As our trip comes to a close, we’ll try to maximize our snorkeling and shopping time. Eating will not be neglected, however, as we’ll have some of the finest meals of our trip. Can we have it all?
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.
Our last three swimsuit days involved a dip in a hot spring, a splash in a pleasantly cool crystal-clear pond, and two boat trips to picturesque islands. Strenuous undersea workouts were followed by lavish Thai dinners. Really, it’s impossible for you to have any sympathy for my minor annoyances.
Today I needed to be alone with my computer to finish my timesheets for January and to post a few blog updates. Luckily the battery held out until evening when we visited a new hotel with ample 24-hour electricity but spotty wi-fi. The battle continues.
After a last cold, salty shower and a last sunrise on the lovely beach of Koh Poda, we gathered for a breakfast of boiled rice soup with chicken meatballs. After a brief powerboat ride back to Ao Nang, we would be heading back to Krabi town for better food and better accommodations.
We have a day of transition before our next island destination but this, too, will be spent mostly in a swimsuit. Heading North from Trang to Krabi, our first stop was a small restaurant serving local-style dim sum. However, seeing that a tour bus had just dropped off passengers there, we drove another block to a second place. It had less selection, but it was okay. Those less than impressed would not have to wait long for another bite: we soon would be stopping at the Kook Ming cake factory!
Krabi (February 9, 2010)
After one last visit to the breakfast buffet for a last bowl of simple rice porridge (with vinegar, chillies, cilantro, ginger shreds, and pork meatballs), we loaded into two vans for the ride to the Krabi airport. Its souvenir shops seemed somehow more authentic (and certainly were more homey) than the large luxury brand duty free shops that dominate the airport terminal in Bangkok. Alas, there was not enough time to try out the massage station, but I did pick up a reflexology chart (and wooden stick) showing how a Thai foot massage is supposed to relate to the rest of the body.
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.
Pak Bara (February 4, 2010)
My morning leisure time was consumed with a small project for work, so I had no time for sunscreen as we rushed our bags into the van and headed down to the pier. Breakfast was a small plate of pad thai noodles with shrimp, supplemented with a ripe tangerine and a delicious coconut custard on sticky rice. Before boarding our boat, we shopped the local boutiques for shirts.
Krabi (February 3, 2010)
We left the comforts of the Maritime and headed South for the final leg of our snorkel journey. Our first stop was for a lunch-like breakfast of noodles and fried chicken. When we arrived at Nua Klong, we outnumbered the available pieces of chicken, so a new order went into the fryer. Hot and deliciously crispy, the secret to this recipe, besides palm oil in the fryer and a dusting of rice flour on the chicken, is the type of lean, strong, free range chickens in this region. As we worked on our chicken, bowls of noodles in a pale green sauce began to arrive. These thin rice noodles, known as khanom jin, are made with a slightly fermented rice flour dough and traditionally served in a light coconut milk curry with ground fish. The noodles here are made on the premises, and have a nice texture; also the sauce is very tasty.
Krabi (January 30, 2010)
While the Maritime is lovely, its breakfast buffet has little Thai flavor. Eggs, hot dogs (“sausages”), potatoes, waffles, and porridge are available for the international traveler seeking the comforts of home. The porridge with a few pork meatballs and a soft-boiled egg was about as exotic as I could get.
Kuraburi (January 29, 2010)
The Greenview’s breakfast buffet was a bit boring, but congee with pork meatballs was available upon request, and I was able to mix in a raw egg from the omelet bar (cooked by the hot soup). With some crushed dried chillies, it made a pretty solid meal. That, hot tea, and fresh fruit would have to tide me over until our mid-morning snack.
Every year, Kasma Loha-Unchit leads groups of her cooking students and other fans of Thai cuisine on trips to Southern Thailand. Highlights include hours of snorkeling on the extensive reefs in the Andaman Sea; relaxing on beautiful beaches; visiting a batik workshop; shopping in vast markets featuring fresh fruit, vegetables and prepared foods; swimming in jungle pools and hot springs; and eating lots of delicious Thai food. For a general overview of the experience of traveling with Kasma, see Visiting Thailand with Kasma Loha-Unchit.
What to Expect on the Southern Trip (Trip “So”, formerly called Trip “C”)
Kasma offers a 28-day Southern trip that covers the Andaman (West) coast of the peninsula and selected destinations on the Gulf (East) coast; in 2010, she offered a shorter 20-day trip focused on snorkeling the Andaman Sea; current and future itineraries may vary. Here are a few notes about these trips, based on having taken the longer trip in 2006 (and updated following the shorter trip in 2010).
Koh Poda (Monday, February 13, 2006)
I awoke with the Poda island roosters around 5:40 AM, and could not fall back asleep. I tried to photograph sunrise through the clouds, and by 7:00 AM I had captured a few decent shots. Looking at the wind on the water, I decided I was feeling too lazy to snorkel, and headed back to the cabin to shower and pack. After an immense breakfast of chow fun-like wide rice noodles (with more than ample cooking oil), we loaded up two longtail boats for some scenic touring on the way back to Krabi.
Trang (Thursday, February 9, 2006)
We enjoyed Trang’s restaurants and night market, but it was time to move on to Krabi, where we have upgraded accommodations and some of the finest food we will eat on our trip. The towns are not far apart, so it makes sense to stop a few places along the way and support the local tourism economy. But first, a breakfast of dim sum, Trang style.