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Center for Global Justice Intern – Michael Aiello

Michael Aiello, 2L
International Justice Mission, Thailand

Another week has gone by and more adventures than I can possibly recount.

I just had one of the most meaningful days of my life. Please forgive me for the lack of detail & ambiguity, but I was lucky enough to accompany our team during a rescue operation. It certainly had its surprises, but at the end of the day I’m calling it a success! IJM is truly doing good here and I feel completely blessed to be part of it.

So how does one cap off a successful day of justice? By feeding a baby tiger of course! After the operation, I met up with the other interns (who are absolutely amazing) to go on a night safari. The highlight and main attraction was the tiger show. There were seven tigers. Each had their own tricks ranging from jumping through hoops to dancing gangnam style.

Things are starting to pick up at the office. I have been working on a quarterly report for HQ, case summaries of all our child sexual assault cases, and preparing a report on Thai child sexual assault law. It may not be the best conversation starter, but I’m learning “heaps” as my new Aussie friend would say. If you’re interested, google “Thai penal code” and go to Book II; Title IX; Section 276-287.

I’ve also learned some more about Thai culture. One of the most intriguing things to me is that Thais don’t say bless you after someone sneezes. (Yes I know… random). However, there is a meaning behind each sneeze. One sneeze means someone is gossiping about you. Two sneezes means someone misses you. Three sneezes means someone in the room didn’t shower and that somebody is probably you. (Though I think the staff may have been pulling my leg on the third sneeze’s meaning).

Language time. Thai has been rather difficult to learn. Obviously it is not a Germanic language, so my English and German don’t help. Thai is a tonal language, which means that words pronounce with a different tone have completely different meanings. For example “ma” can mean dog, horse, or come depending on your tone. I’m slowly learning words, but I’ve found many local people here know some English. It makes my life easier, but it definitely is not helping my Thai language skills. In spite of my lack of vocab, I’m elated to report one thing I’ve learned. Lawyer…”law-yer” in Thai means very handsome. Isn’t that appropriate?

On Friday we went to an American restaurant near the old city called Dukes. The ribs and cornbread were great. Not as good as my parents, but it was nice getting some good old Southern cooking. I also found a German restaurant nearby that I am excited to try. It is owned by an old couple. The husband is German and wife is Thai. Should make for a great meal! Kinda on that topic, shout out to USA and Germany advancing at the World Cup!

After dinner I explored the famous night bazar. It was huge, I must have been there for a couple of hours and didn’t see everything. This one was a lot bigger than the old city’s market with more permanent shops. It has everything you could possibly want to procure: paintings, traditional clothing, knockoff purses, nicknacks, etc. I found the vendors to be a little more aggressive in soliciting customers, but they are willing to negotiate price. I was able to bring the price of an oil painting down from 700 to 400 Bahts. I honestly have no idea if that was a good deal but I will humor myself and say it was!

As promised here is the recipe for the mango sticky rice! Khaw Neaw Ma Maung. I am happy to show anyone how to make it.

   1 cup sticky rice soaked in lukewarm water for 5-24 hours.
   1 cup of coconut cream–may need more according to taste (not coconut milk which is ½ coconut cream and ½ water).
   2 tbsp of palm sugar–may need more according to taste (other sweeteners work fine).
   2 tbsp of salt (I personally like more).
   30 Clitoria ternated flowers–for dyeing the sticky rice blue (food dye works as well).
   1 cup water if you make your own dye.

   Soak sticky rice for 5-24 hours in lukewarm water. (Five being the absolute minimum).
   Rinse rice 2 or 3 times to clean it.
   Drain rice and steam for 20 minutes in whatever way is easiest for you. Traditionally its done over a pot in a bamboo basket with a lid on top. The rice should be fully cooked now and should stick together.
   The next step can be done two different ways (1) fast or (2) slow
(1)  Fast:
   Place 1 cup of coconut cream in sauce pan. Warm the cream on low to medium heat. Don’t boil it!
   Once warm add rice. Stir gently.
   Add 2 tbsp of palm sugar. Taste. It should be overly sweet, because the salt tones down the sweetness.
   Add 2 pinches of salt. (I personally like both the sweet and salty flavors to be bold).
   Bring the heat up to medium-high and stir like there is no tomorrow. The rice will quickly absorb the coconut cream and you don’t want to burn it on the bottom of the sauce pan.
   Once all the coconut cream has been absorbed, remove from heat and put it into your serving bowl. Let it cool off.
 (2) Slow:
   No heat
   Place sticky rice in bowl.
   Mix in 1 cup coconut cream.
   Mix in 2 tbsp of palm sugar. Needs to be overly sweet.
   Mix in two pinches of salt
   Let it stand for 30+ minutes so the sticky rice absorbs all the coconut milk.
   Optional step–dye
   Traditionally you can make a blue dye with about 30 Clitoria Ternated flowers (wiki it) and 1 cup of water. Rub/press the flower into the water to make the dye. Then poor as much as you like on to the sticky rice after you add the salt. Mix well.
   Or you can use food dye.
   Get your mango and slice up as much as you want.
   Right before you serve the sticky rice poor some coconut cream over it.

If you enjoy this recipe it is from Asia Scenic. Here is a link to their website: If you are ever in Thailand, this is a must do!

P.s. Answer: the red egg shape thing from last post is a local fruit called Rambutan and is quite delicious!