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Ruth Tshin | Food, plants and sustainable farming in Southeast Asia | Page 2

Here, there…

It’s been several months since my last posting as I’ve been travelling quite a bit since landing back in Thailand in February.  More posts are coming with photos of my travels and work in Cambodia and Yangon so stay tuned!  Here’s a couple to start with…

Again – many thanks to my supporters as my trips to Phnom Penh and Yangon wouldn’t have been possible without your generosity.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat in February

All hands on deck for the seed cleaning demonstration in Yangon

…And back again

THANK YOU to my supporters!  I’m flying out in a couple of hours back to Thailand, traumatologist with 97% of my financial goal reached.  The last 3 months have been a slog – cold, this site dreary and sometimes weary, weather-wise and physically+emotionally; but also a joy – spending precious time with family and dear friends, and gazing about Toronto with wide eyes.  I’m happy to go “home”, though, and enjoy the last of cold season in Chiang Mai when I land on the 29th.

Last night, I celebrated my going away with some friends at Saw Thip’s Motherhome Myanmar Cuisine at Bloor and Dufferin (read more here) – the only Burmese resto in TO.  It was great to share with friends some of the wonderful flavours along the streets and inside unassuming food shops in Chiang Mai and to hear Saw Thip’s story of being a student activist in Burma back in the 80s, especially as Burma is slowly easing its doors open to the world.  Inside his bright yellow and fuschia restaurant (and extremely clean!), our table was laden with tea leaf and ginger salads; catfish fried dry and crispy; pork and goat curries; “golden coins” of lentil + dried chili pepper patties; warm noodle salad with pork; and, mohinga.

Happy new year!

You never know what you might find…

Lahu woman listening intently

Laughter in a Palaung village

Palaung ladies enjoying a Christmas show

…in the markets! My heart rate usually increases when I find interesting foods from local farmers that reflect their cultural eating traditions.

Brrrrrains at the morning market in Fang

Fish in Fang market

Burma from Ruth Tshin on Vimeo.

This is most likely soy bean cakes being fermented, later to be eaten fried

Mmmmm! Close-up of the mold

Thinly sliced soured pork on rice, Shan-style

Shan-style rice served with fermented tomatoes

Flooding in Chiang Mai

The Ping River has reached 110-year record high and has been overflowing into the low-lying communities along the river.  The rail road station is waist-deep and all our furniture in the office has been put on plastic stools.  Fortunately, seek my house (near Suthep Mountain) is nowhere near the flood waters.

I went with Rick+Ellen and some volunteers to look at the flooding, buy and the following video is humorous, but there are many people in low-income neighbourhoods who may have lost everything and are subject to disease-ridden water.  Please pray for these folks, and the government’s decision-making in response to this.  In addition, we’re expecting Typhoon Nesat to land on Sunday which will increase all the water around us. It’s been a stressful time for us, as our conference is starting on Tuesday and more than 160 delegates will be affected by the incoming storm.

Chiang Mai under water from Ruth Tshin on Vimeo.

In a nutshell – almost October

Conference is happening in less than 5 days and we’re anticipating major flooding at the office and around the conference hotel.  *Sigh*  C’est la vie…

Excited about: meeting new people who teach agricultural extension in Burma and seeing old friends who work in Laos; photographing the Foods of the Forest course at the farm in mid-October; making Karen pork curry soon!

Busy with: making sure we can process over 150 seed orders at conference; putting stickers onto conference certificates

Reading: umm…seed orders

Eating: this week alone – sour southern Thai soup; crab fried rice; tom yum noodles; buttered toast; Karen curried frogs; masala chai

Watching: not going to deny it – the Rachel Zoe project

Feeling: tired with a very sore neck; but having fun hanging out with Betsy, pilule Marcia, Rick and Ellen at the office

Should be: sleeping earlier and getting a massage

Shouldn’t be: sleeping late

Thankful for: Twitter and Facebook to keep track of flood water progress in Chiang Mai

Frustrated with: when is the rainy season going to just go away???

Enjoying: air-conditioning and dry feet

Looking forward to: spending a weekend in Bangkok and another at Doi Ang Khang with the seed bank crew

Seed bank meetings are delicious!

What we’ve eaten at the past three meetings…

Our monthly meetings are spiced up by food cooked by local village chefs (aka friends' grandmas who live 30 minutes away)

Wah dishing out the naam priik (chili paste). The little packages are pork steamed in banana leaf. Winged bean salad (bottom left) in the plate.

Young jack bean pods, ferns, bamboo shoots and leucaena pods - eaten with Lahu chili paste

Mae Sariang-style mohinga (a Burmese dish made from bean powder and banana stem)

Rick in his calm state before the feeding frenzy. This meal was chicken khao soy.

Oh James…Wah and Lue sit pretty while James stuffs his face


We made carrot cake at Ajan Tui and P’Da’s house in Mae Ai the other night.  Carrot cake with cheesecake icing never tasted SO GOOD while sitting surrounded by rice paddies and the sound of frogs brug-brug-brugging at night.  Leklek did all the hard work mixing and measuring – all I did was direct her!

photo courtesy of

Thanks, pill