Lustral Water

Lustral water is water that has received a blessing from monks in a sacred ceremony called nam mon. During the Buddhist ceremony, monks are seated on a raised platform with a set of altar tables at the right ending facing the ceremonial attendants. The head monk sits next to the altar where a lustral water container or an alms bowl is placed. Rain water or underground water is placed in the vessel along with a few gold leaves, Bermuda grass or lotus. A beeswax candle is placed on the rim of the vessel and as drops of wax from the candle false into the water, sorrow and evil are believed to be washed away.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the lustral water is sprinkled on the ceremonial attendants and premises with a bunch of dried Bermuda grass. It is believed that lustral water which is sprinkled on a person’s head will bring the person luck, safety and success. The premises can also be sprinkled with lustral water to bring protection from harm and ward off evil. In some extreme cases, people will go through a ceremony and bathe in lustral water to rid themselves of misfortune and bad luck.

Price drop at the gas pump

Today gas prices dropped around 4 baht in Thailand as the Thai government reduced the taxes on fuel. The Thai government seeks to lower some of the stress people are feeling due to the rising cost of fuel, food and other goods. I filled up at a startling 29.26 baht per liter for E20 compared to almost 35 baht per liter a week before.

An interesting note, Bangjak gasoline stations are giving away a bunch of garlic as their fill up gift instead of the usual bottles of water.

Candelabra Bush Herbal Tea



Candelabra Bush (chum het thet) is also known as candle bush, ringworm bush, empress candle plant or candle tree. It is an ornamental flowering plant that is a native of Mexico. Candelabra Bush is an invasive species in countries such as Thailand. The shrub itself is 3-4 meters tall and distinctive bright yellow flowers.

Candelabra Bush Herbal Tea is a laxative that you can easily prepared by placing one of the sachets into a cup of hot water. After 2-3 minutes you can drink the tea, preferably before a meal or before bed. I tried this tea recently when I ran out of Fitne and it worked wonderfully. The tea tasted pretty good, although I did add a bit of sugar to all my teas because I don’t like the bitter taste. This herbal tea is a natural way to deal with the problem of constipation and I feel safer using it than synthetic medicines.

Thais use this tea as a remedy for constipation and intestinal parasites. Candelabra is used as a health tea that keeps you regular and it is also high in an antioxidant called Flavanoid Kaempherol. Externally, candelabra bush is used in soaps, shampoos and lotions. The plant is thought to be an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent. Some even claim that it is a natural sun screen.

My grandfather made his own candelabra bush tea. He would pull over on the side of the road when he spotted a candelabra bush and gather some of the green leaves. Then he would dry the leaves out in the sun before using them to make the tea leaves.

Essential Herbs and Spices in Thai Cuisine

The special combination of herbs and spices used in preparing Thai dishes is what gives Thai food its distinctive character. There are about 20 main herbs and spices which form the basis for Thai cooking. They help to achieve the balance between the four essential Thai tastes: salty, sour, spicy and sweet.

  • Chilies (prik)
  • Siamese Ginger (khaa)
  • Shallots (hom daeng)
  • Cinnamon (ob chuey)
  • Cardamon (look krawan)
  • Ginger (khing)
  • Basil (krapao)
  • Lemongrass (takrai)
  • Turmeric (khamin)
  • Kaffir Lime (makroot)
  • Lime (manao)
  • Sweet Basil (horapa)
  • Spring Onions (ton hom)
  • Pepper (prik thai)
  • Cloves (kaan phloo)
  • Lemon Scented Basil (maenglak)
  • Mace (dok chan)
  • Fish Sauce (nam plaa)
  • Mint (saranae)
  • Nutmeg (look chan)
  • Cumin (yiraa)
  • Pandanus Leaf (bai toey)
  • Galingale (krashai)
  • Garlic (kratiam)

Thais Dislike Walking

There are many reasons why one might choose to walk instead of drive. It could be a matter of how far you are going, what the weather is like, or the road conditions along the way. However, in Thailand I have noticed that many Thais will use a car or motorbike to travel distances that are rediculously short, like a few hundred meters, to avoid the hot sun or getting sweaty.

Bangkok is a large megatropolis in which one can find many different methods of transportation. Why is it then that Bankok has a disporportionate amount of car owners compared to cities like Hong Kong and Singapore? The convenience of driving one’s own car in comfort versus using mass transit systems or taxis is one thing, but the cost of car ownership in the city and inconvenience of having to sit in traffic and find parking are disadvantages to consider.

It is interesting to note that the MRT/subway system in Bangkok has car parks at some stations for commuters to park and then ride the MRT into the city. However, these car parks are so few and limited in parking spaces that they could not support all of the potential users. Also, a few condo buildings being built within walking distance to the MRT stations are not providing resident car parks. The assumption is that these residents would not need a car because they would use the subway system. There are obvious problems with this since not everyone’s work is within reach of the MRT/BTS network and car ownership is more than just a method of getting to work.

