Suitcase and World: On a Stroll To Town.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

On a Stroll To Town.

I woke up so well rested though my left ankle is still swollen. Someday soon I hope I will be able to see the space between my toes :-(

Bro and I were downstairs having breakfast while Ayşe was still getting ready for the day. You know you're staying in a small hotel when the woman who is cooking up bacon (yes, real bacon!!) is the same lady who checked you in last night. She is such a lovely woman - very hospital and always has a smile on her face.   Aside from bacon and eggs, there were the usual Western breakfast items e.g., toast, cereal, yogurt as well as Thai fried noodles and rice porridge....a bit of something for everyone.

Bro and I  took a table near the window and leisurely had our breakfast.  Soon enough, Ayşe was down to join us.  This is the first time we've not had to hunt for breakfast on our own so everyone is stuffing their face!

After breakfast, it was a quick stop back in the room before heading out again.  We decided that this morning, we'll walk towards Saladan Pier, where we disembarked yesterday.  I'm going to see how well my left ankle holds up.  Worse case is I turn back and let the other two go on.

The shoe rack outside the hotel entrance.  We all got used to taking our shoes off and leaving them there.  The blue sandals, on the lower right of the photo, are mine.  Bro's hiking sandals on on the second shelf.

Ayşe standing outside the front entrance. Our room is two floors above where she's standing.

From our hotel, we walked back out to the main more than a two minute walk.  This is pretty much the main road that runs from north to south down the western side of the island.  It's not much of a main drag - a few ramshackled looking shops and small eateries.  Indeed, it was not exactly a scenic walk to town. 

I think most people who come to this island stay at a hotel or resort located in one of the island's nine beaches.  Those areas are pretty much self contained in that they have markets, shops, restaurants so people don't really need to venture beyond the beach area.  The one exception would be if they have to visit a health clinic for some reason.  We noticed one on the main road.

Of course, if there's a market, we have to stop and check it out.  The first one we happened upon offered a strange mix of items for sale.  There were a couple of foot locker style freezers filled with large packs of all sorts of different foods - from frozen fish (who would eat frozen fish on an island) to dumplings and even french fries. 

At first look, I thought these were baby coconuts but in fact they are
areca nuts.  The nut, which is a seed of the areca palm (Areca catechu) is more commonly
known as the betel nut as it is often chewed wrapped in betel leaves.

Another section sold pet food.  And last but not least, there was a garden section that sold seeds.  Ayşe has a plot in a community garden back home and she was really interested in getting a few seed packs.  Okay, she started pulling pretty every pack.  A few packs quickly turned into a couple dozen!!  Then Bro got involved and culled out those that would yield vegetables and fruits that should get in the Asian market nearby where she lives.  She still ended up with quite a lot of seeds.  I hope she has space for everything in her plot and more importantly, that the seeds actually sprout.  Of course, whatever does sprout, I hope I get some!!

The next market we happened upon was a real veggie and fruit market.  As expected, Bro made a beeline for the fruits, with an eye out for his favorite mangoes.

I decided to check out the veggie section.  There's nothing I love more than coming across a veggie that I've  never seen before and this market was full of them!  Some I had to Google afterwards to try and figure out what they were.  Others remain a mystery.  Next time I'm in Thailand I will definitely have to take a cooking class so someone can explain all these unknown veggies to me!

Young fern fronds.  These are delicious.  If we were staying in a place with a kitchen, I would have bought a couple bunches!

The Thais eat an incredible variety of vegetables.  It wouldn't be hard to eat five a day here!

Have no idea what this multicolored, leafy vegetable is.  Is it even a vegetable?  Perhaps it's an herb?

Buap Liam (Angled Loofah)aka silk gourd, silk squash or Chinese okra on the upper left.
No clue what the thing to the right of it is. The thing below is a banana stem and
at the very bottom are banana flower buds.

Completely clueless about this one.  A nut??

Finally! Something I recognize!  Galangal!  It's slowly beginning to appear in the Asian markets near me.

If many of the veggies are unfamiliar to me, then it was pretty much the entire world of Thai veggies that was foreign to Ayşe. She was like a kid in a candy store, ogling at everything and wishing she could buy up all the different types of eggplants to try.  I think they only have a few varieties to pick from in trurkey.  There are easily more than a dozen to pick from in Thailand!

