Wan Ken

I was stuck at home for a few days while Mai tended to her Mother who was suffering from a cold we all had.  To make up for it, Mai declared that Wednesday this week was Wan Ken, (Ken’s Day) where we go anywhere I want to go and do whatever I wanted.  That was easy; let’s go take pictures and then meet my friend Simon for pizza lunch in Bueng Kan!  What a great day to get out.  It was sunny and warm and when we got out of town we found everybody was out planting rice.  I learned a lot about growing rice that day, though I think I’ve only scratched the surface.

To start with, there appear to be two basic ways of getting the stuff in the ground.  The simple, cheaper and less labour intensive way is to spread the seeds onto the field you want to plant.  The timing is rather critical here.  It has to happen before you get too far into the rainy season, which usually begins in April and runs to September.  You have to spread the seeds on wet, muddy ground so that they will germinate quickly and send roots into the soil.  You need some rain to accomplish this, but not too much.  If it rains a lot before the seeds have germinated then the rain will simply wash them away and you’re left with nothing.  Too little rain and they won’t germinate.  The plan is that the rice grows enough before the heavy rains start.  The fields flood and you have a healthy crop.

The second method is to start the rice growing earlier in a separate field, then pick the seedlings and bundle them up for transplanting into a new field.  Then begins the backbreaking work of hand planting small bundles of seedling into neat rows.  The planting can also be done by machine, but nobody here has the money to buy one or contract someone to come in and do it for them. It’s 100 percent manual labour.  This is the method you see them using in National Geographic.  My photos show this method of planting as well (not that I’m trying to make any comparisons between my photos and what you see in Nat Geo!)

What isn’t rice, is rubber plantation.
Heading for home at the end of a long day
Rice in nice neat rows
Bundling up the seedlings for planting
One worker bundles while the other transfers the seedlings to the planting area
Bundling seedlings, another view
Up to your shoulders in your work!
Now comes the planting
Finished fields

Bonus Photos

We’ve made several trips back to Bueng Kan along the same road, which has given me the opportunity to shoot a few things that weren’t finished or there before and to shoot a few things from different angles.  The result is a handful of new photos that belong with the ones you have already seen.  Hope you enjoy!

Workers bundling rice plants for transplanting. They were happy to smile and pose.
Smile for the camera!
Coming up for air.
Giving her back a break
Rice, bundled and ready for transplanting
After transplanting
Mud everywhere

Published by


I retired after a 30-year career with an engineering consulting firm in Toronto and recently moved to Thailand to marry my fiancee of 10 years and settle down to an exciting new life. I'm an amateur radio operator (VE3HLS in Canada) and hope to become on here eventually. I'm also an amateur photographer and hope to be very busy photographing and showing you my beautiful surroundings. My blog will contain entries on all three subjects, so I hope you don't mind picking through the boring stuff to get to what interests you. Oh. About bueng-ken.com. We live in Bueng Kan province, which is about as far as you can get from Bangkok as you travel northeast. I just thought it would be clever to combine my name with the province's name!

3 thoughts on “Wan Ken”

  1. Ken, your descriptions and photos of Thai life are awesome! Thanks to you and Mai for detailed language assessment on my various AM-DX recordings. During our next trip to Hong Kong Ruth and I would be honoured to welcome you both, if you have the chance to visit. The famous restaurants there have plenty of beef 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s