Rayong Provincial Prison
BBQ Day - Thai Style
Whilst making my way to Bangkwang Prison, after my trial, I spent six months in Rayong Provincial Prison. This would turn out to be quite an experience in more ways than one!
The prison population in Rayong was made up of Thai's, Kemer and Burmese - oh and one farang - me! As in all Thai prisons everybody is expected to work. I quickly found a way out of working in one of the many sweatshops - I joined the Boxing Team!
The Boxing Team was expected to train for two hours each morning five days a week with weekends off. I was well chuffed - two hours of bag work, a little jogging and basically keeping myself fit, then the rest of the day was mine to do as I pleased. Not bad at all! There were about fifteen of us in the Boxing Team and as you can imagine after training there was a distinct lack of entertainment. Most of the team would spend the remainder of the day sleeping or waiting for a visit, not a great deal of excitement.
About three weeks into my stay at Rayong and after a 'hard' days training there was an air of intensity amongst the Boxing Team. My team mates were running around trying to find dull, blunt objects - truncheons, brooms, sticks and even a shovel. I had a truncheon thrust into my hands by one of my team mates. "What's going on?" I asked. "We are having a barbeque Scott" came the reply.
The first thought that crossed my mind was that someone was taking the piss - another joke to be played on the farang! It was then explained to me that about once a month the Boxing Team would be allowed to go 'Batting'. At first I assumed that this excercise was done to keep the level of rodents down in the building to a minimum, but my team mates kept repeating the word 'barbeque' over and over.
We went into the yard, which is full of gardens I must add, and the search began for the rat's nests. One nest was discovered, the man with the shovel started digging, another with a stick started to poke it down the mouth of the hole whilst yet another would try and smoke the rats out with a small fire. I have never seen anything like it! Finally a rat shot out of the hole. Screams of delight went up as this poor rat ran here and there as fifteen fully grown men attempted to bludgeon it with their clubs and home made weapons. Feet were stamped at the rat which scurried hither and thither to escape it's more than likely death. The rat was finally cornered and I guess it knew what was coming. The poor bastard was thoroughly beaten. It reminded me of a bunch of Millwall fans getting their hands on a West Ham United fan - it had no chance! This carried on for about half an hour and in all seven rats had been collected in this fashion, cave man style. Then a rat's nest was uncovered which contained about five little pink baby rats all huddled together, their mother having already been beaten to death! I am no big fan of rats but I could not stomach the idea of these little fella's being clubbed to death in the same way as their older relatives. I instantly jumped over the nest to stop the wholesale murder of these wee little rats. "You can't kill them. they are only babies!" I shouted much to the amusement of my team mates. "Scott's gone crazy, better let him have the babies" was the reply. "If you leave them a month or two they will get bigger" I explained to them. I think the idea slowly started to sink in and they went off in search of bigger targets. I was quite pleased, in jail there are not many good deeds that a man can achieve. I had found one - I saved five baby rats from being killed!
The Thai's were insistant that I killed a rat of my own, so on the next hole I was placed in the ultimate strategic strike zone - right outside the mouth of the hole! After a few minutes of prodding and poking a large male rat, measuring approximately 60cm long, came screaming out of the hole like a 'bat out of hell'. Did I swing for it you ask? Did I what! I swung and missed, a few laughs came from the rest of the guys but they were able to keep him within the general vicinity with their brooms. I chased the little bugger swinging at him five or six times and missing every time! I finally got in a lucky shot and twated him on the head. He was stunned and twitching but not quite dead. "Kill it Scott, kill it" the Thai's were screaming at me. I struggled with myself inside, I looked into his little beady eyes and saw nothing but pain and suffering but I couldn't bring myself to commit the final act. I struck the little guy twice, as hard as I could, he was finally dead. My team mates started to clap - the farang had bagged his first rat! All of a sudden there was a huge roar of cheering and whoops of utter delight that emanated from the sweatshops, everybody had been watching, waiting for the farang to make his first kill! I kid you not the noise was as though I had scored a match deciding goal against Germany in the World Cup final!
I would like to emphasise the fact that I honestly beleived that the whole barbeque thing was a wind up. I just thought that it was going to be an excercise in pest control - how mistaken was I!
After a hard days rat catching I went and put my head down for a sleep. I slept for about an hour only to wake up totally alone in the area. Where was everybody? I soon discovered them in the shower area, dipping the rat carcasses into pots of boiling water and plucking the fur from the dead rat's bodies. This is when it finally hit home that these rats were being prepared for the barbeque! I had to walk away, the thought of eating rat did not appeal to me in the sligtest. I began to tell them that they were mad to be even thinking about eating rat. "Delicious" all of them said! Once the fur had been removed and the small little animals had been gutted and semi-butchered they were hung out on the razor wire fences for two days to dry out and mature ready for the barbeque day.
The act of cooking rat is simple, even 'Blind Freddy' could do it. The rats bodies were seasoned with salt, pepper and chilli and then thrown onto the hot charcole to cook for a few minutes. They are then removed and placed in the centre as the main meat dish for the days meal - Bob's your Aunty! Off they went at these barbequed rats. I was offered some, it got as far as my lips but I could get it no further - my brain was screaming at me "this is f**king rat!". I could not eat it.
I asked a few of them why they would even consider eating vermin, the answer I got was simple and very sad. "Many of us do not have family Scott. We do not have money. We eat rat because it is meat, it keeps us alive and we enjoy eating it. If you had no money Scott, we think you would enjoy eating rat too......"
So next time you all go to enjoy your lovely summer barbeque spare a thought for some of the poor bastards in this world who get to eat rat and not grain fed beef and sausages.
Copyright Scott Hurford 2007 - All Rights Reserved