It’s been a while. I know. Ever since my lovely wife Khwantippa arrived in Belgium, I’ve haven’t had a lot of time to write my blog. Both because of living on cloud 9, and administrative duties. I apologise … koh tood khrab, dear reader. But with the dust settling, space for writing is opening up, albeit on-the-go. Let me tell you about the new world I have been living in, which I like to call #ThailandInBelgium. Even without any ties to Thailand, it can be an amazing and colorful place for you to visit from time to time. Allow me to tell you all about, along with future adventures we will be embarking upon.
One of our favorite date night types in Thailand is visiting a hot pot restaurant. MK and Hot Pot Buffet are fine but if we have the choice, we always opt for an authentic Isaan-style hot pot eatery. Tonight we recreated such a meal at home, with fresh produce and a cheap electronic appliance. This is how we did it.
In my research towards Kuman Thong and Sak Yant tattoos, I came across Nam Man Phrai, a kind of magical oil. When I started looking into the Thai love and mind control spells, the oil was an essential ingredient once again. Obviously important in Thai black magic, I decided to take a deeper look. Its origin is even darker than I expected. Quite honestly, it sends shivers down my spine.
‘Three servings of Somtam with fermented crab, extra spicy’. When I heard the couple next to me order spicy papaya salad with their ice coffees, I knew I had to stick around. ‘Maybe you could try one portion first?’. The friendly waiter really wanted to ease them into Isan cuisine, but there was no stopping these weekend warriors out for an authentic adventure. Last Saturday, I paid a visit to Siam Senses in Antwerp.
Beneath Thai Buddhist society, a strong undercurrent of superstition and black magic exists. Mysterious and taboo, these influences require research to be fully understood. Case in point is the phenomenon of Luk Thep. At face-value it comes across as adults infatuated with dolls, but deeper down it traces back to the dark history of child ghosts and occult ceremonies. Let’s dig into these subjects, shall we? Along the way we’ll discover the reason for the popularity of red Fanta in the vicinity of shrines.
As Internet access only reached the Thai masses after the introduction of the smartphone, Siam has a very different online landscape compared to the West. Online sales caught on relatively recently, but in a very remarkable way. Massive volume isn’t generated in online stores, but on Facebook. Why is that and what dangers does it imply?
On this blue Sunday, I find myself in limbo at Bangkok International Airport. While I usually adore arriving at Suvarnabhumi, this particular visit feels surreal. Yes, I am on Thai soil and my AIS SIM-card connects to the mobile network, yet I am not able to leave the airport. Yes, I was out in the open air for a full 3 minutes, yet I am not able to meet my lovely wife. Yes, I am able to buy a sandwich at the very same Subway stand I always buy a snack before I leave, yet I have just arrived. Yes, it is 07:57 local time, but it’s only 01:57 in Belgium, and 08:57 in Shanghai where my next flight will land around 16:00. All a bit confusing, but that’s not all.
Commercial empires aren’t exclusive to mainstream business. Successful multinationals exist in underground markets just as well. A textbook example is British Dragon, the Pattaya laboratory that supplied the world with steroids. Ironically, it was conceived as a direct result of the clamp-down on the illicit anabolics trade and found its demise when Thailand increasingly integrated with the international intelligence community. The rise and fall of a shadow empire.
Over the last 3 years I have been trying to capture the essence of how Thai rural night markets look. There is something about the combination of a sunset and many different light sources, casting all kinds of shadows, that I find very appealing. My attempts have largely unsuccessful, up until recently in Phimai. For the first time I have been able to reproduce something that comes close to what I see in my mind’s eye. A selection of images is available if you continue reading. Any feedback is most welcome.
Pahurat, also known as Little India, is the neighbourhood just west of Yaowarat (Chinatown). Originally an enclave of the Vietnamese, and other South-East Asian cultures, Indians moved in shortly after the construction of the road that gave the area its name. About a century ago, the Sikh community settled a textile trading centre there, which is still very active and also trades in traditional clothing, including Thai. With my
girlfriend wife an accomplished traditional Thai dancer, the latter was our main motivation to head out there. Pictures of a colourful day in Little India, if you continue reading. Here are the directions, if you want to do some unusual shopping or have authentic Indian food in Bangkok.