In Thailand, it’s a common thing to see older women chewing betel nuts – a tradition that has been around for thousands of years. But since it’s hard to find younger people who chew betel nuts these days, this tradition will eventually die.
Betel nut chew is a mix of three main ingredients: betel nut (areca nut), betel leaf and limestone paste. These three ingredients need to be combined to provide a stimulant and psychoactive effect.
I have watched my wife’s grandmother fixing her betel nut chew many times before, but this day I decided to try it out.
Lam Thap is a district of Krabi Province about an hour inland from Krabi Town. My wife was born and raised here – in a house just outside Lam Thap Town, surrounded by a forest of palm and rubber trees. You will hardly see any tourists here, but it does happen that some choose to stay a few nights at the only hotel in town to get away and save a few bucks. Since Emerald Pool and Hot Springs are pretty close, it’s not a bad idea to stay here overnight and go early the next morning to beat the crowd.
If you are interested in staying here, I recommend coming on a Monday and visit the weekly market in Din Daeng 8 km from Lam Thap Town called “Talad Siyak Suanpalm”. It’s a wonderful market inside a forest of palm trees located close the limestone mountains that separates Krabi from its neighboring province of Nakhon Si Thammarat. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous! You will not see any tourists here so the locals may look curiously at you. This is a unique opportunity to get in touch with the local life far from tourism. Come here between 2.00 p.m. and 6 p.m.
There is a famous picture of His Majesty with his beloved first ever white elephant named Phra Sawet Adulyadej Phahnon. It’s a male born about 1951, found in a forest in Lam Thap District, Krabi Province in 1956 by my wife’s great-grandfather Pleum Sutthiked (นายปลื้ม สุทธิเกิด). At that time, he was still a young bull attached to his mother in a wild elephant herd. In a perfect world this rare elephant would never leave the forest. But if there is someone who would take good care of an elephant, it is the King. Phra Sawet Adulyadej Phahnon died in 2009 at age 58.
His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej with his first ever white elephant Phra Sawet Adulyadej Phahnon.
Thailand is the world’s largest producer and exporter of natural rubber, and
Southern Thailand is home to 70 percent of domestic output. My in-laws have a rubber tree plantation of 1,000 trees on 3 hectares, in Lam Thap, a district of Krabi Province, Southern Thailand.
They cut in the outer bark of the rubber tree, just deep enough to tap the vessels without harming the tree’s growth, and the milky-white latex is collected in small buckets. This process is called rubber tapping, and they have to do this in the middle of the night, around 2 a.m, so as to harvest as much latex as possible. The rubber trees are tapped six days a week.
Early one morning I visited my in-laws’ rubber tree plantation, and I recorded a short video. Sorry that the tree is out of focus. I had the camera on auto-focus.
I bought a GoPro camera just before we went to Thailand this time, and it was a lot of fun to put together this video. The model I used is a GoPro Hero3 White Edition Slim and the locations in the video are Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Krabi, Lam Thap, Ao Nang, Railay Bay, Poda Island, Koh Kho Khao and Phuket. Please watch the video in 720p60 HD.
Here’s a video i want to share with you from last year. We were staying in my in-laws’ house in Lam Thap a couple of days, and one morning we woke up unusually early, and decided to go visit my in-laws who worked on their rubber plantations. They have a young playful dog, named Son, who was very happy to see us. When we drove back to their house, the awesome Son decided to run after us all the way home.