Located on the Gulf coast of Thailand, Nakhon Si Thammarat is an historically important sea port and home of Southern Thailand’s most important Buddhist temple. Here we will find our main cultural sites on this trip, as well as some tasty food.
Nahkon Si Thammarat is the home of the most important Buddhist temple we will visit on this trip, as well as a nice National Museum and numerous shopping opportunities. Historically, Kasma spent three nights here, but as more snorkeling days were added, something had to give, so we will have just one full day to squeeze it all in.
Since we had to skip a template on the way from Chumphon to Khao Sok, today will be our big temple day. Which means wearing long pants and trying hard to avoid offending anyone. But no day in Thailand is without humor and fun. Or food: there’s always more food than you can possibly eat.
A Final Morning in Nakhon Si Thammarat
We headed to a newly developed street for a breakfast of Hokkien (Fujian) Chinese dim sum, which differs in some ways from the Cantonese dim sum so familiar to those of us from the Bay Area. While we waited, we tried their signature soup of pork in a five spice broth with cabbage and mushrooms. The broth was delicious, and some of the meat, but the liver and stomach were not my favorite bits.
Eating Local in Nakhon Si Thammarat (Feb. 5, 2012)
The Sunday market is composed of row upon row of vendor stalls. At one end, you can find a wide range of used clothes (is this the end of the Goodwill value chain?), and at the other, you can order fresh squeezed sugar cane juice in a bottle, cup, or plastic bag. In between, we saw endless piles of fruits and vegetables, curry pastes ready to fry up, fish being butchered, and frogs knocked senseless. Of course, we also ate innumerable items as we went; one of my favorites was chicken on a stick with a sweet red coconut BBQ sauce.
Departing the Greenview (Feb. 3, 2012)
I thought I might be running late when I dropped into the dining room at 7:32, but apparently I was the first to show. I ordered the rice porridge with pork meatballs (“boiled rice” on the menu, “joke” in casual Thai) and doctored it with the available vinegar, ground dry chillies, and white pepper. When I later mentioned to Kasma and Michael that I wished I had brought a smaller bag for the lake trip, they lent me a bag. As they removed a couple of kilos of shrimp paste I realized that there would be a certain fragrance. I treated the inside of the bag with Rick Steves’ Quick Fresh spray (not entirely effectively) and set it out to dry.
Khao Sok Park (Saturday, January 28, 2006)
Fifth cold shower in a row, but because the cabin had cooled well during the night, this definitely was the coldest. Fortunately, it should be the last one for a while. We gathered with our bags in the open-air dining room for rice porridge with a tray of toppings, including fried garlic, ground chillies, white pepper, and a strange peppery blend sold under the Tiger brand. Thus fortified, we returned to the lake for the journey back through the karsts. We didn’t spot any more langurs, and perhaps not coincidentally, the lake was very busy. It was Saturday morning and Chinese New Year, so crowds of people had come out to party. We stopped at the visitor center atop the dam for a scenic overview, remarkably clean restrooms, and some drinks and snacks (coffee for some, ice cream for me). Then we set out for the monkey training school.
Nakhon Si Thammarat (Thursday, January 20, 2005)
For our last breakfast in Nakhon, we once again visited Krour Nakorn for noodle and rice dishes. We then hit the road to visit a couple more local temples and associated markets. At Wat Wang Tawan Tok, we saw an example of a Thai-style Kuti, a wooden monks’ residence dating back to 1888. While the Kuti was remarkably well preserved, the other temple buildings were in varying states of (dis)repair. Numerous vendors in the marketplace appeared to be selling virtually identical amulets and charms featuring the particular image in the temple’s main shrine. Down the road we visited the Nakhon Si Thammarat Handicraft Center for additional examples (and purchases) of yan lipao — baskets woven of very fine fern stem fibers — where many of us did our part to support local artists.
Khao Sok Park (Tuesday, January 18, 2005)
Our next destination, Nakhon Si Thammarat, is described by the Rough Guide as “the cultural capital” of Southern Thailand. The city has enormous importance in Theravada Buddhism, the religion observed by more than 90% of Thais. Our two day whirlwind exploration of Nakhon will cover temples, museums, markets, and of course food.