Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Thai bird houses, music and the best game ever

Thai bird houses

This is, I believe, one of the genuinely interesting things we learned on the trip – something I am likely to tell you if you make the costly mistake of inviting me to dinner (I am also likely to totally deplete any food reserves you may have). We were told it by our friends and fellow travellers, Andreas and Heike, whom we met in Laos. Andreas and Heike are also responsible for teaching us the excellent dice game of “Zilch”, which you are also likely to be exposed to, should you decide to invite us to dinner.

The Chinese are very keen on “bird’s nest soup”, which is made using actual swallow’s nests. They believe it is healthy and tasty and there is a huge market for it, meaning that someone who can supply regular and plentiful quantities of swallow’s nests will be remunerated handsomely. In Thailand, some developers dedicate whole buildings to harbouring families of swallows. Apart from the substitution of air vents for windows and the large numbers of birds hanging around, these look like normal buildings, perhaps blocks of flats. Apparently ultra-sound is used to attract the swallows and advanced monitoring systems ensure that families are actually permitted to use their home after the first few iterations. It’s important to get conditions inside the buildings just right for the birds. If successful in attracting large numbers of swallows, such investments can be very lucrative.

It was in Trat that we saw our first live ones. There are a couple on the main street and more around the night food market. Tons of birds, and you can see the gap on the roof where they get in and out. What an interesting business concept!

Thai music

I have a theory. All Thai popular music is based on the chords of “Scarborough Fair”, in rearranged progressions. Plus, Thai singers and musicians love to chuck in a sixth note – the “-ry” of “Rosema-ry” – at every available opportunity.

You heard it here first.

Best game ever

OK, we don’t claim to have invented this first. There are probably a million variations floating around out there – club nights dedicated to the concept, even. It is simply an extrapolation of the original concept of “shuffle”.

Best played on a beach, perhaps? A set of speakers is essential; the little travelling ones are fine, perhaps even best for the game. Roll a die or similar to see who goes first.

Everyone sets their mp3 player to (completely random) shuffle (no cheating now), each one taking centre stage in rotation. Each person’s go lasts until a quorum vetoes the current track playing. Is the person who lasts longest the “coolest”?

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