Home   Blog   Classes   Trips   More   back

The Royal Park Rajapruek

January 30th, 2018 by Michael Babcock
Royal Pavilion

The Royal Pavilion

(Click images to see larger version.)
(There’s a slideshow of images at the bottom.)

I first visited The Royal Park Rajapruek (also transliterated as Ratchaphruek) in December of 2006. It was then popularly knows an The Royal Flora Expo and officially knows as The International Horticultural Exposition at the Royal Agricultural Research Centre, Chiang Mai.

King's emblem

60th anniversary emblem

It was created by the Department of Agriculture to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s accession to the throne and also his 80th birthday (on December 5, 2007). I was one of 3,781,000 visitors that first year.

Later it was retained as a learning centre for botanical agriculture and site for agro-tourism and culture. In 2010 H.M. The King gave it the name “The Royal Park Rajapruek.” Rajapruek is the Thai name of Cassia fistula, commonly known as the Golden Rain Tree. It is the Thai national flower. Its yellow blossoms correspond to Monday, the day H.M. King Rama was born.

Kasma and I revisited the Royal Park this year in its current incarnation.

One of the tourist sites recommends giving “2 to 3 hours.” We spent 6 and didn’t see everything.

Note: The photo above left shows the emblem created for the 60th Anniversary of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s reign. The centerpiece is an abbreviation of the king’s name in golden yellow, the color of Monday, his day of birth. The abbreviation is set on a blue background, which is the color of the monarchy. He was born in the Year of the Rabbit, according to the Chinese Zodiac. Above the centerpiece is the number 9 in Thai script – he was King Rama IX.

The Ho Kham Luang Royal Pavilion

The Ho Kham Luang Royal Pavilion was and is the architectural highlight of the park, a beautiful pavilion built in the traditional Lanna style. You see it first in the distance as you enter the park located at the end of a wide boulevard-like path lined with statues. The Lanna kingdom was founded 700+ years ago in Northern Thailand and developed its own characteristic style, which is used here.

Walkway to Royal Pavilion

Elegant walkway to the Royal Pavilion

Royal Pavilion details

Royal Pavilion details

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves about the grace and beauty of this magnificent structure. (There are more photos in the slide show.)

Inside the Royal Pavilion

Inside the Royal Pavilion

Front detail

Detail of the inside of the Royal Pavilion

Ceramic sculture

The Progress by Sompetch Manorin (ceramic)


Bas-relief

Goddess of the Earth by Sagon Suthiman


In 2006 the bottom floor of this beautiful structure housed a number of stunning artworks. It now contains exhibitions honoring His Majesty the King under the theme, “The Development King through Six Decades” with information about his life and works and including videos about the beloved monarch. I highly recommend watching the video presentation if you get a chance: I found it inspiring and uplifting.

Park Layout

Royal Villa closer

Walking towards the Royal Pavilion

The park is divided into 9 zones scattered across 200 acres (80 hectares). It consists of numerous outdoor gardens and buildings containing exhibits and indoor gardens. The indoor buildings include The Kingdom of Tropical Dome, Shaded Paradise, Orchid Pavilion, Desert Plants Greenhouse and Bug World. Outdoors you can see the Palm Garden, Sawadee Garden, Flower Garden, Royal Garden, Garden New Theory and Lotus Garden. There are some example hilltribe houses and international gardens as well. The Park Map will give you an idea of the scope of the park.

On this recent visit, we took a leisurely stroll through the entrance area and the lovely initial gardens and then up the broad walkway to the Royal Pavilion. We spent quite a bit of time in and around the upper floor of the Pavilion and then more time with the exhibits and videos about the king on the bottom floor. From there we focused on the Shade Garden, Orchid Pavilion and Bug World. After that, 6 hours later, we were ready for a rest with the remainder, sadly, left unexplored.

Shade Garden

This is a thoroughly enjoyable wander through the pathways of temperate climate plants with many beautiful bromeliads.There are more photos in the slideshow below.

Shade Garden pathway

Meandering path at the Shade Garden

Bromeliads blooming

A row of bromeliads

Orchid Pavilion

This is a fabulous collection of orchids. On the occasion of our visit one the highlights were the many drifts of phalaenopsis orchids – just a stunning display. The exhibit consists of an extensive outdoor area as well as indoor rooms.

Orange orchid

Lovely orange orchid

The author amongst the orchids

There are many more orchids (and shade plants and butterflies) in the slideshow below.

Bug World

I’ve been to many “Butterfly Farms” in the past; Bug World has them all beat. I’ve never seen so many butterflies and so many different kinds of butterflies in one place. We spent over an hour here, either tracking butterflies to photograph or lurking at plants that they seemed to prefer, waiting for a chance to get a photo.

Butterfly feeding

Butterfly feeding

Giant moth

Giant moth

Recommendation

Photo of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulydej

If you are a plant lover visiting Chiang Mai, this is a must-see. It is also an excellent stop for lovers of Thai Culture and an opportunity to learn about the life and works of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

My recommendation would be to go in the winter; if possible in December around the time of the King’s Birthday (which is December 5). It’s the season where the gardens appear to be at their most lush, with the most flowers in bloom. We were there on December 18 of last year (2017).

It opens at 8:00 a.m.: get there as soon thereafter as you can. It can get pretty hot there and there’s not always shade along the walkways, though a shuttle service is available. That’s another good reason to visit in December – it’s in the “cool” season. (Though I’ve also heard it said that there are two seasons in Thailand: hot & hotter.)


Royal Project Rajapruek Slideshow

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.

Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.


Elephonts
royal-park-2
Monoliths
Monolith detail
3 garden elephants
royal-park-6
Fountain
King's emblem
Royal Villa closer
Bird on structure
Walkway to Royal Pavilion
Closer to Royal Pavilion
Royal Pavilion
Royal Pavilion side view
Front facade
Elegant facade details
Royal Villa details
View backwards
Inside the Royal Villa
Front of Royal Pavilion
Front detail
Lovely detailing
Ganeesha
Ceramic sculture
Bas-relief
Photograph of mourners
Door with statues
Manicured gardens
Royal Pavilion and gardens
Shade Garden pathway
Bromeliads blooming
Bromeliad close-up
Lovely foliage
Shade flower 1
Shade flower 2
Dragon sculpture
Orange orchid
Orchids
Orchid drift
Orchid Pavilion pathway
royal-park-41
Phalaenopsis close-up
Orchid Pavilion room
More orchids
Cattleya orchid
Vanda orchids
More orchids
Two resting butterflies
Butterfly feeding
Butterfly on stone
Another feeding butterfly
Giant moth
Brown butterfly
Butterfly with blue wings
Beautiful butterfly
royal-park-56
royal-park-57

