07 August 2010

Why does the Sand bubbler crab form tiny sand balls?

Even though I go to the beach quite often, until recently I have never realized that on some of Krabi's beaches are tiny cute crabs that seem to work really hard. What I discovered during low tide were mysterious patterns, created from sand balls, that made me wonder why they have been formed over and over again.

After swimming in the ocean at Klong Muang beach, Krabi, I went back home, still wondering about these sand patterns. Hence, I started searching for details about this phenomenon on the internet and found a quite interesting explanation indeed .

These tiny animals are called Sand bubbler crabs (Pu Lom in Thai). Beside the fact that they can run very fast, they also form these tiny sand balls around their hole. The ball's size is as big as their body. Each ball takes about 10 seconds or even less to form. What in fact interested me most is an answer to the question: "Why do they do this?"

The answer is simple. It is all about food.
High tide brings organic substances onto the beach. At low tide, these crabs will come out of their holes, looking for food.
They use their claws to take the sand through their mouth and after having eaten all organic materials from it, they will release the sand again. During this process, however, they will shape the sand into tiny balls. These crabs will form about 360 balls per hour, and these balls are not just being scattered around. Amazing patterns are being created that soon, after 3 or 4 hours, cover most of the beach.

So, why do they form these patterns? In this way they make sure that they don't come back and eat the sand again that has already been stripped of organic material. Smart, isn't it?

Let's take a look their work!

@GeoVenture, @Tripbod

03 June 2010

More choices of weird food in Thailand !

I had a chance to travel to the northeastern of Thailand. I was lucky to be there at the right time, because there is a big variety of foods in summer. So, I did not hesitate to try all of the rather unusual kinds of foods.

Grilled Cicada Eggs

Cicada eggs can be found in summer at local markets, especially in the northeast of Thailand.
These eggs are being wrapped in banana leaves and then grilled for a few minutes on a charcoal fire. When they are done, they will change their color to a deep red. Then you can either eat it with sticky rice or mashed. Don't forget to put a little bit salt on it. The taste is somewhat oily, the texture is crunchy and they pop in your mouth  nicely. Good actually!

Tadpole Soup

This kind of food comes with the rainy season. Before cooking, tadpoles have to be cleaned with water and taken the guts out from their body. You might wonder how local people take the guts out. They just press the tadpole's body until the guts come out through their anus. Then they are being cleaned again. The tadpoles, not the local people.
Tadpole soup is eaten with steamed or sticky rice. It tastes a bit spicy. Actually, Local people eats it with sticky rice. Sticky rice is the main staple food in the northeast of Thailand.

Fried Stink Bugs

Stink bugs are both served as local snack and main dish. But this bug can only be found during the summer season. So, you have to come to the right time. Otherwise, you will probably miss it.
The way to cook these bugs is easy. First, you have to rinse them. Then fry them on a pan and put some salt on them. Keep frying until they turn brown or yellow, which means the Stink bugs are now ready to be served. I had it for a snack, sure it smells stinky, but the taste is great.

Grilled Buffalo Skin

I want to say Wow! even though I know grilled buffalo skin well and had it many times before. It's a long-straight dark thick piece. After it is grilled, it looks different from what you see in the above picture. As you might already guess, it is really hard to chew. People still like to eat it, though, no matter how hard to chew, and they eat it with sticky rice.


22 April 2010

Talking about weird food, have you ever tried eggs?

Bear with me, you guessed right, I'm not talking about chicken nor duck eggs.
Imagine you are invited to join lunch or dinner with your new acquaintance's home family in the far northeast corner of Isaan. People gather on the floor, one dish after the other appears in big and small bowls and you realize your Thai host family is already giggling, because they can see on your face that you have no idea what is being served.

You can identify the roasted chicken, this might be braised duck over there, but what the heck are those oval shaped baby worms doing among all the other food? You have heard about weird food in Thailand, but now your imagination goes berserk. Fortunately, it doesn't wiggle or make any noise. Actually, this looks like eggs rather than worms and it seems to be the favorite of your Thai hosts, who now inevitably start to encourage you to try.
"We can only harvest it this time of the year" Sman, the head of your host family, explains, noticing your hesitation. "Come on, get a bite".

Of course, you will demand an explanation first, and what you hear is not to make it easier for you. 
These are ant eggs.

They come in size and color of small white beans. Looking at them closely, you can even see a tiny little black eyes. Some have developed what seem to be legs.

