddling and stirring.

Place the quartered lime, mint leaves, and sugar in a tall clear glass. Using the lemongrass stalk as a muddler, smash the limes, mint leaves, and sugar together; extracting the juice from the lime quarters, bruising the mint leaves to release the essential oils, and dissolving the sugar into the mix.

Add the rum, stir vigorously to exchange the flavors, and top up with the sparkling water.

Add crushed or small ice cubes to fill the glass. Stir with the lemongrass stalk and garnish with a sliced lime round and a sprig of mint leaves. Leave the lemongrass in the glass for stirring.

The quantities of ingredients can be increased exponentially for making a pitcher of mojito mix, adding the sparkling water once the mojito mix is poured into individual glasses filled with ice.

Recipe pinched from HERE. Substitute lemonade or a lime soda if you like your Mojitos a little sweeter, which I do. Yumminess guaranteed.

 

May 31 – The Blue Wat

I have been keeping an eye on this wat being built in a moo ban close to us. I think it has the potential to be quite lovely and it’s such a relief to have someone break away from the stock standard red, white and gold temple design.

There is a very small family team working on this construction and the detail is outstanding for a small village wat. It has another couple of years building to go as they rely totally on local donations to fund the work. I am looking forward to seeing the completed structure and hope it meets the potential you can see in these photos.

A grey and light blue theme. They are working on the surrounding walls at the moment before returning to the main structure.

A grey and light blue theme. They are working on the surrounding walls at the moment before returning to the main structure.

These nine globes called Loog Nimit are eventually buried around the temple building with one inside. More information herehttp://www.thailandqa.com/forum/showthread.php?46860-Symbolism-Behind-9-Globes-Orbs

These nine globes called Loog Nimit are eventually buried around the temple building with one inside. More information HERE 

Nagas, a sort of snake/dragon guard the steps to the main hall.

Nagas, a sort of snake/dragon guard the steps to the main hall.

You can read about the Naga temple – Wat Kham Chanot that we visited with friends in May HERE.

Eucalyptus scaffolding instead of the often use bamboo.

Eucalyptus scaffolding instead of the often use bamboo.

Instead of painting the external walls they are using this pebblecrete covering. I costed it recently for my driveway and it is 380 baht or about $15.00 a square meter. Once again a different approach being taken to the build here.

Instead of painting the external walls they are using this pebblecrete covering.

I costed it recently for my driveway and it is 380 baht or about $15.00 a square meter. Once again a different approach being taken to the build here.

Intricate detail all moulded on site.

Intricate detail all moulded on site.

June 1 – Si Bun Ruang Clothes and Burgers

Some people say that there’s no variety in Isaan but I am here to prove them wrong! We headed to the other side of Si Bun Ruang, our local town, and within 100 metres we could have filled the car at the new PTT service station, had a burger, bought some great Thai clothes and topped up our garden supply of bat poo. Can life get better?

This small burger van is owned by a Swedish man and his Thai wife. Unfortunately the day we chose to try it out they had run out of beef and the owner was on a run to Udon Thani, one hour’s drive away, to stock up. We had to make do with sausage and chips instead. They move the van around to local markets using the tuk tuk shown in the photos. I would be interested to see this happen as most of them have enough trouble finding the power to pull themselves around let alone a trailer.

The same people who own the van also have a small shop next door that only sells Thai clothes. It is a small place but they have a decent range of clothes. A few shirts for guys too. Gaun bought a couple of tops from her birthday money. 250 baht or $10.00 each.

The new PTT petrol station directly across the road is a sign of Si Bun Runag growing up. They are a huge enterprise spread across Thailand. They have a standard range of franchises attached to the petrol side of the business including Amazon Cafe, who actually train their staff to make coffee, a 7/11 and several clothes and food outlets. PTT always sell E20, the ethanol added petrol and the cheapest, which smaller petrol stations often don’t stock.

Finally for good quality natural fertiliser you can’t go past bat poo (guano if you prefer the formal name). Recommended by a local friend and if you have seen photos of Gaun’s garden it certainly seems to do the trick. Hard to find in general farming stores you will be pleased to hear you can pick up a bag for 550 baht (A$22.00) next door to the clothes shop and burger van!

I am sure they are the same as McDonald's and the pictures look nothing like the actual article. Do you like the strawberry themed outdoor setting? Right on the 228, which is the main highway through the town. Atmosphere zero but a lot of Thailand is like that.

I am sure they are the same as McDonald’s and the pictures look nothing like the actual article. Do you like the strawberry themed outdoor setting? Right on the 228, which is the main highway through the town. Atmosphere zero but a lot of Thailand is like that.

All the essential food groups.

All the essential food groups.

A Swede/Thai tuk tuk. Note the tow bar for pulling the van around (slowly).

A Swede/Thai tuk tuk. Note the tow bar for pulling the van around (slowly).

