It’s been a while since my last post, so that should show that I really have been enjoying flitting around Thailand. Adventures from the past few weeks are listed below, along with new pics under the photos tab.
This vibrant city in Northern Thailand is known for its hill tribe people, treks, elephants and great massages. While visiting, we rented a motor bike and joined the millions of motor maniacs on the streets of Chiang Mai. Taking a loop out of town was one of the best highlights of northern Thailand. The route was called the Samoeng Loop and escorted us through small villages with yummy smelling road side stands and live tribal music humming through the hills.
Above: We stopped at this make-shift gas station after using our feet “Flinstone style” to power the bike up a hill. We were told only 1/2 tank of gas was enough!
One highlight was our stop for lunch, where we portrayed with hand gestures alone that the cook could make us “her specialty.” Although a dangerous request for spicy Thai fare, she passed with flying colors in my book. As we ate, the locals stared, as if they had never seen farong (their word for white people) in their quiet village before.
Above: The road side stand where we lunched. No health inspector here!
Later on the route, we thought we’d test the motor bike’s ability to second as a 4 wheeler, charging us up a rocky path toward some waterfalls. When we smelled smoke, we ditched the effort and decided to climb on foot the rest of the way. This is where we heard the chanting of the hill tribes and smelled many of the herbs we had learned to cook in the cooking class the day before.
Cooking in Thailand is quite an affair, as can be seen by the size and organization of their fresh markets. Open most of the day, the market is the main attraction in numerous small villages and has everything from dried maggots and live frogs to sweet basil and mangoes. It was once said that the Thai people are always thinking, “What could we possibly find to eat next?” During our cooking class, we were led to the market and amazed by the varieties of herbs and fresh ingredients we’d be cooking. (For example, did you know there are 5 different types of egg plant that the Thai people cook?) Back at the workshop we learned 5 Thai dishes and I do have to say I am a certified Thai cook now. 🙂
Above: Our cooking class instructor, Perm, teaches us about Thailand’s produce in an open-air market.
The reason this island was chosen as one of the beaches to visit with my mom, is that it is not a main tourist destination. Unfortunately, many beaches that are shown on the Discovery Channel or “World’s Top Beaches” are now destroyed due to trashy tourists.
Koh Lanta is a small Muslim fishing village and was accessible by 2 VERY slow ferries. Massages on the beach were the main daily event for us and fire dancers during dinner on the beach were thoroughly enjoyed. Bon, a little local 8-year-old kept us company and cracked us up with his hand gestures. He pointed at the sun, pointed at my skin, and made a sizzling noise, while cracking up. Keep in mind he was the color of cocoa so he has never burned a day in his life!
Above: One of many Koh Lanta massages by Eeid.
Above: Our new local pal, Bon…who apparently doesn’t get sun burned.
Railay Beach/ Ton Sai- Krabi
This chill hang-out beach was home for 2 days on the quick tour we made of Thailand’s islands. Think Swiss Family Robinson meets Bob Marley and you can imagine the atmosphere. Tree houses, decorated with sitting cushions and candles adorned the sky and bungalows with woven thatch were only $7/ day. Surrounding all of this were massive cliffs overlooking the bay, where we enjoyed some top-rope climbing with a view. The only thing that dampered this section of the trip was the nasty food poisoning most of us got, but luckily it lasted for less than 24 hours.
Above: Rock climbing outside of Krabi on Ton Sai’s beach. Do I look like I am struggling?
500 Rai- Khao Sak National Park
The most authentic Thai experience came in the form of a floating village, complete with thatched roofs and bamboo flat boats to transport us there. My brother Derrick, who works for Andaman Discoveries helping to promote “good tourism” and eco trips, rallied us for this expedition.
Everything in this national park thrives off the fresh water river called the Ratchaprapa Dam. Limestone cliffs squeeze the calm, flowing river together and wild boars, water buffalo and gibbons roam the jungle shoreline.
Every day, we had 3 meals cooked for us by the locals- something you really appreciate when you take into consideration the lack of running water, electricity and access to markets on the land. The morning dish was a rice pudding, which was more like a watered down rice with chunks of meat and spices. At lunch we were presented with fried noodle dishes and watermelon and there was always an array of fest-like goods at dinner, including the WHOLE grilled fish we were served on a platter one night.
The people here were so gracious, always taking second best when it came to the meals and the accommodation. Working from sunset until after we’d retired to bed, we often wondered when they slept. This is a great tour for those travelers who wish to support local communities in Thailand.
Throughout all of these activities, my mom jetted around in flip flops and a backpack, with her 5 star adventure attitude. I really enjoyed your visit, mom, and hope we will see you again in South America in the fall!