Tag Archives: Chiang Rai

Scandinavian Bakery located in Chiang Rai, Thailand

I Bet Republicans Eat Omelets Too

At the Scandinavian Bakery in Chiang Rai, Thailand, the omelet is very fluffy and a special treat. Omelets in Thailand tend to be heavy with grease, but this one is heavy with broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes.

Although fluffiness is a quality that I appreciate in omelets and cats, I feel a dull ache in my belly when I encounter headlines, politicians, and campaigns that are more fluff than substance. A Bangkok Post headline reads that John McCain has decided to run for president.

The upcoming presidential election will be interesting. It’s the first time my vote will be guided by insight from the omelet experience.

The next day, I’m sitting at an Internet shop talking to my Mom. Using Skype, I have plenty of time to talk. I mention that John McCain’s running for president. Here’s how our conversation goes:

Me: John McCain’s running for president.

Mom: Did you notice how the leftist media probably made a joke about McCain’s puffy cheeks?

Me: I actually didn’t read the article.

Mom: Well, you ought to read the article. I bet the media also slipped in that the Republicans look at Bush like he’s an ugly redheaded stepchild who poisoned the well.

Me: I agree, sometimes John Stewart and Bill Maher seem a little wild. But, come on, the entire media can’t be left wing. Prove it!

Mom: Do a Google search! Type in a presidential candidate’s name plus omelet. You’ll find there are no direct references to Republican candidates and omelets.

Me: Maybe all Republicans don’t like omelets like Green Party members don’t like Humvees.

Mom: Give me a break. Everyone, to some degree, likes eggs or egg substitutes. Every continent that’s not covered in ice has egg lovin’ people. The leftist media leaves out the fact that Republicans eat omelets because Republicans are made out to be subhuman.

Me: I’ll do a Google search. Talk to you in a couple of days.

I immediately search for presidential candidates and omelets. Here are my results:

CNN Crossfire
Feb 7, 2000
Can Hillary Clinton Beat Rudy Giuliani and Make It to the U.S. Senate?
Hillary Clinton: I make a mean tossed salad and a great omelet.

Chicago Tribune
July 24, 2005
Obama finding himself flush with media attention
Reporter David Mendell writes, “Barack Obama began his day just after 6 a.m. by munching a green pepper egg-white omelet that aides had fetched from a 24-hour diner because the hotel restaurant had not yet opened.”

ABC News
May 4, 2007
Bringin’ Home the Bacon, Vegan-Style
Jennifer Duck reports that Dennis Kucinich offers vegan omelets at his presidential fundraiser.

I found the above omelet info about Democratic candidates on the first page of the Google search. Despite Google searches on Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, I found no such positive omelet remarks for those three Republican candidates. I am afraid to admit my mom might be right about the media.

I do believe in a fair and balanced media. To do my part, I am going to e-mail the candidates and allow them to use Earthworm Envy as a forum to discuss their love or hate of omelets. As each candidate responds to my omelet questions, I will dedicate a new post to his/her omelet views.

Bicycle = Hope

A person visiting the USA and only going to Disneyland and Disney World by airplane is one way to describe the typical foreigner’s travel through Thailand. Now consider taking a bike from Disneyland to Disney World. The adventure will stimulate your imagination more than meeting a talking mouse or puking in a teacup. However, the typical foreign traveler I’ve met in Thailand would rather spend their days waking up, getting a bite to eat at a foreigner’s Thai cafe, riding in a tuk tuk to the bus station, suffering through the four hours of motion sickness to get dropped off at another bus station, riding in a tuk tuk to a guest house, then eating watered-down Thai food for dinner while watching a Walt Disney movie.

Meeting fellow travelers and hearing their tales can either make me squirm with disgust or lighten with hope. Hope is what happened when I met Nicolai from Copenhagen, Denmark and Sandy from Ottawa, Canada, both traveling SE Asia by bicycle.

