Feb 162015

Today is our “free day,” where we can roam Krabi freely and do whatever we like. With the harsh afternoon sun muted by overcast skies, it’s a little more realistic than usual to get in a lot of shopping, a temple, a massage, maybe even some physical activity. But relaxing also sounds really, really nice.

In past years, I’ve gone to the morning market for a noodle and fried chicken breakfast, but today I chose to conserve energy by having another English breakfast at the hotel. (The Thai breakfast was sold out.) I did wander up to the market to take a look, and there are numerous stalls offering special goodies for Chinese New Year, which officially starts in just three days. I wandered over to Varich Krabi Batik for a few more gifts, and then, motivation fading in the bright morning light, retreated to my hotel room to consume the rest of my bottled water and catch up on the blog.

Several of us met Kasma and Michael for lunch at a local duck noodle shop. A large tour group had pre-ordered, so there was a wait, but we ultimately were rewarded by tender stewed duck in a dark, deeply flavored broth with thin rice noodles. They must skim the fat because it felt positively light. We supplemented our bowls with fresh pineapple and little coconut confections.

After hearing rave reviews about Kasalonga Massage from other trip members, I decided to book a one hour traditional Thai massage for later in the afternoon. Because I have an injured toe, I asked Kasma to give them a little background. Their initial conclusion: it must not be broken if you can still walk, it probably just needs a little Tiger balm. I certainly hope that turns out to be the case.

I took a little afternoon break from the computer to visit the local temple. Wat Kaew Korawaram sits atop a hill and is accessed by a staircase adorned with golden nagas. A unique feature of the main building is a sign outside requesting visitors not to take wedding photos inside (!). Nearby there is a garden with roosters, and a side path down the hill to view statues of tigers and elephants. I didn’t realize it was a dead end until I found myself staring at a wall. By the time I climbed back up to the temple I was winded and sweaty. I bought some segments of pomelo at the local market as a quick snack before my massage, but I still showed up sweaty.

A traditional Thai massage involves strong pressure applied to the feet, legs, shoulders, and back by the masseur’s hands, elbows, knees, and feet. I had my eyes mostly closed, so I couldn’t always tell what was happening, but generally speaking, whatever was stiff got pressed and stretched. As a result, I’m more relaxed than when I started, but I’ve concluded that the two hour version is more effective for me because my body doesn’t unwind easily in just one hour. Oh well, next time.

For dinner, we walked along the river a short ways to a floating restaurant. With the barge so close to shore, it was easy to forget the floating aspect until a fast-moving boat came by and set the place rocking. The first dish to arrive was four large prawns in the shell topped with crystal noodles (mung bean threads) flavored — and colored — with oyster sauce. (This dish traditionally is cooked in a clay pot, but most restaurants use a metal pot, presumably because clay pots are fragile.) We also had squid salad, a “bland” soup with shrimp and vegetables, a whole fried fish topped with green mango salad, and steamed clams with garlic and basil. The meal was relatively modest by our recent standards, but reasonably well executed.

Tomorrow morning, we fly to Bangkok where we will have a day of splendid eating, and I need to figure out how to pack up my haul for the long trip home. A box or another suitcase will be needed, and shopping time is so tight.

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