The Queen Saovabha Memorial Hospital and Snake Farm

Just before we left for Bangkok, T-bone and I realized that we hadn’t been to a travel clinic to get our immunizations updated. Oops. Maybe I should have spent more time figuring that one out, and less time eating grotesque numbers of cookies from the treasure trove in my in-laws’ freezer. Luckily, the person supplying me with an endless supply of baking was the same person who informed us that we could get our shots when we arrived in Thailand.* When my MIL tells me that my health is going to be ok, I know I can chillax.

Trying to fill the massive void that homemade cookies have left in my life.

True to her predictions, Thailand does indeed have good vaccination facilities. What no one could have predicted was the sheer awesomeness of “The Queen Saovabha Memorial Hospital and Snake Farm.” I found this hospital using my usual advanced methods.** As soon as I saw the words “snake farm,” I told Todd to lace up his shoes. We’d found our destination.

And when I tell him to “lace up his shoes,” he knows I mean business.

The Queen Saovabha Memorial Hospital and Snake Farm is located on Bangkok’s Red Cross campus. It’s a stately Victorian building, with fountains in the front, and snakes in the back.

Concealing the reptilian treasures that lie behind it.

We started off with the vaccinations. The process was simultaneously incredibly quick and incredibly complicated. We started off by registering ourselves as patients of the QSMHSF. We were then sent to another room, where we were again registered, before being sent to yet another room where a medical practitioner of some variety informed us that we needed shots. He then wrote us a prescription, which we took to the pharmacy which was located in yet another room. We paid for the bottle of vaccine, then brought it back to the second room where we were once again directed to the third room where a nurse administered the shots. The whole process involved approximately $30 (for two doses of rabies vaccine, one dose of Japanese encephalitis vaccine, and one polio booster), 20 minutes, and 400 trips to various rooms.

That’s right, nurse. You have to wait your turn, too.

After cooing over these bargain basement drug deals, T-Bone and I headed around back to where the real fun was happening: the snake farm. While the QSMHSF gives a great booster shot, the snakes are its real pride and joy. Sadly for us, the snake handling show was over for the day. Happily for me, I still needed two more rabies boosters. I timed my second shot badly, but the third time was the charm, and I was treated to snakes galore.

The sign truly speaks for itself.

The King Cobra, I think.

The interpreter explains the snakes: “This one is scary because it is black and yellow, the same colours as wasps, which are your greatest fear, Ruth, khaaaaaap.”

And this dude is green, and probably pretty dangerous.

Next time any of you Bangkokians need shots, I urge you to visit The Queen Saovabha Memorial Hospital and Snake Farm. How often do you have the opportunity to be vaccinated against one kind of animal bite immediately before being bitten by another kind of animal? Do it.

* Here I am referring to my favourite MIL

** The Google’n’Click. Just what it sounds like.

Foodie Friday: The Miraculous Mangosteen

(Hmmm. When it comes to ‘Foodie Friday’ posts, I often seem to find myself stuck in Superlative Land. You’ll have to bear with me once more, though, because it is impossible to describe mangosteens without using superlatives.)

The “Queen of Fruits” is so miraculously perfect that it deserves its own post.* It is only when I moved to Thailand that I met this fruit ‘vis-a-vis’ as the French say, but it has been nothing but pure love since then.  I was originally sceptical of this fabled perfection, however, because:

A) The Durian is called the “King of Fruits,” and I have never smelled anything so revolting – think onions mixed with teenage-boy B.O. (Making me actually taste it would require a force-feeding adventure). Royalty designations just don’t do it for me.

B) Todd was really excited to eat mangosteen again. Todd, however, gets excited by mixed congee, mysterious lumps from the market, and low-quality carbohydrates. His culinary instincts are sporadic at best.

Plus, they look like strange lumps – not exactly flaunting their perfection.

As soon as I tasted one, though, I knew I that all the stories were true. It is the perfect fruit. There aren’t really adequate words to describe its flavour, but I will try: imagine the most beautiful flower you can think of, then imagine that beauty in the form of a flavour. Voila, the mangosteen.

They look pretty unassuming on the outside:

Giving you a fuller picture of the “strange lump” spectrum

Who cares about the outside, though? I never judge a book by its cover. All I’m into is innards.

And these innards are worth gettin’ into.

The fruit itself is arranged in a flower formation, and each section has a big seed in the middle. The sections are sort of like skinny-fat people: they’re mostly bone, but the flesh they do have is soft and flabby.