This row of elephants is one of the first things you see after entering the park

One elephant provides a perch for a bird

You see these elegant monoliths soon after entering

A detail on one of the monoliths

These whimsical white elephants are in the garden just after you enter

You can just glimpse the Royal Pavilion way past this elephant

Moving past the first garden is this fountain with the Royal Pavilion seen still far behind

Emblem created for the 60th Anniversary of the King's reign

We've now walked past the fountain toward the Royal Pavilion

Another little bird just hanging out

The elegant walkway to the Royal Pavilion

One of the statues lining the walkway with the Pavilion in the back

The Royal Pavilion at The Royal Park Rajapruek

A side view of the Royal Pavilion

The lovely facade of the Royal Pavilion

Some of the elegant work on the facade of the Royal Pavilion

The Royal Pavilion abounds with lovely details

The view back along the walkway to the Pavlion

The interior of the Royal Pavilion

Approaching the front inside the Royal Pavilion

Detail of the inside of the Royal Pavilion

Such lovely detailing everywhere

Ganeesha by Khumai Detduangta from the original exhibit in 2006

The Progress by Sompetch Manorin (ceramic) from the original exhibit in 2006

Goddess of the Earth by Sagon Suthiman from the original exhibit in 2006

Photo of mourners of the late H.M. King Rama IX - part of the video at the exhibit hall

This is the exit from the lower level of the Royal Pavilion

Some of the gardens surrounding the Royal Pavilion

A distance shot of the gardens with the Royal Pavilion in back

One of the meandering paths at the Shade Garden

So many lovely bromeliads were in bloom

Close up of one of the bromeliads

One of the many lovely shade plants at the Shade Garden

Another lovely flower.

So much lovely color

This dragon was part of the decoration in the Shade Garden

This orchid was one of the first I saw after entering the Orchid Pavilion

The Orchid Pavilion was an explosion of orchids

There were often many blossoms on the same orchid plant

One of the pathways in the Orchid Pavilion

Here I am amongst the drifts of phalaenopsis orchids

A close-up of the phalaenopsis orchids in the previous photo

This was another room in the Orchid Pavilion

There were so many lovely flowers

One of a few cattleya orchids in bloom - it wasn't the season

Some stunning vanda blossoms

Let us say good bye to the orchids with this photo

Two resting butterflies at Bug World

Bug Word was full of plants to attract the butterflies

These orange butterflies abounded at Bug World

This plant was particularly popular here

The giant moth was the largest insect there – the size of a man's hand

We spent an hour tracking the colorful insects

Some of the butterflies had such lovely rich colors

This one was too shy to open its wings

With this green butterfly we bid farewell to Bug World

We'll close our slide show with a photo of Rama IX on one of the buildings at the Park

royal-park-1 thumbnail
royal-park-2 thumbnail
royal-park-3 thumbnail
royal-park-4 thumbnail
royal-park-5 thumbnail
royal-park-6 thumbnail
royal-park-7 thumbnail
royal-park-8 thumbnail
royal-park-9 thumbnail
royal-park-10 thumbnail
royal-park-11 thumbnail
royal-park-12 thumbnail
royal-park-13 thumbnail
royal-park-14 thumbnail
royal-park-15 thumbnail
royal-park-16 thumbnail
royal-park-17 thumbnail
royal-park-18 thumbnail
royal-park-19 thumbnail
royal-park-20 thumbnail
royal-park-21 thumbnail
royal-park-22 thumbnail
royal-park-23 thumbnail
royal-park-24 thumbnail
royal-park-25 thumbnail
royal-park-26 thumbnail
royal-park-27 thumbnail
royal-park-28 thumbnail
royal-park-29 thumbnail
royal-park-30 thumbnail
royal-park-31 thumbnail
royal-park-32 thumbnail
royal-park-33 thumbnail
royal-park-34 thumbnail
royal-park-35 thumbnail
royal-park-36 thumbnail
royal-park-37 thumbnail
royal-park-38 thumbnail
royal-park-39 thumbnail
royal-park-40 thumbnail
royal-park-41 thumbnail
royal-park-42 thumbnail
royal-park-43 thumbnail
royal-park-44 thumbnail
royal-park-45 thumbnail
royal-park-46 thumbnail
royal-park-47 thumbnail
royal-park-48 thumbnail
royal-park-49 thumbnail
royal-park-50 thumbnail
royal-park-51 thumbnail
royal-park-52 thumbnail
royal-park-53 thumbnail
royal-park-54 thumbnail
royal-park-55 thumbnail
royal-park-56 thumbnail
royal-park-57 thumbnail

Websites for Further Information and Visit Planning


Written by Michael Babcock, January 2018

My Choice Restaurant in Bangkok

January 1st, 2018 by Michael Babcock

(Click images to see larger version.)
(All the dishes mentioned can be seen in the slideshow at the end of the blog.)

My Choice sign

My Choice Restaurant Sign

My Choice Restaurant, on Sukhumvit Soi 36 (Soi Napasap) in Bangkok, has been one of our (Kasma’s and my) favorite restaurants for over 2 decades, dating back to their original location on Sukhumvit Soi 24 and then at earlier location on Soi 36.

They are located on Sukhumvit Soi 36 about 450 meters (a quarter mile) in from Sukhumvit Road. (Note: I think the address found on the web of 19 Sukhumvit Soi 36 is their old location: you need to go further into the soi to reach the restaurant.)

My Choice Interior

My Choice Interior

They serve delectable Thai food in a comfortable, elegant setting. At lunch time the dining area is filled with light. Any dish is liable to be a “wow” experience, where you wish you had more space in your stomach or less people at the table so you could eat more and more of it. In a 2001 review, The Nation called it “one of the city’s better Thai restaurants.”

One of the hallmarks of My Choice comes from the extremely fresh ingredients. I remember one occasion when we came for lunch and ordered the Spicy Grilled Eggplant Salad (something I am always tempted to order here). It took a little longer to arrive than the other dishes; when it came, the eggplant was still hot from the grill. Talk about fresh!

Everything we’ve ever had here has been good. I’d recommend that when you eat here, don’t simply order things that you’re familiar with: use this restaurant to expand your Thai culinary horizons by taking a chance on a dish you’ve never heard of before.

Yum Salads

Eggplant salad

Spicy Grilled Eggplant Salad

One of the things that My Choice does especially well are the type of salads known by the Thai word yum. This type of salad emphasizes sour (from lime juice) and spicy (from Thai chillies, prik kee noo).

Kasma always brings her small-group trips to My Choice, often for two meals during the trips, and she always includes at least one yum salad. My personal favorite is Spicy Eggplant Salad (Yum Makeua Yao) made with roasted eggplant. The long eggplants used in much of Thailand (My Choice, too) are a green variety that roast up with a delicious smokey flavor. (There is a green variety in the U.S. that doesn’t compare.)

If you want to try a different flavor, give the Spicy Crispy Fish Salad (Yum Pla Grob) a try. The smoky fish flavor blends in wonderfully with the hot/sour dressing.

