Buddhism Wednesday Photo

Thai Monk (Wednesday Photo)

Thai Monk in Kalasin Province

Thai Monk
Thai Monk in Kalasin Province

Kasma took this picture of a monk kneeling in front of the altar at Wat Phra Phuttasaiyaht Tham Phu Kao in Sahatkhan, Kalasin, Thailand.

It’s hardly possible to travel in Thailand without coming across Buddhist monks. Monks are universally revered as representatives of the Buddha; it is the robes and “The One Who Knows” that is being revered, not the individual self dressed in the robes.

The Wednesday Photo is a new picture each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Food Travel

Thai Street Food

Thai street food is definitely one of the highlights of a trip to Thailand.

Grilling Fish
Grilling fish at Nong Khai market

Every winter for the past sixteen years, I have been taking small groups of Americans traveling around my homeland. [Note: Kasma retired from doing these trips in 2020.] A tour guide I am not, but a friend in food I am, and we literally feast our way around the country. There are only so many times one can visit historical parks, museums and temples before losing interest, but I never tire of taking people on market walks and introducing them to the exceptional delicacies that are only available from street and market stalls.

Chive Dumplings
Chive Dumplings at Don Wai Market

(Click on an image to see a larger version.)

On one trip comprised mainly of foodies, every time we made a stop, whether to visit an art gallery or a temple, a number of people in the group quickly disappeared as soon as they got out of the van. I know where to round them up, as they would invariably be found among street stalls, either watching food being cooked or sampling food. You’d think that I don’t feed them enough, but that’s in addition to the three big meals and countless snacks I provide every day. Some of them weren’t even very discrete, causing me worries of them getting sick. But courage they had and plenty of trust in the local herbal pills to overcome stomach problems.

Prepared Food To Go
Prepared street food

Because of the Thai penchant to please, many western tourists miss out on the finest of the country’s cuisine when they limit their food intake to restaurants. Establishments frequented by tourists automatically water down the Thai dishes served to fair-skinned Caucasians. Enough of them through the years have demonstrated that they cannot take the full range of exciting flavors Thais enjoy. Many restaurants translate only those dishes on their menus that they think foreigners like – those sweet, rich foods with little spice.

Roast Duck
Roast duck in Chinatown market

Without a good command of the language to communicate your desires, you can assure yourself of getting real Thai food by dining off the streets, where you are, more frequently than not, treated like everyone else. In the huge metropolis of Bangkok where traffic is horrendous, most working Thais have little time to cook. They purchase ready-made food from sidewalk vendors on their way to work and on their way home from work. Many of these sidewalk operations offer a wide selection of curries, soups, salads and desserts in huge pots and trays. From them, you may be able to get some fine, home-cooked food untempered for tourists.

Street Food Sweets
Street food sweets at Chatuchak

Note from Michael: Although many westerners claim the best food in Thailand is street food and although you can get fantastic food on the street, Kasma does maintain that the very best Thai food is to be had in excellent restaurants, if you know how to order. Two of our particular favorites are Reun Mai (in Krabi) and My Choice (in Bangkok). However, as Kasma mentions, there are some foods  found almost exclusively at street food (such as the chive dumplings in the second picture, above).

As of these days (February 2020) there is somewhat less street food in Bangkok, though it can still be found in some areas.

We have many more posts on street food:

Written by Kasma Loha-unchit, September 2010 & 2020.

Food Markets Wednesday Photo

Loei Market Vendor (Wednesday Photo)

NE-Style Crispy Grilled Sticky Rice

Loei Market Vendor
Yummy grilled sticky rice in Loei

This picture of a smiling vendor selling grilled sticky rice was taken in the morning market at Loei. I’ve seen it sold at a street stall on Sukhumvit Road at Soi 55 (Thong Lo); presumably the vendor is from Isaan.

In Northeastern Thailand (Isaan or Isahn) the preferred rice is Sticky rice. For most meals it’s served in small baskets and one dips the hand directly in the basket and rolls the rice into a ball for eating.

This picture shows another alternative, seen is most Isaan markets is a crispy grilled sticky rice, on a stick. It’s really quite delicious, typically dipped in a mixture of beaten eggs, salt and pepper and then grilled until golden brown and lightly charred and crispy. In Thai it is called kao jee; Kasma calls it Northeastern-Style Crispy Grilled Sticky Rice.

The Wednesday Photo is a new picture each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Buddhism Wednesday Photo

Khon Kaen Buddha (Wednesday Photo)

Buddha Image in NE Thailand

Green Buddha Statue
Buddha statue from Khon Kaen

Kasma took this picture of a Buddha statue at Wat That, the first temple by the lake by Beung Kaen Nakhon in Khon Kaen Province in Northeastern Thailand.

I like that there are so many different types of Buddha statues in Thailand: it’s almost as if there’s one for everyone. The diversity is a reminder to me to not get too tied up in appearances: each different image is a pointer to the same teaching, the same dhamma.

The Wednesday Photo is a new picture each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Buddhism Wednesday Photo

Reclining Buddha (Wednesday Photo)

Reclining Buddha in Udon Thani

Reclining Buddha
Reclining buddha

There are many different kinds of Buddha statues in Thailand. One that you see frequently is the reclining Buddha. It represents the Buddha as he reclines and gives his final talk before he left his body. The images remind us that no matter what our position, standing, sitting, walking or lying down, we can remain mindful and present to the truth of the way things are.

Kasma took this picture at Wat Phra Phuttabaht Bua Bok in Udon Thani province.

The Wednesday Photo is a new picture each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Buddhism Thai Culture Wednesday Photo

Earth Mother Goddess (Wednesday Photo)

Earth Mother Goddess, Ubon Ratchathani

Earth Mother Goddess
Earth Mother Goddess

Many temples in Thailand have a statue or mural similar to this statue from Ubon Ratchathani in Northeastern Thailand (Isahn). It depicts the Earth Mother Goddess ringing out her hair at the time of the Buddha’s enlightenment. The story goes thus:

After many years of searching and wandering, the Buddha sat down determined not to rise from his seat until he had attained enlightenment. As he sat, all the temptations of the world came to attempt to distract him; these distractions are called Mara. As he sat and contemplated, Mara mocked him, saying “You claim you are enlightened! Well who, then, will witness and testify to your enlightenment?” At this, the Buddha pointed a hand down to the earth, indicating that the Earth Mother Goddess would witness. The Earth Mother Goddess was washing her hair and as she wrung out her hair, the water from it overcame and swept Mara, with all his distractions, away, leaving behind the newly enlightened Buddha.

There is, thus, a strong feminine component to Thai Buddhism and, if you look, you’ll notice her image in most Thai temples.

The Wednesday Photo is a new picture  each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.