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Nicolai Bangsgaard began his journey in Denmark in April 2006. I met him in Luang Prabang, Laos a few weeks ago, where he’d just arrived from cycling through Vietnam. Planning to circle the world, he shares photos and writing along the way at www.worldtravellers.dk

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At the age of 65, Sandy Mackay cycled across Canada with his daughter. Now he is 69 years old and had just ridden 182 mountainous kilometers from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, Thailand. Sandy’s two day bicycle ride of meeting friendly people is the real Thailand that many travelers dream of experiencing. However, for many people, bicycle travel is not considered convenient because it might not involve a comfy guest house or foreigner’s cafe at the end of the day. I suppose it is a daunting thought being half way between here and there with no consumer familiarity in sight. The only western comfort is what it’s in your heart. Hopefully you brought lots of respect, trust, and kindness from home. And in return, you can expect lots of love and generosity. When there is no western tourist economy, you can’t rely on your pocketbook. All you have to rely on is your humanity and charming personality.

The Bicycle

The bicycle is the only salvation
For a planet choking to death
On its own convenience

from A Promise for Siam by Tom Radzienda

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Simba’s located in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Omelets Shouldn’t have Breasts
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From the street, Simba’s kitschy décor is what initially attracts me to try an omelet. Inside, I head straight for a comfy seat on the couch. A Thai woman hands me a menu while an American-looking man switches off the TV. I feel suspiciously like I’ve just walked into their living room, especially when I notice the furry cat running around.

The beautiful, Thai woman in her strappy sundress and heels is the server, and she’s also the cook. The older, American man laments that he can’t help out for fear of being deported. He grumbles that he has no work permit but seems perfectly content to leave his wife/girlfriend to tend to our omelet needs.

The surprise omelet bonus at Simba’s is the really friendly cat. Recently, I have been trying to pet more cats and dogs while eating omelets. This is in preparation for my upcoming trip to Laos. I figure if I can be comfortable with a pet beside my omelet, then the next step of a pet inside my omelet will be easy to swallow. Today my omelet experience is going smoothly, and I feel really comfortable about going to Laos to try my first dog or cat omelet.

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Everything is going well until I notice the art on the wall. In Thailand, where it is rare to see women bare their shoulders, posters of bare-breasted women seem out of place. Like a TV blaring a football game can distract a person from their buffalo wings, the art on the wall detracts from the omelet experience.

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The art is a strange mix of children and topless women, which starts me wondering about spatial relationships in the definition of child pornography. Some people might consider a photograph of a nude woman standing beside two children kissing to be pornographic. What about a photograph of a nude woman next to a photograph of two children kissing–is that pushing the envelope? What happens when you add an omelet to the picture?

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Additional note: As a society, we despise child pornography. Why do we uphold a standard of beauty for women to appear pre-pubescent by shaving their legs and armpits?

 

Thai Sticks (short film in 3 parts)

It’s not uncommon to see four people on a motorbike in Thailand, so we thought we’d give it a try while filming a commercial for bundled bamboo drumsticks. Along with two other volunteer WWOOFers, we filmed “Thai Sticks” during our recent stay at Farm Ken outside of Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Click on the photos to watch.
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Special thanks to Tine Maenhout, Christine Ferriter and Ken Albertsen for their photography, filming, editing, acting and good humor. To read the complete story about the making of the film, go to Thai Style at Farm Ken.

For more drumstick info: http://www.wonderfull.com/stix.htm

photo album of the filming of Thai Sticks

Thai Style at Farm Ken

photo album of our stay at Farm Ken

All Thai people have nicknames, so I’ve felt a bit out of place for the past three months traveling in Thailand without one.  My new Thai nickname is Gina, thanks to Ken and his middle-aged memory.  I met Ken a week ago when Brandon and I arrived at his farm in Chiang Rai, Thailand as volunteer WWOOFers (willing to work a few hours a day in exchange for room and board).

From the e-mails exchanged, I knew to expect an orchard, a small garden, and some construction projects at Farm Ken.  In the eight years that he has lived on the farm, besides planting countless avocado trees, Ken has constructed two and a half houses.   Along with two other WWOOFers, Brandon and I arrived in time to help out with the painting, sanding, and lacquering of Bunker Hill, a house being built into a hillside on the property.

Prior to our stay at Farm Ken, we had learned some practicalities of organic farming while working at MaryJanesFarm, but our only construction experience was a weekend cob-building workshop. Growing up, I had watched my dad paint our house, and Brandon built a birdhouse once when he was a kid. At Farm Ken, we experienced another version of MaryJane’s make-do attitude.