Other favorites are Spicy Winged Bean Salad (Yum Tua Phoo) (smothered in crispy, fried shallots), Spicy Water Mimosa Salad (Yum Pak Krachehd),, Spicy Banana Blossom Salad (Yum Hua Plee) and, for people who like bitter melon, Spicy Bitter Gourd salad (Yum Mara). If you like mackerel, there’s the Spicy Minced Pork Mackerel Salad (Lahb Moo Pla Too) (also available with minced beef or chicken) – this one is actually a “larb” (pronounced “lahb.”)

Curries

Panaeng Beef Curry

Panaeng Beef Curry

My Choice also excels with curry dishes of all kinds. The curry we order most consistently is Panaeng Beef Curry (Kaeng Panaeng Neua), which is a rich, coconut-milk based curry.

At a recent visit we ate two fabulous red curries. The first one was King Prawn in Red Curry with Eggplants (Kaeng Gung Yai Makeua Yao). Wow. I just wanted to eat all the fabulous curry sauce made from fresh coconut milk – it was so rich and flavorful. As a plus, the prawns were whole, head and all. The second dish was a “Choo Chee” (red) curry, listed on the menu as Fried Fish/Shrimp with Curry Paste (Pla/Gung Pad Kreung Choo Chee): also rich and flavorful. You couldn’t go wrong, either, with the Red Curry with Roast Duck (Kaeng Phed Ped Yang).

Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry in Southern Style

The best green curry I’ve ever had was one time at My Choice; and I’ve been eating delicious Thai food that Kasma makes plus at restaurants all over Thailand since 1992. On the menu it is Green Chicken Curry (Kaeng Khiow Wahn Gai); you can also get it with pork or beef. When you taste it, it is immediately obvious that it is made with fresh coconut milk. It is always a wonderful dish, always excellent and typically served with delicious, flakey roti.

Another outstanding curry, this one made without coconut milk, is Chicken Curry In Southern Style (Kaeng Gai Khua Pak Tai) (see above left). Be warned: this dish is spicy! A dry curry, it’s made with Thai eggplants, long beans, often with baby corn, chicken and a very spicy indeed red sauce. If chillies indeed release endorphins, thus improving your mood, this dish can put you into a state of bliss. (For more information on Southern food see Kasma’s article Southern Cooking – Thai Style.)

Other Favorite Dishes

Stir-Fried Ivy Gourd Greens with Pork

I’ll only mention a few of our other favorites, things that we order time and time again, whether or not we are with trip members. The advantage to coming with a group is that we can order more dishes; the disadvantage is that we have to share favorites!

One favorite is Roasted Duck with Gourd Leaves (Ped Ob Tam Leung). It consists of succulent Thai duck (much better than duck that I’ve had in the United States) with a type of gourd leaf all served in a brown sauce. This is a good non-spicy dish to throw into the mix. Thai people usually serve a variety of flavors and spice levels in their meals. We also order Stir-fried Ivy Gourd Greens with Pork (Moo Sap Tam Leung) – photo above right.

Grilled pork neck

Charcoal Grilled Pork’s Neck

We absolutely love the Charcoal Grilled Pork’s Neck (Ka Moo Yang). I always want to eat the whole plate myself.

A new favorite, after a recent lunch, is the Spicy Deep Fried Catfish Fillet Pla Deuk Tod Krob Pad Ped. Spicy from a red curry sauce it is particularly tasty, with lovely, fresh winged beans as part of the mix. As always at My Choice, the flavors were balanced beautifully.

A terrific spicy dish is Stir-Fried Squid in Chili Sauce (Pad Chah Pla Meuk). This is a very spicy dish that receives added flavor from fresh green peppercorns and a root called krachai in Thai (often known as “rhizome” here in the U.S.).

One dish we enjoy – though be warned: it’s not for everyone – is Stir Fried Preserved Egg with Sweet Basil Leaves (Kai Yiow Ma Pad Bai Khaprow). The eggs preserved in a mixture that typically includes clay, ash and salt (with other things) up to several months turning the egg dark, almost black, in color and some people find the taste too strong. We find it delicious.

One-dish Meals

My best recommendation for My Choice is to go with as many friends as you can so you can order a wide variety of dishes. Nonetheless, you may find yourself there alone at a lunch hour and just want something simple. They do have a number of noodle and one-dish rice dishes under the category “Hot Dishes.”

Rice plate

Coconut Rice served with Papaya Salad

We like the Coconut Rice served with Papaya Salad (Khao Man Som Tam) (found under “Recommended”), which comes with a piece of fried chicken. It’s a fun and tasty combination.

Then there are noodle dishes found all over Thailand. They do a very good version of Pad Thai with Shrimp (Pad Thai Gung Sohd) and their Rahd Na, on the menu as Fried Noodle with Pork/Chicken/Shrimp/Fish in Gravy Sauce (Kuay Tiow Rad Na Moo/Gai/Gung/Pla), is good as well. Another favorite is the Black Olive Fried Rice (Kao Pad Nam Liap). If you really like black olives, you can order Stir Fried Black Olive with Pork (Nam Liap Pad Moo Sap) as a separate dish.

Dessert

We recommend you finish up with a nice bowl of ice cream. My favorite is the plain Coconut Ice Cream (Ait Cream Kati), though I also like the Taro Ice Cream (Ait Cream Peuak) and the Lemon Basil Seeds Ice Cream (Ait Cream Med Maeng Lak). These coconut-based ice creams (they appear to be dairy-free) are a good way to cool down a mouth that has just eaten some spicy dishes.

Author eating

The author enjoys a meal

Getting There

Map

Map to My Choice, Click for larger

Sukhumvit Soi 36 (Soi Napasap)
Bangkok, Thailand 10110
Telephone: 02-258-6174
Website: My Choice Facebook page

The restaurant is located about 450 meters (1/4 mile) in on Sukhumvit Soi 36. You can take the skytrain to the Thong Lo stop and walk into Soi 36 but it’s a narrow soi so you may want to have a cab take you into the restaurant.

Further Reading

See also: Black Olive Rice at My Choice Restaurant (blog entry)

Read the article by Bangkok Restaurant Guide, review and food critic – My Choice Restaurant review on Sukhumvit 36 (2008). This review is still accurate about the food; however, it is out-of-date on the atmosphere, which is much more elegant and subdued at this new location.


 

My Choice Slideshow

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.

Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.


