Monday, July 24, 2006

Thai food today: Jim Jum

I met backpackers who thought that pancakes and fruit plates are Thai food and their only acquaintance with real Thai food was Pad Thai and noodle soup. Both are fine, but if you not go out and try to eat all these delicious dishes that are around, you really miss something. Eating plays a major role in the average Thais life and sharing a meal with friends is an experience not to miss. Finding food is no problem. Any time of the day you find street vendors or small restaurants on the street.

Thai foodLast night we went out for Jim Jum, a kind of soup prepared at the table in an earthen ware pot on charcoal fire.

If you go to a place where the specialize in Jim Jum, the main selection you have to make is the sort of meat you want to add. You order beef, pork, seafood or organ per chute. It will be served raw on a plate together with a basket containing sweet Thai basil leaves, cabbage and glass noodles and spring onion ( combination of vegetables can vary a little bit) and you add it to the boiling broth yourself. Every restaurant has its own recipes for the sauces you later add to your food. Some are very spicy, especially the combination of lime juice, garlic and chilies while others are milder or even sweet. Usually you get three different kinds of sauces.

When the soup is boiling you first add the vegetables and stir with your chop sticks. This will lower the temperature in the pot a little and you better wait until it boils again before you add the meat. The meat comes in thin slices and is ready within a minute.

Now all you have to master is to fish the now slippery noodles and other ingredients out of the pot with your chopsticks, add you favorite sauce and enjoy. The soup becomes richer the more meat and vegetables are boiled in it and is best at the end.

Tip: As you can not regulate the temperature of the fire under the pot, if it gets too hot, add some of the ice that normally is served in a small bucket with your drinks.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

50,000 people disabled through accidents every year

The Nation, an English newspaper for Thailand, has a short item about traffic causalties today.

Estimated 50,000 people end up mentally or physically disabled after a traffic accident every year. 976,357 people were injured in accidents 2005.

The article does not say if these numbers include tourists or expats. Thailand has about 62 Million inhabitants. Put that into relation and it sounds as if there are accidents all the time.

So is Thai traffic very risky? Maybe. The article does not mention the number of accidents.

Students got to school, three kids on one motorbike, songteaws, these pick-up trucks with two benches along each side, are often packed with people and totally overloaded, whole families go to town on one motorcycle, in peak time busses are crowded.

One accident usually means there are lot of people involved even if only two vehicles crash.

The risk is certainly higher than in countries where people can afford the regular maintanance of their vehicles and government pulls unsafe transportation off the streets.

The Thai government reacted with new laws the last years. I.e. now motocycle riders have to wear helmets. If they do, once the traffic police has gone home, is a complete different story. And the foreigner here are not much better.

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Thailand - the land of smiles?

Well, yes,
but there is much more. And I do not talk about beaches or good weather. I will write about the daily life, the bits and pieces often unnoticed by the average tourist.

I try to get a grip on Thai culture, to understand Thai people. The longer I am here I the more I have the feeling that is very long learning process.

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