Petchaburi Noodle Lunch and Khao Wang

On another day trip away from Bangkok, we found ourselves in Petchaburi next to the coast of the Gulf of Thailand. Petchaburi is a small town which doesn’t attract much tourism, especially when compared to its neighbors of Cha-am and Hua Hin. However, it suited our lazy attitude perfectly that day and as it happened to be midday, gave us the perfect opportunity to visit our favorite noodle and dessert shop in Petchaburi.
These are the noodles that we had in Petchaburi next to Khao Wang, which means “Palace Hill”. These noodles had a dark soup like boat noodles but it wasn’t as thick as the soup for boat noodles. This particular shop had green “bamee” noodles, which are normally yellow egg noodles. The noodles at this shop was yummy and they have two different times of spicy sauces to choose from. One of the sauces has more soy bean paste in it but it a local recipe. It is very spicy. They also have the normal chili and vinegar style spicy sauce and chili powder. I have to go to this noodle shop whenever we are in Petchaburi.

This is the dessert cart that is a few houses down from the noodle shop. It is another place that I have to visit if I’m in Petchaburi. It has a unique twist off of the normal shaved ice and toppings dessert places because they serve everything in a glass (you can as for a bowl if you wish).

If you’ve never had this type of Thai dessert before, all you have to do is choose what type of ingredients you’d like to have and they’ll put your toppings in a glass with syrup and shaved ice. Some of the common ingredients that you’ll see are bread, red beans, palm seeds, jackfruit, sticky rice, corn, taro and green tapioca noodles (pictured in the glass below). Some of the desserts also come with a bit of coconut milk for a creamier taste. In Petchaburi, they use a syrup made from coconuts and it is called “nam taan ma praow.” Other regions will made the syrup out of different materials like palms and it has a different taste. It’d recommend the sticky rice with syrup or bread with red syrup, also known as “nam dang.” Be aware though that this dessert is naturally sweet since it is loaded with syrup.

After all that food, you might feel a little guilty about all the calories you’ve consumed. Not to worry because about 100 meters up the road is a large moutain that you can climb once you feel up to it. The 92 meter high hill will give you the workout you need and a chance to stretch your legs before heading back to Bangkok or on to your next destination. Khao Wang, Phra Nakhom Kriri Historical Park, offers a beautiful view of the Gulf of Thailand once you reach the summit. There you’ll find the white palatial estate of King Rama the IV (King Mongkut) and Wat Maha Samanaram. Khao Wang was his summer retreat from Bangkok that was built in 1860 and many of his successors follow his lead in building other palaces in Petchauri and surrounding provinces. The palace is built with a strong European influenced style with some Thai and Chinese character mixed in.

While walking up the hill, be wary of the monkeys as they are looking for food and are known to bite people if you tease them or if they feel threatened. Old women might try to sell you some fruit to give to the monkeys for 5 baht, but please refrain from doing so. There is a museum which contains the more precious royal artifacts, such as bronze sculptures and European, Chinese and Japanese ceramics. Many of them are gifts to the King from foreign countries and are part of the royal collection. The park opens daily between 8:30 and 16:30 with a 40 baht admission. You can walk to the palaces on top of the hill peaks or get there by cable car for 30 baht.

How to get there: The park is 36 kilometres north of Cha-am and a few kilometers west of Petchaburi. Songtaews are available from both places and cost in the region of 30 Baht.

Sugar Glider FAQ

Q: What is a sugar glider? Is it a rodent like a squirrel or mouse?

A: Sugar glider is the common name for a small marsupial native to Australia and Indonesia. Its scientific name is Petarus Breviceps.

Q: Are sugar gliders good pets?

A: They can be good pets, but they require lots of extra attention and care. They need a balanced diet, a large cage and daily interactions to remain healthy. It is illegal to keep sugar gliders in some cities and states, so keep that in mind before you acquire one. It may be difficult to find a vet that has the specialized knowledge needed to care for these small critters.

Q: How long do they live?

A: Sugar gliders live as long as our more common household pets, dogs and cats. Their average life span in captivity is 12 to 145 years. This means that you must be ready to care for your pet for many years.

Q: What do sugar gliders eat?

A: Sugar gliders require a specialized diet with a careful balanced of protein, calcium, fruits, vegetables and other nutrients. There are many commonly accepted diets which you can prepare such as BML, Priscilla’s Diet, the HPW diet and Darcy’s (Ensure) diet.

