This is really a continuation on my previous post “Isaan – the small stories” HERE with some new additions from this afternoon which happened just after I published the previous story.

The incentive for this post happened last night when Gaun and family were tucking into their dinner of raw long beans, fish soup and noodles. Like all good urbanites I have never thought about where noodles come from other than a packet. Well I am here to tell you that there are two noodle factories in our Moo Baan supplying the local demand. Production happens every afternoon so with family knowledge I headed out to investigate and broaden my noodle knowledge.

The first factory was closed because the lady who makes the noodles was out planting rice! Not to be put off we headed to factory 2, right on the edge of the Moo Baan.

This is the noodle factory! Not what you were expecting?

This is the noodle factory! Not what you were expecting?

We arrived right at the beginning of the process. A bag of ground rice is placed in a wood fired water pot to heat for 30 minutes.

The ground rice.

The ground rice.

Nothing too fancy.

And the heating equipment. Nothing too fancy.

Once cooked it is transferred to a kneading machine, much like something used for bread dough.

"Cooked" rice flour goes into the kneading machine.

“Cooked” rice flour goes into the kneading machine.

The kneading process starts.

The kneading process starts.

An action shot.

An action shot.

The factory floor.

The factory floor.

While this part of the process was going on Gaun and I headed out to look at this part of the Moo Baan, an area I mostly haven’t seen before.

A small soi heading off the noodle factory.

A small soi heading off the noodle factory.

Some houses would be condemned in Australia.

Some houses would be condemned in Australia.

But manage to incorporate the basics.

But manage to incorporate the basics such as satellite TV.

This impressive sealed road with centre lines was added last time we were here.

This impressive sealed road with centre lines was added last time we were here.

Wood is still an important fuel here.

Wood is still an important fuel here.

Dog guarding chickens.

Dog guarding chickens.

The house of the mother of a friend of ours who washed my feet at the wedding called Apple or Appen in Thai.

The house of the mother of a friend of ours who washed my feet at the wedding called Apple or Appen in Thai. She sleeps in the shack on the right because it is cooler! The end wall is going to be replaced by the wood from the packing cases my Australian stuff arrived in evidently.

Now that is open to the elements.

Now that is open to the elements.

Further down the road we came across this furniture workshop in the process of finishing off a bed base.

This guy will build you a bed like this for $70.00 if you provide the timber.

This guy will build you a bed like this for $70.00 if you provide the timber.

My surrogate Thai mama has ordered six of these some of which will be donated to the local temple for some reason.

My surrogate Thai mama has ordered six of these bases, a couple of which will be donated to the local temple.

His workshop and a small local "restaurant" next door.

The workshop and a small local “restaurant” next door.

Farming land is mixed in with urban. Any spare land is converted into growing something for eating or to sell.

Farming land is mixed in with urban. Any spare land is converted into growing something for eating or to sell. No gardens here. Gaun and I will have the only garden in Si Bun Ruang after we build.

Long beans being grown here.

Long beans being grown here.

Having done the full circle we were back at the noodle factory just in time to watch the next phase of production. The workforce had been dramatically increased by the guy’s wife, who drives a tuk tuk during the day, and his two daughters.

The rice mixture has water added to give it a thick consistency like wet concrete. Daughter number two is in charge of this part.

The rice mixture has water added to give it a thick consistency like wet concrete. Daughter number two is in charge of this part.

The mixture is fed through this shower head sort of implement to make small strands of noodles.

The mixture is fed through this shower head sort of implement to make thin noodle strands.

A large vat of water is heated using rice husks and wood.

A large vat of water behind that black “wall” is heated using rice husks.

Fire to the left heating the water vat on the right.

Fire to the left heating the water vat on the right.

Into this hot water the rice mixture is piped using the shower device.

Into this hot water the rice mixture is piped using the shower device.

The noodle strands are then removed using a net.

The noodle strands are then removed using a net.

The noodles are washed twice in cold water.

The noodles are rinsed immediately in cold water.

Before being dipped twice into these cool water vats.

Before being dipped into these two cool water vats.

And then passed on to mum and daughter number 1 to shape into the final product.

The noodles are then passed on to mum and daughter number 1 to shape into the final product.

Daughter number 1 work in the pharmacy at hospital of the next town down the road of Nong Bua Lamphu. Multi-tasking is still happening here.

Daughter number 1 works in the hospital pharmacy at Nong Bua Lamphu, the next town down the road. Multi-tasking and helping family is still part of the culture here.

The end result, which I am sure many of you have bought in plastic packets at the supermarket.

The end result, which I am sure many of you have bought at the supermarket.

The noodle man asked me via Gaun if we had noodles in Australia. I told him we did but bought them in packets at the supermarket. He was  puzzled at this because here they don’t last more than a couple of days he said. The concept of long term storage is foreign to people especially in rural Thailand. You buy today to eat today. The dogs get whatever is left over and you start again tomorrow. I am sure we can advertise this concept out of them and bring them up to our standard of living sometime in the future.

The noodle making process was still happening as we left. I will have a whole new attitude to noodles next time I have some.

Thanks for reading.