Ayşe had never eaten a longan before so she bought a small bunch to try out.

She likes it!  Good news is that she can get this in her neighborhood Asian market.

Lots of small eateries like this lined the main road.  Several obviously catered to tourists but most were for locals.

We're staying at Klong Dao Beach - the closest one to Saladan.

Motorcycles and their multi passenger counterparts, the tuk tuk, are popular on the island. There are cars but not many.

Everywhere you go, you take off your shoes before entering an establishment.  This was posted on the stoop outside a shop.

By late morning, it was getting hot and really humid - bordering on unbearable for the Wilted Lily. While my ankle was holding up okay, I was debating whether or not to turn around and head back to the air conditioned hotel room.  But then, before I knew it, we had arrived back into Saladan.  A covered shopping area made for a good distraction.  I am not a shopper and had no intentions of buying anything.  While she says she's not a shopper either, Ayşe bought a few things including some bowls, a small, portable speaker and a set of Bluetooth headphones.  She wanted to know if the speakers and headphones were the *real* thing because they were so cheap but considering we are in the land of knock offs, it wasn't hard to answer her question.  It's a risk to buy but as far as I'm concerned so many  of today's name brand products are made in Asia, how bad could a knock off be?  She did check out the items carefully but she's definitely not the haggler!  In any event, I think she made a good dent in the money she withdrew from the ATM last night!

While Ayşe did damage to her wallet, Bro and I took every opportunity to sit down and cool off in the shade.  My left ankle appreciated the resting.  We also egged Ayşe on.  She seemed to be having so much fun shopping, it was hard to dangle things before and attempt to lure her into buying them!  We're so bad.

Our shopping expedition ended when we realized we were back at the pier itself.  Time to turn around.  On the way out of town, we passed by a couple of juice and food vendors.  The place selling grilled things caught our eyes.  Koh Lanta is a predominantly Muslim community so it there's any place in Thailand that is pork free, this would be it.....a *safe* place for Ayşe to eat.  But, she's still wary of eating street food so she's never tempted when we come across a place like this. Not so for Bro and I!

We ordered some chicken satay and grilled squid to go.  They quickly reheated both on the grill.

Can't have meat without noodles....

The place was called Mama's Kitchen.  We had to meet mama.  She turned out to be a Thai woman of Hokkien descent.  When I told her my father is Hokkien, she wanted to know if I could speak the language.  I sheepishly shook my head and told her that I can only speak Cantonese.  She was a really sweet lady.

On our way to Saladan, we had walked through a small sidewalk plant nursery.  As with how so many things are sold in Thailand, this was a pop up nursery, for lack of a better descriptive term.  On the way back to the hotel, the sellers were packing up.  I loved how they just stacked up the pots of plants and crammed everything into the back of a flatbed truck!

Next came some welcomed relief for the Wilted Lily. An elderly gentleman was selling young coconuts from the back of his truck.  For 30 baht, I downed some delicious and very refreshing young coconut juice.  I will sorely miss the Thai coconuts when I leave this country!

Yes, so much that is familiar to Bro and I  is new to Ayşe and like so many of us who like to record our first experiences, here she is taking a photo of a custard apple dangling from a branch.

Back in the hotel room, Ayşe left Bro and I to go for a Thai massage at one of the salons on the beach.  Later in the afternoon, Bro headed to the beach to go for a swim.  I was going to join them both there but I could not pry myself from the dry, cool air in the room.  A soak in the saltwater would probably have been very good for my left ankle but I was too comfortable to move.  I am a Thai couch potato.

Thank God we're in a No Durians room and thank God, it's not durian season. I wonder if they have rooms where durians are allowed??

Okay, I wasn't a complete couch potato.  Every now and again, I would head out on to the balcony.  Not the prettiest of views but given that we're staying in a budget hotel, what would you expect?

In this direction, the street leads to the beach.

In this direction, the street leads to the main road.

Bro made me take photos of the mangoes, that he bought at the market, so we could identify them.  Based on the photos on a webpage we found, I think the yellow ones are Nam Dok which Bro says are the best of the best to eat.  He's very excited!!