Living in the city with a car provides its own difficulties for parking and dealing with traffic, but many have there is also the pride factor that goes along with car ownership. Many males especially get a certain satisfaction from having their own set of wheels and being able to come and go in style. It seems that the traffic problem in Bangkok will continue because many Bangkokians prefer to use their own transportation rather than public transportation.

Tarmarind in Thai Food

Tamarind (ma khaam) is the fruit of large lacy-leaf trees common in many tropical areas around the world. When the seed pods are young they are green, but they turn reddish-brown as they ripen. Inside the curved seed pods, the flesh of the tamarind fruit is dark brown, moist and sticky. Tamarind trees are so widespread and easily grown that tamarind has found its way into African, Asian and American cuisines.

In Thailand, the tamarind tree is grown for its fruit and the shade that the tree provides. Thai people use many parts from the tamarind in cooking including the fresh leaves, flowers and the seed pods. The fresh leaves are used in soups, like Tom Klong Pla Kroab and Pork and pumpkin in coconut soup, or as a dipping vegetable for chili dips. The content in the ripe pods provides a sour and sweet taste in food and soups, as well as tamarind candies. Even tamarind seeds can be roasted to make a drink similar to coffee.

There are several varieties of tamarind. The province of Petchaboon in northeastern Thailand is known for its sweet tamarind (ma-kahm wahn). This variety is usually eaten fresh as a fruit.  Other varieties produce tart fruits that vary from sweet-and-sour to very sour. The less sour ones – removed from their brittle pods and coated with a mixture of salt, sugar and crushed chillies – make excellent tamarind candies to nibble on. For cooking, sour varieties of tamarind are used as a souring agent that adds a pleasant fruity taste and also tenderizes.
Benefit

– Cooling

– Laxative

– Antihistamine

Tamarind Use in Thai Food

– Beef Masaman

– Phad Thai

– Boiled Prawns in Tamarind

Garlic in Thai Food

Garlic is a very important ingredient used in Thai Food. It is commonly put in oil prior to frying vegetables and meat in stir-fried dishes. It is also put in soups, chili paste and spicy salads. Garlic is also used as a condiment or seasoning, such as in the case of pickled garlic, fried garlic in oil and fried chopped garlic. Garlic is also frequently used as the main seasoning in meat and fish dishes such as fried fish with garlic and garlic and black pepper chicken. The garlic flavor provides enough taste to the food and creates a simple dish.
I personally don’t like eating food with too much garlic in it, but I’ve discovered that it is a necessary part of Thai cooking. Food that is made with no garlic lacks the characteristic taste found in Thai food. For garlic lovers, Thai food will definitely suit your taste buds. I only warn you against the effects on your breath after the meal.

Benefit

– Reduces blood pressure

– Prevents heart disease

– Fights bacterial, fungal, yeast, virus infections

Garlic Use in Thai Food

– Kaeng Khiao Wan Kai

– Beef Masaman

– Kai Phad Phed

– Som Tum

– Phad Thai

Thai National Anthem

In Thailand, the national anthem or phleng chat  is played twice a day at 8 o’clock in the morning and again at 6 o’clock in the evening. Phleng chat literally means “national song” and Phleng chat thai refer to the Thai national anthem. It is played on all radio and tv stations, as well as schools, bus stations and other public areas. The present version of the national anthem was first adopted in 1939 (B.E. 2482).  The melody was comics were composed by Phra Jenduriyang and the lyrics were written by Colonel Luang Saranuprabhandi.

People who hear the anthem will automatically stop what they are doing to stand and salute the flag. Even commuters rushing around on the skytrain will pause to show respect while the national anthem is played.  As a teacher at a Thai school, I hear the national anthem every morning even though the meaning of all the words eludes me so I decided to learn more about the lyrics.

National Anthem – Thai lyrics with transcription

ประเทศไทยรวมเลือดเนื้อชาติเชื้อไทย       

bra thet thai ruam lueard nuea chart chuea thai

เป็นประชารัฐ ไผทของไทยทุกส่วน

ben bra cha rat  pha-thai khong thai took suan

อยู่ดำรงคงไว้ได้ทั้งมวล

yoo dam rong kong wai dai tang muan

ด้วยไทยล้วนหมาย รักสามัคคี

duay thai luan mai   rak sa mak kee

ไทยนี้รักสงบ แต่ถึงรบไม่ขลาด

thai nee rak sa-ngob    dtae thueng rob mai khlard

เอกราชจะไม่ให้ใครข่มขี่

aek-ga rart ja mai hai krai khom khee

สละเลือดทุกหยาดเป็นชาติพลี

sa-la luead took yard ben chart plee

เถลิงประเทศชาติไทยทวี มีชัย ชโย

tha-loeng bra thet chart thai ta-wee mee chai   cha-yo

National Anthem – translated into English

Thailand unites all the Thai races

All parts of the land belong to the Thais

The country can uphold all the Thais

Becasue we live in harmony

Thais are peaceful but when it comes to fighting

we are not timid

We will not tlet our independence be suppressed

We will sacrifice every drop of our blood

For Thiland’s victory and prosperity

Source: http://www.learningthai.com/songs/anthem.html (Thai transcription of national anthem) and Thai Ties by Pornipol Senawong (translated English version of national anthem)

