Thursday, September 2, 2010

The BBQ Boys Of Udonthani

[Here today is the story of the “BBQ Boys”, something a couple of readers had requested some time back. Actually, they probably wanted to see the other pictures that were taken the same day as the one I’d posted to a forum a couple of years ago, but they fit in with other recent posts so let’s use that as a justification.]

On the final day of a visit to Udonthani I went for one last stroll near my hotel while my friend toiled away behind a desk in another part of town. This was the same afternoon I ran into the Greek/Thai guy, saw the kids “hunting” with machetes in the canal, took pictures of the young couple and a few others and stopped in at the roadside barber shop, so it was an eventful walk.

The area I was in was within a few city blocks of the large Charoen Shopping Complex; just a block over from the street that passes in front of it, actually. There were a few BBQ places along within the same area, but that’s no great surprise – it’s a common type of restaurant throughout Isaan.

It was somewhere along about 3:30 in the afternoon and I’d stopped to watch the employees across the street setting up another BBQ while I finished a bottle of water I was tired of juggling while taking pictures. After downing the water and putting the empty bottle into the trash I took a few pictures to show friends back home just how big these places can be.

Walking a short distance farther I came upon another BBQ place on the same side of the street where I was walking, also filled with people scurrying around to set up tables, put out chairs and arrange supplies for the buffet-style service tables: bowls, plates, chafing dishes, and the likes.

I watched for a few moments before one of them looked up and noticed me standing there. “Sawasdee,” I called over to him, and that attracted the attention of the others nearby, who turned and welcomed me. I waved, and they waved back, smiling. One of them asked if I lived in Udonthani (actually, he said “Udon,” as it’s more commonly known) and when I held up the camera and said “AhmehriCAH” as it’s often pronounced by Thai he laughed and said “Welcome to Thailand!”

I motioned to him to bring his friends over for a photo, and he did. The first guy called out off to the back area of the restaurant, and a few more came shuffling over to take a break and be with their co-workers. A friend of mine has commented that he enjoys seeing the natural camaraderie and casual friendly affection the Thai display without the self-consciouness that seems to put walls around us in the West, and cited the top photo as a good example of that. I heartily concur. I'm adding detail of two of them "striking a pose" from another below.


Anonymous said...

.. Thai people are so friendly.. try getting the staff together for a photo at any American business. In the bottom photo, the guy on the left is making that 'face framing' gesture for his more handsome friend. I recently read that the two countries that had the highest per capita beer consumption were the USA and Thailand. By Western standards.. what is Thai beer like ?

Dimi said...

Great post again, couldn't agree more with your analysis regarding the natural camaraderie going on between work colleagues, this certainly wouldn't even be about to happen anywhere in Europe or in the occidental world for that matter.
Seems that you had quite a day this time indeed :) Cheers.

Michael Lomker said...

>what is Thai beer like

I tried all of them while I was there and if you're the kind of guy that likes German or micro-brew then you'll be very disappointed. Another thing about Thailand is that alcohol costs the same as in the US. It isn't a bargain by any means.

Singha was the best, imo, and that is available internationally.

khunbaobao said...

Wouldn't it be nice if co-workers everywhere could hold the same idea of "let's just work together and get this done" with the same attitude?

Re: Thai beer - I don't drink alcohol so I'm not much of a resource, sorry. From what I've heard, a US beer (such as Budweiser) is about 4% abv, or alcohol by volume; Thai beer Chang is around 6.4% abv, so it's going to have a little more kick to it.

khunbaobao said...

...while I'm babbling away with percentages Michael shows up with a useful opinion!

Thanks for that!

Anonymous said...

thanks Michael.. I noticed that Singha Beer has a tent in the second photo. Maybe the restaurant in that photo has an exclusive sales arrangement with Singha. I was wondering about how full bodied Thai beer is. You answered that question.. but I was surprised to learn that Thai beer costs as much.. considering the differences in average take home pay between US and Thai workers. If the alcohol content is higher.. Thai beer packs more bang for the buck. Mexican beers like Corona have less body because the climate is hotter... a lesser bodied beer would seem to suit a hotter climate.. and I was wondering if Thai beer was similarly brewed.. to quench a thirst but not make you feel like you're eating a dinner course.

Karsten Brabänder said...


wonderful story, wonderful pix.

I've been in UT two times, but I missed this aspect of the cities culture.

Anyway, I am too shy to make pictures of other people :-(

Like reading your blog and enjoy it well!

khunbaobao said...

Thank you, Karsten - welcome!

shamelessmack said...

What's all this about beer? Are you guys trying to pretend you didn't notice the shirtlessness of them all? :)

khunbaobao said...

Well, there was that, too... Sometimes you walk past the scenery, and sometimes the scenery walks past YOU!