Q: What is the proper way to house sugar gliders?

A: Sugar gliders need a very large cage compared to most small pets. For 1 or 2 sugar gliders, the minimum cage dimensions are 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep and 36 inches high. A bigger cage is of course better, especially taller cages, since sugar gliders are arboreal and need the extra room to glide around. Bar spacing on the cage should be no more than 1/2 inch wide to ensure that your sugar glider cannot squeeze out. The bars should be powder or pvc coated as galvanized wire cages can result in urinary tract infections.

Q: What kind of toys do sugar gliders like?

A: You can find toys specially made for sugar gliders on the Internet or you can use baby toys and bird toys. You can even make your own sugar glider toys if you are handy and there are many directions to be found on sugar glider websites. Sugar gliders love toys that enable them to hang or climb around their cage and pouches or nests were they can snuggle. You want to avoid toys with small parts, especially small holes that your sugar glider could catch his toes in and injure himself. Also, avoid cat toys since catnip is toxic to sugar gliders.

Q: Do I need more than one sugar glider?

A: Two sugar gliders is strong recommended since they live in colonies in the wild. One sugar glider will often be extremely lonely and can become depressed. Depression in sugar gliders causes poor health, self-mutilation and even death. If you do choose to have only one sugar glider, be prepared to spend 3-4 hours a night interacting with him.

Q: What is the best age to get a joey?

A: Baby sugar gliders are called joeys, just like baby kangaroos. Joeys should be a minimum of 8-10 weeks Out of Pouch (OOP) before they go to their new home. This ensures that they are properly weaned and can eat on their own before leaving their mother.

Q: Can I let my sugar glider run loose in the house?

A: Sugar gliders should only be let loose in a glider-proofed area, also known as a safe room. They should be supervised at all times to make sure they don’t get into trouble and injure themselves. They can easily fit into small spaces and run the risk of being squished, drowning in a toilet or sink, harmed by other pets or potentially eat something that is toxic to them.

Sugar Gliders – My New Addition

Since the beginning of this month, I have been watching my female sugar glider very closely. I noticed a small bulge on her belly that seemed to get larger over the course of two weeks. I did a little research on the Internet and confirmed my suspicions that my sugar glider was carrying a baby sugar glider in her pouch.

I’ve had this pair of sugar glider for over a years and since the female reached sexual maturity almost six months ago, I was surprised at this new revelation. All of a sudden, my male sugar glider was blind and my female was carrying and nursing a new sugar glider inside her pouch. Sugar gliders are marsupials, so they are like kangaroos. The female has a pouch on the lower part of her abdomen in which the young are carried. They give birth to the fetus, which is small, pink and extremely helpless. The newborn makes its way to the pouch and attaches itself to a nipple inside. There in the pouch it will continue to grow and develop. The baby will only be seen when it is already covered with hair.

I didn’t see my baby sugar glider until this week. One evening, I noticed the female sugar glider was running around the cage without the large bulge in her pouch. I knew that the baby had finally come out of the pouch, so I searched for it in the tissue box which the gliders had been nesting in lately. The male was in the box with the baby and he was a little grumpy when I started messing around the the box. I was able to see our new addition, completely covered in fur, but with its eyes still closed. The baby was trying to stay in the protection of its father. He tried to keep the baby under his body, but did not behave aggressively towards me.

I haven’t seen the baby since then because I don’t want to disturb the baby when it is so young. I’ve been giving the sugar gliders extra food and more protein because the lactating mother will need the additional nutrients to support her baby for awhile still. There have been no complications so far with the baby and I can’t wait to hold the little guy in my hand.

Sugar Gliders – Sudden Blindness

A lot has been happening with my pair of sugar gliders in the past month. First, my male sugar glider had some health problems earlier in the month. The day that I returned from New Zealand, I looked into the cage and found him in a sad state, clutching to the bottom. It took me a few minutes to remove him because his grip on the wire was so tight. I brought him out and placed him in a shoe box.