While you still consider your options, Sman goes on and on what great source of protein they are, let alone their delicious taste.
They are harvested from tree branches, you learn. People make their own tools by cutting a bamboo pole, which then is being sharpened at the tip. A bucket is being attached to the pole with ropes. The sharp tip of the pole is now pushed into the ant's nest and moved as long as necessary to make the eggs fall into the bucket.

Finally, he convinces you to try a bite. No, you don't want to be impolite and yes, you can already imagine how you can brag about it, back at home.

Milky, crunchy, oily. One egg popped nicely in your mouth, reminding you of fish eggs. Mmm...not bad actually.

Sman seems to be pleased with the expression on your face.
"Do you want another bowl of this?" "Another time" you reply politely, reaching for the bowl with chicken soup. Chicken soup? "You are a brave young man", Sman says, "I hope you are going to like our frog soup."

Ant Eggs Soup 

Ant Eggs Omelet


10 March 2010

A secret untouched beach in Thailand

If you are looking for authentic travel in Thailand, there is a quiet little town right at the ocean, with a long stretch of golden sandy beaches and a gorgeous backdrop of limestone mountains. Tourism has not taken over yet, so life remains pretty much the way it used to be.
You still see fishermen bringing their catch in and drying it on the beach. Many coconut groves make this place additionally beautiful. The nearby National Park is truly amazing - people can discover stunning caves, hidden beaches, islands they can kayak too, and a quite astonishing wild life.  (by GeoVenture)



21 February 2010

Homestay; the real deal in Thailand

I set my travel plan to the countryside near Bangkok. Wanting to stay off the beaten tracks, I was thinking of Thaka district, which is about 3 hours Southwest of Bangkok.

I decided to travel by public means. I traveled by train, starting from Bangkok going to Mahachai, then took a ferry, walked over to the next train station and took another train, this time from Ban Laem to Mae Klong.

Thaka is a village in Samut Songkram province, which has an abundance of coconut groves, that flourish in the rich deep soil of this area. One reason why this place is lush and green, I noticed, are the canals.

The locals use the canals not just for watering crops but also transportation. Canals are the waterways that people use to deliver agricultural products from their own grove directly to the market.

Now, Is there a chance to have an overnight stay in the midst of all of this: palm groves, temples, traditional houses and the fresh clean country smell?

Honestly, I did not have much of an imagination of how it would be to stay in a homestay, but when I got there, I realized this place looks truly rural, charming, is quiet and there is a Floating Market, which I could easily get to by walking through the coconut groves. The Floating Market is being held on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 - 12 am. It is a truly remarkable experience, however, make sure you don't go to the markets that are being promoted for tourists.

I stayed 2 nights in the homestay, just to make sure I was able to get the whole depth of this experience.

As with everything, I found some good and some not so pleasant aspect of my choice of accommodation.

I loved the way I was able to participate in local people's life. I also enjoyed my rural surroundings, being so different from Bangkok: palm groves everywhere, the sounds of frogs and birds, lights from fireflies at night, fresh air and delicious food for breakfast and dinner provided by my landlord.

So everything was perfect? Not quite, perhaps this homestay has only been opened for a relatively short time, because I noticed a lack of service skills. Soap, shampoo and other convenient stuff that is usually part of a hotel room was missing. What bothered me more, however, was the fact that the landlord had obviously decided to do the cleaning himself. Unfortunately, his busy schedule left him little time to do so.

Overall, I believe to choose a homestay in the Thai countryside is an option not to be missed. You are simply closer to an authentic experience and isn't this one important reason why we travel? ...GeoVenture


29 January 2010

Is it time for Vietnamese food ?

On almost every corner in Bangkok you will find an abundance of restaurants, shops, and streetside vendors. They differ greatly in products offered, from simple to luxurious, even though they might be located right next to one another. Talking about restaurants, in the same area you might see simple food carts right next to luxury restaurants along the road.

In Bangkok, there are many restaurants which offer local and foreign food.
You love Chinese food? Go to China town, Yaowarat road, and you will be amazed by the abundance of choices. What about Japanese food or American fast food? Just hit the shopping malls or look around the business area, and you will get what you are looking for quickly. The same, to less extend, is true for Italian, French, German food - you name it!

