American Ribs and the Lost School of Khongthiinai

Thursday was another fourth day in a long week.  I had been doing a lot of document creation and while a lot was being accomplished, by Thursday afternoon I was mentally exhausted.  Tawn’s week had been similarly long.  So when he called to say he was wrapping up and ready to head home, I answered his typical query of “what should we do for dinner?” with a simple answer: “I have a surprise for you.”


Tawn hates/loves surprises.


The surprise was a trip to the Great American Rib Company on Sukhumvit Soi 36, near Thong Lor Skytrain station.  After an overpriced and under-flavored trip to Tony Roma’s a few months ago for a barbeque fix, I vowed to just suffer along without any barbeque.  But then a couple we know from Texas, Ron and Kari, were in town from Ayutthaya over July 4th and ate at the Great American Rib Company and were very positive about it.  And this from a pair of Texans!


Sure enough, when we pulled up there was a large outdoor seating area under large trees, long tables with benches just like the Salt Lick outside of Austin. 


The menu was loaded with lots of choices and so we settled for the 1/2 Platter Great American Feast: 1/2 BBQ chicken, 1/2 rack of ribs, large mound of pulled pork shoulder, slices of pastramied pork tenderloin, BBQ beans, slaw, potato salad, and curly fries.  It was way too much to eat and we took a large portion of food back home.


What can I say about it?  Well, the smokey flavor is authentic so you know it isn’t just being thrown on the fire, and the dry rub marinade for the ribs adds a nice depth to them.  There is too much sauce slathered on everything and I’ll have to remember to ask for the sauce on the side next time.  This is perhaps an accommodation of Thai tastes, which go for heavy sauce. 


The chicken was moist and flavorful, the pulled shoulder had a nice tangy vinegar sauce but it had a tomato base so I think it can be classified as authentic Carolina pig.  The pastramied tenderloin was sliced thin and served with a horseradish sauce.  Although an odd choice, not falling into the usual canon of BBQ meats, it was flavorful but very dry. 


For dessert, they offer an authentic deep dish apple pie.  It was deep, the crust was good, and the apples were sliced thick and still had a tender crunch.  However, the filling had so much flour, sugar, cinnamon and other spices that it was overly sweet and a bit pasty.  I’m of the school that all you need is apples, just a little sugar and a little Chinese 5-spice and you have yourself a pie.


Still, it was a nice treat.  They also have pecan pie which looked like what I expect except they don’t go to the expense of using whole pecan halves, settling instead for broken pieces.  Also there is a lemon meringue pie which I’ll have to try one of these days.


I’m going to ask Brad and Silvia if they would like to go here on one of their final nights in Bangkok, since Brad misses KC barbque and I think they don’t find it in Italy.


 


Rongrian Bangkhonthiinai


Two weeks ago while on a Spiceroads cycling trip with Brad and Silvia, we came across a small, 4-room primary school in the midst of the banana plantations in Samut Songkhram province, 60km or so southwest of Khrungthep.  Chatting with the principal, she asked if I’d be interested in volunteering to help teach English to her sixty students.


I left with her email address and a promise to contact her.  Unfortunately, the emails I sent did not seem to make it.  Feeling that this was an opportunity not to be passed up, I made plans with Tod to drive down to Samut Songkhram today to find the school.


Armed with a general road atlas and a sense of direction, or perhaps a road atlas and a general sense of direction, we set off on the journey.  Both proved useful and we took a side road that indicated the way to a wat (temple) that seemed to be roughly in the right location.  In Thailand, nearly every side road leads to a wat and nearly every wat has a school next door.


The hunch was right and we found the school.  Pulling up into the parking lot, a grass field where we were the only car, there were several children who looked out and waved hello.  We made our way around the side of the building and found one of the teachers whom I had met when I first went to the school.  He seemed happy to see us, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of shock and surprise.  They must have farang driving out of the jungle to volunteer all the time!


We spent nearly ninety minute there, Tod doing most of the translating as the English-speaking principal was away at another school attending meetings.  What we established was that we’ll come back to teach next Thursday and work out a specific schedule from there.  We also spent some time looking through the English language curriculum as well as the test that sixth grade students must pass at the end of their studies relative to English proficiency.


Not sure yet exactly what we’ll do, but since we’ll be there just once a week I think the emphasis will be on speaking skills rather than writing or grammar.  I do have some ideas in mind for how we can make this work, but a lot of logistical questions will be answered once we actually get in there and start volunteering.


Most importantly, though, I think this is a very valuable way to contribute back to the country.


More details as we move forward with this adventure.


 


Short Flight Tomorrow


Tomorrow is my test flight from Bangkok’s old Don Meuang International Airport to the brand new and not yet open Suvarnabhumi International Airport. 


I’ll write and post a trip report to Airliners.net as quickly thereafter as I can.


 

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