For the next few days, I fed him gliderade (a commercial sugar water mix for sugar gliders) four times a day with a small spoon. At first, he resisted and I practically forced the liquid down his throat. Once he realized that the liquid was sweet and tasty, he started licking up the gliderade on his own. After about three days, I returned him to his mate and his cage because I knew sugar gliders love having company. I was afraid that keeping him isolated would prevent him from recovering. He seemed to have difficulty orientating himself in the cage and would immediately start climbing up. Once he got to the top, he would crawl around upside down until he reached the birds’ nest handing down and then perched himself there. Every time I saw him, he was sitting on top of that birds’ nest.

I started to think that perhaps this glider was blind. I was handling him frequently to check on his  health and he never tried to run from my hand when I reached in to get him. He never bit, which I would expect from a blind creature who is scared, but when he was in my hands, we would flail his two front legs around as if to touch and nearby objects. Also, when I placed him on my shoulder, he simply sat there. Normally, he would crawl all over my body, giving me little scratches from his sharp claws all over. I was suprised at this behavior and it really confirmed my suspicions.

I still don’t know for sure if the male sugar glider is blind since I cannot run any tests. I just have my observations. However, he seems to have adapted to his blindness. Early on, this mate would be found licking him and grooming him and she was happy to have him back. He learned to find the food on the bottom of the cage and in the food cup, as well as the water bottle. I tried not to move any of the nest boxes so that he would be able to find them from memory. He appears more tame now, if only because he cannot see where to go and therefore doesn’t dare to explore around the room now. I am extra careful now not to leave the cage open because if he gets out, I’m afraid he would be lost forever in the house. For now though, he seems to have adjusted to his blindness and as long as he can live without his sight, everythings appears to be okay.

Tiger tracks identified as a Fishing Cat

It has been an exciting couple of days, but after the first two days things have calmed down. Experts from the Dusit Zoo have confirmed that our “tiger” is not a tiger at all but a member of the cat family, a Fishing Cat or Prionailurus viverrinus. Casts of the footprints were taken and the zoo people noticed that the prints had evidence of claws. Tigers would have no claws present in their tracks because they have retractable claws. Also, the size of the prints indicated a much smaller animal than an Indochina Tiger.

On Wednesday, the wildlife officials came to the school and took the school children to observe the tracks and educate the children about our wild neighbor. Although the fishing cat  is unlikely to come into the school where many people are present, it can potential harm an unattended child. The school has taken precautions by reinforcing our back fence and the wildlife officials have installed night cameras to get a visual identification on our wild cat. Hopefully, the increased education about the fishing cat and ways to keep safe when at the school will help alleviate some of the fears of the parents. I hope that our school can learn to coexist with our fishing cat, as it has a right to exist in Bangkok as much as we do, if not more.

Fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus)

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Description

These animals are described as robust and powerful. Native to riverbanks from India through Southeast Asia, these cats love to fish. They have a double layer of fur so when they go in the water they don’t get wet down to the skin. The pelt is grizzled grey, often tinged with olive brown. The fur is marked with dark round spots which run in longitudinal rows. On the face fishing cats have white stripes running from the eyes to the crown of the head, and there are six to eight dark lines running from the forehead over the crown and along the neck. Contrasting white spots mark the backs of the short, rounded black ears. The head is thick and broad and the muzzle is somewhat elongate. They are about the size of a basset hound, the body of the fishing cat is notably deep chested, and the relatively short tail is unusually thick and muscular near the base.

Fishing cats don’t have full claw sheaths (similar to the cheetah) so their claws are partially visible even when retracted. It is often thought that fishing cats have webbed feet but this is not so. They have a partial membrane between the toes but no more than in other wild or domestic cats. There are two subspecies of fishing cat described as:

P. v. viverrinus India, southeast Asia and Sumatra

P. V. risophores Java and Bali

Principal Dimensions                   

                                                      Overall    Males    Females

Head and body lengths (cm)             65-100

Height at shoulders (cm)                   25-33

Tail lengths (cm)                                   38-41

Weight (kg)                                            6-15            11-15           6-7

Distribution and Habitats

Fishing cats live in a variety of watery habitats: mangrove swamps, marshy thickets and reed beds, up to an alititude of 1,500 meters. They seem to prefer areas where there is substantial thick cover near open water. Geographically they are found discontinuously throughout southern Asia, from Malyasia, parts of Indonesia (Sumatra and Java), and Sri Lanka to the Himalayan foothills of Nepal.

Fishing cats are often persecuted because they will live close to human dwellings. They can survive in suburban situtations and are often found stealing livestock, such as calves or chicken.