My Choice sign
Map
My Choice Menu
My Choice Interior
Eggplant salad
Crispy Fish Salad
my-choice-25
Water Mimosa Salad
Mackerel Salad
Panaeng Beef Curry
Red Curry with Prawns
Choo Chee Fish
Green Curry
Green Curry
Chicken Curry
my-choice-18
my-choice-5
Roast Duck
my-choice-22
Grilled Pork
Spicy catfish dish
Winged beans in dish
Squid dish
Preserved Eggs
Rice plate
Pad Thai
Rahd Nah
Ice Cream
Author eating

My Choice Restaurant Sign

Map to My Choice on Sukhumvit Soi 36

My Choice Menu

The elegant interior of My Choice Restauarnt

Spicy Grilled Eggplant Salad (Yum Makeua Yao)

Spicy Crispy Fish Salad (Yum Pla Grob)

Spicy Winged Bean Salad (Yum Thua Poo)

Spicy Water Mimosa Salad (Yum Pak Krachehd),

Spicy Minced Pork Mackerel Salad (Lahb Moo Pla Too)

Panaeng Beef Curry (Kaeng Panaeng Neua)

King Prawn in Red Curry with Eggplants (Kaeng Gung Yai Makeau Yao)

"Choo Chee" Fried Fish with Curry Paste (Kaeng Pad Kreung Choo Chee)

Green Chicken Curry (Kaeng Khiow Wan Gai)

Green Chicken Curry (Kaeng Khiow Wan Gai)

Chicken Curry in Southern Style (Kaeng Gai Khua Pak Tai)

Massaman Curry with Chicken (Kaeng Massaman Gai)

Stir-Fried Tamleung (Ivy Gourd) Greens with Chopped Pork and Fried Garlic (Moo Sap Tamleung)

Roasted Duck with Gourd Leaves (Ped Ob Tam Leung)

Charcoal Grilled Pork's Neck (Ka Moo Yang)

Charcoal-Grilled Lemon Grass Pork with Chilli Dipping Sauce (Moo Yang Takhrai)

Spicy Deep Fried Catfish Fillet (Pla Deuk Tod Krob Pad Ped)

Winged beans in the Spicy Deep Fried Catfish Fillet (Pla Doog Tawd Krob Pad Ped)

Stir-fried Squid in Chilli Sauce (Pad Cha Pla Meuk)

Stir Fried Preserved Egg with Sweet Basil Leaves (Kai Yiow Ma Pad Bai Khaprow)

Coconut Rice served with Papaya Salad (Khao Man Som Tam)

Pad Thai with Shrimp (Pad Thai Gung Sohd)

Fried Noodle with Chicken in Gravy Sauce (Kuay Tiow Rad Na Gai)

Lemon Basil Seed Ice Cream (Ait Cream Med Maeng Lak)

The author enjoys a meal at My Choice

my-choice-0 thumbnail
my-choice-9 thumbnail
my-choice-2 thumbnail
my-choice-1 thumbnail
my-choice-3 thumbnail
my-choice-15 thumbnail
my-choice-25 thumbnail
my-choice-21 thumbnail
my-choice-17 thumbnail
my-choice-4 thumbnail
my-choice-16 thumbnail
my-choice-14 thumbnail
my-choice-26 thumbnail
my-choice-8 thumbnail
my-choice-27 thumbnail
my-choice-18 thumbnail
my-choice-5 thumbnail
my-choice-23 thumbnail
my-choice-22 thumbnail
my-choice-6 thumbnail
my-choice-11 thumbnail
my-choice-12 thumbnail
my-choice-10 thumbnail
my-choice-28 thumbnail
my-choice-19 thumbnail
my-choice-20 thumbnail
my-choice-24 thumbnail
my-choice-13 thumbnail
my-choice-20 thumbnail

Written by Michael Babcock, January 2018

Coffee in Thailand, Part 5 (2017)

December 25th, 2017 by Michael Babcock

Cappuccino 1

Cappuccino at Ban Khun Chang Khian

In the past I’ve blogged a number of times on coffee in Thailand. (Links included at the end of the article.) As Kasma and I traveled around the north this past month – up to Doi Ang Khang and to several out-of-the-way places in Chiang Mai province as well as Chiang Mai itself – I couldn’t help but notice the changing coffee scene.

This is by no means a comprehensive review. Like my other blogs it contains my impressions and observations about the changing scene here in Thailand as I observed them.
 

(Click images to see larger version.)

On a recent trip to Thailand (Kasma leads small group, off-the-beaten track trips to Thailand) a trip member who works in the coffee industry told Kasma that virtually all of the coffee grown in Thailand is consumed in Thailand, unlike many other countries where most coffee is exported. When you drink coffee in Thailand, it is likely to have been grown there.,

Coffee Everywhere!

Isolated Coffee Shop

Roadside coffee shop


Each year there are more coffee shops in Thailand. More and more locations with shops or market stalls of any kind seem to have one selling fresh coffee.

Driving through the countryside on the way from Doi Ang Khang to Chiang Dao, we stopped at a viewpoint with a number of shops and, sure enough, one of them was a coffee place (pictured to the left). In addition to pretty good coffee, it offered some beautiful views of the mountains.

We often saw the signs for กาแฟสด (ka-fay sot – fresh coffee) at roadside stops and on random streets in various towns. Typically, the coffee is ground to order and then made using an espresso machine. You don’t really get drip coffee here in Thailand; if you order a black coffee you get what is essentially an Americano – basically an espresso with water added to make it about the same strength as a brewed or drip coffee.

Barista and stall

The roadside barista

Drin//www.thai Coffee

The author enjoys a cappuccino

I’ve noticed that more and more of the baristas are ma//www.thai better quality drinks. I almost alway order a cappuccino. When correctly made a cappuccino is espresso with just milk foam on top and no added milk. In the past, about half the time you’d get what was essentially a caffe latte, with straight steamed milk and not so much milk foam. Only once this year did that happen. More and more I’m starting to see foam art on the drinks as well.

Another change is that fewer places serve a small glass of tea with your coffee. In past days nearly every coffee shop would serve you a small glass of tea along with your coffee, to clear out the bitterness. Even the Amazon at Imperial World used to do this and didn’t this year. We were served that tea maybe twice this year.

A Proliferation of Coffee Growers

Coffee Brand

Ban Khun Chang Khian coffee

There are coffee beans available from many more growers these days. We drove up to the Hmong village of Ban Khun Chang Khiang above Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai and had a very good cappuccino at a coffee shop advertising “local coffee.” In fact, the shop grew their own coffee beans. Later on, as we walked through the town, we stopped to buy strawberries at a stand and I noticed that they had ground coffee beans for sale. I bought a bag and it’s pretty good coffee. They had both medium and dark roast available. They, also, grew the beans they were selling.

The Royal Projects now offer coffee beans for sale, both ground and as whole beans. I picked up a bag at the Royal Projects Fair this December in Chiang Mai.

Coffee label

Royal Project coffee

The encouragement and support given by the Royal Projects explains much of the proliferation as hill tribes and rural areas are encouraged to grow coffee beans for economic gain. They are also taught how to roast and market their own beans so they can control the whole process from growing to selling. The community of Doi Tung was one of the first to do this. There are also a number of Doi Tung Coffee Shops, both at Doi Tung and also in Bangkok, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. (Here’s a list of their branches and here’s my recent blog on Doi Tung.) Doi Chaang is another hill tribe community that has grown coffee for at least 10 years and they, too, have their own cafes.

