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Bat-tling the cold, Isarn style

KALASIN: While temperatures of 10 degrees Celsius may not seem so cold to expats from more northerly climes, for poor Thais living in unheated shacks without warm bedding the cold season is still a real trial.

Every year charity appeals are launched to find warm clothing for poor families in the North and Northeast.Villagers in the Isarn have developed alternative methods to fend off winter chills. Many Isarn people believe certain foods have warming properties – and this year bats are all the rage.

In Kalasian’s Yang Talat district, where temperatures can drop as low as eight degrees in the hills and 12 degrees on the plain, markets have begun to fill up with stalls selling live bats and bat-based dishes.

As well as helping to keep the cold at bay, bat meat reportedly does wonders for one’s libido if eaten regularly.

Riang Phukhana, 47-year-old resident of tambon Buaban, said that every cold season he and his neigbors arm themselves with nets and head out into the palm and banana plantations to catch the fruit bats that feed there. Once caught, the flying rodents are cooked straight away to ensure the meat is nice and fresh.

Mr Riang explained that as the bats feed only on fresh fruit, all of their meat and organs can be eaten and are an excellent source of nutrition. Some people eat the whole animal, as it is both a traditional medicine and a source of food. Others choose to use the bats as the main ingredient in various dishes which include bat laap, stir-fried bat, bat curry, or crispy bat crackling. However you eat it, bat helps to keep the body in good shape, Mr Riang explained.

Bat fat is especially good for warming the body in cold season, he continued.

Eaten regularly, bat meat will put an extra spring in your step and do wonders for your sex life, Mr Riang added.

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