Coconuts Keep Falling


PineappleA pensioner in Dundee, Scotland, is suing Tesco supermarket after a pineapple fell on her head at the Scottish store. The lawyer of Mary Raimo, 76, said that she could receive thousands of pounds in compensation. The basis of this unusual claim is that Tesco stacked the pineapples carelessly and the unfortunate lady who at the time suffered concussion is now experiencing headaches and neck pains. There was no mention of the current condition of the pineapple.

Coconut PalmThere’s not much chance of being hit by a falling pineapple in Thailand but coconuts are an entirely different matter. Falling fruit in Thailand is not just a danger to your own personal well being but also makes the parking of your car or pick up one of paramount importance when visiting restaurants, markets or family and friends. Coconuts however are a much more serious threat, in fact they are a killer.

The Coconut Palm can grow up to 30 metres in height and its feather shape leaves can fan out to a length of 6 metres. It is estimated that an average sized coconut falling from such a height would be travelling at around 80 kilometres per hour when it hits the ground. Hence the need to pick them before they are overripe. The reason why the coconut falls from the tree is once it is ripe the stalk that holds it in place becomes very dry and a rush of wind can lead to an unexpected surprise for anyone unfortunate to be under the coconut tree (Cocos nucifera).

The actual origin of the coconut is disputed between Asia and South America although fossils discovered in New Zealand point back 15 million years and are of a coconut type plant. A good strong tree will produce about 50 nuts a year but during its early years the plant needs plenty of water and a method used in Goa involves part burying salt under the soil to give nutrition and aid the development of healthy coconut trees. The coconut is a favourite of most people on the beaches of Thailand for its tasty succulent meat and sweet tasting water. The coconut has many other uses.

Everybody knows about foods and beauty products that make use of the coconut’s resources but there are many other things that are made from the husk (coir), shell and leaves.  The outer fibre (husk) is used as an organic manure whilst charcoal, water ladles, forks, bowls and even bikini tops are produced from the shell. Hats, bags, brooms and thatched coverings are just a few of the items manufactured from the coconut leaf.

Malibu Coconut Rum is probably the most well known alcoholic drink that is produced from this most resourceful nut but there is also the lesser known Coconut Feni which is made from the sap of the coconut tree. Coconut Feni is a traditional product of Goa and the distilled drink is of a very high alcoholic strength which is in contrast to a lesser known Thai way of drinking the coconut juice. Ma Praw Paow is easier to make than it is to pronounce and is quite simply a coconut that’s roasted on an open fire and the juice is then drank whilst still warm. The coconuts used for Ma Praw Paow and the ones favoured by beach enthusiasts are the smaller younger green coconuts as the juice inside is much sweeter than the older brown fibred ones. So what about the ‘killer coconut.’

Great White SharkThere is a saying in the shark community which says you have more chance of being killed by a coconut than a shark but whether that is actually true seems rather debatable. It was back in 1984 when Dr Merlin Tuttle, founder of Bat Conservation International stated in reference to America ‘ Statistically, you have a better chance in this country of dying from being hit on the head with a coconut than from a bat biting you.’

The phrase was further utilised in 2002 byGeorge Burgess a Florida museum worker and director of the International Shark Attack File housed at UF’s Florida Museum of Natural History who spoke the words that the shark fraternity would later pick up on. Mr Burgess is also on record as stating that falling coconuts accounted for 150 deaths a year worldwide. The figure is more than 30 times higher than fatalities caused by shark attacks. The coconut versus shark death tally debate has a large amount of content on the internet and the general consensus of the ‘experts’ is that the 150 figure is way over the top. A low single digit number is almost certainly nearer the truth.

The chance of you being attacked by a shark in Thailand’s waters is practically zero but to make your swim even safer avoid any coconut trees on route to the water. Good luck.

Credits

Photograph     Pineapple by   MANOJTV

Photograph     Coconut Palm by Wikipedia

Photograph    Great White Shark by Sharkdiver.com

© 2009 – 2011, Martyn. All rights reserved.

17 thoughts on “Coconuts Keep Falling

  1. Martyn-Dr Merlin Tuttle? You couldn’t have made that one up if you’d sat up all night looking for magic mushrooms in the local coconut grove.

