Fruits Of Thailand – Mangosteen

Mangosteen Fruit

The mangostein or mangosteen is in season now. They are probably my most favourite fruit in Thailand.

The Mangosteen a large evergreen tree native to the Malay Peninsula. It grows to 5 to 10 metres.The crop is also found in certain parts of India, Thailand and the Philippines. Hailed as the “Queen of Fruits” by locals, the mangosteen’s popularity is rivalled only by the  durian. Outside it has a hard dark purple colour rind which encases sweet, white edible segments. It’s flavour is not unlike a sorbet.

The rind of the mangosteen, which is not really edible, is rich in tannin and commonly used as an astringent. It is also prescribed as a curative for dysentery, diarrhoea and cholera. If you google mangosteen rind you will find that it cures almost everything known to mankind!

At the Tanin Market this morning mangosteens were 35 baht (A$1.10) per kilo. I saw them later at a roadside stall on the Mae Rim Road for 25 baht

Mangosteen at the Tanin Market

 

Mangosteen Plantation

 

Viwantanee Punprapai

Last night I went to a Senior Student violin recital by Viwantanee Punprapai, at the CRK Recital Hall,  Payap University Kaew Narawat campus. The recital was part of a performance course Senior Project before her graduation.

The programme consisted of,

Messanet: Meditation de Thais

Brahms: Violin Sonata No.3 in A minor,

Interval

Vivaldi: “SUMMER” from Four Seasons, assisited by Payap String Ensemble

I saw a performance Of Thais in Bangkok a few years ago by the Bangkok Opera. It is a fairly ordinary opera but has a beautiful theme “Meditation” throughout. It imakes a great piece as a violin solo. Viwantanee handled it with the required sensitivity.

In the first half of the concert she was accompanied by pianist David Wilson.

In the second half she was joined by the Payap String Ensemble.

A most enjoyable concert. It is always exciting to see and hear young people making music together.

Here is Itzhak Perlman playing Meditation de Thais.

Mix Restaurant & Bar

Last night the Dining Out Group ate at Mix Restaurant & Bar. It is located in  Soi 1 Nimanhemin Road in walking distance of my apartment. I didn’t walk however. It might have rained! It was  formerly called The Drunken Flower but  the house and garden were extensively updated about three years ago. Decorations have an oriental theme. Soi 1 is a dead end street and the restaurant is located right at the far end. Parking is reasonable.

Mix has a huge menu. Every dish is accompanied by a clear photograph. Food is western. Thai, Japanese, with many fusion dishes. Service was excellent and friendly. Unfortunately a TV showing cartoons and background music were competing with each other which was irritating. The light was a bit bright for mood dining.

Outside Mix Restaurant

Eight of us enjoyed the atmosphere and our meals. Prices were on the high side of reasonable. I had a lamb shank which was delicious followed by fried ice cream. My blood sugar reading this morning reminded me that I should not have had desert! The devil made me do it!

 

 

 

Three had Lobster

 

David's Desert

My Lamb Shank

Dining Out Group

Getting Old(er) in Thailand

We all know that getting old is not for wimps.

Ageing  can be a major issue for expats, especially if dementia or mobility is involved and they are living alone. Some return to their home country where they know that they will have access to care facilities or can take advantage of government welfare.

A Group called Lanna Care Net has been formed recently In Chiang Mai, consisting of a local network of concerned individuals and organizations involved in assisting aging foreigners here. Here is information from them.

Lanna Care Net
Helping ageing foreigners live safe and healthy lives in Northern Thailand.


What is Lanna Care Net?
It is a group of people who help ageing foreigners live safe and healthy lives in Chiang
Mai and surrounding areas. We do this by providing advice and practical assistance
where necessary.


What do we do?
We identify those in need, or at risk, either directly or through third parties.
We assist people by counseling, giving advice, offering practical, help and contacting
other individuals and organisations which can help.
We advise and educate people so they may avoid problems associated with ageing.
We will provide emergency assistance when necessary.
We assist people both in the short and the long term, according to need.
We train and educate our members so they become more effective.


