In part four and final part of an interview conducted with Khun Keown, we touched on a few Thailand related subjects. Khun Keown was kind enough to give us her favourite Thai food and Thai travel places, plus lots of tips on Living in Thailand, Thai life style in general and even more on cross cultural relationships. Part four is our lifestyles Thailand section.
Trevor: Thailand has a reputation for delicious food, please tell us your 3 favourite Thai foods or dishes that you just love and can you cook these yourself?
Keown: My preference is towards Isaan food (food from the north – east) more than what you would call Thai food. My first dish would be (laab bpet) ลาบเป็ด Spicy duck salad, second dish would be (Gang Liang prawn) แกงเลียงกุ้ง a Thai soup with prawns, mixed vegetables and lemon basil leaves. My third and final favourite dish is (pla yaang gap som tam) ปลาย่างกับส้มตำ grilled fish and papaya salad. Now are you asking a former Thai chef if I can cook these? My answer is of course I can. Laab bpet and grilled fish with papaya salad are two things I miss so much from back home, yes they get my mouth-watering.
Not quite grilled fish but Pla rad prik (ปลาราดพริก) fried fish in a rich chilli sauce
Trevor: Thailand these days has food from all over the world to choose from and considering the fact that you have lived in the UK for almost 30 years, please give me your 3 favourite foreign foods or dishes that you just love?
Keown: My first dish would be an English roast with my choice meat being lamb. My second dish is the fantastic English cooked breakfast and finally I have a real soft spot for Cheese and Apple.
Som Tam (Papaya Salad) Thai style
Trevor: It’s dinner party time Keown and you are cooking Thai food for your friends and family, please let us know the mouth-watering dishes you will be making. It will be completely Thai style all sat round with a selection of dishes to choose from and don’t forget dessert?
Keown: I would get the party started with crispy duck and pancakes then to follow that a small bowl of Tom-yum goong soup (ต้มยำกุ้ง). The main event of the evening will be Gang Masaman Nua beef curry and sweet potatoes,Steamed sea bass with lemon sauce, mixed vegetables ,spicy mixed seafood, crispy chicken salad and Phat Thay Goong (phat thay noodles with prawns.) The dessert will be fresh mangos and ice cream.
Delicious Gang Massaman Beef Curry and sweet potatoes
Trevor: Lay me up a place when you have this dinner party, the menu sounds fantastic.
On Thai Travel
Trevor: Where are your favourite places to visit in Thailand, but outside of your beloved Isaan to start with and what are 3 great things to see and do?
Keown: My favourite place outside of the north-east would have to be the Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai area. Firstly I like visiting the hill tribe people to work as a volunteer , helping with any tasks that need doing , that I have the skills to perform.Secondly I just love elephants and the elephant conservation in Chiang Mai and again I enjoy to help as a volunteer with the daily routine. Finally, I like visiting the surrounding villages of Chiang Mai that make fantastic hand-made products.
I enjoy learning how to make things like baskets, hats and other products used around the house hold. I could spend days just learning that. I also love oil paintings from Chiang Mai and would love to spend some time learning to paint. I am not bad at drawing with charcoal, but would love to turn my hand at oil painting. Those are my ideal places.
Hill Tribe In The North Of Thailand
Trevor: Where are your favourite places to visit inside Isaan (north-east) and what are 3 great things to see or do?
Keown: For an interesting city I would choose Nakhon Ratchasima , but would then after a visit divert straight to the surrounding area, but still in Nakhon Ratchasima province to ” Khao Yai ” national park. This is a great place to spend a few days with fantastic water falls, rafting and you can watch the animals by night. The healthy life of lots of walks around the park, more viewing of local village hand-made products and great fun camping at night.
Secondly would be my home of Kohn Kaen the home of the famous Khon Kaen sausage, the best in the north-east…. I’m telling you. In Kohn Kaen you can go house boat rafting . Do your own cooking with loads of fresh water fish to cook, have a sing-song together and even jump in and swim if you want… great fun.
There is so much to see and do in Kohn Kaen also famous for its hand-made Thai silk with a Thai silk festival annually.Finally would be Nakorn Panom and this is the home of a very famous Temple called Wat Prathat Phanom (วัดพระธาตุพระนม). The temple has millions of visitors every year all coming to honour the great building.
Khun Keown Would like To work With Elephants
On Living In Thailand
Trevor: If you lived back in Thailand, where would you live and could you live cheaply without spending lots of money. Give us 3 money-saving tips for living in Thailand?
