Sunday, December 20, 2015

Buscraft: Cooking rice in bamboo

I'm not really sure about the English or Latin name for these tree leaves, but they are used to wrap rice to boil in bamboo. The leaves add a bit of sweetness to the rice. 

You can cook rice in bamboo in about the same amount of time that it takes to cook rice in a rice cooker.

 Cooking rice in bamboo 


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Survival spear fishing: cooking fish in bamboo

You can steam fish in bamboo. Just add a bit of water and leave it until it's done. This tastes better than boiled fish. There is quite a bit of moisture in the fish and this helps cook it.

These two fish (Barbs) were speared in a nearby stream by our Thai ranger friend. He had a home-made Hawaiian sling that was basically a sharpened steel rod and a bunch of regular rubber bands tied together.

survival spearfishing
Barbs caught with a simple spear rig, then steamed in bamboo

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Wild edible plants healthy tea

This is the Butterfly Pea (Dok Anchan in Thai).  It makes a wonderful tea that has a calming effect.  It also has a lot of other medicinal properties, check out

When you boil these flowers it makes a lovely blue tea. If you add lime, the acid actually makes it turn a beautiful purple tea.  I add a little bit of honey as well.

Butterfly Pea tea
Butterfly Pea (Dok Anchan in Thai) is a tasty drink that helps you relax.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

How to start a campfire

Two methods that work well for adding oxygen to a fire... cup your hands so you can direct your breath to the base of the fire or use a piece of bamboo to direct it. The bamboo method is super effective and easier. You have to blow harder with the hand method.

With either method, it's best to start off soft and increase the velocity of your air flow.

Building a campfire
Cup your hands and blow increasingly harder. Aim at the base of the fire and adjust as needed.

How to start a campfire with bamboo tube
The only thing wrong in this photo is that your fire striker should always go directly in your pocket
or back in your pack after you use it. That's a good habit to get into.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cooking in bamboo

Bamboo is wonderful. It can be used for almost everything you do in a camp. We regularly cook rice or fish in bamboo. You can stick it directly into the fire.

We're cooking rice (wrapped in leaves) and boiling water for coffee in these pics.  Dried bamboo is also superb for both starting a fire and for keeping it going. OK, it doesn't burn for a long time like some wood, but it will burn long enough to boil water and cook skewered chicken.

Put the bamboo directly into the fire.
If it's full of water it won't burn.

Splitting green bamboo to make spoons and bowls

Boiling nicely... just about ready

Rice cooked to perfect in bamboo

Bamboo chopsticks... only took a couple of minutes to make these

Coffee in a bamboo cup.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thailand wild edible fruit: Elephant Apple

A bit reminiscent of a Granny Smith Apple that is a bit more bitter, 100 grams of the Elephant Apple (Dillenia indica) offers about 60 calories,  15 milligrams of Calcium, and over 25 milligrams of Phosphorous. There is a mere 4mg of Vitamin C in 100 grams of this fruit.  However, if you find a tree in fruit, you can get your belly quite full, thus the psychological value of this food is rather beneficial. A belly full of Elephant Apples would provide energy and fuel for your brain.

Medicinal value: the papery bark and the juice from the leaves can be used to treat diarrhea. The fruit is also antimicrobial, another very beneficial property in a survival situation.

Elephant Apple

wild edible fruit in thailand

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Survival fire starter

Here's a challenge: take an old lighter that is out of fuel, might as well cut it off to make it smaller, and remove the 'bendy' steel bit. Try to get a fire going with the sparks.  It's really easy with Vaseline cotton balls, but not quite as easy with natural materials.

Survival fire starter
Start a fire with a dead lighter

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Wild edible food: Sawtooth Coriander

Sawtooth Coriander is a common jungle plant here in Thailand. It is also found in the New World.  This not to be confused with popular Cilantro that is also known as Coriander.

This plant is so popular in Thailand that it is also cultivated and sold in most markets.

Today I made some Pinto Bean, rice, and chicken soup using a bunch of this chopped up into the mix. It came out really nice. 

This plant has a long list of medicinal uses.

Sawtooth Coriander
Sawtooth Coriander

Friday, October 9, 2015

Wild edible food: wild bananas of Thailand

This is one of the species of wild bananas in Thailand. They don't get bigger than this. They are very tasty. Some have BB-sized seeds in them, making them difficult to eat.  When I eat the seedy types, I suck all of the nutrients out that I can, then spit out the seeds.

BTW, the banana tree flower is also edible.  It's nasty by itself. It's normally put in other dishes, such as curries.

Wild bananas of Thailand
Very tasty, but tiny, wild bananas

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wild medicinal plants: Pennywort

From being considered a general youthful tonic, to helping lower blood pressure, to helping you think better, Pennywort is considered highly medicinal by many cultures.  I happen to simply like the taste and I appreciate the fact that it's fairly easy to find in the jungle here.  When you find a patch, there is usually quite a bit of it.