In the supermarkets associated with the malls here in Bangkok, I often see a half dozen or more different types of ground coffee beans available – typically in 200 gram bags. Many supermarkets also have a brand of beans that you grind at the market, one way to insure fresher coffee.

Pour Over (Drip) Coffee

Drip coffee box

Doi Tung drip coffee

Spea//www.thai of drip coffee . . .

A couple of years back the only place I know that was ma//www.thai pour over coffee – where you get a quantity of ground coffee in a little apparatus that you can place over a cup and then pour hot water through to get a drip coffee – was Doi Tung. Then last year I found it at Black Canyon. This year the big chain of Amazon started selling it – it appeared to be pretty popular as many of the Amazon cafes we stopped at had empty shelves because they had sold out. Then at the Royal Project Fair in Chiang Mai, I found Royal Project pour over coffee.

Doi Tung charges 150 baht for 6 packets; the other three charge 120 for 5.

Of course there are disadvantages – the freshness of the coffee depends on how long ago the beans were roasted and ground. You are also dependent on how much coffee is in an individual package (it varied from 10 to 15 grams) for the strength.

Coffee set-up

Set-up for drip coffee

Nonetheless, I always travel with some now. Many hotels offer buffet breakfasts but they very seldom have brewed coffee – and when they do, it can range from OK to awful. Usually what’s available is instant Nescafe, which isn’t terrible and also doesn’t have the taste of brewed coffee. There’s almost always hot water available, so I just bring my pour over and make myself a cup. Usually the first cup is about the strength I like. I’ll do a second pour over, sometimes a third, just for the taste of real coffee.

Amazon Expands

Cafe Amazon at a gas station

There are a number of chains in Thailand – Black Canyon was the first and started out in 1993. It’s also the most international with a presence in Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines and Myanmar. On the Black Canyon website they say they are “first Thai-owned specialty coffee retail business.” There’s the Cafe Rabika. Coffee World is another one. There are the smaller chains of Doi Tung and Doi Chaang. Certainly, the most widespread chain is Cafe Amazon, which was founded in 2002.

At first we saw Amazon mostly at the occasional BP gas station. Now, it is unusual to find a BP station that doesn’t have a Cafe Amazon. They are also expanding elsewhere in a big way. Two years ago one showed up in the trendy Thong Lo neighborhood (on Sukhumvit Soi 55) and last year one opened near the Bearing BTS station close to where we live when in Thailand. It is more and more common to find one at the malls. There is even an Amazon at the Royal Park Rajapruek in Chiang Mai. They seem to be everywhere.

When traveling we will get Amazon coffee quite often because they are so conveniently located at the BP stations. One thing I appreciate is that the price is consistent at all their cafes – a cappuccino is 45 baht, whether in a trendy neighborhood or a gas station. As a side note, 45 baht is a fairly standard price for a cappuccino in Thailand. Some smaller shops charge 30 baht and I’ve paid 70 baht at Black Canyon (albeit for a larger size); Starbucks is the most expensive of all.

Last year Amazon started offering “Premium” coffee at some of their cafes – a premium cappuccino costs 70 baht, a 55% price increase. I tried it once and didn’t feel it was worth the extra cost.

One change we’ve seen this year is the increase in Amazon labelled convenience food – cookies, chips, cakes and the like. Also, as noted above, they’ve added their own brand of pour over coffee.

Coffee drink

A specialty drink

Twice this year we’ve come across a much larger and fancier Cafe Amazon. Kasma’s comment was that they are trying to be more like Starbucks. As part of this, they’ve started offering more specialty drinks, such as the Popcorn Coffee Frappe. These specialty drinks seem to be every bit as unhealthy as their Starbucks counterparts, including enough sugar to hurry you on the road to diabetes.

Spea//www.thai of Starbucks, I avoid them. On a couple of occasions (someone wanted to meet at a conveniently located one; I needed to use a bathroom desperately) I’ve gotten coffee at a Starbucks in Thailand and it just is not very good coffee. And it’s more expensive than anyplace else: the prices are pretty much equivalent to what you would pay in the United States.

This year the quality of the product at Amazon seemed less consistent than in the past. The coffee at our other local Amazon, at Imperial World Shopping Center in Samrong, seemed weak and muddy the time I tried it. There seems to be more of a variation as to what I can expect when I get my cappuccino from a Cafe Amazon these day. When possible I’ve begun to search out local alternatives.

Previous Blogs on Coffee

Cappuccino 2

Cappuccino at the hilltribe village of Mon Jaem


Written by Michael Babcock, December 2017

Doi Tung

September 17th, 2017 by Michael Babcock

(Click images to see larger version.)
(There’s a slideshow of images at the bottom.)

Doi Tung View

View at Doi Tung

One of my favorite places in all of Thailand is Doi Tung, a mountain (doi means mountain) 1,389 meters high located in the Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai province close to the Myanmar border. On Kasma’s Northern Frontiers trip (we have one scheduled for January 2018) we spend a day visiting 3 of the attractions there. I leave each of the three with a peaceful feeling, my heart full.

The area now is a lush, beautiful forested area with prosperous, thriving communities. It has not always been so. Had you gone in the mid-1980s you would have seen a barren, deforested area denuded by slash and burn agriculture. The roughly 11,000 people composed of 6 different ethnic minorities were living in abject poverty without basic infrastructure. People barely survived by cultivating opium, illegal logging and human traffic//www.thai.

The story of how its transformation came about is why there is such a special feeling to Doi Tung.

A Brief History of Doi Tung

The Princess Mother

The Princess Mother

Doi Tung was transformed because of projects initiated by an 87-year old woman, Her Royal Highness Princess Srinagarindra, the mother of //www.thais Rama VIII and Rama IX and the grandmother of the current //www.thai Rama X – the Princess Mother (as she was called).

In 1987, at the age of 87, she came to Doi Tung for the first time and said “I will reforest Doi Tung.” Ever since she began hi//www.thai in the remote rural areas of northern Thailand in 1964 she had a special interest in the impoverished communities of the north. She encouraged and supported education, promoted traditional crafts as a way of earning a living and had a particular interest in improving medical care. (She had been trained as a nurse and her husband, the late Prince Mahidol Adulyadej, a trained physician, was the father of public health in Thailand.) In 1969 she had established mobile medical units that would bring trained personnel to remote regions, often accompanying them herself and earning the title Mae Fah Luang – “Mother from the Sky.”

Royal Villa 1

The Royal Villa & Garden

The people in Doi Tung were from 6 different ethnic minorities – Akha, Lahu, Tai Lue, Lawa, ethnic Shan and ethnic Chinese – who were not even accorded citizenship. The Royal family made no distinction – their compassion was for all people living in Thailand, whether citizen or not.

