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!
The bug is back. And although I could have squished him (her?) several times in flicking it toward the corner, it failed to take the hint to run down the hole. Currently it has left the bathroom and disguised itself against the wood paneling of the Western wall of the bungalow. I will let the housekeeping crew deal with it.
Koh Surin Day 1 (Jan. 30, 2012)
While there were too few guests for the Jansom Hot Spa Resort to lay out a lavish breakfast buffet, we did have our choice of a rice or noodle plate. I had spicy chicken with Thai basil and a fried egg to start my day. That and several cups of Lipton tea would have to keep me going until lunchtime.
We had but one last morning of snorkeling, so we had to make it a good one. We returned to Po’olenalena to swim with turtles one more time. We had four travelers going into the ocean, and another three enjoying the beach, which meant lots of towels and mats and so on to pack into the minivan. (We also had to swing by Snorkel Bob’s to exchange some too tight snorkel fins on the way.) Parking in the small public access lot at the Makena Surf condos was not a problem, but the weather was less cooperative: wind and clouds kept building during our time in the water, making it a bit chilly to hang out on the beach.
I’ve extended my stay here, so I have two more mornings to snorkel rather than just one. Maya will be accompanying us today, so we have to pass on the more adventurous sites and choose a beach with easy entry, fresh water showers, and restrooms, relatively nearby, with easy parking. Sounds just like Ulua beach in Wailea, except for that last part if you arrive after 9:00…
To make our snorkel cruise on time, we set our alarms for 5:30am. After packing our gear and towels, inhaling a quick breakfast, and driving rather quickly up the highway, we arrived at the Pacific Whale Foundation store at the Maalaea Harbor Shops. The check-in process was fairly painless, but the dock area is under construction, and there was a lot of congestion getting to the boat. After a fairly smooth ride under overcast skies, we tied up at Molokini just as the sun broke through the clouds. Our 100+ snorkelers may have been the first large boat to arrive at this popular site, but we would not be the last.
Another day, another breakfast of poke and papaya, and another morning snorkel. Lisa and I headed to nearby Kamaole Beach Park III to investigate a spot rated one of Maui’s best by Galen Piehl and Nicole Atkins in their eBook Maui Snorkeling Guide. Was it an overlooked gem, or just overrated?
The kids were not enthusiastic about snorkeling, so we split into groups: one to the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum and the Maui Swap Meet; one to have a leisurely morning at home before going to the beach; and a third to hit one of South Maui’s premier snorkel spots. You know which group I joined.
At 4:00 on the dot, the unmistakable call of a rooster pierced the inky blackness. A distant bird responded, and a lengthy conversation ensued. Are they on Pacific time, too? Sleeping in became difficult, especially for those without in-room A/C who had our windows open. By 6:00, a crowd had gathered in the upstairs dining room for breakfast.
Ranong (January 25, 2010)
The hotel said they would open their dining room at 6:15 am to accommodate our schedule. However, they failed to mention that the food would not arrive until 6:30. Perhaps that is unfair to the white bread and sliced fruit — they are foods, too — but the extra 15 minutes built into our schedule already was being squeezed out.
As we headed to the pier at Ban Hin Lahd, we passed through at least 3 checkpoints. There is a serious effort here to crack down on Burmese immigrants. Fortunately, none of us merited close inspection.
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).
Krabi (Saturday, February 11, 2006)
Based on the 2005 trip, I was totally unprepared for the huge crowds at our various destinations today. It started with the breakfast buffet, when I could not find an empty table, and all of the tables for our party were full. I joined Kasma briefly, because she had persuaded the kitchen to make an omelet of our left over kua kling beef from the night before. (A spicy beef dish that starts off seeming medium hot and very flavorful, and builds to hot hot hot.) After a mad dash of packing, we were into our vans and off to the pier to catch our longtail boat to our idyllic island home Koh Poda (gaw po-DA). We would go by way of some of the more popular spots in the area.
Satun (Saturday, February 4, 2006)
The noisy air conditioner and defective showerhead made rising and shining a chore, but I made it to the lobby on time. We sped from Satun North and West to Pak Bara Pier where we dropped in on a local shop for a breakfast of pad thai noodles. I picked up a bunch of bananas for the island, but they would only survive 30 hours before becoming too overripe to keep eating.
Ranong (Monday, January 23, 2006)
The Palm Court opened early at our request. In addition to the usual eggs, toast, and rice porridge, the restaurant served the Southern staple of thin rice noodles with various sauces. One was a traditional mild peanut sauce (more like a soup than the peanut sauce served with satays) and the other a stronger flavored fish curry. Two small bowls of noodles and three cups of Lipton tea would have to be enough to hold me until lunch. We convoyed to the pier without incident and loaded onto our boat for the two hour journey West to the Surin islands.
Khuraburi (Thursday February 3, 2005)
Koh Surin National Park is Thailand’s premier snorkeling destination, with numerous reefs teeming with fish and unparalleled corals. At least, it was before the tsunami. With only tent camping available, it was not the destination one would have hoped for, but at least it was open. Having already spent six days on the water, we would see whether Surin remained #1.