I eat it raw usually, but it can be cooked or steeped and made into tea.

Pennywort wild medicine plant
The fairly common Pennywort wild medicinal and food plant

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Campfire fish cooking in bamboo

The plant that I most appreciate having in the jungle has got to be bamboo.  Not only can you build a complete shelter with it, you can use it directly for cooking.  Here, we're steaming a fish in bamboo and at the same time boiling drinking water in another piece of bamboo. 

We use a leaf plug on top of the piece of bamboo that is steaming the fish. This both retains the water (steam) that is trying to escape and this particular leaf adds a bit of flavor to the fish. Water soluble nutrients would escape with the steam, so in a true survival situation it makes sense to drink some of the water that was used in cooking the fish.

survival cooking skills
Cooking fish in bamboo

Cooking with bamboo campfire skills
The finished product is a perfectly steamed fish

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Wild edible sprouts

This is a young Pandanus sprout.  When a plant is in the sprout stage it has the highest nutritional value. Not only are the vitamin and mineral contents higher, but the enzymes can be up to 100 times higher in certain plants at certain times.  Conservatively, any plant in the sprout stage will have between 10 - 30 times the nutritional value as it would when it's mature.

The best way to eat this particular young Pandanus is to cut or pull it away from the seed and eat the base of the plant. That's where most of the nutrients are located and that where you'll get the most sugar (carbs) as well.

This particular example is actually past the sprouting stage, but it's not far past, so it'll have more value now than later.

Pandanus sprout
Sprouted Pandanus: wild edible plant

Monday, September 28, 2015

Eco food container

There are better ways to carry lunch out into the jungle. Wrapping food in banana leaves is one of the traditional ways to carry food. The banana leaves make the food taste better too... that might just be in my mind, but I'm sticking to this theory.

Eco friendly food container
Eco friendly food container

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Wild edible plants from Thai restaurants

Even now (2015), fancy and not-so-fancy restaurants in Thailand serve plants that you can find in the jungle.  

Other than the bean sprouts (in the middle), cucumbers, and longbeans (upper left), everything else here is in the jungle.

Thai restaurant wild edible plants
Wild edible Thai plants that are found in restaurants

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fire starter tree resin

Dipterocarp and a couple of other tree species offer resin which will stay lit for a long time. This is very useful when trying to get a fire going in wet or moist conditions.  

If you don't know which resins light, just try a variety and try to remember what that tree looks like.  You don't really have to know the species. 
Dipterocarp tree sap for fire starter
Exposed tree resin... try it.  It will either burn or it won't. 

Tree resin for starting fires
Some tree resin will stay lit for a long time.
This will greatly add in getting a fire going in wet conditions.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wild Edible Plant: Pandanus amaryllifolius

Pandanus amaryllifolius leaves (bai toey in Thai) are common in Thai markets.  This popular plant actually sells out quickly most of the time as it's so prized. The leaves can be boiled to make a lovely sweet tea. A extract is made from the leaves to put in candies and sweet bread-type snacks. You can also wrap meats in these leaves when grilling to add flavor. 

Nutritionally, there is some carbohydrate value, some C complex, some B vitamins, and it has antioxidant properties.

Though cultivated in some areas, this is a wild native plant.  It grows in abundance in moist area, especially around water.  This photo is from Khao Sok National Park.

In a survival situation, adding some leaves to your boiled water adds some carbs and it also makes it taste better, thus helping your morale.

Pandanus amaryllifolius
Pandanus amaryllifolius from Khao Sok National Park

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Survival gear: slingshot

As there are so many plants and insects available in a tropical jungle survival situation, hunting animals is generally not necessary. However, if you have sufficient water and have enough energy through the plants and insects that you're finding and would like to supplement your food intake with some additional protein (though generally not necessary), one cheap and easy thing to carry in your jungle survival kit is a slingshot.

I only carry the rubber and the pouch as it is very easy to design the wooden part from natural materials.

With a slingshot, you can hunt lizards and other reptiles, birds, and perhaps some small animals such as rodents.

The only other hunting gear I would use is stuff that I could make: a spear and a long thin (preferably tapered) switch that I use for killing grasshoppers, cicadas, and other insects. Sometimes a lizard can be killed using a switch.

Slingshot rubber and pouch for survival hunting. Put a few
small cable ties in your survival kit to construct the slingshot.
Cable ties are useful in other situations and they don't take
up much room.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Kindling Wood

In my 15 liter dry bag backpack, I always carry a fire kit. My kit contains at least three ways to start a fire and in addition to this, I carry a Ferrocerium fire striker rod around my next in case, for some odd reason, my fire box is lost or if I have to jettison my backpack during a creek/river crossing.