Now, with all these  exciting choices, how do we actually tell if the food is really high quality?
By price, really?
It may surprise you, but by not only my opinion, some of the less expensive Asian food is not only more original, but sometimes of equally high quality as its counterpart in a luxury restaurant in Silom or Sukhumvit. Certainly, you will not get the same kind of atmosphere as a luxury restaurant will provide, but hey, if it's about food only, all that counts is freshness, quality of ingredients, and this special art of cooking that is unique to Asian food.

How do I prove my point? I wish I could take you right down to my favorite Thai-Vietnamese restaurant close to Satorn road.

The place is simple yet clean and frequented by locals and foreigners alike. The food choices are presented in menus in both languages Thai and English, and some of the dishes are pictured in photographs. So far this description could be true for most of the local restaurants on side streets in Bangkok, you might think, but wait until you tried the food. The taste is fresh, unpretentious, straight forward yet full with hints of oriental flavors.

I had a chance to talk with the owner of this restaurant about her food. What is different from other surrounding restaurants? She answered me with smiling face.
"I select  seafood, beef, chicken and other ingredients in the best quality available. Additionally we clean vegetables by using ozone water. One more thing"
She looked down to me, smiling again and whispering:" "I use the same seasoning as the luxury restaurant does."

"Bai Mieng Restaurant"

Pad Thai (popular menu)


Fried Rice


Fried curry with fish


Muu Kam Wan


Several kind of vegetables in a bowl


The owner of the restaurant (on the right hand side) and I.

Bai Mieng is located on Suanplu road adjacent to Thanachart Bank. It is bout 300 meters from the main South Satorn road.  In contrast, there are many restaurants on this road. The price per dish is about 50 - 120 Baht. It opens from 9 am to 9 pm.

Bai Mieng will open a new branch in Chiang Mai, "Bai Mieng Chiang Mai (Suanplu)", it is located at Ton Kham 2 road, Tha Sala district. If you want to know more information, make a phone call no. 053-248938.

By: GeoVenture

01 January 2010

Is traveling in Thailand by using public transport actually fun?

Traveling is one of the most exciting activities, whatever type of traveling you choose. It fulfills your desire and needs. Nowadays there are many traveling businesses which offer various tours to you, such as boat tour, trekking tour, historical tour or even health care tour. Before you travel, you basically have to make a plan ahead, where you want to visit, where to stay, what to do and how to go there etc. Additionally, you have to make a decision about transportation. 

If you decide to use public transport, you may come up with a question like: “Is it fun or not fun to travel by public means?” 

In Thailand, there are many kinds of public transportation including bus, train, motorcycle etc. which carry you from place to place, fast and slow. It depends on where you go.

To use public transport, there are several advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include, for instance - you encounter your new environment and surroundings more intimately, you will directly enjoy the landscape, people, villages etc., get in contact with local people without barriers, and you will be more flexible than going by organized transport. On the other hand, some of the disadvantages of using public transport: It might take a longer time to reach your destination than by going with an organized transport, you might encounter scamming people, there is always a chance to get lost, especially in a country where you don't speak the language, and last but not least, you will most likely have to deal with numerous connections.

Whenever I want to travel I always prefer public transport.
Furthermore, travel by using public means can support local business and local people. It also makes my travel much more adventurous. It’s exciting, fun and usually safer than one might think. For me using the same transport as locals do, unlike tourists, makes me feel a genuine traveler.

One of my fun experiences was to travel to Amphawa, Grove and Floating Market trip by train which connected with taxi and ferry boat. The whole trip took about 2.30 hours.

At first I took a train from Bangkok at Wong Wien Yai Railway Station to Mahachai. When I arrived at Mahachai I walked to the pier passing by the fresh market which is full of fresh seafood.

Secondly, I took the ferry boat to another pier and had to walk some distance to reach Ban Laem Railway Station. From this station the train leaves for Mae Klong, where I visited the famous mobile market right at the train tracks. After that, I walked to Song Taew station (Song Taew is a pick up truck which adapts to two row seats for passengers).

Thirdly, I took this pick up truck and headed to my destination “Amphawa”, and finally I walked about 100 meters to the hotel. On the way to Amphawa, there are many things to see, such as mangrove, salt farm, coconut grove, river, Thai traditional houses etc.

Here are some of my pictures taken during my "Amphawa grove and floating market trip”
Morning at Amphawa floating market, Samut Songkram, Thailand.

Tha Kha floating market, it's about 10 km. from Amphawa.

Another interesting spot in Amphawa, Wat Bang Kung. Ubosot is enclosed by  a sacred ficus tree.

Thanks for reading my travel blog.

Tripbod in Thailand