Thai Village Life – Aloe Vera and a Crocodile Tree


Some of you may think I’ve got a lot of cheek writing a post about Thai village life which includes a picture of mashed potatoes, super-sized baked beans and a meat pie. Trust me… that line-up of great British grub is just a lead up to my story about Aloe vera and a Crocodile tree.

Whenever I’m staying at our village home in Udon Thani I like to occupy myself on some afternoons by cooking an evening meal. On this particular day it was to be the meal in the top photograph.

The pie comes pre-cooked and so I microwave it alongside baked beans but the mash potato is not out of a packet. I peel spuds, and boil them in a pot on an electric barbecue hot plate. I then drain the water, add milk and butter, and mash the potatoes to a creamy texture. It’s easy to make, tasty and very filling….. and sometimes quite painful.

cadburys-smash-aliensThe last time I made mashed potatoes at our village home I gave those Cadburys Smash Aliens a real good laugh (do you remember them from the TV adverts in the 1970’s). I ended up draining some of the boiling water from the saucepan onto my knee and it was very painful.

When the red-hot water hit my knee I yelped and within seconds Wonderful Wi appeared from nowhere. She must have thought I’d been bitten by something nasty. I explained my cry of pain had been caused by scalding water. Wilai immediately raced off and I expected her to return with a plastic shopping bag full of ice.


What she actually brought over was this. A chunky plant leaf filled with a gel substance. She squeezed the leaf and spread the gel over my scalded knee and straight away a cooling effect kicked in. Wi said the leaf was from what Thais call a Crocodile tree. It looked like some sort of cactus plant to me.


I didn’t know for the life of me know what kind of plant it was. Wilai called it a Crocodile tree but I guessed that wouldn’t be its real name and after a few enquiries I discovered it was an Aloe vera plant and they were growing in our garden.


Aloe vera is widely used in both cosmetic and alternative medicine products and research has proven it to aid the healing of first to second degree burns and some skin conditions. My knee healed without any blistering or scarring.

It’s amazing the Aloe vera plant and its magical gel has probably been used by Thais for hundreds of years and yet many of us in the western world are still unconvinced or unaware about its range of benefits. However, I wonder when Thais will latch on to the benefits of a huge serving of creamy mash potato.

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I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

9 Responses

  1. James says:

    I think pie, peas and mash is a perfect opener. I do prepare it sometimes, although more likely I surprise them with a pasta bake or roast pork with sage and onion stuffing and roast poataoes

  2. Martyn says:

    James – We haven’t got an oven at the village home so what I cook is limited. I do like roast pork, especially the crackling.

  3. Martyn when my 3 boys and adopted daughter were growing their Mom (now my x) always had an Aloe Vera plant growing in a pot in the kitchen window , just for small cuts and burns for the kids , they use it now for my grand-kids , and Ciejay and me have several growing in our garden and use them for burns and insect bites works wonders. Thanks for the post, good info for folks that don’t know .

  4. Martyn says:

    Malcolm – I should have guessed a good old homely country boy like yourself would know all about Aloe vera. I bet those bumps, cuts and bruises from your childhood healed in no time.

    Thanks for the comment and it’s good to see your blog picking up a head of steam again.

  5. Catherine says:

    Aloe Vera growing in the garden is my first choice but if you don’t have the room or enough sun (or too much even) then a short run to Boots will fix you right up. I keep several green containers for emergencies.

  6. Martyn says:

    Catherine – I’ve never looked in Boots for Aloe vera but next time I’m in there (I go quite often) I’ll have a goosey for it.

    It must sometimes be frustrating living in an apartment when there’s so many things you want to grow. Then again… I guess you don’t get any high-rise snakes and that’s one big plus.

  7. Snap says:

    Aloe vera IS a good alrounder, so handy to have growing in the garden. It was getting out of control in my jungle so I had to do a major cull, these days I just keep one large plant in a pot. The bitter part just under the skin can also be applied as a deterent for biting finger nails, apparently.

    I suppose you could look on the bright side… you weren’t cooking hot chips 😉 Ouch!

  8. Martyn says:

    Snap – In the heat of Australia with its burning sun and insects Aloe vera must be a handy thing to have in the garden. It has so many uses and who knows how long some people have been using its natural ingredients in their everyday lives.

  9. kaylor says:

    I never really thought about want Aloe vera was until I read this, i knew it was in creams and good for skin and most things but i never actually though about it growing or the possibility of growing it. Its strange what you can take for granted when its so easy to come by it!

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