    I too heard the saying about theres more chance of being felled by a falling coconut etc and I have to admit that when there are high winds I don’t like walking down the lane since its flanked by the trees.

    Apparently the juice is an electrolyte and of course no green curry would be complete without the milk produced by crushing the product.

    A versatile if somewhat dangerous fruit!!!
    .-= Mike´s last blog .."Birds of Thailand"-Craig Robson =-.

  2. I never thought much about the possibility of a coconut being the instrument of my death. I can imagine much easier ways to die in Thailand.

    If you were to walk the sidewalks of Sukhumvit for a year straight there could be a chance of death or at least severe ankle breakage.

    Crossing second road in Pattaya too many times could definitely result in an untimely demise.

    Screwing around on your thai wife or girlfriend…though I suppose they could kill you with a coconut.

    It has to suck to be one of the 150 people who die in unprovoked coconut attacks every year…they probably never saw it coming.
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Bangkok’s Giant Swing =-.

  3. “unprovoked coconut attack”s .. ” LOL Will definitely keep this in mind when back in Asia.

    Martyn, u forgot the durian trees ! That’s one very painful encounter !

    My uncle owned a fruit orchard in the boondocks many moons ago. In my teens he would call us up to come visit during the durian harvest. My brothers n I would go to our favourite fruit tree (mangosteen, rambutan, etc)n sat beneath it, chomping away until we were quite ill – yeah, little greedy pigs we were then ! Uncle always had a few sacks full of durians for us to take back home. Those were happy memories. The land has been reclaimed for military purposes 2 decades ago. Nowadays, durians r paid for at premium prices. Some enterprising dudes brought forth a classification system n like a herd, we pay accordingly for this irresistable fruit.

    Do u like durians urself ?

  4. Mike I wouldn’t imagine he’d have picked a name like that himself but who knows. I think a nut falling on your nut would be pretty painful and depending which part of the head it struck the result could be quite fatal but death?…you’d have to be very unlucky. Oh yes the green curry, my favourite, the coconut milk takes the sourness out of it and leaves enough hint of itself to give it that perfect taste.

    Talen crossing second road in Pattaya during the Christmas period is safer than walking through a coconut grove during a hurricane, that’s for sure. Attacked by an angry wife wielding a giant coconut, even the Milky Bar Kid wouldn’t have interfered on that one. I think the 150 figure is a little too high.

    Dutchie I do like durian even though it is one of the most strange fruits in the world and also one of the most expensive. Some hotels in Thailand have signs up ‘ No durian in rooms ‘ and no wonder why. Your childhood days seem very exciting times and with your worldly experience in life I’m surprised you don’t pen a blog yourself or perhaps a book. I’m sure you’ve been asked that many times before.

  5. Don;t ever provoke a coconut…it could get worse. As for Durians I have walked under a few trees but I’m more worried if I see someone about to cut one open, I’d much rather be attacked by a falling Durian than have to smell or eat one.
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Three of a Perfect Pattaya Pair =-.

  6. Martyn,

    Tks for ur kind words. Hubby has penned copious journals of our travels together for 10yrs. He’s still living out of a suitcase but I hv opted to put my 2 (weary) little feet firmly on the ground ^_^

    And yet, I’m still chasing after the elusive time, balancing between a job n that of a home-maker.

    What u hv suggested has crossed my mind. There’s a good book in each of us, as the publisher would say !

    Now then, if I could borrow the magic wand of some beardy dude (merlin perhaps ?) n “freeze” time *wink*

  7. The smell of durians, tell me about it, you wouldn’t want one left in your suitcase for the trip home. I don’t mind the taste in fact it’s okay and here’s what wikipedia has to say about the rather strange twang “a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds”. Can’t say as I’d agree with that.

    Dutchie the whole media world awaits for the book signing ceremony with you and merlin in toe. You should go for it as I really do think that having read your comments on here and the many other sites you visit that it would be a compelling read. Has your husband had any of his work published.

  8. Coconuts are killers for sure! They also trash out cars, so watch where you park too 🙂
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners: Terry Fredrickson =-.