Conservation Status

CITES: Appendix II. IUCN: Insufficiently known 

Felid TAG 2000 recommendation: Although not an endangered species, this species’ lowland habitat is under stress. The Fishing Cat has a Species Survival Plan SSP.

In the wild they are listed as Near Threatened. Although they have a substantial range in tropical Asia (over 1 million square kilometers), its actual area of occupancy is much smaller as it is strongly associated with wetlands. A survey showed that more than 50% of Asian wetlands are faced with moderate to high degrees of threat and are disappearing. These threats include settlement, draining for agriculuture, polution, and excessive hunting, woodcutting and fishing. The result is a similar decline among the fishing cat populations.

School children reported sighting of tiger behind school

Amazingly two students at my school claimed that they sighted a tiger behind the school fence. There are many rumors flying around the school and it has been reported on the Thai news. Whether it is a tiger or not remains to be seen.

To recount what little we know so far: two fourth grade students were playing PE on the school yard on Monday when they saw a large animal by the fence at the back of the school. It is not uncommon for their to be water buffalo behind the school, but the students looked again to confirm what they saw because it appeared to be a large orange cat (we’ll call it a ‘tiger’ from now on). The boy told his friends about the tiger sighting, but they laughed at him and so he didn’t tell anyone else.

Of course, the students talked about what the boy had said and finally the teachers got wind of it. This afternoon as I went to teach my 1 o’clock class the two students were called to the principal’s office to retell what they had seen. The student drew a picture of a tiger to clarify that they had seen a tiger and not a water buffalo. The boy was offended that no one seemed to believe that he knew what a tiger looked like.

The principal took action and called the authorities. Several rescue units arrived at the school and investigated the area behind the school’s fence. Indeed there were foot prints that resembled a cat’s. These footprints were very large, larger than a human’s hand, and indicated a large cat. However, there have been no further sightings of the tiger. The news reporters caught wind of the story from the police band radio and the story of the tiger sighting in the area of the Loatian Embassy has been on the Thai news as early as 15:00, although nothing is offical yet and confirmation from an expert from the Dusit Zoo is still pending.

In an event that the tracks do belong to a member of the big cat family, the authorities have assured us that they will be taking the necessary steps to remove the animal from the vicinity. The school, in the meantime, is take the necessary precautions to keep the students safe by keeping them in the school buildings and as far from the school fence as possible. Teachers are surprised at the recent events and are keeping watchful survellience over their students. Authorities are standing guard around the fence, hoping to sight the tiger or the animal that has caused all of this commotion at our little school.

Exotic Pets – Sugar Gliders from Chatuchak Market

I’ve known about these little creatures from Australia since I was in high school. My cousin in Arizona had one named Pewee. I was researching sugar gliders as soon as I got back to California. Unfortunately for me, it is prohibited to own sugar gliders in California. At the time, I was getting ready to go to college as well, so owning a sugar glider was out of the question.When I was walking through Chatuchak Market in Bangkok over a year ago and came across some sugar gliders in the pet section, I about flipped. I went to a couple of different shops asking the price and care requirements. I was a bit hesitant at first, but the following weekend, I went back to the shop that I felt the most comfortable with and bought a male joey for 2,300 baht.
I spent quite a bit of time bonding with the little sugar glider, which I named Clark Kent, and at first he was pretty scared of being handled. But after a few days, he was fairly eager to crawl around on me when I brought him out of his cage. During the next few weeks, I did more and more research on the Internet about sugar gliders and decided to by another joey to keep Clark Kent company.
Three weeks after buying my first joey, I went back to the same shop and bought a female joey, they only had females at the time, and introduced her to Clark Kent. At first they were crabbing at each other and the female joey, Lois Lane was quite scared of the larger male joey. He was only three weeks older than her, but he was quite a bit bigger. I had to keep them in separate bonding pouches at first and they kept to themselves when I put them in the same cage, but by the next day they were cuddling in the same sleeping nest. Clark and Lois Lane have been inseparable ever since.

Update: A recent visit to Chatuchak Market to sell Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s joey revealed that the price for sugar gliders has fallen. Males can easily be purchased for $1,600 baht although some stores sell females for a little more. The resale on baby gliders is quite low and you’ll get less than $1000 for a healthy joey. Females may bring a higher price than the males, of course.