The Princess Mother initiated several projects at Doi Tung with the goal of bringing the people of the region out of poverty. The model came to be known as SALD – Sustainable Alternative Livelihood Development – with its stated goal “to transform poor and vulnerable communities from dependency and basic subsistence living, towards full socio-economic sufficiency and independence.” (From About Doi Tung.) The key word was “sustainable.” The Doi Tung Development Project was set up in 1988 to oversee and coordinate the many initiatives.

Doi Tung Coffee

Doi Tung Coffee

To cement her commitment to the transformation of Doi Tung, she built “a home at Doi Tung” – The Doit Tung Royal Villa. She had always traveled back and forth from Thailand to Switzerland, where she had originally moved with her three children in 1933. As she aged, she had been searching for a location to build a home and the northern climate of Doi Tung was a good substitute for Switzerland.

The project used methods first established by her son, H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), starting in 1969, when he set up the Ang Khang Royal Agricultural Station, which was the first successful attempt world-wide to transform a poverty-stricken area by replacing opium production with crop substitution.

At Doi Tung, the multi-pronged approach included education, medical care, treatment for addiction and job/skills training. Macadamia nut trees were planted with coffee plants underneath in order to create high-quality, shade-grown coffee for sale. The Doi Tung brand was created, a high-quality brand that had 4 branches – food, handicrafts (including woven clothes and accessories as well as ceramics and pottery), horticulture and tourism. By 2001, Doi Tung was self-sustaining.

Since 2003, the Doi Tung Development Project has been recognized by the United Nations as one of the best examples of alternative development in the world. Communities from Thailand, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Columbia have traveled to Doi Tung to learn how they can implement the principles at their locations. (See How it Spreads: Lessons from Doi Tung.)

Café Doi Tung

Café Doi Tung Treats

Café Doi Tung Treats

Our trips to Doi Tung always begin with a visit to Café Doi Tung. Coffee is one of the premier products of Doi Tung and since it is very tasty, it’s a great way to support the people there. I’ve already written about the Café in a previous blog (you’ll need to scroll about half-way down to the relevant section):

The coffee is delicious and the setting amongst the hills is a great place to enjoy your drink.

You can also purchase two of the signature products of Doi Tung: coffee, both as beans as well as individual cup drip-coffee packets; and macadamia nuts in the form of plain or seasoned nuts, macadamia nut butter (yum!) as well as macadamia nut cookies. The macadamia nuts are some of the best I’ve ever eaten – large and sweet. These products are now availalble all over Thailand – we regularly purchase them at several supermarkets in Bangkok.

The Royal Villa

Royal Villa & Garden

Royal Villa & Garden

The Royal Villa – picture a Thai-style Swiss chalet – was built to be the residence of the Princess Mother. It is a symbol of her commitment to transforming Doi Tung into a prosperous, self-sustaining community.

Because of its location, the climate is much more reminiscent of Switzerland than tropical Thailand. The two times I’ve visited Doi Tung it has been refreshingly cool.

The Princess Mother loved to garden. The villa is surrounded by beautiful flowers, many of them temperate climate plants, and also orchids. The walk up to the villa leads through planted flower beds to the house itself.

Wood carving

The Villa is filled with lovely wood carving

Alas, I’m unable to provide any photos of the interior of the villa where photography is forbidden. It’s a shame but perhaps best because photographs might not be able to adequately portray the peacefulness and beauty of the home. There is a lovely attention to detail throughout that includes beautiful wood carvings. As you go in, you are able to get an audio tour that explains what you are seeing. In the main hall, which would have been a reception area, there are beautiful art works as well as exhibits about the Princess Mother’s activities – including embroidery, reading detective novels and pressing flowers.

Much of the house has not been changed from when she was living there. I mostly was struck by the simplicity and serenity of her living areas.

Outside of the main reception hall is a balcony with a stunning view of the surrounding hills. When the Villa was built the view would have been quite barren. Now you see a thriving forest of green, a tribute to the transformation she inspired.

(See Education Attractions – Doi Tung Royal Villa.)

The Mae Fah Luang Garden

Mae Fah Luang Garden 1

A view at Mae Fah Luang Garden

The second main attraction at Doi Tung is the Mae Fah Luang Garden. The Princess Mother was an avid gardener and this lovely garden is a tribute to her love of plants.

Because of the elevation of Doi Tung (1,389 meters), many of the plants here reflect the Princess Mother’s desire to give the Thai people a chance to enjoy a temperate flower garden without having to travel out of Thailand. It also includes the lovely Lady’s Slipper Garden, containing a large variety of orchids of the genus Paphiopedilum (Lady Slipper). These orchids are also propagated commercially here – another of the projects providing self-sufficiency for the area. (See Doi Tung Development Project – Plants & Orchid.)

Located on 10 acres of land, it was originally an Akha village given to opium cultivation. The villagers were resettled and now local villagers earn a living nurturing and propagating the plants.

Lady Slipper 3

One of the Lady Slipper orchids

There is a fairly steep walk down through a lovely forest setting. On the way you pass by some colorful, whimsical stuffed animal figures that bring a smile to your face.

There are many paths for your wandering enjoyment. Other features include a lake with water birds, some example hill-tribe structures and a grassy area with the statue called “Continuity.”

For garden lovers, it’s worth a couple of hours just for wandering and enjoyment.

Note: This Mae Fah Luang Garden is different from the Mae Fah Luang Arboretum, which is situated in the Chang Moob Area. The arboretum is worth a visit of it its own with its combination of native flora, native orchids and rhododendrons from many countries set in the middle of a pine tree forest

For more information on the garden see Education Attractions – The Mae Fah Luang Garden.

The Hall of Inspiration

Hall of Inspiration

Hall of Inspiration

Is this the most compelling of the things to see at Doi Tung?

As a westerner, I found this exhibit moving and inspiring. I already knew of the dedication and service of Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), how his foundations had initiated thousands of projects for the betterment of the Thai people. I loved this exhibit because it placed his service and philosophy in context.

The Hall of Inspiration is a record of the life and works of //www.thai Rama IX’s royal family, starting with his father, Prince Mahidol Adulyadej, the husband of the Princess Mother.

Photograph 2

The Royal Family in Switzerland

With historical photographs, videos and quotes I got such a lovely sense of how the family grew and evolved. Prince Mahidol himself inspired the selfless service that became the hallmark characteristic of the Princess Mother as well as //www.thai Bhumibol. Prince Mahidol is considered the father of modern medicine in Thailand for the efforts he made from 1920 (when he returned from his studies abroad) until his early death in September 1929.

The Hall documents how his wife, Princess Srinagarindra, carried on his legacy – she was offering scholarships to students as soon as they were back in the country in 1920. After her husband’s death, for the next two decades she raised three children as a single parent and instilled in them the parents’ ideals of selfless services.

