Sunday, January 22, 2012

Salsa at the Mukdahan Fun Fair 2012

A friend of mine John has a Salsa Group in Mukdahan they are dedicated to learning and dancing Salsa and other Latin dances. This is a video of a recent performance they put on at the annual Fun Fair. It used to be the Mukdahan Sweet Tamarind Festival but now its the Red Cross Festival for more information on the group you can go their Facebook page

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sober in Thailand

AA Medallion Given to Me by My Daughter on my Tenth AA Birthday

For those of you that didn't know I am a sober alcoholic. I got sober in the what we call the Fellowship. To the outside world it is known as Alcoholics Anonymous or AA. Today I celebrated my 19th year of sobriety. In AA we call that our AA birthday as opposed to our "bellybutton birthday". I am not a big one on celebrations and such but today I gave a call to one of my friends in the Fellowship who lives in Mukdahan and said I wanted to brag, that it was my 19th birthday today. After getting the normal "congratulations" 1 was asked the question "How did you do it?". Now normally when you are in a AA meeting and you celebrate a length of sobriety. Someone will always ask "Why did you do it?" and "How did you do it?". This is an invitation to share and tell your story. Specifically, how I stayed sober in Thailand for 8 years with very few meetings. Here it is.

When I moved to Thailand almost 8 years ago I had been sober for 11 years. I was your typical garden variety drunk. I love drinking and getting fucked up. Specially the second part. I had been drinking since my early teens and from the first time I got loaded I knew this was for me! It made me feel great. Drinking gave me that warm good feeling that I could not get in any other way. So I wanted to repeat that feeling again and again as often as possible. At the time most of my friends were experimenting with alcohol and found many ways to get it. We had people buy it for us, stole it sneaked it from our parents' stash. There was always a way. By the time  I turned 16 or so we found underage places that would serve us and places that would sell us booze without an I.D. or with some laughable fake. It was great. We used to ride around drinking having a great time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Growing Orchids in Thailand

Orchids from my garden.
Its orchid season here in Mukdahan and most of the rest of Thailand. Unlike in the west most orchids here are grown out of doors. Most orchids here are very cheap. A plant that you might find in America for 20 dollars would typically go for about a dollar here. There are several shops here in Mukdahan that specialize in orchids and they are surprisingly easy to grow, in fact they are so hardy you can hardly kill them. A friend of mine told me a story about how he had a few that never produced flowers and he just chucked them in a corner somewhere and basically ignored them. A few months later they were full of blooms.

I looked at a lot of the websites on how to make your orchids bloom and they give all these crazy directions about how to make them bloom and rebloom. Some of them had you cutting off old stalks and sterilizing the cutting tool with some kind of special stuff which I am sure they sold. I have found that the most important thing is to get the sunlight right. They need some direct light but not too much, especially when it gets really hot. I have mine hanging or sitting under a lamyai tree. During the rainy season I didn't do a thing and just cleaned out leaves that may have fallen into them. Nearing the end of rainy season the stalks started to shoot up and I had a problem with some insects that were leaving their larvae to eat the bloom pods after a month or so I went down to the plant store and bout some insecticide that I mixed with 5 gallons of water and gave em a spray once every week and boom no more larvae. The stalks started growing like mad even though it was a late rainy season. When I finally got blooms I got some red liquid that you mix about 2 tablespoons with a liter of water and give the roots a spritz about once a week after they have been watered and I got hundreds of blooms.

Like I said the most important thing is sunlight. If you get too much sun it will make the leaves have black spots. I find a place with perfect light and start rotating the plants into that area to start them blooming after that they seem to take off on their own no matter where they are. As for watering when it stops raining I give them a spray early in the morning with the garden hose about every other day. Just the root areas, and maybe a very light mist over the whole plant. Before I was doing it with a spray bottle and it didn't seem like they got enough. I think if they can drain out good it doesn't matter if you over water a little. They don't mind if the roots get dry a little either so don't freak out if you miss a day. Some are advocates of giving them a light mist at night but I don't bother and they seem to thrive. When all else fails and your orchids don't bloom there is one tried and true way of getting some fresh blooms in your garden. Go down to the local orchid shop and open your wallet. Cheers. Enjoy the pictures of my orchid garden. - Khun Rut
Click on any thumbnail for a larger image.