In addition to tender, I always carry kindling. When the jungle is wet, it is extremely difficult to keep a fire going without having some completely dry kindling.

I sometimes split small pieces of kindling wood. Sea Hibiscus and other 'white' softwoods are superb, but when not available, I have pre-cut bamboo (grass family actually, not wood).

I do this at home at a prep. I can and often do add to the amount of bamboo fire kindling when in the jungle, but I want to have a container with a supply of dry kindling in addition to whatever I can find in the field.

Jungle survival kindling
Bamboo is first sawed to a length that fits the container.
Next, I take my knife and split it into thin pieces. I do this
by batoning the back of my knife. When it's just bamboo,
I normally use the palm of my hand. If I'm batoning a harder
material, I'll use heavier wooden baton.

Empty pill containers work nicely for keeping kindling dry.
When opening the pill container the first time (medicine,
vitamins, or whatever) I like to just a sharp knife and cut
in a manner that allows the foil to remain on the rim. This
forms a bit better waterproof seal later on.

If there is a bit of room left in the top of your container,
you might as well cram it with extra rubber bicycling innertube
strips. These don't have to be kept dry actually, but you can't
have too many. They are wonderful for keeping a fire going.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

"Dual Survival" survival consultant

Me with Dave and Cody from the Discovery Channel survival show "Dual Survival". I was the survival consultant on two episodes... I actually designed most of two shows.

If you're interested in learning jungle survival skills... both the mental aspect and the physical skills, check out

We also offer bushcraft courses. Bushcraft is basically survival with a bit more gear... or you can think of it as minimalistic backpacking. Check out

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Wild edible plants - Wood Sorrel

Wood Sorrel leaves, flowers, seeds, sprouts, and roots are all edible. It is very similar in look and taste to clover.

Wood Sorrel is packed with vitamins and minerals, including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, vitamin C, lecithin, vitamins A, vitamin E, B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), iron, zinc, and selenium.

Approximately 70% of the caloric value of Wood Sorrel is in the form of amino acids.  Wood Sorrel is not a complete protein, but if eaten with something that supplies the missing amino acids, it would make a respectable protein supplement.

When in the sprout form, which is always the most nutritious stage in a plant's life, 100 grams of Wood Sorrel provides 4 grams of protein.

Wood Sorrel flowers are, of course, high in carbohydrates (sugar) and as sugar is converted to glucose, which is the brain's fuel, you would definitely be doing yourself a favor by eating as many clover flowers as possible.

So, in a survival situation, you should grab all of the Wood Sorrel you can find, pull up the roots too if possible, and eat it all.

Wild edible plants Wood Sorrel

Thailand jungle food: Fishtail Palm Fruit danger

I have mentioned the Fishtail Palm several times as a jungle food source in the jungle... partly because it's so common and party because it's tasty.

This time I want to mention the fruit. The actual pulp part of the fruit has raphide crystals made of calcium oxalate. DO NOT eat the pulp part of this fruit! It's not really a poison, but the sharp crystals will be highly irritating.

The kernel part of the seed is edible. It's a lot of work to get this kernal. If you've got lots of time on your hands and just want to sit in the shade and do it, then it makes sense. It would be a good idea to wash the kernals in case there was any residual pulp crystals left.

I have personally swallowed some calcium oxalate crystals. It was very unpleasant.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Wild Edible Food: freshwater land crab

This is a claw from one of the many freshwater/land crabs here in southern Thailand. As you can see, there is a substantial amount of meat available just in this claw.

There is an average of 18 grams of protein in 100 grams of crab. Grasshoppers are a bit easier to catch and have over 20 grams of protein per 100 grams of weight.

Hunting crabs is pretty easy too. It's certainly safer and uses less energy than hunting bigger animals.

BTW, I found this claw. I didn't kill a crab for this pic.

Freshwater crab jungle survival food
Freshwater crab claw

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Check out our latest Jungle Hiking and Survival Newsletter

Our latest newsletter is online at

It is about the awesome ridge hike that we've finally completed. We're offering this as a 2 1/2 day trip. The half day is actually just departing Phuket on the afternoon before the start of the adventure. This way, we can get a crack of dawn start on the first day.

Plus, spending the night in Phang Nga Town is always a treat.

If you'd like to see a bunch of cool pics, click here

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Edible Apple Snails

Apple Snails are fairly common and edible. Being snails, they are easy to catch and don't pose and real challenges in capturing... other than probably getting wet.

 They have about 12 grams of protein per 100 grams of snail meat. They also have substantial mineral content. You can read about their nutritional value here.

You'll only want to eat the 'foot'. Remove the body and internal organs.  The eggs are probably edible, but taste horrible.

If eaten raw or if undercooked, you are putting yourself at risk of ingesting Angiostrongylus cantonensis (rat lungworms). They cause Eosinophilic meningitis.

