Sunday, February 17, 2008

How to Kill Yourself Buying Groceries in Thailand

One of the hazards about living in Thailand is that, everything is in Thai. So turning off the wrong road flying off the cliff because the “danger - you are going to fly off the cliff” sign is written in Thai is just one of the many situations we foreigners may encounter.

I deliberately placed a bottle of salt among the multipurpose cleaners. As the picture above shows, if it was the other way round that I did put the multipurpose cleaner among the bottles of salt, some poor old farang with bad eyesight could have been sprinkling the corrosive agent into his baking pizza at home and wondering why his pizza sizzles like never before. I had once used the floor cleaner to wash my dishes because both detergent and floor cleaner looks so darn similar, with the almost identical red packaging and all the Thai words sprawled over. The detergent liquid was red, the floor cleaner liquid was red and both smelled of strawberry. English is not necessary and even if it is, the words are placed discreetly in small fonts. These are pure examples of the Hokkien saying “have mustache, blindly recognize as father”.

When at Tops, I see expired farang products everyday. Instant mashed potatoes, not every Thai will consume. Apple chips and such, all left to rot on the shelves and no staff bother to check on them since they are all English. I pointed out that a package had expired… EXP: FEB 14 2008. The staff told me.. E-X-P printed on the package was the packaging date, F-E-B is January in Thai….. WTF!!! I had to correct her and she then removed all the goods from the shelf, probably recycling them into the yellow pails we buy as offerings to the monks since Thai monks are unlikely to read English.

Non Stop Banana? Till this day I am wondering what genetic mutation causes a banana to be un-stoppable.

Worker Ants…. Wow.. didn’t know ants has an effect on air quality in Bangkok.

In a world where translations are never done correctly and where the talking bird speaks Thai, you really need to learn to read, really need to learn to write. Speaking their gentle language is just the first of obstacles.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Green Soup E-San, DON’T

I was in Sattahip for the most of last month. We had meals by the road side, breakfast by the sea, lunch in deep parts of the naval base with scenic views, coffee by the beach and drinks everywhere else. There, the scary food stories began.

First…. I took a piece of that fragrant fried fish that we waited for half an hour. Gobbled it down and what remained on my plate was a leg. My mouth paused. My brain paused.

I looked to my Thai friend and asked…. WTF is this, eyes wide open. He said, its delicious, dot worry, its just parts of fried cricket leftover in the wok frying our fish. True enough, my other colleague found one lone cricket hidden among the fried garlic garnish, whisked that into his mouth and chomped it down deliciously. Ok… so that was not so weird.

Next, that green soup of E-San. Don’t drink it. In fact, don’t drink anything that you know are pieces of cow floating in what looks deliciously like the green mutton soup of the Singapore Malay stalls.

When the dish came to me in the Som-Tam stall (North-East Papaya Salad Food), I was overwhelmed with delight to think that there was finally a mutton soup equivalent in Thailand. I was happy. The meat was ok, real steak, gingerly. One spoonful of the soup was next, firely gingerly taste that eventually left a huge cloud of bitterness in the mouth. I thought it was herbal, like certain Chinese delicacies. So, it was not Malay Mutton Soup.

In my best Thai I asked, in my best deciphering I understood:
“So what’s this?”
“Its soup of the final intestines of a cow.”
“Final? Near the backside?”
“Yes, it is special E-San dish.”
“Final? Where the shit is?”
“Yes, but may not be shit yet, final part of intestine, where food 90% turns shit, but have no chance to turn into 100% real shit because cow got slaughtered.”

Holy cow…. I ate cow shit!!!!!!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Finding the Elusive Singapore Food

I have no idea where this is. All I know is that it is in Nonthaburi near to my other office. The Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee… awesome. The Laksa… served in the clay pot, awesome. The Satay… fooking expensive, can try for once, then feel your pocket burn, then can skip for rest of life. I found you, oh Singapore food in Thailand.