You’re likely to see a lot of rice paddy on the Southern Line, particularly in its northern reaches, so we best explain what you’re seeing.
There are generally three rice harvests per year in Thailand. So depending on when you’re travelling today, you should be able to see rice production at one of a few stages:
First, the muddy field is churned with a plough – usually with a hand-held tractor device but sometimes a buffalo drawn plough – to prepare for the ground for seeding.
Secondly, whole rice seeds, basically rice but with the outer husks still in place, is soaked for a couple of days before being spread over the ground, and the field is flooded with water from irrigation.
With a bit of time, this grows green seedlings, which are then bundled and ready to transplant – roots and all – across the field in bunches of three about a foot apart in a grid.
With a bit more time, the seedlings grow and the rice stalks emerge. By the time the paddy begins to turn brown, the rice is harvested by cutting mid-way up the stem.
The cut stalks are beaten against a hard surface to release the rice, which is then dried in the sun. The rice you eat is the endosperm of the seed that has been separated from the husk.