Rippling water

Drops rippling in water

Then when her sons became //www.thais, she worked to improve the lives of both ethnic Thais and hilltribe people, through education, improved medical care and by training (including crafts) to develop economic independence and sufficiency. Even at the age of 87, a time when most people are slowing down to enjoy the fruits of their life, she initiated the Doi Tung Development Project and oversaw it until her death at the age of 91.

The Hall also highlights the history of Doi Tung, including photos and words from the villagers tal//www.thai about how the project affected and transformed their lives. Quotes from the Royal Family show the compassion and philosophy that drove their service.

Doi Tung itself is the living example of their philosophy:

Great things come from small beginnings
A gentle ripple starts from but a single drop;
That wave ever expanding, with no end in sight
Begins from one small point, our own self . . .

(See Hall of Inspiration.)


Doi Tung Slideshow

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.

Clic//www.thai on a slide will take you to the next image.


Princess Mother 2
Princess Mother 2
Doi Tung Signs
Café Doi Tung Sign
Café Doi Tung Treats
Café Doi Tung Sitting Area
Royal Villa 1
Royal Villa 2
Royal Villa 3
Royal Villa 4
Royal Villa 5
Wood carving
Doi Tung View
Royal Villa 6
Whimsical creature 1
Whimsical creature 2
Mae Fah Luang plant 1
Temperate climate foliage
Temperate plant
Rhododendron]
Temperate climate flower
Mae Fah Luang Garden 1
Mae Fah Luang Garden 2
Mae Fah Luang Garden 3
Mae Fah Luang Garden 4
Mae Fah Luang Garden 5
Dahlia bed
A dahlia
Glimmering foliage
Lady Slipper 1
Lady Slipper 2
Lady Slippers 3
Lady Slippers 4
Temperate foliage
Pond with ducks
Drying corn
Leaves and straw
Hall of Inspiration 1
Hall of Inspiration 2
Hall of Inspiration 3
Hall of Inspiration 4
Hall of Inspiration 5
Hall of Inspiration 6
Hall of Inspiration 7
Hall of Inspiration 8
Hall of Inspiration 9
Hall of Inspiration 10
Hall of Inspiration 11
Hall of Inspiration 12
Hall of Inspiration 13
Hall of Inspiration 14
Princess Srinagarindra

Her Royal Highness Princess Srinagarindra

Her Royal Highness Princess Srinagarindra exiting a helicopter at Doi Tung

Signs to the attractions at Doi Tung

The sign for Café Doi Tung

Some of the goodies available at Café Doi Tung

The sitting area at Café Doi Tung

A view of the Royal Villa, home of the Princess Mother

The Royal Villa viewed through one of its garden beds

The Royal Villa seen behind one of its gardens

The Royal Villa at Doi Tung

A view of the Royal Villa

An example of the lovely wood carving found at the Royal Villa

Doi Tung is nestled into the lovely mountains of northern Thailand

One of the orchids found in the gardens surrounding the Royal Villa

Whimsical creatures such as this decorate the trees at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

Another whimsical creature at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

Foliage at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

Temperate climate plants at the Mae Fah Lung Garden

Temperate climate flowers at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

An azalea at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

Another temperate climate plant at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

A view of part of the Mae Fah Luang Garden

Another view of the lovely Mae Fah Luang Garden

Mae Fah Luang Garden view

Flower beds at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

More flower beds at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

Dahlias at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

Close-up of a dahlia at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

Sun-lit foliage at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

Lovely Paphiopedilums (Lady Slippers) at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

More Lady Slippers (Paphiopedilums) at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

Close up of one of the lovely Lady Slipper orchids at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

Another close up of one of a lovely Lady Slipper orchids at the Mae Fah Luang Garden

A garden bed with temperate climate foliage and a statue

A pond with many ducks found in the Mae Fah Luang Garden

The Mae Fah Luang Garden has sample hilltribe buildings

A lovely still life found on one of the buildings

This sign greets you as you enter the Hall of Inspiration

Viewing the exhibits at the Hall of Inspiration

A sign at the Hall of Inspiration about Prince Mahidol

Photo of Prince Mahidol and Princess Srinagarindra

Sign with the words of Princess Srinagarindra

A photograph of the Royal Family in Switzerland

More words by Princess Srinagarindra on how she raised 2 kings

How change occurs from small beginnings

A pond at the Hall of Inspiration with ever-changing patterns

Drops of water expanding

The Hall of Inspiration covers the history of the Doi Tung Development

The guiding principle of Doi Tung

Some words of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Great things come from small beginnings

Princess Srinagarindra

The Princess Mother thumbnail
doi-tung-2 thumbnail
doi-tung-3 thumbnail
doi-tung-4 thumbnail
Café Doi Tung Treats thumbnail
doi-tung-6 thumbnail
doi-tung-7 thumbnail
doi-tung-8 thumbnail
Royal Villa & Garden thumbnail
doi-tung-10 thumbnail
doi-tung-11 thumbnail
doi-tung-12 thumbnail
doi-tung-13 thumbnail
doi-tung-14 thumbnail
doi-tung-15 thumbnail
doi-tung-16 thumbnail
doi-tung-17 thumbnail
doi-tung-18 thumbnail
doi-tung-19 thumbnail
doi-tung-20 thumbnail
doi-tung-21 thumbnail
doi-tung-22 thumbnail
doi-tung-23 thumbnail
doi-tung-24 thumbnail
doi-tung-25 thumbnail
doi-tung-26 thumbnail
doi-tung-27 thumbnail
doi-tung-28 thumbnail
doi-tung-29 thumbnail
doi-tung-30 thumbnail
doi-tung-31 thumbnail
doi-tung-32 thumbnail
doi-tung-33 thumbnail
doi-tung-34 thumbnail
doi-tung-35 thumbnail
doi-tung-36 thumbnail
doi-tung-37 thumbnail
Hall of Inspiration thumbnail
doi-tung-39 thumbnail
doi-tung-40 thumbnail
doi-tung-41 thumbnail
doi-tung-42 thumbnail
doi-tung-43 thumbnail
doi-tung-44 thumbnail
doi-tung-45 thumbnail
doi-tung-46 thumbnail
doi-tung-47 thumbnail
doi-tung-48 thumbnail
doi-tung-49 thumbnail
doi-tung-50 thumbnail
doi-tung-51 thumbnail
doi-tung-52 thumbnail

Websites for Further Study

Examining the Life of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej – Rama IX

September 7th, 2017 by Kasma Loha-unchit

Introduction

Introduction by Michael Babcock

As the late King Bhumibol Adulydej’s funeral approaches, Kasma and I have been revisiting his life and feeling anew deep sorrow at the passing of this incredible man. I would have expected time (it’s 11 months since his death) to dull the grief somewhat: that has not been the case.

