Jan 262017

It’s tempting to imagine what proper resort accommodations might do to one’s experience at Koh Surin, but if it were more comfortable, there might be even more competition for longtail boats and more stress on the reefs, so it’s probably better to tolerate the inconveniences and compensate with a little luxury when we return to land. At least, that’s how we’re thinking about it as we prepare to leave our dark, stuffy bungalows for a last snorkel, and then, too soon for me, our ferry back to shore.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

This morning we have “American breakfast,” which consists largely of two eggs, three slices of white bread you can toast to your taste over a charcoal grill, and either Nescafe coffee or Lipton tea. Naturally we have a number of supplemental snacks to eat up so we don’t have to lug them back to shore.

Because time is short — failure to make the noon checkout time has a severe financial penalty — we will return once again to nearby Ao Mae Yai. While my new mask still is not fitting as well as it should, having “full strength” optical corrective lenses is a remarkable improvement: I can see the eyeballs of fish pivoting around to look at me and better anticipate their movements. With overcast skies, the conditions for photography were not much better than our first day here, but there was a moment when the clouds parted and dazzling reflections danced across the corals. It was a powerful reminder of how magical snorkeling can be when you can see, breathe, and relax in the world of fish.

After the rush to check out, we had an enormous plate of pad see ew chicken noodles, generously lubricated with cooking oil. It’s not how you would cook it back home, but with the dozens and dozens of day trippers that lunch here after taking a speedboat from a coastal resort, I’m in awe of their ability to even prepare so much food. Finally our speedboat was ready to take us back to the pier, where we enjoyed a coconut milk sorbet and made a few small purchases for our next happy hour.

The Kuraburi Greenview Resort always makes a good impression. The elegant log cabin construction, the shower featuring a waterfall effect from a slate chute high overhead, and the delicious cuisine with impeccable service are a 180 degree turn from the park. (360 degree image of the room) But unlike past visits, the rains discouraged leisurely browsing of the resort’s beautiful flower gardens (used to source the cuttings tastefully displayed throughout the public areas), and the karaoke system was not set up, so I missed my opportunity to entertain the diners tonight. Still, we appreciated the upgrade. (I do wonder, though: is this a mattress or a box spring? “Firm” hardly does it justice!)

Speaking of dinner, we began with two appetizers. A fruit salad in a spicy dressing was reminiscent of one we learned to make in Kasma’s classes, but without the full punch of that Northern Thai preparation. Fritters with finely shredded herbs and shrimp were nicely crunchy, but a bit oily for my tastes. A bowl of coconut soup with mixed seafood was deliciously fresh. A whole fish fried to a crisp was topped with slices of fried garlic, kaffir lime leaves, whole dried chillies, and a sweet tamarind glaze. A grilled pork salad, pak miang greens with bean threads and egg, and a rich Panang chicken curry rounded out the set. We were quite full when a plate of fried bananas, dusted with powdered sugar and crisscrossed with chocolate sauce, arrived on the table. They do get a lot of Westerners here.

With a large European family group at the adjacent table, Kasma struggled to lay out our itinerary over the sound of excited children and innumerable conversations. Tomorrow we leave this tranquil oasis for another park on the water, this one on a man-made lake featuring dramatic, jutting limestone karsts. We are advised to pack light, which is always an ideal I struggle to achieve.

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