  9. Martyn , Just had to leave a short comment , what a way to go , would be hard for Ciejay to have to write back home in the US and tell my boys that a coconut fell on ole Dad’s head , I think the boys would think she was as they say in America “pulling their leg” I always look out , for falling coconuts,if around a grove , but it’s the “Rain Drops Keep Falling on My Head “. (remember that song by BJ Thomas). That have me running for cover this time of the year here in Whang Pho.Take care ,and maybe not to long till we might be sharing a drink together ?? Malcolm
    .-= Malcolm´s last blog ..Look at Me " I’m a Mommie" =-.

  10. Haha Martyn, I like that – “with merlin in toe”. Makes me think of all the wizardry outfits kids donned on whenever there’s a new Harry Potter book sale ! Merlin will no doubt helped during a book signing session *big grin*

    Tks for ur encouragement once again. It’s on my to-do wish list for the (near)future :-p

    Hubby has not made any of his journals public. Our friends n family did enjoy reading them tho.

  11. Catherine how is life in the big mango. Only a fool would park a car under a coconut tree, but there are plenty of those about. I wonder if there is coconut insurance somewhere in the world, I’m sure there is.

    Malcolm I’m certain it would take more than a coconut to finish off a battler like you. I was actually going to tag On My Head to the title but decided against it as I tend to play around with post titles a little too much. I know without doubt that if a falling coconut was heading Ciejay’s way you would step in its path and take the blow with a wink of your eye and a smile on your face.

    Dutchie great news about the book and who knows maybe a blockbuster Hollywood movie to follow. Which movie stars would you choose to play yourself and your dashing husband. Perhaps Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. That should give you something to mull over as you chew the end of your pen and plot your novel.

  12. I knew such a fool, and even wrote a detailed description in the comments of the Thai Pirate many coconuts ago.

    And here it is (edited):

    A friend of mine needed to do some shopping in Bandar (means ‘town’ in Malay) on a busy Friday.

    Parking was scarce but he got lucky and found a space in the government lot close by.

    When he got back to his car, it looked like someone had beaten it with a huge mallet.

    Someone big, mean, and mighty pissed off from the looks of it (and I got a good look).

    The roof was heavily dented, the bonnet and boot too.

    Peoed (not because it was a fine car but because he wanted to sell it when he moved on), he reported the damage to the nearest authorities. The parking ticket gals.

    Walking over, they explained why that particular space was available on a busy day, while none others were.

    Coconut trees.

    The car killers, cat bonkers, noggin crunchers of the plant world.

    I was so impressed with the speed and power of it all, I named a design company after the event: Fast Coconut.

    And we were. Fast. Powerful. A mean CSS machine.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners: Terry Fredrickson =-.

  13. Catherine what a brilliant story and the fact that it’s true makes it even more …..funny, although not for your friend at the time. Bandar has a ring to it of hoods gathered on street corners eyeing the new person in town. That is one destruction job and a helluva name for a company, you must of received a few strange calls to your CSS machine.

  14. coconuts are dangerous for sure i remember being on kao Tao island a few years back in my bungalow
    and when i say my bungalow yes the one i built against my wife’s then girlfriends wishes
    anyway as i was drunk when deciding no to cut down a nice coconut tree very close buy
    yes you can guess the rest as i was relaxing on my bed a very large coconut that had been growing over the last few month’s deciding to crash in on me directly throw the roof needless to say i had to change my underwear
    i just could not cut down that tree and paid a local to harvest all the nuts i bet he thought i was nuts to boot
    happy days
    .-= John´s last blog ..Expat Money Worries udon thani issan =-.

  15. John I love the story and it has made me chuckle just before I hit the sack. I can see the whole drama unfolding before me. What happened to the bungalow John, it would be worth a bob or two now. Nuts to boot I must agree with but a very funny story. You should write a post about it.

  16. Ha I agree with Tailen- there has to be much worse ways to die in Thailand BUT, it would be kinda embarassing to have your last moments on earth be taken from a coconut…

    Thanks for the article, was a fun read.

Comments are closed.