My Orchid Garden 2011  My Orchid Garden 2011  My Orchid Garden 2011
My Orchid Garden 2011  My Orchid Garden 2011  My Orchid Garden 2011
My Orchid Garden 2011  My Orchid Garden 2011  My Orchid Garden 2011
My Orchid Garden 2011  My Orchid Garden 2011  My Orchid Garden 2011
My Orchid Garden 2011  My Orchid Garden 2011  My Orchid Garden 2011
My Orchid Garden 2011  My Orchid Garden 2011  My Orchid Garden 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mukdahan Boat Races 2011

The Annual Autumn Boat Races 2011
The 2011 edition of the Mukdahan Boat Races (Kaeng Rua) began this year a couple days early. Normally they start with on Awk Pansaa which is the last day of Buddhist Lent. That fell this year on October 12th. However the festivities began on the 10th. (A friend of mine from Nong Khai showed up on the 12th amazed that things were all ready in their 3rd day and wanted some information from the TAT office in Mukdahan. A woman there told him that Awk Pansaa was on the 10th - that was a lie. Another employee there corrected her but they still failed or refused to give him any information.). Anyhow I dropped by down at the Indochina market on the 11th when these pictures were taken and found it to be rather uncrowded, more like a typical weekend day, not the madness that is usually accompanying the festival. And the boat races are as exciting as, well, a boat race.If you were drunk out of your mind it might liven things up. I wandered around with my dog and a friend played a game of Thai Chess and had a nice sunny day. Enjoy the picture gallery below for a taste the end of Buddhist Lent Mukdahan style.
Click Thumbnails to Larger Images

Mukdahan Boat Races 2011Mukdahan Boat Races 2011   Mukdahan Boat Races 2011

     Mukdahan Boat Races 2011Mukdahan Boat Races 2011 Mukdahan Boat Races 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

Thai Holiday Calendar 2011

I know it is late in the year.Source

Thailand 2011 Holiday Calendar

Please note the Thai holiday dates below  are estimates only. We do not and can not guarantee its accuracy.
New Year’s Day
The beginning of the western New Year is a national holiday in Thailand, one of three “new year” holidays celebrated every year.
Saturday, 1 January 2011
Monday, 3 January 2011 (Substitution)
Chinese Lunar New Year
The beginning of the Chinese lunar year is celebrated in the Chinatowns of every city throughout Thailand. Many Chinese owned businesses close for a couple of days, but it is not a national holiday.
Thursday, 3 February 2011
Makha Bucha
Makha Bucha celebrates the Buddha’s first sermon in to his disciples.
Friday, 18 February 2011
Chakri Day
Chakri Day commemorates the founding of the current dynasty by its first king, Rama I.
Wednesday, 6 April 2011
Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year, a very popular 3-days (Plus)holiday, generally celebrated as a water festival. Be prepared to get wet!
Wednesday, 13 April 2011
Thursday, 14 April 2011
Friday, 15 April 2011
Thailand Labor Day
International Labor Day is also celebrated as a national holiday, even though there isn’t much ado about it. Some businesses may be closed.
Sunday, 1 May 2011
Monday, 2 May 2011 (substitution)
Coronation Day
Celebrates the day when the current king Rama IX was crowned in 1949.
Thursday, 5 May 2011
Visakha Bucha / Vesak Day
The holiest Buddhist holiday celebrates the birth, enlightenment and entry into nirvana of the Buddha.
Thailand Visakha Bucha 2011
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Royal Ploughing Ceremony
An ancient royal rite held in Thailand to mark the traditional beginning of the rice-growing season
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Asahna Puja Day
Commemorates the Buddha’s first sermon in the Deer Park in Benares and the founding of the Buddhist sangha.
Sunday, 15 July 2011
Buddhist Lent Day (Wan Khao Phansa)
This day marks the beginning of the Buddhist ‘lent’ period, a time when monks are supposed to retreat to their temples while new life springs forth.
Monday, 16 July 2011
H.M. The Queen’s Birthday
Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday is a national holiday, also celebrated as Thailand’s Mothers’ Day as well.
Friday, 12 August 2011
Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival
Mooncake promotions herald this Chinese festival, during which Chinatown fills with stalls.
Monday, 12 September 2011
End of Buddhist Lent Day (Wan Awk Phansa)
This day marks the end of the Buddhist ‘lent’ period or the Rains Retreat.
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Thod Kathin
Presentation of Monk’s Robes after Rains Retreat.
Thursday, 13 October 2011
Chulalongkorn Memorial Day
Celebration of the death anniversary of Thailand’s one of the most revered kings, Rama V.
Sunday, 23 October 2011
Monday, 24 October 2011 (Substitute)
Loy Kratong
While it is not marked a national holiday, it is a major celebration in the evening when Thais pay respect to the goddess of the waters by floating candlelit offerings on any and all waterways around the kingdom.
Thursday, 10 November 2011
H.M. The King’s Birthday
His Majesty the King’s birthday is a national holiday celebrated throughout the country and is also the country’s Fathers Day
Monday, 5 December 2011
Thai Constitution Day
Celebrates the date in 1932 when the country was granted its first constitution.
Saturday, 10 December 2011
Monday, 12 December 2011
New Years’ Eve
The day before the Western New Year day is always marked a national holiday.
Saturday, 31 December 2011
Monday, 2 January 2012 (Substitution)
New Years’ Day 2012
Sunday, 1 January 2012
Tuesday, 3 January 2012 (Substitution)

