Last weekend Jeff and I went to an amazing festival called Boon Gateen. It was literally a food fest and completely free! (especially amazing for PC volunteers on a budget) Imagine grown-up trick-or-treating, except instead of Snickers and Mars you get pad thai, ice cream, dumplings, grilled sticky rice dipped in egg, and more. With over 50 tables, you were sure to find something you could like.
Here’s how it works: local temple goers sign up for a table and buy enough ingredients to feed a massive group of people for one day. Those with tables arrive at 6am to prepare, while the first guests arrive around 7. To give you an idea of the scale, there were tour buses from other countries and even city folks in from Bangkok (7 hours away). Anyone could come and just go from table to table taking food. It started out nice, but towards the end it almost reached a mob-like atmosphere. If you don’t like large crowds, this is not your festival. All in all it was a blast!
Here is what we were “selling”:
- Hot milk with baidurie. ”Baidurie” is a fragrant herb that grows in Thailand. It is used to package Thai desserts, to make bathrooms smell nice, as a float for roy katong (see later part of article), and is a popular girl’s name too!
- Grilled bread with toppings (options were: butter and sugar (hot seller), pandan cream (the green one), cream (like what’s in a boston crème donut), orange jelly, strawberry jelly).
Our work station!
Jeff’s little helper. Don’t be fooled by her small stature. Little Anoon (grape in Thai) is all business. If you’ll remember from the last post, she was also Jeff’s helper during rice season. Jeff has never ceased to interest her after the first time she saw him take his contacts out. She follows him everywhere.
Giving alms. It’s about tambooning at the wat (temple) too. Each family makes a money tree and gives it to the wat.
Temple goers also make beautiful displays out of flowers and baidurie
(the herb mentioned earlier).
Rolf Gunther. One of our ‘customers’ turned out to be a 93 year old German, who promptly sat down with me after learning I could ‘sprechen Deutsch.’ I introduced him to the Russian backpacker who was visiting us and this prompted the German, Rolf Gunther, to point to his leg. It contained two bullet wounds from Russians who tried to shoot him during the war! He could even speak good Russian! I also learned that Rolf met his beautiful Thai wife nine years earlier (aka age 84). She had a husband already, a Thai guy, but he is apparently an alcoholic and not a “good guy” according to the Thais. Most, then, do not disapprove of her marrying again and at least obtaining financial security.
(left) Ice cream toppings. Yes, beans too!
(right) biggest pot of rice I’ve ever seen!