A Travellerspoint blog

Day 4: Thailand

Live television, radio and an amazing restaurant

rain 33 °C

Food

Thailand...the land of unidentifiable dried foods in plastic bags? It certainly feels this way. Local markets have a wide array of bagged foods, at times including drinks and sauces, but always in the same type of air-filled plastic bag. I suppose this is just a different way of storing food, a method which allows the contents to be easily seen.

What I find much more interesting is the issue of food hygiene! Why are foods that, by Western standards, should be kept hot or cold, are frequently keep at room temperature? With the room temperature within un-airconditioned houses and outside in the local stalls and markets being in the low 30's (celsius) with high humidity, it appears to be a breeding ground for bacteria!

I presume that Thai people have become accustomed to this high level of bacteria. Of course, as an Australian in Thailand for a short time, the bacteria concerns me greatly. Similar to many other travelers, I am in a constant battle to avoid food poisoning from the very different food preparation and storage methods evident. Luckily for me, I have not yet had any ill effects from the local food, despite eating a range of street food and food from 'shifty' looking shops (hopefully I'm not jinxing myself by typing this!).

For dinner we went to an amazing restaurant on the Chao Phraya River. The atmosphere, live music, view over the river and food combined to make a wonderful night. Darm sought out the opportunity to sing a Thai song, through which he proved his talent for singing! :) I found the Thai song very enjoyable, which makes me think about Asian music in Australia. It seems that Korean and Japanese music have a bit of a following in particular Australian sub-cultures or groups of people, but this is not the case for Thai music. What is preventing Thai music from becoming popular in Australia? Presumably the language isn't the issue, as Korean/Japanese music is usually not in English, though I have noticed that many pop songs from these countries include a few English words in the Chorus (possibly to entice English-speakers). If Thai music reached Australia it would have a very positive effect for Thailand, with increased interest and tourism to the country. Personally, listening to amazing songs in Thai makes me want to learn some Thai language...so bring on the Thai songs in Australia!
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Animals

In line with my thoughts about the elephants that I had seen in concrete enclosures the previous day, today I noticed that my host family (Kao's family), has a pet dog. As I noticed that the dog was to be left in the concreted 'front yard' area, I decided to breach the topic of dog walking with Kao. Her response felt against the grain for an Australian possessing views of high conditions for animals, but similarly brought up a range of questions regarding how the popular culture of Thailand may be supporting or altering the Thai view of animals. In Kao's case, their dog is never walked because in Thailand the concreted space is considered sufficient. Contrasting is the popular view within Australian culture that pet dogs should have a grass area in the yard and receive frequent, if not daily, walks for exercise (due to believing the the yard is not enough space for a dog to spend all of its time - even if this space is relatively large and grassed).

DJs and Radio

Easy FM and Virgin FM were the focus of our attention for the bulk of the day. Easy FM plays mainly international music, which means that the vast majority of the music played is in English. Whereas, Virgin FM plays mostly Thai pop music, with a sprinkling of the most popular international songs. Our interviews with the DJs for these stations, as well as the manager of the company that runs both of them, raised questions relating to the popularity of Thai, Korean and Western music compared to each other, as well as why Korean pop music is more popular internationally than Thai pop music. It was suggested that Korean pop stars are a package: they can sing, dance, act, be beautiful and advertise products. On the other hand, Thai pop singers were conveyed as just being attractive and good singers. It was further suggested that in order for Thai pop music to become a product that Thailand can successfully export, the singers need to be 'the whole package'.
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Live Television

The evening provided the opportunity to interview Salinee (a famous DJ, television host and music producer) and then for her to record an interview with us for her television program! During the interview Salinee suggested that in order for Thai pop stars to compete with Korean stars they need to have the same thorough training in all areas of entertainment so that they are the 'whole package' too. She stated that plastic surgery is done by all Korean stars and that Thai stars need to embrace this if they are to reach the high level of international popularity achieved by Korean pop stars. This issue of plastic surgery was a confusing one, as it appears that its very common but not full accepted by the general public. I think that this will be a very interesting topic for the forum that we are hosting on Monday. Salinee also made a controversial statement that the Thai government needs to provide further support to the arts in Thailand, including music. She believes that this is a contributing factor in Thai music lagging behind the popularity of Korean music. While this was controversial, and expressed using colourful language, this was also implied by the DJs and manager interviewed at the radio stations earlier in the day.
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Posted by ruth'stravels 02:17 Archived in Thailand Tagged restaurant river dogs pets station radio television dried_food food_in_bags food_hygiene

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