The lovely lady who will either sell you clothes or cook you a burger or do one after the other.

The lovely lady who will either sell you clothes or cook you a burger or do one after the other.

A small but interesting range. I find Thai ladies look stunning in these type of ornate clothes but maybe not so good for us westerners.

A small but interesting range. I find Thai ladies look stunning in these type of ornate clothes but maybe not so good for us westerners.

A$10.00

A$10.00

Bags all about $10.00 - $14.00.

Bags all about $10.00 – $14.00.

Another $10.00 purchase.

Another $10.00 purchase.

Gaun looked but didn't buy today. She is extraordinarily frugal and it is often hard work to get her to buy clothes. Plants on the other hand......!

Gaun looked but didn’t buy today. She is extraordinarily frugal and it is often hard work to get her to buy clothes. Plants on the other hand……!

My purchase. A silk cotton mix.

My purchase. A silk cotton mix.

One of Gaun's purchases from her birthday funds. The skirt material was given to Gaun by a friend after his trip to Laos. Made into a skirt by a dressmaker in the village.

One of Gaun’s purchases from her birthday funds. The skirt material was given to Gaun by a friend after his trip to Laos. Made into a skirt by a dressmaker in the village.

Another top.

Another top.

The PTT petrol station and franchises across the road from the dress shop. With a new larger Tesco Lotus supermarket opening shortly Si Bun Ruang is becoming far more self contained.

The PTT petrol station and franchises across the road from the dress shop. With a new larger Tesco Lotus supermarket opening shortly Si Bun Ruang is becoming far more self contained.

The bat poo shop next to the clothes shop. They sell a few other things too!

The bat poo shop next to the clothes shop. They sell a few other things too!

June 2 – Back on the Farm

A stunning clear, sunny morning had us heading to the farm. a five minute drive out of the village, for a coffee (Nestle 3 in 1 if you have ever been to Thailand). Yuan and Lud had already been up for ages and were working on the task of weeding these new beds, which had been planted up with lettuce. A tropical climate makes everything grow fast including the weeds. Nature is pretty indiscriminate like that.

If you see the size of the rows to be weeded by just the two of them it is a pretty daunting task. A sort of meditation I guess. They have motivation though because they are taking a day off on Saturday and we are driving three hours to a wonderful looking wat, which I have already reported on with a post HERE. For Yuan and Lud a day away from the farm is a real treat as they work seven days a week.

This photo shows the start of a new phase in the farm's annual activities. Rice is being soaked for two days before being planted in the fields. Yuan and Lud grow high quality rice for family consumption only. The seeds are bulk planted, then the young shoots harvested and replanted by hand in newly prepared paddy fields spaced evenly for maximum output.

This photo shows the start of a new phase in the farm’s annual activities.

Rice is being soaked for two days before being planted in the fields. Yuan and Lud grow high quality rice for family consumption only. The seeds are bulk planted, then the young shoots harvested and replanted by hand in newly prepared paddy fields spaced evenly for maximum output.

Lettuce about halfway ready for harvest.

Lettuce about halfway ready for harvest.

Boring, backbreaking and knee aching work.

Boring, backbreaking and knee aching work.

What it will look like in a couple of weeks.

What it will look like in a couple of weeks.

The wat we will be visiting Saturday. Wat Pha Sorn Kaew.

The wat we will be visiting Saturday. Wat Pha Sorn Kaew.

Pretty amazing.

Pretty amazing.

June 3 – Around the Farm

A few photos taken close to the farm. I always have my camera handy because more often than not there is something to record.

So unusual to have clear skies like this. This is family sugar cane being grown in a separate field across the road to the farm. Total income generated last harvest - 23,000 or about $900.00. You don;t get rich farming here.

So unusual to have clear skies like this.

This is family sugar cane being grown in a separate field across the road to the farm. Total income generated last harvest – 23,000 or about $900.00. You don;t get rich farming here.

A neighbouring "farmhouse". The depression in front of it would be a pond if we weren't in the worst drought for ten years. Some rain happening now so it might fill this year.

A neighbouring “farmhouse”. The depression in front of it would be a pond if we weren’t in the worst drought for ten years. Some rain happening now so it might fill this year.

A lovely statement about the mix of eras Thailand offers. In the far left of the photo is a san phra phum, a spirit house. They are often built where a disruption to the land is about to happen so that the spirits have a place to go rather than "haunt" the farmhouse. The satellite dish steps us forward a few generations, while the farmhouse is pure rural Thai and would fit comfortably into the Australian landscape. Electricity only made it out to these places in the last 18 months.

A lovely statement about the mix of eras Thailand offers.

In the far left of the photo is a san phra phum, a spirit house. They are often built where a disruption to the land is about to happen so that the spirits have a place to go rather than “haunt” the farmhouse. The satellite dish steps us forward a few generations, while the farmhouse is pure rural Thai and would fit comfortably into the Australian landscape. Electricity only made it out to these places in the last 18 months.