What don’t we do?
We cannot provide financial assistance but will help people obtain financial assistance
where they are eligible.
We cannot provide medical or nursing care but can advise clients were suitable support
may be found.
Foreigners in an emergency or life-threatening situation call: 089 700 4486 (24 hours)
For enquiries and general support call: 085 709 8801 (9 to 5 only)
Or contact us by e-mail: lannacarenet@gmail.com.

Ageing is not a real problem for Thais.Old age is treated with great respect. Here families bond very strongly. Thai children believe they have an obligation, more a loving responsibility, to care for their aging parents.

There’s never a thought about putting elderly parents in a home (they don’t really exist in Thailand), or having someone else take care of their parents. It’s just given that elderly parents will be taken care of by their children.

There is no feeling of being inconvenienced by this duty of caring for aged parents; on the contrary, their acquired wisdom gives them an honoured place in the household.

If a Thai has to do something for their parents, even if it means it will negatively impact on their job, too bad, parents will win out every time. The same goes for brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents and, often even friends. The needs of the family (and close friends) is more important than the needs of a job or a boss. It’s very rare to meet a Thai who will choose a job over family. After all, there are thousands of jobs, but you only have one family.

Dok Kaew Gardens Entrance

But getting back to Expats. The need for assisted living facilities in Chiang mai is now recognised. One such facility is the Senior Care Programme at Dok Keaw Gardens at McKean Rehabilitation Centre. The centre is managed by the Church of Christ in Thailand (different from the Church of Christ in Australia) and is on the site of a former leper colony.

I kow a guy wih dementia who is living there. David has a room in the secure section.

David

Accommodation is very comfortable indeed. Rooms are spotlessly clean. Facilities include a TV, refrigerator, electric jug, clothes wardrobe and private shower and toilet. Meals which are basic but nutritious are taken in an airy dining room. Monthly fees which are all inclusive are about 30,000 baht (A$930) a month.

A live in or part time carer in your own house or apartment can be a viable alternative from a cost point of view. It has the advantage of allowing you to live in your own comfortable  and familiar surroundings.

The Kitchen

Lunch Time

Administration Building

The Rooms are set in Landscaped Gardens

Khao Soi

Khao Soi

Khao Soi is an iconic Northern dish. It was once considered “street food” but it’s status has now reached a level where some restaurants specialise in it and almost have a cult following
.
“It is a Burmese-influenced curry noodle dish usually using chicken, beef, or pork. In Northern Thailand, kao soi is a meal for one, served up in a bowl and garnished with a tangle of crunchy egg noodles fried crisp for a contrast in texture to the tender noodles and smooth, sunny-colored sauce. The standard condiments include Chinese-style ground chilies in oil, chopped pickled cabbage and wedges of lime.”

 

Here is a recipe, but maybe a little adventurous for western cooks!

Northern Thai Sausage, ‘Sai Oua’

Sai Oua on the Grill

Sai oua is northern-style sausage made from ground pork, dried chilies, garlic, shallots and a range of pungent herbs and spices. It looks very similar to northeastern-style sausage when seen on a charcoal grill but tastes drastically different – sai oua is more meaty and rich with herbal aromas as well as chilies.

In Chiang Mai, Sai Oua is served on mixed appetizer plate  with sticky rice and is also featured in Khan Tok traditional Northern Thai dinner meal.

Maehia Fresh Market

Amporn Sai Oua Meng Rai shop has been around for 40 years.  They grill it fresh and also have a pre-cooked vacuum package to take home.

Sliced Sai Oua showing texture

You can see (and smell) Sai oua cooking inside Maehia Fresh Market on the Canal Road.

Flowers In Thailand – Hibiscus

Hibiscus in Green Hill garden

The hibiscus is a group of more than 200 plants with beautiful flowers. While native to Asia and the Pacific Islands, it can be found across almost all of the globe.

It exists in multi-colours is a popular evergreen flowering shrub.Because it is grown so widely it has different meanings in different parts of the world.

It thrives in Chiang Mai where it is grown in gardens and pots. Blooms are in single or double form.

 

 

National Flower of Malaysia

The five-petals, brilliant red Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis, is the National Flower of Malaysia and Hibiscus syriacus is the national flower of South Korea.

Stamp of South Korea

Hibiscus leaves and flowers are used for traditional medicine in some countries.

