I had almost given up on local beef until a chance encounter with an unreasonably tender sirloin steak at the Camp Cafe in Kanchanaburi gave us every reason to drive down to Kamphaeng Saen.
Kamphaeng Saen is home to the Kasetsart Agricultural University where they breed a sell KU Beef. You can buy frozen meat retail from their shop on the campus as well as in bulk. Although for some cuts you need to pre-order.
There is also an onsite Steak House for potential clients who might still be a little sceptical about the quality of what is the best beef I have found in Thailand.
We are not farmers by any stretch of the imagination. Nor are we strictly organic. But I am constantly reminded of the practical necessity of growing organic produce as we browse the local market where all the vegetables look crisp and perfect.
It is the time of year when Thai’s from all over the world return to their families, their homes and villages to pay respect to their elders. And to join the kids celebrating Thailands Water Festival.
Songkran is the New Year’s festival. New Year’s Day is 13 April every year, but the official holiday period includes 14–15 April as well. And unofficially stretches through to the following weekend. The word “Songkran” comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti which literally means “astrological passage”, transformation or change.
Mornings begin with visiting the local temple and offering food to the monks is commonly practiced. Later in the day pouring water on Buddha statues represents a way of purification, washing away the past.
It is a festival of unity.
People who have moved to other countries usually return home to their loved ones and elders and the younger members of the family show respect by pouring fragrant water over the palms of elders’ hands. Paying reverence to ancestors is also an important part of Songkran tradition.
Main streets in the towns and villages are closed to traffic to allow both young and old celebrate by splashing water on each other and engaging in fierce water battles. Water barrels are placed on virtually every road and traffic runs the gauntlet of laughing noisy kids armed to the teeth with an impressive array of water guns, hosepipes and fragrant paste.
Gunsmithing skills are also an essential service.
Phian has 12 rai just off the main road. It is a good long term investment. But she hasn’t had much luck getting it to pay for upkeep. She dug a dam and tried sugar cane. Only to get hit by the drought. Last year she planted rice but had difficulty getting into the lands, as bad drainage made it difficult harvesting. She then decided to dig a borehole and plant sugarcane again.
They found water. But the flow was not nearly strong enough to irrigate the lands.
In desperation she made the decision to excavate and dig a bigger, deeper, better dam.
The crew consisted of a macro mechanical digger, two dumper trucks, and a tractor equipped with a grader blade and ploughs.
The two trucks carried the soil from the dam to the landfill site, dumping it for the tractor to shift and level.
There was much excitement when they hit water. A small spring virtually in the middle of the dam. And another in the one corner which trickled out of the dams wall.
Concrete pipes were lowered over the spring in the floor to create a well. Not sure how this will work out. But will wait and see.
After the rains, once the soil has settled, the landfill will be used for building well out of reach of any flood water.
The trucks shuttled back and forth for two days. After which the macro was loaded onto a low loader and off to the next job. And that was when the skies opened and the rain came bucketing down.
Leaving us to wake to a few large muddy puddles in the driveway.
Which required a bit more digging and filling. But by hand this time.
There are a couple of world class golf courses in Kanchanaburi. Located in Tha-Muang the Evergreen Hills Golf Club and Resort offers a standard 18-hole, 72-par golf course. The resort also offers a fully equipped meeting room, clubhouse, restaurant, driving field, tennis court, swimming pool, camp fire, karaoke and snooker room.
There is only one rule when browsing the food stalls at a village market, if it looks good, it probably is good and you want to try it. If you don’t the chances are it will be the one thing you will never find again.
Kluay Tod or crispy deep fried plantain bananas are an all time favourite. But you need to catch them straight out of the pan otherwise go limp and rubbery.
Hoi Tod is a Thai oyster or shellfish omelette which is a cross between an omelette and a crispy pancake. The stallholder will more often than not also serve Pad Thai.
Kanom krok is a deliciously sweet thai dessert that is a popular street food. It often consists of two layers – the base is made from a rice flour and coconut milk mix, and the topping is a sweet mix of coconut milk and sugar, plus a variety of toppings. It is cooked over a charcoal fire in a kanom krok pan. They are small half sphere shaped puddings that are golden brown and crispy on the outside, and soft and sweet on the inside.
Nam Isan or fermented pork from the North East of Thailand is one of the most delicious foods that have come out of Isan. I don’t know if I have got this right but my understanding is that it is the rectangular shaped patty on the left, usually on a stick which is fire grilled and served with birds eye chilli’s shredded cabbage and sliced ginger. The sausage on the right of the picture comes in various shapes and sizes and it is a mix including rice and it is known as Sai Krok Isan or Sai Krok Priao. There is another variation of the sausage which uses glass noodle in place of the rice which I don’t really like.
It’s best to get up early for Saturdays morning market. If you leave it too late the sun gets up making it uncomfortably hot with too many people and too many flies.
They are spontaneous affairs popping up as the sun rises with all the hustle and bustle as the locals come out to browse and buy. Goods range from clothes, basic household goods, fresh produce and food stalls.