Krabi (February 8, 2010)
We dropped by the breakfast buffet for a little fruit and caffeine before heading out to the morning market for more substantial fare. The hotel would shuttle us there for 40 baht per head (about $1.20), but we decided to take one of the local red “buses” (more like a pickup truck with a camper shell) for 15 baht. We accidentally got a blue one, which was a taxi, so the fare worked out to 20 baht; still not bad, except for the near accident when the truck made a very sudden and hard stop and everyone slid sideways on the slick seat cushions. Ouch, severe butt compaction.
When we eventually arrived downtown, we still had a few blocks to walk before charging through aisles of fruit and vegetables on our way to the prepared food stands. The fried chicken looked good, but I was here for the khanom jin noodles. The vendor let us sample both traditional toppings: green curry with ground fish, and a mild sweet peanut sauce. All three of us opted for the green curry, and with our bowls of noodles we got a huge tray of raw veggies and two large bowls of pickled vegetables, a puckery one with a texture similar to kale, and a sweet one of shredded daikon radish (or something very similar). Along with some delicious coconut waffles, this made quite a filling breakfast and we were ready to shop.
Nothing in the market was particularly compelling, so we wandered the nearby streets checking out the souvenirs, kitchen wares, CDs and VCDs. I was wearing a shirt I had made online that says “phet mak mak” (very, very spicy hot) in Thai, and this began to attract notice from vendors along the way. I’m not sure whether they were smiling and laughing because of the literal meaning, or because of its double meaning (that I’m a very hot guy, which obviously is not the case). Anyway, it was a fun ice breaker; I probably should have worn it earlier in the trip. Oh well, “next time.”
After a leisurely round of Thai iced tea at a corner store, and a quick visit to their spotless toilet, we headed back to Varich Krabi Batik. A shirt I had purchased in XL was a bit too big, so a trip member who liked the design agreed to buy that one from me. Now I needed another copy in my size. (We will have to coordinate to avoid wearing them at the same time.) We lingered in the breeze of the shop’s fans examining various other shirts and wall hangings, until we had exhausted our urge to spend.
We had decided to head up to Ruen Mai for lunch, and the batik store’s owner happened to be going for a shave nearby so he dropped us off just a block from the restaurant. We had our pick of several small tables, and chose one under the trees with a slight breeze. Even with the ventilation, we got very, very hot because some of our food was very, very spicy. The hot and sour prawn soup was loaded with chillies, as was the yum saded salad. The deep fried crunchy sand fish, which I have been waiting five years to eat again, were not spicy, just a lot of fun to eat (head to tail). At the end of the meal, I had eaten all of my rice and was begging for a few spoons from others; I’m not sure I want to go through the process of developing a matching heat tolerance. We ordered coconut shakes to cool down before walking back to the hotel. Later, someone described our wander as similar to Billy in a Family Circus cartoon. What do you think?
We reconvened by the pool, under the shade of an umbrella. I was organizing photos on my laptop when the infamous “blue screen of death” appeared. I initiated the long process of cleaning up bad sectors on the hard drive, and when I got the laptop back to my room an hour later, it seemed much better. I locked it away in my bag in the closet and headed to happy hour.
The Maritime’s bar offers a mix-and-match two-for-the-price-of-one special on a menu of cocktails ranging from a mai tai to a mysterious blue liquid in a tall glass. I tried their margarita (not bad) and pina colada (too artificial tasting). Around our two tiny tables, various shapes, sizes, and colors of beverages, appeared and disappeared; this is one way to spend a little too much Thai pocket money.
For dinner, we returned once again to Ruen Mai. We repeated the popular fried fatty pork belly flavored with fermented tofu and tiny but incendiary Thai chillies. We had a curry with chunks of fish, but the more unusual of our two fish dishes featured fried king mackerel (?) steaks served in a puddle of slightly sweet black soy sauce. Rich green curry with shrimp and rich yellow curry with chicken rounded out the selection. Vegetation was sparse compared with some other meals, but this left room for more Trang cake for dessert.
After getting our briefing for check-out in the morning, I returned to my room and turned on my laptop. It reported that I had no hard drive. A second try yielded the same error. I switched in my backup hard drive and it worked, but it was five days out of date. I attached my main hard drive by USB, but still no luck. Bad news, and very unexpected when everything had seemed to go so well before dinner. Now to reconstruct the five days’ work I lost…and not miss my flight in the morning.