Keown: I actually quite fancy Chiang Rai, but not before Kohn Kaen. I would just give Kohn Kaen the edge because of having family close by and being that it would be easier to see them. .I would move out-of-town and in to the villages as the cost of living is far cheaper. When I fancy doing some socialising I will pop into Khon Kaen. Perhaps I would have a small town house in Khon kaen City for a laugh with friends and then build a proper house in the village with enough land for my fish pond, Chicken & duck houses,dogs,cats,a few lambs,garden vegetables, and fruit.
If you grow all of your own produce and make all home-made food that lasts, you will certainly be saving a lot of money. Secondly don’t go to the big super Markets, source other people who produce local products, you will certainly purchase far cheaper than in the super markets, especially dried and fresh meats. Thirdly would be have your own water system from a well. I grew up having our own water supply from the well and by using the water pump.
So what do you spend money on?I can live quite comfortably on £100 a month by living the way I did and the way I have outlined here. Another method is hunting, I use to hunt for wild boar with my dad, this is very popular hunting. Along with wild boar we would find wild vegetables and wild mushrooms also.
If you live in a small village you will find folk are very generous with their home-grown produce. They will not ask for any money from you, but are delighted to let you have whatever they grow on their plot of land. However another useful tip is don’t ever refuse their kind offer, even if you have some in your own garden, just accept it and say thank you.
Simple Life, Living Off The Land
Trevor: If you could get up in Thailand and have the perfect day, what would that be. What things would you be, see or do in your everyday ideal day. Give us an insight in to a great day for Khun Keown?
Keown: To wake up every morning is a gift. Then to wake up with the smell of fresh air and go down to my chicken houses for some fresh eggs. Breakfast would be โจ้กใส่ไข่ (chook sai kai)(rice soup with egg), before then attending to my vegetable garden and feeding the animals.Late morning I would prepare food for my trip to the temple. It is lunch time for the monks and me, but not mine until after the monks have eaten.
After the temple trip I would return to my house and in the garden again until late afternoon.In the evening I like entertaining guests, a few friends from the village or from the city to join me. I would make my home-made food and I am very good at making the delicious Isaan sausages (เนื้อแดดเดียวหมูแดดเดียว).
Its time for food, severe socialising with the locals and a few whisky and coke’s. A fantastic and contented ending to a basic and simple life. You can give me that everyday for the rest of my life and I will be perfectly happy.
Perhaps Later vegetables From Khun Keown’s Garden
On Thai Lifestyle
Trevor: What Are Two Of Your Favourite Thai Songs
Keown: A favourite song of mine would be my cousins song she is called Patchara Wangwan (พัชรา แวงวรรณ).I was living with her for a while , she is my uncle’s daughter.It was her first album and this song was so famous. I went to see her first television show and the song is called รักและคิดถึง (rak laa khit thung).
Secondly is the work of country singer and a very famous lady called ศิริพร อำไพพงษ์( Siriporn Umpaipong). I just love her music, she is my favourite. There is plenty of her music at You Tube.
Trevor: What Is Your Favourite Book In Thai, In English Or Both.
Keown: My Favourite book is a book called Wild Swans: Three Daughters Of China by Jung Chang. It is the sensitive yet startling story of three generations of women in one Chinese family from 1909 – 1991. The book won awards and was translated in to 30 different languages, fantastic book.
At the time of writing this post ” Wild Swans” has 409 customer reviews on Amazon.
Trevor: What Are The Three Things You Miss Most About Thailand?
Keown: That is easy, my family, my Isaan food (food specifically from the northeast of Thailand) and my home in general.
Trevor: If you could split time between two places whilst living in Thailand, which places would they be and why?
Keown: Can I have three places please. It would be Khon Kaen of course, Chiang Rai in the north as it is where my mother’s side of the family are from and Hua Hin as a holiday home.
Beach Just Outside Hua Hin in Pranbury, Prachuap Khirikhan
On Culture And Relationships
Trevor: Can you give us foreigners three tips for having better working relationships with the Thais, something that would benefit the foreigner and the Thai.
Keown: Building up trust, which comes from caring and showing consideration for each others culture.
Trevor: As a foreign man you awake to find your Thai wife or girlfriend is in a very bad mood, but when you ask what is the matter you receive the deaf and dumb silent treatment or that word ”nothing”. If not intercepted early on this could go on for a few days. What is the best way for a foreigner (who has no idea what the problem is, but obviously something he has done) find out and put her back in a good mood again, before possible thunderous eruptions arrive and the situation is far more irretrievable.
Keown: I like this one and yes guys you’ve obviously done something or not, whichever the case may be. The answer lies in gift buying.
