Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Feelin' Lazy.

Strolling on Klong Dao Beach as the sun sets over the Andaman Sea.

It was my left ankle that woke me up this morning.  Somehow I must have had in the wrong position when I was sleeping and an achy pain told me to get up to tend to it.  I lifted my ankle from under the blanket to look at it.  It didn't look too bad and when I stood up, it felt sore but okay.

The other two were still asleep but I decided to just go ahead and get ready for the day.  Seems like I'm the first to always get going, then Ayşe follows next and Bro....he's always the last to get into the bathroom.


We were up pretty early and we all decided to go to the beach before breakfast.  Ayşe wanted to get a swim in and Bro was looking forward to a jog on the beach.

So, down the street we went.  I decided to neither swim or jog.  I wanted to just sit quietly and relax.   Once we got down to the beach, everyone went their own way.   We designated a spot to meet back up at.   Since I was the one not moving, if they didn't see me, then they would know I had returned to the room.

Like what you would experience on most beaches, early morning on Klong Dao Beach is incredibly tranquil.   Most of the people who were on the beach were Europeans - either walking or jogging. 


Ayşe was in the water before you could blink an eye.  Bro took off as well.

Bro jogging into the wild blue yonder.

I'm really appreciating the laid back vibe of this beach.  Part of that is also due to the fact that there are no large resorts or high rise buildings here.


The beach here is also very, very clean.  I think it's a combination of locals coming along to pick up trash and visitors not trashing up the place. 


There are stinging things in the water here.  I don't know what to make of instruction #4.

I sat on a stoop and just watched the world go by and get lost in my own day dreams.  It's been a very relaxing time for me ever since I sprained my ankle.  I always believe that things happen for a reason and injuring my ankle, albeit painful, was the universe's way of telling me to not rush, rush, rush on this trip.  Usually, I have a manic travel itinerary and so far, for Thailand, I've had to completely throw that out the window.  There's a part of me that feels a little guilty though because as the planner of this trip, I know the other two are partly relying on me to take them along to see and do things and I've not been able to do that.  Hopefully, they're enjoying the unanticipated down time as well.

I waited for the other two to return and all three of us walked back to the hotel together.  We've become our own small family so it feels odd when we're not all together.

After breakfast, Ayşe took her laundry to a nearby place to have her clothes washed.  When she came back, she and Bro were trying to decide what to do.  I had already told them that I was hanging back a second day.  Tomorrow is another long travel day and my ankle needs to continue to get better.  When I was younger, I swear that it would only take me a day or two to recover from a sprained ankle.  Sucks getting old.

I suggested they check out a couple of the local tour agencies located near our hotel.  They all offer day trips to the other islands as well as other activities e.g., forest hikes that I thought they might be interested in.  I also suggested getting a taxi and going to Old Lanta....just for a change of pace.  But, neither of them seemed all that interested.  Damn my ankle.  I would have pushed them to doing something.

In any case, they decided to wander back towards town.  In the meantime, I did some laundry and lazed around on the balcony.  It was time to take a photo of the very unusual looking seed pod I plucked from a tree last night.  The tree was on the grounds of the hotel that our restaurant was located in.  There were several of the trees planted around the pool area and one had a branch that was low enough that I could pull it down and pluck the very large, lantern shaped fruit.  None of us had any idea what it was so I decided to bring it back to the room and search for it on Google.

Not a great picture but it gives you an idea of the size of the seed pod.  It's huge!

When Bro saw it, he jokingly said it was an alien fruit, probably poisonous.  Well, it's not an alien fruit but it is indeed poisonous.  This is the seed pod of a tree commonly known as the Fish Poison Tree or Sea Poison Tree (Barrington asiatica) because all parts of the tree are poisonous. The seed pod contains active poisons including saponins which are potent enough to be used as a fish poison. Yikes!  I thought it was a cool looking fruit when I plucked it last night and it's still cool looking today but I threw it over the balcony as soon as I was finished taking photos.


Around lunch time, the other two returned to the room.  Bro had brought lunch from one of the small eateries located along the main road.  It was a Muslim restaurant and they had noticed a lot of people, mainly men, coming and going from it.  Bro ordered up a serving of chicken and rice and a couple of veggie accompaniments.  The veggies were so-so, the chicken was well fried - crispy on the outside, juicy and soft on the inside.  But what took the prize was the rice.  It had obviously been cooked with the chicken fat and flavored with garlic....like Hainanese chicken rice.  It was delicious and we could have both had another serving!


Bro and Ayşe had returned back to the fruit market to get more fruits.  I don't think there can ever be such a thing as too many mangoes for Bro!  This time, there were some locals buying mangoes as well so they got some advice on what to get....including the vendor who pointed him to a pile of Nam Dok Mai.....as they call Nam Dok mangoes here.  They're quite easy to recognize.  Bro bought a couple and we tried one out for dessert.  I, who is not much of a mango fan, has to admit.  That Nam Dok Mai mango was simply the best mango I have EVER eaten!!  To start with, it has a lovely, slightly perfumey fragrance.  It was sweet and very juicy and above all, there was not a bit of fiber in the flesh.  The texture was that of a ripe peach.  If all mangoes taste as good as that one, I would convert to being a mango lover!!  Good news is there's still one Nam Dok Mai mango left!

Note that he's using my bed as the table and the header of the bed for his shelf to put his mangoes on :-)

It truly was a lazy day for all of us.  Ayşe left after a while to get another Thai massage.  If she lived in this country, every penny of her disposable income would go to massages!   Bro and I hung around the room until late afternoon, when it would be cool enough for a stroll.