Now, please note the Thai holiday dates above are estimates only. We do not and can not guarantee its accuracy. Submitted by

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Five Great Thai Commercials

A friend of mine sent me an email with the link to a website that shares funny emails, stories and videos to share. The link he sent me was for these five Thai TV Commercials they are very funny. Thanks Kevin. - Khun Rut

 The first is of a dog that is betrayed and wants to end it all.

This video is for the Smart Wallet - its about cheating vendors.

This one is about the guy with the sexy jeans.

This video is about a young man that goes out for a "tambon" or so he told his father.

Saving the best for last a father looks at home video of his young daughter.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thai Rice Pricing Policy and the PTP

Thai farmers plants a rice crop near Mae Sariang, Thailand, file photo.
The following is in the category of Unintended Consequences. When the PTP promised to double the guarantee for the price of rice from 330 to 650 baht a ton for jasmine rice. They didn't think it through, well that  will put them well above the price on the open market globally, and if they subsidize the price by selling lower than they paid for it, they will be in violation of WTO rules. So the only place they can sell that high priced rice is where? Right here in Thailand. Expect the price of rice to double courtesy of the PTP. From the Voice of America website - Khun Rut
The Thailand government is expected to begin soon a major new pricing scheme for rice that could have a big impact on the world’s biggest rice exporter. Analysts say the higher prices paid to farmers will mean a decline in Thai rice exports, opening opportunities to rival exporters, such as India and Vietnam.

The rice pricing scheme was a key policy promise by the Pheu Thai Party of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to secure the support of the country’s eight million rice farmers in the July general elections.

According to the plan, the government will pay almost $500 per metric ton for white rice and $650 for higher quality fragrant rice. That is about a 50 percent increase from the previous government’s policy guaranteeing farmers $330 per metric ton. Agriculture officials say four million rice farmers have registered for the new scheme.

David Dawe, a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) economist, says while the higher price may lead to more rice production in the longer term, there remains uncertainty over the program's full impact. "There are a lot of uncertainties as to exactly how this is going to work right now; which is why there is a mixed effect on world prices. I mean, the government doesn't have the capacity, I don't think, to procure the whole crop by them. They're going to have to work through the private sector. This is going to be an interesting question because they're not going to want to buy at that price if it forces them to sell at a loss on the export market," he said.

This year, Thailand's rice production is expected to exceed 20 million metric tons, with about half of the total destined for export. Similar sized exports were initially forecast for 2012, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture now forecasts that number will fall to seven million metric tons under the new scheme.

Thailand has been the world’s top rice exporter since 1981. The country’s key competitors are India and Vietnam. India is the world’s second largest rice producer and recently returned to the global rice export market by lifting a 2008 ban on exports of common grades of rice. Other rice exporters, such as Brazil and Pakistan, are also expected to see increased global sales.

Samarendu Mohanty, an economist with the Philippine-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), says the Thai government will need to subsidize export rice prices to compete with other countries on the global market. He says that will affect Thai taxpayers.

"There will be an export subsidy. So the program in place for the Thai government to sell its rice either government to government - or export licensing - I would expect the global price to be going down - the debilitating effect of the Thai program on the global market. The only thing is it will cost the Thai taxpayer quite a bit of money and Thai rice will be more expensive on the domestic market. The Thai program will be subsidizing the rest of the world consumers," he said.

Ammar Siamwalla, president of the private sector think tank, Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), says the main beneficiaries will be larger rice producers. He fears the program will likely result in the creation of a state-run national rice corporation, which will hurt Thailand's private rice export sector. "The big thing is, it's going to destroy our private rice industry particularly from the mills onwards.  We are 50 per cent higher than the market right - how are we going to sell it - and therein lies the answer to your question - is the government taking over the rice trade," he said.

Ammar says the government’s program may also be susceptible to corruption and budget shortfalls.

A similar program in 2008 suffered from a budget shortfall of more $1.4 billion. The USDA has warned that if the Thai government uses government subsidies to export rice at prices below what it pays Thai farmers, it may be violating World Trade Organization rules