Never has flabby been so tasty

Getting to those innards can be tough. Todd once slit open his hand in his anxiety to hit mangosteen paydirt. I am forever indebted to fellow Bangkokian blogger mishvo for alerting me to the fact that mangosteens can actually be peeled. Who knew? I believe that this knowledge has already saved T-bone’s life several times over.

Although plastic bags may yet claim him

Sometimes, mangosteens go bad. It is tragic when perfection is corrupted.

The mangosteen on the right is sporting some mould, while the one on the left has a few mushy neon blemishes.

Pulpy, woody, rotting, stinking, tragicness.

But because of the amazingness of the good fruit, we keep tearing into them, rotten or not.

Awkward self portrait. Dang it, T-Bone! Why are you always working when I need a photographer?!

And a more successful portrait of someone enjoying mangosteen.

Sadly, mangosteen season is drawing to a close. Leave me a comment if you have suggestions on how to fill the void that it is leaving in my culinary life.

* Also, I was too lazy to scout out more new and bizarre fruit.

Contest!

The Facetious Farang is hosting its (my?) first contest!

The Background:

Overall, life in Bangkok is good, but there are a few things that have been gettin’ me down a bit lately. The main downer is that I  have not yet begun subbing, and it looks like I am still at least a few weeks away from officially walking the hallowed halls of T-bone’s school. I won’t go into details, but the process/communication has been painful in the extreme for The Trailing Spouses Club. The secondary downer is that a few key features of our apartment building are not yet functional. Perhaps the most visible of these is our non-functional pool. So, I figured I’d cheer myself up by running an on-line bet. Here it is:

Which do you think will happen first?

A) I will begin substitute teaching

Gettin’ paperwork in Cambodia

B) Our pool will be swimmable

(Ok, this photo is old, but too good not to use. The pool is looking better, but it still ain’t swimmable).

or

C) Christmas will come!

images

Woohoo!

 

Rules:

Since neither my mother nor the government of Thailand approve of gambling, I will not give monetary odds. However, if you live in Bangkok and you guess correctly, I will reward you with chocolate/cheese/Chang (your choice). If you live farther afield, you will have to content yourself with my undying online r-e-s-p-e-c-t.

In order to vote, please leave a comment below.

Results will be announced as soon as they come in! Please vote!

Foodie Friday: Best Beef

Oops! Maybe this overdue Foodie Friday post should be entitled Supping Sunday or something.

The new teachers (plus assorted Trailing Spouses) at this glorious scholastic institution decided that it was time for a koffee klatsch/catch-up sesh after our October break – we are basically one big extended family. Nothing screams “bonding” like a night out at “Best Beef.”

Uncle John is EXTREMELY excited to bond with his nephew, but Cousin Jay isn’t sure how he feels

Best Beef is a buffet/grilling restaurant located in On Nut (I feel like it’s a sign of my cultural integration that I can now type this without snickering), a neighbourhood in Bangkok proper. The whole restaurant is outdoors, and has seating for approximately several thousand people. It functions like this: the waiter brings you a bowl of burning charcoal and a grilling plate (nothing like a bowl of fire on a 30+ degree evening), and a menu. You point to random raw items on the menu and hope that the waiter understands/cares.

And Cousin Ellen is prepared to “clarify” if he gets it wrong

You then lob a hunk of butter into the pan, and dump your raw goodies in with it. I tried to keep the raw chicken juice separate from my eating utensils, but soon gave up. There was just way too much food flying all over the place for me to worry about hygiene.

So many calories. So little time.

The unfortunate thing about a restaurant called “Best Beef” is that it kinda focuses on animal proteins. This was a non-issue for most of us

Cousin Rambo needs MEAT to fuel those guns

But there were a few vegetarians at our table. We designated one hot plate as a veggie plate and one as a meat plate. The veggie plate contained a somewhat anaemic selection of low-cal foods, while the meat plate was like the slaughter of Noah’s ark – cow layered on top of chicken draped over squid wrapped around pig eating shrimp. Carnage.

Cousin Katherine manages to make binge eating look cultured

Thanks for letting us eat you, little dudes

The waiter seemed pretty reluctant to bring the vegetables we ordered. “Asparagus, corn and mushrooms please.” “Ok, ok.” And then celery tops and aging lettuce would show up at the table. The vegetarians got the shaft.

Yup. The restaurant does hate you guys.

Overall, it was a good binge with our family. Next time I feel like eating assorted animals next to a blazing fire in the sultry, cloying heat of the tropics, I’ll be sure to head back to Best Beef.

And then maybe I’ll check out this place