The jobsite at Bunker Hill was created around Ken’s no-frills, make-do attitude.  Besides learning some new skills, we’re hoping that we’ve picked up some good work habits along the way.

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front row: Amy from Boise, Idaho and Christine from Chicago, Illinois
back row: Ken from Farm Ken, Chiang Rai, Thailand; Tine from Gent, Belgium; and Brandon from Boise, Idaho

Ken is one of the few people in Thailand who doesn’t own a rice cooker.  He has improvised a toaster that works great if you don’t mind the smell of burning breadcrumbs.  This homemade toaster symbolizes Ken’s general approach on the farm: function is more important than fancy, and make-do with what you have.

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Volunteering on a WWOOF farm isn’t all about work; there’s plenty of time for socializing, too.  Brandon and I shared some of our omelet ideas as well as a few of our travel documentaries.  Ken shared his novel inspired by a long-lost Burmese lover and the ideas of other literary projects in various stages of completion.  Brandon brought out his travel-sized Martin guitar, and we found out that Ken is also a musician.  He can play guitar and sing any Elvis or Beatle tune you name, as well as a few originals.

In addition to his building, gardening, writing and music, Ken has many other interesting projects in the works.  The bicycle that goes on water is still in the design stage, but his special bamboo drumsticks have made it through production and onto the world market.

Ken believes strongly in the superiority of his bundled bamboo drumsticks over other drumsticks, given that bamboo is stronger than wood.  His claim is that they won’t break on a rimshot like wooden sticks do.  In Thailand, bamboo and labor are easy to come by, but the distributing of the drumsticks has been more of a challenge, so as volunteers on Farm Ken, we agreed to help market the “Thai-Sticks.”

With our camera and passion for filming, combined with Ken’s faith in his product and scientifically-designed experiments, we turned our attention from painting Bunker Hill to filming our first advertisement.  A few minutes into filming, gravity shifted, and the direction of our film shifted, too.  Similar to how American Movie is a documentary about a man desperately motivated to make a horror movie, our short film became a commercial about making a commercial.  It’s about a good-natured guy doing his best to prove the superiority of his product while one enlisted helper expresses serious doubt along the way.

After three drumstick experiments, two days of filming, and endless discussion, we ended up with a 10-minute film about the making of a drumstick commercial.  Whether or not we were able to prove that Thai-Sticks are stronger than wooden drumsticks remains up to each individual viewer. Click here to check out the short film “Thai Sticks.”

Here is the 30-second lowdown in Thai-Sticks, the bundled bamboo drumsticks.  For more info: http://www.wonderfull.com/stix.htm

By author Ken Albertsen, Lali’s Passage is the story of a Burmese beauty who escapes from a brothel to Native American hills of California.  For more info:  http://adventure1.com/showlali.htm

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Here’s an excerpt:

In another section of the import store, there were pieces of intricately carved wooden furniture that, according to Lali, would be more accurately called Burmese rather than Siamese, as labeled.

Tim already knew his gal was special, but every day new facets were unfolding that entranced him further. “Did you learn these things from reading books in Thailand?” he asked. She must have misunderstood the question because she responded that Burmese people love to read books, whereas Thai people usually only read if they have to.

Another endearing trait was the way she would make little flower garlands – sometimes using a thread to string them up – other times using just their braided flower stems. If it was a short strand she would place it on the crown of her head. A long strand would drape over her shoulders, falling onto her chest. Adding an aromatic floral garland to an already beautiful lady like Lali was like adding rainbows to a bird of paradise.

Seeing the Burmese artifacts had reminded her of home. They tried using Tim’s calling card to reach her mother’s village in Burma, but to no avail. The junta there was not allowing incoming calls from the outside world. Perhaps they thought that keeping foreigners at arm’s length would lessen scrutiny of their regime. Interestingly to Tim, Lali seemed to accept the military dictatorship in her native country in a sort of devil-may-care sort of way. Rather than risk arguments, he had decided early on, not to get heavy-handed or to talk politics with his new sweetie.