Edible wild Apple Snail

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Taro protein information

Taro and other plants in the Colocasia family (Araceae) are quite common in this region. They also contain all of the essential amino acids and in the proper usable proportions. Your body stores non-essential amino acids, so eating other wild plants in a survival situation would provide you with a complete protein. You DO NOT have to eat these amino acids in the same meal... again, your body stores the amino acids to be combine when needed.

Some wild fruits would provide some of the missing aminos. The legumes from the Sataw (สะตอ) tree seeds (Parkia speciosa) are the perfect compliment to Taro.

In addition to having protein, Taro offers a host of other nutrients. See the nutritional information on this site...…/vegetables-and-veget…/2674/2

Thailand wild edible plants - Taro
Colocasia... all edible and very common in this region

Plant-based Protein in the wild

survival finding protein in plants
Dark green 'River Cabbage' has the essential amino acids
Survival shows are a very poor source of accurate (scientifically verifiable) information about actual survival.  On a recent episode of Naked and Afraid, one of the participants was a life-long vegetarian. As thoroughly expect, both the carnivorous guy and the narrator had to comment on how difficult it was going to be for her to find protein... yawn.

While he was basically starving, the woman went out and found food... food that didn't run away and didn't fight back. In this image, she is offering him 'River Cabbage'. I'm not exactly sure of the actual species as I'm not up on my South American wild edible plants. However, a dark green broad leaf like that would certainly be packed with nutrients, such as Vitamins A, C, K, B (specifically Folic Acid), and minerals like potassium and calcium. The calcium can have less bio-availability in some dark green leaves due to oxalates. This slight problem is solved by heat.

Many dark green leafy plants contain all of the essential amino acids: tryptophan, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, valine and tend to have some of the non-essential amino acids as well.

The human body stores amino acids. You do NOT have to have a complete protein in every meal in order to get the protein you need.
Plus, she found fruits, edible flowers, and other plants, so even if River Cabbage is slightly low in one of the essential amino acids, there is a good chance that should would have gotten it elsewhere.

As expected, his energy petered out and though she felt a bit weak, she had no energy issues like he had.

I do get thoroughly tired of every survival show preaching about protein. It's really NOT that difficult to get what you need and 21 days is not long enough to do permanent bodily damage if you didn't get any... period.

Monday, May 4, 2015

New Mountaineering Route near Phuket

Our latest newsletter is online at

This edition features a story about linking up two existing mountaineering routes in Phang Nga Province to make one lovely A to B route.  It's strenuous, but if you're fit and into being well off of the beaten path and deep into the jungle, this is the place to be.

It's also very quick and easy access from Phuket. 

Mountain climbing near Phuket

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Home Made Fire Piston Fire Starter

Here's a video I made a while ago of a home made fire piston. This is an interesting way to start a fire... not sure if I would consider it a viable way in an actual survival situation, but this is fun to do.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bamboo Shoots

There is an estimated 1,500 species of bamboo in the world. Bamboo is classified in the grass family (Poaceae). Under ideal conditions and when young, bamboo can grow a meter per day! This is because it has evolved to be very competitive for sunlight. Whenever a big tree fall or whenever something else happens that creates sunlight on the jungle floor, it is a race to see which plant can take advantage. Bamboo often wins.

Bamboo would primarily occur on natural edges (lakes, streams, etc) otherwise.
Bamboo shoots are edible, but they contain Cyanide alkaloids. This poison inhibits cellular respiration, so consumption is dangerous.

Luckily, it is water soluble. The way to process the poison out is to boil the YOUNG shoots (older shoots cannot effective be processed in the same manner) is saltwater. Boil for approximately 20 - 30 minutes. Pour the water off and repeat the process for another 15 - 20 minutes. Get rid of the water.

The downside to this process is, of course, that there is a loss of water soluble nutrients as well. Vitamin C and the B vitamins are mostly lost; however, some remains.

Nutritional value per 100 grams:
> 5 grams of carbohydrate
> 2.5 grams of protein (essential amino acids)

Also present are Sodium, a lot of Potassium (>500 Mg), and the minerals Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, a bit of Zinc and a few trace elements.

Too mature for consumption

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tropical Jungle Survival Skills: tree sap candle

There are a few trees that have sap that will stay lit. If you are in damp conditions and don't have a candle or a piece of inner tube rubber for a sustained flame, try finding various tree saps. It would, of course, be better if you already knew and didn't have to experiment. The sap from this littorial zone tree will burn for a very long time... as will many dipterocarp saps. The preferred sap is that which comes from a naturally 'bleeding' tree. In other words, you didn't cut the tree to get the sap. This is not because it's the 'eco' thing to do as much as it is that you want the dried sap.

These pics were from when I worked on Dual Survival (The Discovery Channel) three years ago. We did a 'lost at sea and ended up on an island' episode with Dave and Cody.

survival fire skills

Thailand survival skills