Thai country music at Bangkok market

Have I ever been to Thailand? Nope. Would I drop everything to go tomorrow if I could? Yep. In fact, maybe I’ll head there tomorrow. Thailand’s culture has always fascinated me and photos of the country have always drawn me in. But it appears as though the United States‘ culture might have perhaps magnetized some Thai residents.

Check out this video, taken at the Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, Thailand. At around :47 seconds in the the video, the camera man stumbles onto some Thai dancers and a musician who are playing what sounds to me like Luk thung music–sometimes referred to as Thai’s country music. Luk thung is often compared to country music found in the United States. But considering the American Flag in focus, it’s hard to tell where Luk thung music ends and American country/bluegrass music begins. Do you have an opinion on what these Thai market-goers are actually playing? Let us know in the comments if so.

Either way, the banjo player is good.

Pilot dead after Bangkok flight crashes into tower

An estimated 10 people were hospitalized when a Bangkok Airways flight landed in rainy conditions, skidded off the runway and crashed into the air traffic control tower. The pilot was killed in the accident, which occurred at Samui airport in Thailand. Sixty-eight passengers were aboard the ATR72 twin-turboprop plane — like the one in the image to the right — along with two pilots and two crew members. Four foreign tourists – two British, two Dutch – were among the injured.

The air traffic control tower hit in the crash was not in use, according to a report by MSNBC. Nonetheless, Samui airport was closed, with at least one Thai Airways flight canceled.

UPDATE: Only seven people were hospitalized as a result of this accident, one of whom is the co-pilot. Other than the unfortunate death of the pilot (Chartchai Pansuwan), the most severe injury was broken legs.

Though the airline is not speculating on the cause of the crash, they say wind and rain may have played a part, and that the pilot had 19 years of experience. See the video below for some footage of the incident.

UPDATE 2: According to one of the passengers, Mirella Gastaldi, upon landing, the plane “was going too fast, it was not normal, it didn’t brake. It was going too fast and a bit to the side. It all happened so fast, I realized we had crashed because I had two seats on top of me.


For summer, a banquet of exotic fresh fruits: Bring travel back home

So you’re at home this summer. Your vacation budget is bust. Sure, there are backyard barbeques with friends and family stretching out into summer, but that tropical vacation feels long gone.

Or perhaps, you have never been on a tropical vacation. Perhaps a tropical fruit to you is the canned version of Dole pineapple–the one that waits in your kitchen cabinet.

Hop to it. An exotic experience might be as close as your neighborhood grocery store. As you browse the fruit, section buy those that you haven’t tried before.

Perhaps, they are the odd looking ones. Go head. Pick one up. If you’re heading to a barbeque, bring some with you and give your friends a geography lesson with the bounty. If you’re a parent, pull out a geography book and give your kids a taste of the world.

Here are suggestions and countries where such tastes can be had. I found them in local markets where I’ve lived and traveled, and some of them, in my own backyard.

1. Last year we purchased three dragon fruits in Chinatown in New York City. Dragon fruits, a nickname for pitaya, are cultivated in Vietnam, among other places. Those three brought back memories of our pleasures of first trying them on our first Vietnam visit. Even though I’ve had them elsewhere, I attach them to this Vietnam experience.

2. In Bangkok, we head straight to the fresh coconut stand across from the Regency Park where we always stay. The vendors cut off the tops of coconuts, add a hole and slip in a straw. Sucking out fresh coconut juice is one of my daughter’s favorite treats.

3. Taiwan was the first place I ate a star fruit. A friend of mine had carefully cut one of these slightly sweet fruits into star-shaped slices and arranged them on a plate for a lunchtime dish.

4. Also in Taiwan, on a bus ride to Taroko Gorge, I ate an Asian pear for the first time at a rest stop. The crunchy, refreshing taste is distinct from the pears grown in the U.S. They’re like apples, but not quite.

5. In the Gambia, I was greeted each morning during the rainy season by a tree filled with mangoes that created welcome shade in my backyard. With lack of refrigeration, I ate mangoes morning, noon and night and made mango jam, mango bread and added mango slices to oatmeal. Since the season for that tree was so short, I didn’t have time to get tired of them. Not all mangoes are the same. I prefer the ones with juicy flesh and very little strings to get caught in my teeth.

6. If you’ve ever eaten bananas where they are grown, particularly the red ones that are not much bigger than a fat finger, you’ll have a hard time adjusting to the Cavendish variety most common to grocery stores. The Gambia also was a worthy introduction into banana wealth.

7. Also, in the Gambia, papaya trees were one of the easiest fruit trees to grow. Thus, papayas were everywhere, and almost all year long. Although I like them, I suggest squirting a bit of lime on your slice to add a bit of zip to the flavor.

8. The first time I ate a pomelo, my great aunt and uncle brought one back from California. As a young girl, the size amazed me. It’s the largest citrus fruit there is. Before I ate it, I took it to school for show and tell.

9. Singapore is a fruit lovers delight. Even though we had a durian tree in our backyard, we let other people have the fruit that is so stinky it’s banned on subways. I have had durian ice cream and found it appealing.

10. I first developed a taste for rambutans that we bought from the market in Singapore. One isn’t enough.

Of course, if you happen to live in the tropics, relish what you have. You’re lucky. You get the goods fresh off the trees.

Carrying Children

Ember’s post about bare bottomed babies in China made me smile for sure. What humans do about potty-training is definitely cultural and part of our psyche.

Another thing I have noticed when I travel is how we carry babies and children around. When I lived in The Gambia, I never stopped being amazed by watching how women and even young girls could tie a baby or small child on their backs with a two-meter length piece of cloth and do anything– pound grain, hoe fields, walk for miles, sweep. It never mattered what the carrier did, the baby always managed to sleep and never slid off. If I did that, I’d drop a kid for sure.

I did try to carry my son in a front carrier, (too hot), tried a snuggly side thing, too awkward, and mostly ended up carrying him in my arms or on my hip. We did take him on a long boat in Krabe, Thailand and on a canal boat ride in Bangkok in a baby car seat carrier when he was three-months-old. There were brief moments when we handed him over the water to put him on a boat or take him off when we thought, “WHAT ARE WE DOING? ARE WE NUTS!!!” but our son was perfectly content to go along on any ride.

When he was about a year, we hired a sherpa to carry him in a Kelty carrier when we hiked in Dharamsala, but other than that, my husband usually carried him on outings that involved long walks. With the theme of how we carry children, here are some photos from various parts of the world.

A young girl and her baby brother. Taken by rogiro in Kenya. The comment of this one is sweet. Basically, the idea is, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”

A boy and his sibling in Laos by David Johnstone. It’s not too hard to tell which one is having the better time.

This is one way to carry a child and work on your triceps. Taken in Sapa, Vietnam by Han-01.

This is in Myanmar. I love the composition of the hats. Hats off to Romana Chapman.

Not me and not my son, but it’s the kind of carrier I was not that good at. Niall A snapped this one.

Taken in India by Betageri who has several lovely shots of children. Carrying just the child– or the wood would be hard enough for me.

This one is closer to my style of carrying a toddler, and the expression I get is about the same. Taken in China by Lindsey Timmerman.

A father in Armenia carrying his child on Universal Children’s day by Bayamin. Currently, my son’s favorite mode of transportation.

Need some baby carrying travel advice? Click read.