List of Thai Provinces

 

Rank  ↓ Province  ↓ Population ↓
0 Bangkok Metropolitan Area 9,930,634
1 Bangkok 5,695,956
2 Nakhon Ratchasima 2,555,587
3 Ubon Ratchathani 1,783,035
4 Khon Kaen 1,750,500
5 Chiang Mai 1,658,298
6 Buri Ram 1,536,722
7 Udon Thani 1,527,562
8 Nakhon Si Thammarat 1,510,460
9 Si Sa Ket 1,446,484
10 Surin 1,375,567
11 Songkhla 1,317,501
12 Roi Et 1,310,047
13 Chiang Rai 1,225,713
14 Chon Buri 1,209,290
15 Chaiyaphum 1,119,146
16 Sakon Nakhon 1,109,046
17 Samut Prakan 1,104,766
18 Nakhon Sawan 1,076,015
19 Phetchabun 1,002,317
20 Maha Sarakham 999,057
21 Nonthaburi 996,072
22 Kalasin 975,276
23 Surat Thani 951,174
24 Nong Khai 899,580
25 Pathum Thani 861,338
26 Phitsanulok 844,508
27 Suphanburi 843,904
28 Kanchanaburi 834,447
29 Ratchaburi 828,930
30 Nakhon Pathom 821,905
31 Lampang 773,790
32 Ayutthaya 754,595
33 Lop Buri 752,775
34 Kamphaeng Phet 728,320
35 Narathiwat 707,171
36 Nakhon Phanom 695,351
37 Chachoengsao 654,306
38 Pattani 635,730
39 Loei 613,303
40 Saraburi 609,855
41 Sukhothai 608,820
42 Trang 607,450
43 Rayong 573,785
44 Phichit 557,832
45 Yasothon 540,889
46 Sa Kaeo 538,344
47 Tak 527,677
48 Phattalung 503,321
49 Chanthaburi 502,389
50 Nong Bua Lam Phu 496,692
51 Prachuap Khiri Khan 494,416
52 Phayao 486,219
53 Chumphon 478,964
54 Nan 477,662
55 Phrae 468,373
56 Yala 468,525
57 Uttaradit 467,482
58 Samut Sakhon 462,510
59 Phetchaburi 456,681
60 Prachin Buri 453,819
61 Lamphun 405,564
62 Krabi 403,363
63 Amnat Charoen 368,934
64 Chai Nat 339,006
65 Mukdahan 335,447
66 Uthai Thani 326,988
67 Phuket 300,737
68 Ang Thong 283,943
69 Satun 281,545
70 Mae Hong Son 255,174
71 Nakhon Nayok 250,003
72 Phang Nga 245,394
73 Trat 219,949
74 Sing Buri 216,919
75 Samut Songkhram 194,990
76 Ranong 179,850

This is a list of the provinces of Thailand in order of their total population. The data are from the National Statistics Office of Thailand, based upon the national census (final data) of 2000.

Provinces of Thailand

Thailand is currently the 49th largest country in the world; it is a little bigger than the US state, California. Thailand is currently divided into 75 different provinces, or changwat. These provinces are grouped by location into 6 province groups: Northern, Northeastern, Central, Eastern, Western and Southern.  Each province has a capital, which has the same name as the province. For example, Songkhla province has a capital city, which is also called Songkhla. The word mueang is often placed in front of the city’s name to avoid confusion. Typically, the provincial capital is also the largest city in the province, with the exception of Songkhla, Chonburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan.

The country’s capital, Bangkok, is not a province but a separate administrative area. It is usually included as a 76th province as it functions on the same level as the other provinces. Bangkok also happens to be  the province with the highest population and the highest population density. Each province is administered by a governor. The Ministry of the Interior appoints the governor to each province, except for in Bangkok, whose governor is elected. Also, each province is divided into smaller districts called amphoe. There are 877 districts currently in Thailand. The fifty districts of Bangkok are called khet. The number of districs in each province varies from three to fifty. There are two more subdivision levels tambon (subdistricts) and muban (villages). In Bangkok the tambon are called khwaeng.