The other house on this land! Flowers, food and drink is offered to active san phra phum to ensure the spirits stay happy and at home! Can you see the little figures in the house? Servants and dancing girls are often included too just to round out the comfortable lifestyle.

The other house on this land! Flowers, food and drink is offered to active san phra phum to ensure the spirits stay happy and at home! Can you see the little figures in the house? Servants and dancing girls are often included too just to round out the comfortable lifestyle.

This is the second farmhouse on the family farm. Tham and Phaed (Gaun's sister number 4) run the other half of the farm and have their own accommodation there. Both sisters and their husbands sleep on the farm to make sure crops and equipment don't go missing during the night. Although they have houses in the family compound in the village they rarely sleep there.

This is the second farmhouse on the family farm.

Tham and Phaed (Gaun’s sister number 4) run the other half of the farm and have their own accommodation there. Both sisters and their husbands sleep on the farm to make sure crops and equipment don’t go missing during the night. Although they have houses in the family compound in the village they rarely sleep there.

June 2 – Gaun’s Mission

Gaun can not see empty ground without planting it up with flowers and plants. The entry to the farm has been dug up and planted with cuttings taken from our garden. Gaun also collects seeds from all her flowers and is here planting them. She is one of the most authentic gardeners I have met and brings colour wherever she goes.

Gaun can not see empty ground without planting it up with flowers and plants. The entry to the farm has been dug up and planted with cuttings taken from our garden. Gaun also collects seeds from all her flowers and is here planting them. She is one of the most authentic gardeners I have met and brings colour wherever she goes.

Gaun in her element.

All that area on the right has been planted out with cuttings from the garden. This will be a sea of colour soon.

All that area on the right has been planted out with cuttings from the garden. This will be a sea of colour soon – see below if you don’t believe me!

Taken 2 July.

One month later –  photo taken yesterday 2 July.

A jar of seeds ready to be planted. Gaun collects seeds both from home and wherever else she see them. We have flowers in the garden from our time in Chiang Rai over two years ago.

A jar of seeds ready to be planted. Gaun collects seeds both from home and wherever else she see them. We have flowers in the garden from our time in Chiang Rai over two years ago.

In they go. I will update you in a month's time.

In they go. I will update you in a month’s time (see below).

DSC_0679

Not bad for a month’s growth.

June 2 – Fresh Limes

There is a manow or lime farm just down the road from the family place. It is where we get our limes rather than from the market. The farmer knows which trees produce fruit without seeds. 50 baht for a kilo or $2.00.

Scenic it ain't but does the job I guess. The entrance to the lime farm. The farmer sleeps here. He has a day job so this is extra income.

Scenic it ain’t but does the job I guess. The entrance to the lime farm. The farmer sleeps here. He has a day job so this is extra income.

The orchid. An irrigation system in place. Those concrete bases can be bought for $4.00 each and most manow farms seem to use them to plant their trees.

The orchid. An irrigation system in place. Those concrete bases can be bought for $4.00 each and most manow farms seem to use them to plant their trees.

Limes are very small and expensive this time of year. Once/if the rains kick in they get a lot bigger and will be selling for $0.80 a kilo.

Limes are very small and expensive this time of year. Once/if the rains kick in they get a lot bigger and will be selling for $0.80 a kilo.

Bore water only here. The trees wouldn't survive otherwise.

Bore water only here. The trees wouldn’t survive otherwise.

And you can see why bore water is required. The effect of a multi-year drought.

And you can see why bore water is required. The effect of a multi-year drought.

June 2 – Mama’s Mats

Driving back from the farm I had to stop off at the family home as Gaun’s mama had set up her mat weaving machine and had just started making one.

We headed home for breakfast leaving mama working away with Dukdik the family dog for company. I will post a photo of the finished mat when it is completed.

We headed home for breakfast leaving mama working away with Dukdik the family dog for company. I will post a photo of the finished mat when it is completed – see below.

We headed home for breakfast leaving mama working away with Dukdik the family dog for company. I will post a photo of the finished mat when it is completed.

This machine is probably as old as mama.

These reeds are harvested by mama, split using a machete, dried and then dyed.

These reeds are harvested by mama, split using a machete, dried and then dyed.

Great colours.

Great colours.

The reeds are fed through the machine using that long stick Gaun is holding.

The reeds are fed through the machine using that long stick Gaun is holding.

Adding a reed.

Adding a reed.

The woven mat starts to take shape. A little way to go! You can see the stick feeding the reed through the strings at the back.

The woven mat starts to take shape. A little way to go! You can see the stick feeding the reed through the strings at the back.

That board is thumped onto the reeds to force them together.

That board is thumped onto the reeds to force them together.

And the end result a few days later. Mama made six of these mats this session.

And the end result a few days later. Mama made six of these mats this session.

Great times here and still more to share soon.

Thanks for reading.