LEADERS - not followers

Saturday, April 10, 2010


NaPoWriMo Day 10
For Read Write Poem

RWP member Pamela Sayers says, “I live in Mexico, and one of the things I love most about this country is that people here celebrate their family and friends to the utmost.” And it is in that spirit that Pamela asks us to write about any celebration we have been to recently.
Write about a birthday party, a wedding, a baptism — any kind of celebration where you were with family or friends or both. Write about the colors you remember, the sounds (and how they made you feel) and the tastes you remember from any of those events. Did these things make you feel good? Did you experience any new foods? Did you meet any new people?
Sometimes, beyond our control, festivities can take a turn for the worse. Maybe that happened to you or someone you know. Whatever happened, be it great or not so great, let’s write about it!

Here, in Thailand, Songkhran (สงกรานต์), the traditional Thai New Year will be celebrated from 13-15 April. It is a time when people celebrate by splashing water over each other, and passers by alike. It is believed that the more water thrown during this period, the more rain there will be to water the crops that sustain life. It is a rowdy mixture of water fights, excessive drinking and family reunion. Here in the north it will be celebrated on a slightly simpler scale than elsewhere. I’ve chosen a Haiku that sums up the festival, as well as a piece about the Isan dish of preference, Somtam (ส้มตำ), of which copious amounts will be consumed over the holiday period. The piece is also a celebration of the Thai language and I have both transliterated and translated.


The thirst for battle
Unquenched by water’s onslaught
Frenzy of Songkhran

PAPAYA POK-POK - พาพาย้าป๊อกๆ

Take one unripe papaya
Shave skin to expose green flesh
Swift knife-blade chopping motions
Slice strands into a mortar

Photograph Copyright © Stan Ski

Flavour with home-made fish sauce
The juice of a home-grown lime
A dozen “Rat Shit” chillies
And a tablespoon of salt

Photograph Copyright © Kanpirom Srisongnang

Add some cherry tomatoes
Throw in a freshwater crab
Bruise the mix with a pestle
And gather round the table

Photograph Copyright © Kanpirom Srisongnang

Isan ‘Somtam’, delicious
‘Somtam’ – “Papaya Pok-Pok”
Tasty papaya salad
Best served with glutinous rice.

Photograph Copyright © Kanpirom Srisongnang

SOMTAM - ส้มตำ

Photograph Copyright © Kanpirom Srisongnang


Ao marlakor mar nung look
Pork perk ok ao tee nua nai
Laew ko sab
Fan sai jan

Sai plar lar tee tam eng
Sai manao jark thon
Phrik khee noo sib song met phor dee
Sai phong shulot nung shon to

Sai makeurtet look lek
Sai pudong jark mae nam
Laew ko tam pok-pok
Laew tuk khon ko mar nang kin

Somtam Isan seb lai der
‘Somtam’ – “Papaya Pok-Pok”
Yam marlakor aroi
Kin kab khao nieow dee khwar


ปอกเปลือก ออกที่เนื้อใน



ส้มตำ พาพาย่าป๊อกๆ


  1. Tasty, Asian-flavored contribution!

  2. Thanks Iself; And lashings of Lao Khao (rice lquor) to wash it down.

  3. I like the energy of the haiku Stan. What a wonderful tradition, and god that dish sounds and looks tasty!

    I really like Thai cuisine. We go to a local place operated by a Thai couple, called Arawan. I love their spicy peanut chicken curry dish, don't know if it is traditional -- but I do love it...

    Image & Verse

  4. Thanks Rob; Tradition and family are paramount in Thailand. I don't care too much for Somtam, but lots of other food to whet the appetite and there are so many influences in Thai cookery that it can be difficult to identify what is 100% Thai.

  5. And a Happy Papaya Pok Pok to you too :)


    Sai plar la tee tam eng
    Say please you teatime Brit

    Sai manao jark thon
    Say man did you see Jack's thong

    Phrik Khee noo sib song met phor dee
    Friggin' Noo sang a song at my fortieth

    Sai phong shulot nung shon to
    Phong said shutup Nung said that too

  6. Thanks Rallentanda; You're a natural interpreter! I'm glad I decided to include the transliteration just for this comment!!!

  7. Stan, I've not tried Thai papaya salad. You're making miss Thailand. Are you based in Bangkok?

  8. Thanks Irene; No I'm in the north-east, between Kohn Kaen & Udon.

  9. Hi Stan,

    Great haiku. I like Thai food too but don't get to have it very often. I'm grateful for Rall's translation services!

  10. Loved the haiku, and you are making me hungry. Get occasional Thai food, but wish it were more often.

  11. The Haiku was brilliant, and the description of the festival Songkhran reminded me of Holi which we celebrate here in India :)
    Happy New Years to you then, in advance.

  12. I loved the Haiku. And the dish looks yummy :)
    Here in Puebla we have no Thai food but plenty of sushi.

  13. CELEBRATING the flavour of your words Stan

  14. Making me hungry...and thirsty. Enjoyed your haiku, too!

  15. Thanks to:
    Derrick; Now you know!
    Poemblaze; Nicely spicy...
    Aayushi; Buddhism has a lot in common with Hinduism.
    Ron; I prefer pappaya ripe and sweet.
    Pamela; Funny; favourite for many Thais is Suki.
    Wayne; Enjoy!
    Robin; Starter and main course.

  16. Thanks Andy; Let battle commence!