nattapong thammasan header


Nattapong Thammasan

researcher at imec, Wageningen, the Netherlands

nattapong thammasan
“I was reluctant to leave the office and go home.”

Cultural etiquette and tranquil travels

Udon Thani is a quaint village in Northeastern Thailand. This is the place where Nattapong Thammasan spent his childhood with a very tight day-to-day schedule. Working with minimal resources became a way of life in his budding years. And then, he found the opportunity to come and work in the Netherlands.

BlurHashphuket - ko khao phing kan island
Phuket - Ko Khao Phing Kan Island
ban pa pong piang - rice fields
Ban Pa Pong Piang - Rice fields
khon - classical thai dance
Khon - Classical Thai dance

Embracing better balance

When Nattapong lived in Bangkok and Japan, he was used to pulling late nights at the office. Upon moving to the Netherlands, he found that rounding up work and heading home before nightfall is the norm. But this also meant he had plenty of bonus time to spend as he liked. And this was his challenge. Nattapong confessed, “I was reluctant to leave the office and go home.” He needed to figure out what to do with his time since latenight office work was no longer a norm. He was inspired by his colleagues to adopt a healthy lifestyle and realized the importance of a better worklife balance. So, he integrated meditation and cooking into his routine, making the most of his free hours and finding fulfillment outside of work.

Upon his arrival in the Netherlands, Nattapong quickly noticed a striking similarity between the Thai people and his colleagues in imec the Netherlands: their strong inclination towards collaboration. He explained, “In Thailand, we love to help each other, so everything is quite flexible. And that flexibility, that willingness to communicate openly, is something I found here as well.” His smooth integration into this new country made Nattapong feel at home. Moreover, this multicultural environment fostered his respect for diverse ideas, beliefs, and cuisines.

bangkok - aerial view of the pavilion of the enlightened at ancient siam
Bangkok - Aerial view of the Pavilion of the Enlightened at Ancient Siam

Unveiling Tam and Tom of Thailand

Speaking of Thai cuisine, Nattapong is enthusiastic about tam and tom. Tam is Som Tam, the famous green papaya salad. This crunchy, refreshing dish is also super easy to make once you learn the right consistency for the dressing. More smashing while grinding the tomatoes, chili peppers, lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar, and peanuts can prevent the papaya from losing its crispness. One intriguing fact is, despite being a beloved Thai specialty, all the ingredients are sourced internationally for this one.

Tom Yam Kung, aka hot and sour shrimp soup, is the tom Nattapong cannot do without. Tom Yam Kung is a healthy dish with mushrooms, dried red chili, lemongrass, galanga roots, chicken broth, and giant Shrimps. It can be served with or without rice on the side. Nattapong was surprised to find all the ingredients to make these dishes in the Netherlands.

som tom - the famous thai green papaya salad
Som Tom - The famous Thai green papaya salad
loi krathong - festival of lamps and lanterns
Loi Krathong - Festival of lamps and lanterns

Don’t put your feet up in Thailand

Thai culture places hierarchical respect on different body parts. The head is the highest in order and regard. Feet are considered the lowest. Nattapong has a valuable tip for Thailand travelers: “Always remember that touching someone’s head is seen as impolite, and it’s best to avoid placing your feet on items of significance, like books.”

phi phi island - monkey beach
Phi Phi Island - Monkey Beach
bangkok - emerald buddha temple and grand palace
Bangkok - Emerald Buddha temple and Grand Palace
north andaman island in southern thailand - beautiful sea fan
North Andaman Island in southern Thailand - Beautiful Sea Fan

Nattapong finds tranquillity in traveling. One of his favorite beach towns in Thailand is Krabi, a hidden gem with amazing beaches that will not break the bank for travelers. However, Chiang Mai offers it all without being overly crowded and with opportunities for mountain hikes, drive-through flower fields, and refreshing swims in beautiful waters. Koh Samui is another place to enjoy a luxurious holiday in villas with private beaches.

Must do

Take a boat trip in Koh Samui for breathtaking views, hiking, and snorkeling opportunities.