It was difficult to find information on hibiscus which was specific to Thailand.

Hibiscus Shrub in Green Hill Garden

 

National Flower of South Korea

Flowers In Thailand – Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea, sometimes known as paper flowers,  is a genus of  flowering plants native to South America mainly Brazil  It thrives in south-east Asia. In Thailand it is very common in gardens and pots. Because it is hardy and relatively pest-free, it is often planted on median strips separating divided roads in Chiang Mai. It’s thorny,woody vines discourage pedestrians from trying to cross the road. Once established the plants are fairly drought tolerant.

Hang Dong Rd and the Superhighway are good examples

 

Bougainvillea on Median Strip on the Superhighway in Chiang Mai

Thai gardeners are skilled at grafting different colored “paper flowers” to the same root stock so that a single plant will have many colors. Pots are excellent for Condo or Apartment balconies.

Many beautiful examples can be seen at the Kamthieng Market behind the Tesco Lotus supermarket on the Superhighway.

 

 

Flowers In Thailand – Frangipani

Frangipani in the Garden at Green Hill

Plumeria (or commonly known as the frangipani) is a genus native to the tropical and sub tropical Americas. They have successfully spread to all tropical locations of the world, including Thailand. Nothing evokes that tropical feeling quite like the frangipani. Their sweet scent and sheer beauty make them universally loved. Most familiar in their white and yellow form, they also come in loads of tropical colours. Frangipanis are tough plants that can survive neglect, heat and drought

Wedding Bouquet

They are, of course, widely grown and admired in Australia, especially in the tropical north. They are common in Brisbane.If you are interested look at the Australasian Plumeria Society site. They are popular as wedding bouquets.

The frangipani is the national tree of Laos, the flower of the city of Palermo in Sicily, Italy, and is the national flower of Nicaragua.

Budda Image with Frangipani Flower

Frangipani trees were once considered taboo in Thai homes because of superstitious associations with the plant’s Thai name, lantom, which is similar to ratom, the Thai word for sorrow. As a result, frangipanis were thought to bring unhappiness. Today, however, the blossoms are presented as fragrant offerings to Buddha and Thai people wear them on special festival days like Songkran (Thai New Year). Frangipani trees were traditionally planted in Buddhist temple compounds, where, according to a superstitious belief, anything unlucky  will lose its bad effects.The old gnarled trees can be hundreds of years old.

Thainess

Thainess is something that makes Thai people who they are. Some say that farangs will never completely understand Thais, because of this intrinsic quality that cannot be accurately defined. It is what makes Thais….. well Thai.

There are three common elements which applies to all levels of Thai society. All people share the Thai language, the Buddhist religion, and the Monarchy, which gives them a common collective identity. But Thainess is hard to define because it is a  multi faceted concept that does not fit in one simple definition. It cannot really be explained or understood without actually living with it and experiencing it.

It is a concept that provides the foundations for social harmony and the respect of order in a patriarchal, hierarchical society. You can learn the Thai language but only Thais have Thainess.

It is the Thai quality which endears Thais to many but infuriates them to others.

Most expats here will have at times experienced the frustrations of Thainess. Situations will arise that defy logic and will simply be passed off as “it’s the Thai way”. End of discussion! Some even find it so distressing that they cannot cope and return home.

Thai society can be quite xenophobic. Some claim that it has arisen because Thailand was never colonised. It is one of just a few countries that have never been invaded and conquered. I personally think it goes deeper than that. However whatever is the reason, in Thailand, English is not used as widely used as poorer neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.  With ASEAN 2015 approaching, Thais are becoming aware that their national English skills will need to improve. The official language of ASEAN is English.

To give further meaning to being Thai consider the lyrics of their national anthem which is played at 8am and 6pm every day on all TV and radio stations and all public places.The full lyrics translated into English are,

Thailand embraces in its bosom all people of Thai blood.
Every inch of Thailand belongs to the Thais.
It has long maintained its sovereignty,
Because the Thais have always been united.
The Thai people are peace-loving,
But they are no cowards at war.
They shall allow no one to rob them of their independence,
Nor shall they suffer tyranny.
All Thais are ready to give up every drop of blood
For the nation’s safety, freedom and progress. Hurrah!