A friend of Kasma’s recently wondered what the fuss was about, why virtually an entire nation could revere one person so much. She wanted to better understand why Kasma is going to Thailand this year to take part in the ceremonies honoring the King.

Waiting to pay respects

Waiting to pay respects

As of September 4, over 10,000,000 people have come from across the country to pay respects before the Royal Urn at the Grand Palace’s Dusit Maha Prasart Throne Hall – that’s an average of 33,146 per day. On Sunday September 3 – 305 days after his death – a total of 45,125 arrived to pay their respects. The day Kasma and I went together in January we were just 2 out of nearly 60,000 people and waited 9 hours to get into the throne hall. Many people have gone multiple times. Donations from the people have amounted to 754,646,253 baht – around $23,000,000. (Figures from this September 4, 2017 Thai PBS article.)

Kasma put together this list for her friend. We invite you to follow some of the links and learn about this extraordinary being.

– Michael


Resources for the Life of King Rama IX

By Kasma Loha-unchit

King Rama IX

King Rama IX

“While I was in Bangkok I became how very aware people felt about your late King. Even then he was not well and there was a palpable feeling of worry and concern for him. That’s wonderful that you are going over early and can truly participate in honouring your finest monarch. Where can we read about his great works Kasma?”

              – Kasma’s friend’s question

Written Word Online

There are tons of books written about the King and his great works and words of wisdom, though the most precious are the books written in the Thai language and published within Thailand. In fact, anything about the King becomes best sellers these days. I recall how sad it was when I arrived in Thailand last November and all magazines on the news racks, local and international, had the King’s picture splashed on the cover in black and white and this continued for three months until the end of the year. The Bangkok Post published a tribute about the King’s life and the Thai Embassy has a page with a few articles about him, if you wish a quick and easy read about him:

Videos

King at Work

The King at Work

There are also a great number of YouTube videos with very touching images and stories. I particularly love the one put together by a couple of Thailand’s well-known documentary film makers in tribute to him; it’s a composite of flashbacks, images of sorrow, and the preparation and execution of the incredible mass singing of the Royal Anthem in his honor by hundreds of thousands gathered outside the Grand Palace a few weeks following his death. I’m reduced to a puddle of tears every time I see it and hear the King’s voice in an address he gave in 1976:

Here are a few more Youtube videos in English which will tell you the story why Thais love him so much:

And if you have time, the BBC filmed an excellent 2–1/2 hour documentary on the royal family in 1979, which you can also watch on YouTube:

Books

Rama IX with his people

Rama IX with his people

The above probably are enough to satisfy your interest, but should you be curious and wish to read more about the life of one of the greatest men to walk on this earth in the 20th century, here are my favorite books in the English language about him (although you may have a hard time finding most of them online):

  • King Bhumibol Adulyadej: A Life’s Work by Nicholas Grossman (Editor-in-Chief); first published 2011; ISBN 978-981-4260-56-5
  • King Bhumibol Adulyadej: Thailand’s Guiding Light (1996 The Post Publishing Public Co.. Ltd.); ISBN: 974-202-040-X
  • The Mahidol Family by Parichat Khumraksa (Translator: M.R. Usnisa Sukhsvasti), 2014; ISBN 978-616-374-073-1
  • King Bhumibol Adulyadej: The New Kingship (A Three-Volume Series: Vol. I : From Prince to King; Vol. II: Strength of the Land; Vol. III: By the Light of Your Wisdom) by Danai Chanchaochai; ISBN:978-974-9977-57-6 (an easy-read set)
  • The Revolutionary King: The True-Life Sequel to ‘The King and I’ by William Stevenson (first published in 1999); ISBN: 1-84119-451-4
  • The King of Thailand in World Focus (Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand, articles from the international press 1946-2006, first published 2007); Editor-in-Chief: Denis D. Gray; ISBN: 978-974-7348-54-5

Songs

There have also been dozens of songs penned and recorded by popular musicians in tribute to the King over his reign and following his death. Of course, they’re all in Thai except for two tributes by the international expat community in Bangkok. Here’s a nice one that I thought you might like (recorded a couple of years before his death):

Postscript

I think I’ve more than overwhelmed you with information about my beloved King. See what a short nine-word question can get you? The King has been the focus of my life this year and it’s been very hard to accept that the hero of my life has left.

King Rama IX

King Rama IX

 


Written by Kasma Loha-unchit, September 2017

Kasma’s 30-year Anniversary Message

May 25th, 2015 by Kasma Loha-unchit

This June marks the end of 30 years that I have taught Thai cooking classes in my kitchen. Up until six months ago, I was entertaining thoughts about throwing a big anniversary celebration (much like the 20th anniversary party many of you attended), but thoughts of the stresses and strains of planning, preparing for and cleaning up after such a big bash have more than changed my mind. I would like to, however, send a big thank you to all of you who have enthusiastically taken my classes over the past three decades for all the support and the wonderful times shared cooking delicious meals in my kitchen.

In about a week, I will be turning 65 and joining the ranks of Medicare. Over the past few months, I have been seriously mulling over when I would retire, especially when I see that many of my friends (and many of you) have retired and are enjoying the newfound time to pursue myriad interests awaiting them. As much as I enjoy teaching and taking people traveling around Thailand, and I know I will miss doing these things and all of you when I retire, the prospect of not having to run around to shop for classes, to push myself in the tedious and never-ending tasks of cleaning up before and after classes, and to deal with problematic students and trip members (and there have been more than a few each year) who drain me both physically and emotionally, makes retirement more and more appealing every day.

At this point, I am thinking that I will retire possibly within the next five years. So, those of you who have friends or co-workers interested in taking my cooking classes should let them know very soon. I will probably retire from beginning classes in two to three years. For those of you who wish to take all my advanced classes, I will try to cycle you through most of them before I retire. It’s possible I may add one last series (Advanced J) before I retire to give you some of my mother’s treasured recipes so that they are forever preserved for posterity. There’s no need to bury any secrets.

As for the Thailand travel trips, I will probably retire from doing them in five years or possibly sooner if Sun, my trusted helper and driver of my van, decides to quit to pursue other interests and there is a strong possibility that this can happen any time. I do not wish to train anyone new to replace him. So, if you have ever entertained thoughts of joining one of my off-the-beaten-path trips in which you will see, taste and experience things you will never have the chance to do traveling on your own, do start planning now as I will not always be around.

All said, I am actually sad to be writing this message, but I would like you to know the approximate time frame so that you can take advantage of what’s left of what I have to offer over the next few years. There’s no one I can train to take my place as what I do I learned over a lifetime of experience starting when I was five years old in my mother’s kitchen.

Thank you again to all of you for all the good times nourishing one another and sharing a sliver of your lives in my home.

Kasma


Written by Kasma Loha-unchit, May 2015