We went on the street leading to the beach but took the first right hand turn when we could.  The first part of our walk took us behind several of the resorts that dot the beach.  We then happened upon a grove of plumeria that were obviously part of private garden.  Some of the trees were in bloom.  Though  part of the garden was fenced off, there was one section that was opened so I snuck in to smell the pretty yellow bloom.  It was so fragrant!  I decided that Bro needed a branch so as discreetly as I could, I snipped one and quickly pranced my way back to the road.  Bro could not believe what I had done....feigning as if he had never done such a thing before!  Oh, Mister- I- only- have- three- snippings back- in- the- room!  Of course, he quickly pocketed the branch in the deep pockets of the shorts he was wearing.  I jokingly told him that the only reason for those shorts was to carry plant snippings in. Yes, I am gladly feeding his obsession.  It's not that he's a collector of plumeria but for him, it's his souvenir, in a way. Besides, I think he enjoys the challenge of trying to get these things to sprout more than anything else.

The next stretch of our walk took us past local homes and shops.  The small road we were on runs parallel to the main road leading to Saladan. Here, tourists were far and few between - there were more locals around.  It's amazing how you can just walk a short distance away from the tourist area and experience local life.


We just strolled along and took in the sights.  We walked in the shade and there was a gentle breeze blowing.  So nice. These are the simple moments that I enjoy sharing with Bro the most.  There's not a UNESCO this, that or other here.  No souvenir shops.  No tour agency signs.  Just local life.

Tamarind pods, ready to be picked, hanging from a tree branch.

Jackfruit, one of my favorite tropical fruits.

Your local gas pump.  Perfect for  motorcycles and tuk tuks. 

Banana flower with clusters of fruit developing at the top.

We soon happened on another lovely plumeria tree with pretty red flowers.  This was inside a gated compound that was guarded.  I asked the guard if I could take a closer look at the tree and at first he didn't understand. I pointed to the tree and started to walk towards it.  He didn't stop me.  I pulled down the branch to smell the bloom and musky scent hit my nose.   I would have plucked off a small branch had Bro distracted the guide but he didn't.  He could have chatted up the guard allowing me time to reach up and bend off a branch.  But no help from Bro.  I need a better partner in crime.

I figured the small road, even with it's occasional right and left turns would eventually lead us back to Saladan but we needed to be back in the room to let Ayşe in as we had the key.  In hindsight, we should have left the key at the front desk so she could let herself in.  Oh well.

We double backed but took a slight detour.  The last two nights that we've walked the beach in search of dinner, we've passed by a place called Hans Restaurant.  Based on the name and the clientele we spotted eating there, our assumption was that it catered to the European crowd.  From the road we were on, there was a sign pointing to Hans Restaurant.  We decided to take the turn.  It led us to a cluster of small wooden bungalows nestled among the trees.  From the looks of them, this was very basic accommodation.  As Bro commented....a place for backpackers though I've not seen all that many backpackers on the island.  I definitely they are budget accommodations and for many travelers, me included, they would have been just fine.  In fact, we saw an older European couple tending to their laundry outside the bungalow they were staying in. 

We didn't understand the sign.

The path through the bungalows led to Hans Restaurant.  From there, we exited on to beach.  Just around this time, I got a text message from Ayşe indicating she was standing outside the room.  I replied back to tell her where we were and that it would be about 10 minutes for us to get back.  Next thing I know, she's texting me to tell me she got into the room.  Did someone let her in?  We wouldn't get the answer to the mystery until we got back.  Apparently, she was able to simply jiggle the door knob and the door opened on its own.  Did we not pull it all the way shut when we left?  We'll never know.  Thankfully, this place is really safe.  It did not appear that anyone, other than Ayşe, had entered the room while we were gone and nothing was taken.

Come early evening, it was back to the beach for our last dinner in Koh Lanta.  We're all in a very relaxed mood.   We strolled.  We took in the sea air.  We felt the sand between our toes.  We chatted.  We laughed.  We simply enjoyed our surroundings and each other's company.  It was great way to end the day.   I could not have asked for more. 








It wasn't until it got really dark that we finally sat down to eat.   We started out sitting at a table, on the beach but it was so windy, it was difficult to just keep the tablecloth down.  We decided to move to the covered  patio.  There, we each had a drink and shared a few Thai dishes.....all served up to us by a very lovely ladyboy.


On the way back to our hotel, we stopped for a bit of impromptu entertainment.  In fact, the young man, a beach performer, was entering a crowd for tips and we just stood nearby to watch.  I don't know what they're called but he had two fireballs attached to a wire and he was twirling the balls around against the backdrop of rock music.  My lens is slow enough and it was dark enough that the patterns of his swings were captured is if he was painting the night sky with light.




I tried to capture some video but it was hard holding up the camera and the sound of the wind overwhelms the music in the background.



Then, we heard the cracking sound. Pop, pop, pop!  In the near distance someone was shooting off firecrackers.



Back in the room, it was all about packing up.  Tomorrow, we leave Koh Lanta and return to Bangkok where we just spend the night.  The day after, we board a plane that will take us to Mandalay, Myanmar!

It's been a very short stay in Koh Lanta and even though I've done nothing but laze around for two days, this turned out to be exactly what I needed.  I hope my ankle is in good shape for tomorrow's long journey.

Goodnight from Koh Lanta!