Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bringing home the night's catch: Thai Fishermen

The night's catch is taken off the boats and sold right at the beach.
Thailand has some of the best seafood in the world. Fish, crab, shrimp, mussel, clam and squid fishermen spend the night offshore tending their large nets, then head to shore in early morning. Competing for beach space with tourists, chairs, umbrellas, and sidewalk drink and food vendors, the fishermen and their families bring the boats ashore and begin sorting their catch.

One has to travel a ways from the big resorts to experience the traditional Thai fishing industry and its accompanying beach culture, but it can be a rewarding experience to sit under a beach umbrella, eat freshly cooked seafood washed down with a cold drink, all the while watching the fishermen untangle their nets, fix their small boats, and set up their seafood sidewalk business, selling to street vendors and walk-by customers.

Sidewalk sales of live crab right off the boat.

Mobile food vendors cook and sell fresh seafood from the bed of pickup trucks. Yum!

Umbrellas are strategically placed to ensure shade throughout the day.

Fresh deep-fried crab and shrimp can be bought at any time of the day for 30 baht ($1) per dish.

Two people work together to untangle their net while others take their boat out 200 meters to dump the debris--nearly all of it organic remains, such as shells--that had been caught in their nets. 

More food! One doesn't have to even get up from the lounge chairs:
The vendors will most assuredly find you!

A crab fisherman will work all day to untangle his net. "And," as this man told me, "part of the night, too." As a result, many cannot go out every night. Unwanted debris is put into the basket for later sorting and ultimately dumped back into the sea.

Vendors of cheap plastic toys and cotton candy do a surprisingly brisk business among the tourists.

The small sturdy boats await the next night's work.
This scene is on Jomtien beach, a quiet alternative to the raucous streets and beaches of nearby Pattaya.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thai Village Re-visited

Freshly killed duck. The bowl holds drained blood, to be used in cooking.

Captivated by my first visit to a small Thai village near the Cambodian border, I returned and found that the village life pulled me even more into its embrace. As a second time visitor, I was allowed a more intimate look at their way of life. I was humbled and honored to be so accepted. One person gave me the ultimate compliment: "Khun pen krung Thai!" (You are half Thai!) I left with a deeper appreciation of the life of most country Thais, one that is not generally apparent in the sprawling city of Bangkok. I will certainly go back many times.

These photos and captions serve as a tour of two tiny villages in Isan, the northeastern agricultural region of the country.

Making "khao neeow" (sticky rice) by steaming over a charcoal burner.

This concrete structure is for making charcoal. The wood source is in the foreground.

Common kitchen utensils. The one in the middle is used for scraping out the coconut "meat."

Scraping the coconut.

Family using the typical mode of transport. I cringe every time I see this, which is most of the time!

Preparing small fish for grilling. It will be chopped and mixed with rice to be fed to the family dogs.

Village Thais are very superstitious.
Hanging red shirts outside the house protects from evil spirits.

Silk products for sale at a nearby town market. Silk from the Province of Surin is of high quality.
Lottery tickets

Creative hen's nests

An outdoor cooking area

As most village homes are open air, mosquito nets are common, but surprisingly not used by all.

A simple bamboo platform and mat used for sleeping.

The hands of a 78 year old former Muay Thai boxer. "How are your hands now?" "They hurt a lot."

Stairs at a mountainside temple.
People ring each bell (over 300 on each side) as they approach and leave.

I did not watch TV nor use my computer while there. I just enjoyed simply "being:" sitting on porches, talking with people, eating on a mat on the floor, drinking beer, and laughing quite a lot.