By late afternoon, everyone was back in the room.  When he appeared back in the room, Bro had three branches of plumeria with him.  Apparently, he had spotted a few nice specimens on the street to the beach and he just couldn't help himself....he had to snip a few branches that he's going to take back home with home and try and grow.  What to do with him?? :-)

It was time for showers before heading back out for dinner.  We knew the dining options were pretty limited on the main road and no one was in the mood to take a taxi to Saladan so we agreed to go back to the beach.  Besides, once the sun begins to set....a cool breeze sets in and it's just a lovely time for a pre-dinner stroll.

On the way, Bro pointed out the plumeria plants he had *snipped* from.  I have a feeling that a few more branches will be snipped off before we leave the island!

It was a quiet time on the beach.  There were a few people jogging and walking.  The one thing we've noticed since we've been here is the large number of European couples with very young children in tow.  Later we learned that Koh Lanta is an extremely popular travel destination for Swedes. In fact, it's so popular that they even have two Swedish schools on the island.  The primary school, Lilla Svenska Skolan, is located on the main road, just a short walk from our hotel.

It's very quiet on Klong Dao Beach in the evening but surprisingly not all that crowded in the daytime either.

There are so many islands in Thailand to spend time on; it was difficult choosing which one we would go to.  In the end, I settled on Koh Lanta mainly because of it's reputation as a laid back place for families.  There are no large resorts here.  Jetskis and parasails are not permitted on the island and in fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a noisy bar and good luck trying to find a disco least at Klong Dao Beach.  The only noise you'll hear is the sound of happy children at play and who doesn't love that sound?

In hindsight, I'm really glad we're here.  It's the perfect place for us to just kick back and relax.  In fact, even Ayşe has come to appreciate the vibe of the place.  She's contemplating how she can bring her entire family back for a visit one day!

We strolled the beach until our tummies told us it was time to eat.  As I did last night, I let Bro and Ayşe scan the restaurant menus and decide where we would eat.  I can munch on pretty much anything.

Klong Dao Beach at night.  Plenty of restaurants to pick from!  Everything is very relaxed and low key.

My two travel companions eventually settled on restaurant, located just about where the beach comes to an end. It was a quiet place.  When we sat down, we were the only patrons.  I don't know if that was a good sign or not but I figured all the food here is pretty much cooked to cater to tourists so it's nothing great but it will fill the belly.

It turned out that our restaurant was part of a hotel.  There was a large fish tank in the lobby with a very large, unusual fish swimming in it.  It could obviously see outside the glass and Bro was captivated by the fact that this fish appeared to be very aggressive.  If you stood away from it, it would swim towards you but it was actually charging towards you.  I tested it out several times.  I think it was even growling at me a couple of times!  Seriously....not making that up!  It's the kind of fish you don't want to meet up with in dark waters, if you know what I mean.

We took a really slow walk back to our hotel, taking in all the night sights of Klong Dao Beach.  It was just around 8:30p when we finished up dinner. Other folks were still enjoying their meals.  Here, the sea breeze seems to keep away the mosquitoes and it's the perfect temperature for an al fresco meal....even one where your toes are in the sand the whole time.

There were lots of children out and about, playing on the sand.  Is there such a thing as it's too late in the day to be making a sand castle?  I think not.  Of course, where there are kids, there will be vendors selling toys.  I think everyone here has a bit of kid in them....even I wanted to try out the bright and shiny things this Thai man was hawking.

Back in our room, Bro cut into one of his mangoes for dessert.  It was okay.  I wanted to try the Nam Dok but he says it's not ripe.  I told him no one sells fruits here that are not already ripe and ready to be eaten.  That's true.   It's not like in the US where we have to buy unripe fruits and then leave them on the counter to ripen.  I will work on him.  Given how much he's touted Nam Dok, even I'm curious!

It was very lazy day today.  Nothing like my usual get and go, go, go kind of day.  I have to say, I'm enjoying myself.

Tomorrow is our last day here.  I had planned for us to spend a day exploring the island but so far there doesn't appear to be an enthusiastic response from the other two.  Let's see how it goes.

Goodnight from Koh Lanta!