If the problem or disagreement appears not that big, then buy her a small gift. If the disagreement was more on the larger side then buy her something that she really likes and see the smile return to her face. If you try talking to her whilst she is upset and angry it will only make matters worse. It is best to leave her alone for a while , but not too long or otherwise she will continue not talking to you for days, whether its your fault or not.
The answer is a gift. Remember to a Thai, actions speak louder than words. Thai men will spoil the Thai woman with gifts.
Don’t Upset Her
Trevor: On the other hand, what are the main differences between a Thai husband/boyfriend being in a bad mood or a foreign husband/boyfriend being in a bad mood. Would you approach both situations differently for getting them out of an unpleasant mood.I know of course it depends on anyone’s personality, but as a light-hearted question are there any tips that you can give here and what are a few of the differences.
Keown: Yes, there are a few differences. A Thai man can be very moody, aggressive and even violent, especially if he has been drinking. Most Thai women are scared to approach them at that point, the best thing is to stay well away and don’t say anything at all. In fact if he is aggressive I suggest the woman go straight to her parents or family members.
It was bad enough when my father became loud and angry, we would go to my aunt’s house, if he had been drinking as well it was worse, just escape as fast as you can.
For the Thai man who is not aggressive you can approach him with his favourite sweet and you may even get a smile followed by a bit of laughter. It all depends on the man’s behaviour and if he is generally good-natured.
It is different with a westerner/farang and I have never met one that was aggressive to me. I find it easier to approach him and talk through the problem
However if he is grumpy from work or something else outside of our relationship and taking it out on me, I would certainly let him know I was less than pleased about the situation. I would very much let him know he was being unreasonable.
I find it easier to talk through disagreements with westerners and I am never scared to approach them. I am not scared of Thai men either, but it can be a matter of life and death with them. I had a Thai boyfriend at school who chased me with a knife out of jealousy and yes I ran for my life.
Trevor: What is your dream or goal
Keown: Difficult choice this as I have two dreams. Number one would be later on when my son has gone through all his schooling would be to return home to Thailand and open a small cafe. In the cafe I would do my English cakes and teas I just love that. I actually don’t have a sweet tooth myself, but I love to bake cakes and would fatten up the Thai people when I retire. Then the garden with all my animals and making hand made products.
Hand Painted Umbrellas In Chiag Mai
Trevor: Finally Khun Keown, do you have a couple of favourite Thai proverbs or sayings?
Keown: Yes I do, จงพอใจในสิ่งที่ตนมี (cong phocay nay sing thii dton mii) (be satisfied with what you have) and ชั่วเจ็ดทีดีเจ็ดหน(chua jet thii dii jet hon) (seven times good, seven times bad) meaning fortunes change . In times of difficulty don’t get downhearted, because times ahead often prove better.
Thank you Keown you have been fantastic and it has been a pleasure. I know you are off to Thailand in this summer and would only ask that you keep us up to date on your travels, with what you are doing and where you go. We would be delighted to hear the stories. I will certainly be getting you back in the future to do some more stuff.
Sex Talk (In search of love and romance) by Kaewmala
Gain massive insights into the courtship rituals and modern dating culture of Thailand. Insights in here that you won’t find anywhere else. Erotic, romantic and over 900 Thai words and phrases as well to learn, a must read.
The Cultural Detective by Christopher G. Moore
If it’s Thai culture that you are seeking to learn about, then look no further than the foreign master on Thai culture. This book is packed with essays on perspectives on crime fiction writing to of course a mass of clues and insights to solving those cultural Thai mysteries. Another great read.
Heart Talk by Christopher G. Moore
If you buy sex talk by Kaewmala be sure to buy heart talk by Christopher G. Moore and visa versa. Heart Talk is the clever navigation to say I love you in so many ways using the word ”jai” or heart (ใจ). These words are essential and every day Thai words and all nicely organised and ready to read in Heart Talk.
Thailand Fever by Chris Pirazzi and Vitida Vasant
With everything in this book both in English and Thai there are no excuses for anyone. You really want to know how the Thai mind works in your relationship and you can be darn sure the Thai is trying to work out your western ways. Read in your language then pass to your partner to read in their’s and begin to close the gap as they say.
Brilliant Thai Forum
Entertaining, friendly and very informative on subjects Thai. Come along and meet a welcoming crowd of Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, Americans, Brits, Thais and others and be in the know.
For more articles like this one, information and tips about Thailand. Keep an eye on the website as am constantly updating tips from guest interviews on food, travel places on Thailand etc.