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Pad Thai, otherwise known as Thai fried noodles. The ingredients that make up this dish include: egg, beansprouts, dried shrimp, garlic, tofu, salted Chinese radish and crushed peanuts.

You can find pad thai being made almost anywhere. However, be warned. The recipe does vary. Try to avoid the pad thai that has been “mass produced” and is seen for sale for only 10 baht at temple fairs and places like Khao San Road. For best results, watch it being made fresh. The pad thai stand around the corner from me opens at about 5 p.m. and is open until late. A large plate from her costs 20 baht (see picture above). An extra sized helping (called pi-set in Thai) costs only 5 baht more.

First to be added to the wok are the noodles. These are stir-fried for a few minutes. Next is added the dried shrimp, tofu and minced Chinese raddish. Again this is mixed and stir-fried for a few minutes.

The ingredients are now pushed to one side and an egg is cracked into the wok. She cooked the egg for a minute or so before breaking it up and mixing it in with the noodles. Finally a sprinkling of chopped chives and a generous layer of breansprouts are placed on top. This is not mixed in with the noodles. It is now ready to serve. The finally layer is the ground roasted peanuts. She placed all of this into a container with some spring onions, half a lime and a little plastic bag containing chili and sugar.

Although pad thai is cooked just about everywhere, people will cross to the other side of town just to get their favourite recipe. My favourite is on Taiban roundabout. Very delicious and worth the extra effort to cross town. It is easy to spot the more popular hawkers as there is always a long queue!

I have never attempted to cook this dish as it is so readily available. However, here is the recipe if you want to have a go at home:

Stir-Fried Thai Noodles Recipe

Ingredients:

8 oz (250 g) rice noodles (sen lek)
3 tablespoons oil
3 garlic cloves (kratiem), minced
1/4 cup dried shrimp/prawns
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) fish sauce (nam pla)
1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) sugar
2 tablespoons tamarind juice (ma-kaam piag)
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 cup fried tofu
2 tablespoons dried unsalted turnip, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup 1-in (2.5-cm) lengths chopped chives
1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) ground roasted peanuts
1 cup bean sprouts

Garnish:

1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup chopped chives
1/4 small banana blossom, cut into strips
1/2 lime, cut into wedges

How to cook:

1. Soak the rice noodles in cold water for 30 minutes, or until soft. Drain, and set aside.

2. Heat a large skillet until hot, then add the oil. Add the garlic and dried shrimp, and stir-fry. Add the noodles and stir-fry until translucent. It may be necessary to reduce the heat if the mixture is cooking too quickly and the noodles stick.

3. Add the fish sauce, sugar, tamarind juice and paprika. Stir-fry the mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the tofu, turnip and egg.

4. Turn the heat to high and cook until the egg sets, stirring gently. Thoroughly combine the mixture, and continue cooking over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes until most of the liquid is reduced.

5. Mix in the chives, peanuts and bean sprouts. Place on a serving dish, arrange the bean sprouts, chives, banana blossom and lime attractively and serve.

Thousands of Buddhist monks took part in a ceremony in Bangkok’s shopping district on May 8, 2011. Numbering 12,600, according to organizers, the monks attended the ceremony on Vesak Day, the annual celebration of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. The event was organised to pay homage to the Lord Buddha and to give moral support to the Buddhist monks and novices from the troubled southern provinces of Thailand. This year marks 2600th anniversary of the Buddha’s enlightenment.

In Buddhism, alms or almsgiving is the respect given by a lay Buddhist to a Buddhist monk, nun, spiritually-developed person or other sentient being. It is not charity as presumed by Western interpreters. It is closer to a symbolic connection to the spiritual and to show humbleness and respect in the presence of normal society. The visible presence of monks and nuns is a stabilizing influence. The act of alms giving assists in connecting the human to the monk or nun and what he/she represents.
12600 Monks where given respect this morning at Central World Plaza in Bangkok by thousand of Buddhists in white dresses and shirts.

After chanting and a sermon, the monks then started to file down the paths between an estimated crowd of 100,000 lay people. In normal alms giving events that I have attended, the monks would start accepting alms straight away. However, as there were 12,600 here it wasn’t possible. So, they all filed down to the end first. Once all of the monks were on the red carpet, the lay people then started offering food to the monks at the same time.

The majority of alms offered were dried food as well as personal necessities such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste. Like the mass alms giving in Samut Prakan, most of the donated food will be sent to 286 temples in the deep south of Thailand. Proceeds will also be used to sponsor the Robe Offering Ceremony for the entire year.

Due to the on-going troubles in the four southernmost provinces in Thailand, it is not easy for the monks living there to go out on their daily alms rounds. In fact, monks have been targeted and shot dead in the past. The event today was organized to give them both moral support as well as dried food.

Wat Rong Khun, the stunning White Temple, its facade shimmering in the sun from thousands of tiny mirrored pieces inserted into its gleaming white surface. This temple, which is in Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand, is more well-known among foreigners as The White Temple.

The temple is located in Ban Rong Khun, about 13 kilometres south-west of Chiang Rai city along Phahonyothin Road. It is the brainchild of Thai artist Chaloemchai Khositphiphat who started building it back in 1998.In an interview, he said that “maybe in 60 to 90 years after my death will the projected be completed”.

Chaloemchai Khositphiphat, in his lifetime has become a great Contemporary Thai artist that is admired by many people. He has not only revitalized an interest in the ancient Thai murals found in temples, but he has at the same time produce his only unique style. Most obvious is the choice of white for the temple while others are golden. He said that he believes that gold is only suitable for people who lust for evil deeds.

The attention to detail in the temple is remarkable and you do need to spend some time here studying the beautiful artwork. To reach the temple you have to cross a bridge over a pit of hell. Down below there are sculptures of people who are presumably trying to escape from hell. Inside the temple is a beautiful coloured mural of the Buddha. If you take a close look at the devil you will see small portraits of Bin Laden and George Bush in the Devil’s eyes. Across from the Buddha images, the artist has painted a montage of recent events, including the plane flying into the Twin Towers.

One of the new buildings is this Golden Toilet which is probably the most beautiful rest room in Thailand. Surprisingly it is also free, the same as for entry to the White Temple. Though obviously donations are welcome as up-keep of all the buildings is never-ending. You can buy reproductions of Chaloemchai’s impressive artwork in the souvenir shop. The White Temple is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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