Koh Surin (Thursday, January 26, 2006)
After a brisk shower of Surin spring water, and a breakfast of rice porridge with fish chunks, we went our separate ways. In my case, this involved packing and finding a protective container for the Moken boat: using a box from a case of canned sodas, a Swiss Army knife and some duct tape I borrowed from a fellow traveler, I was able to create something good enough to get back to the vans. With other gifts accumulated in my luggage, a more permanent box cannot be far down the road.
For lunch we had the usual soup (chicken and winter melon), fish (fried crunchy but not too dry), squid with basil, and an interesting stir-fry of shrimp with coconut shoots (similar to bamboo shoots but with some coconut flavor). Eventually, we made our way from the shore to the ferry and back to Pak Bara pier for the short drive to the Kuraburi Greenview Resort.
I scored the corner room with excellent views of the grounds and the lake (which is strangely brown, perhaps due to heavy rains). The sky was overcast by the time of our arrival around 4:45 PM; hopefully we will have a glorious morning. Until then, there is time to wander the grounds, recharge the electronics, enjoy a hot shower, and prepare for dinner and karaoke. And to think about packing for another night in rustic splendor (not) at Khao Sok park.
I was very surprised to find at dinner that the resort has few or perhaps no other guests. On Surin we regularly saw small groups shepherded around by guys in Kuraburi Greenview shirts. Perhaps the other guests are “enjoying” the island cuisine tonight? Anyway, having the big dining room and its karaoke stage all to ourselves is nothing to complain about. We began dinner with a plate of crunchy Thai eggplants, cucumber slices, vegetable omelet squares and other vegetables with a spicy shrimp-based dipping sauce. This was followed by small pieces of fried chicken with a little turmeric flavor; crystal noodles with mixed seafood and cashews; shrimp in a gooey-sweet tamarind sauce (with whole dried chillies one could break open for optional heat); a wickedly “hot” salad of green mango shreds with cashews and crunchy dried shrimp; a strong green curry with chicken, Thai eggplants and bitter pea eggplants; and rain forest ferns sauteed with garlic and Thai oyster sauce.
Compared with park cuisine, which often had us sprinkling on a little more spice, this meal left us gasping for coconut ice cream. And they don’t have any! We put in an order for fried bananas with a honey dipping sauce and moved to the entertainment phase. I started the karaoke with the reliable crowd pleaser Love Potion No. 9, and Smokey Robinson’s simple My Girl. Over the next two hours, several other members of the group got up and either belted out their favorites or struggled with tunes they hadn’t heard for a while. The machine has a limited and eclectic selection, often played at strange tempos or in difficult pitches — that’s our story and we’re sticking to it. Our waitress/hostess sang a song by the Cranberries (we don’t know whether she understands the lyrics, which involve violence, tanks, bombs and guns, but it was sung with great enthusiasm), and Kasma’s husband Michael again burned the house down with a bilingual version of the Phrik Kee Noo song, an ode to the tiny but mighty hot Thai chillies that lingered on our palates. Eventually it was time to turn in. Tomorrow we start out early for a trip to the market where we can replenish our bag of “treats” for the road.