Thai Massage Guide

20130130-135400.jpgAmong top 5 things we will miss from Thailand is the massages we had almost daily. We tried various types and places. Given how cheap it is compared to USA/Europe, it would be a shame to come here and not indulge fully. We have not encountered male massage therapist in this area, they are all female. Here is our take on what we have tried…

Beach Massage:
500 baht for 1hour massage for two people. This is the cheapest option, done by locals on roofed platforms. Outdoors by the beach; nice to hear the soothing ocean, but passerby traffic could be distracting. Also products they use are not the best, but still great technique and you leave refreshed and feeling better.

Silk Spa:
600 baht per person for 1hour body and half an hour head massage. Indoors, slightly upper scale than a complete dive. I had a near medical experience during my coconut head and body massage; think she almost cured my back problems. G’s shoulder and neck felt better than ever. J was regretful that she did not try Silk Spa. We just need to go again!

Sukko Spa:
4,800 baht for an hour and fifty minute package of body wrap, aromatherapy massage, and a facial. We think it is a great deal. Tried Aloe, Spirulina, and Coconut variety; all great. They had a buy 1 get 1 free — needless to say we have been great customers. J had an after sun package today; it was so good, she is still in trans — we like her even more like that. A Spa though pricier than the other options will guarantee higher quality and cleanliness, quiet contemplative atmosphere.

We feel lucky to have tried them all and can now testify to the medical and psychological benefits of Thai massage techniques. Our thighs also agree… Only problem is that our vacation is nearing the end and we are not sure how we will cope with not doing this almost every day.

Herbal Steam:
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Body scrubs: 20130130-164403.jpg

Takuapa Afternoon Market

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You can’t visit Thailand and not check out the local markets. We have specifically found out the area local markets to get a better flavor of how people live, eat, and shop here.

Half an hour from our resort, Takuapa market beckoned… The main street is converted to a local market, lined by stands on both sides. The market is visited by as many locals as tourists. The entrance is dominated by fruit and food stands….

Locals helped us decipher some of the food — they are really gracious and kind. However some of the foods still remained a mystery such as the ‘angry birds’ skewers.
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We don’t know the name of this amazing desert but we decided to call it ‘fluffy coconut pillows’ after eating 3 plates of it. Watching how they were made was as good as eating them, a must have!
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Another coconut desert:
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Grape like fruits, perfect for the hot weather:
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There was some serious deep frying action of pork, duck, and chicken — the chicken was delicious.
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These large terra-cotta jars held some type of a drink. And people drank them with the cups shown in front or in nylon bags. Our regret is that we did not try it. Don’t do what we did – go for it.
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Latter part of the market is stalls, stands and little shops for all sorts of clothing. Majority of which I geared towards locals, but you might surprise yourself and find something as well. G and I found fisherman’s cotton pants at a stall for 100 baht; delighted to find something cultural that we can wear too.

Bargaining Tips: paying the first price will ensure you overpaying. So even if you are not the bargaining type, offer a lesser price. Do not insult the merchant by offering a ridiculous price e.g. for 400 baht do not offer 100, starting at 250 is a better route. And keep remembering that what you are paying is a fraction of your currency, you are still saving a lot.

Local markets are a delight and a great way to see and learn about the culture. Get out there and explore!

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The Gift of Andaman Sea

20130128-111038.jpgWe are in awe of the Andaman sea. It is like a giant hug: warm, wide, and welcoming.

The beach is broad, light yellow sand and clean, making it perfect for long walks. The surface is pockmarked with crab holes, and other sealife… making for an endless fascination.
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The water temperature is perfect; warm enough and cold enough for a good swim or lull in water. It is shallow for a few meters making it a relaxing swim.
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For 3 days every evening rain clouds gathered and it poured… watching the sea and sky change, listening to the rain from the safety of the sheltered swings on our beach is priceless.
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The Andaman sea rises advances every morning. As the afternoon rolls it starts slowly retracting. Love watching it and getting dizzy… we realized we have even forgotten what day it is!! This is the gift of Andaman sea.20130128-111130.jpg

Thai Food: pictures tell all !

20130127-111010.jpgSo far we have sampled a wide variety of Thai foods. From fancy restaurants to street vendors… pictures tell our food journey. And no we did not get sick by eating street foods so far.

Last night we ate a churro like dessert from the sidewalk vendor at the Phuket night market. After deep frying it in age old oil, they sprinkle it with strawberry or chocolate powder, or just sugar. Simply delicious!

Lunch spread at the Phangnga area Muslim village:
This was a Muslim community completely living on water. They cooked, dried, grounded, preserved all sorts of foods.
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Fruits have been the highlight – fresh and wonderful to eat anytime:
20130127-111547.jpgFruit shaped and colored sweets at night market:20130127-111958.jpg
Try it all and don’t look back is our current motto. Bon Apetit!!

Stuffed Thai Pineapple

20130125-114517.jpg Last night I tried the stuffed Pineapple. Stuffing is made from rice, raisins and currants, small Pineapple and carrot cubes, scrambled eggs, and it was delicately spiced with saffron. As I enjoyed it, it definitely reminded me of various rice dishes from the Middle East.

Regarding service… don’t expect much then you will be delighted. Some places don’t have a sense of service, speak almost no english, and you could be sitting a while without anyone paying attention. However, there are also some places where service is impeccable. Remember… you are on vacation so we recommend that you roll with it!!

J’s favorite drink: Freshly Mint, sans alcohol, a cocktail made with fresh lime and mint with crushed ice. The only thing that cools me off in this 90 degree heat is this cooling drink.
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Phangnga Province: Reclining Buddha vs. James Bond

20130124-182948.jpgAfter an hour and half ride to Phangnga province, we took a long tail boat to the mangroves and the James Bond island.The landscape of the mangroves and surrounding islands were so captivating. The waters are murky and unfortunately not clean; swimming plastic bottles are common scene.

We took a canoe ride in and out of the limestone caves, inlets… our canoe driver was a trip – he made the trip memorable and showed us the small walking fish. We barely know few words of Thai, he was surprised that we even spoke any!
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James Bond island, originally named Tapoo, is the one where they filmed ‘The Man with Golden Gun’ in 1974. It was too crowded as expected but worth seeing while in the area. They have put shops on the island detracting from its natural beauty.
20130124-182640.jpgIn contrast, we drove to the Reclining Buddha Wat (more than 300 years old)… The monkeys that live above the cave and up the mountain greet you. They are docile and mainly want to eat food and be curious. The door is adorned; the huge cave is a refuge from the heat and outside worries. Hard to meditate amongst the noisy tourists, but hard not to stare at the 15 meter reclining Buddha and feel serenity wash over you. Trivialities of our lives past before us…
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Food & Culture Hunt at Khao Lak

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We took a short trip to Khao Lak center to check out the food and shopping scene. It is a long strip lined on both sides of the street with restaurants, and shops. This area was devastated by the Tsunami and one can still see the damage and people trying to recover. Very humbling to be here and be at Thai people’s hospitality.

Shops are not that interesting as they are filled with chackies, nick nacks, and knock off designer bags and clothing. But the scene is colorful. Tip: go in the late afternoon, it is cooler and there will be more restaurants that are open.

Hand carved soaps:
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Things that crack you up:
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And of course McDonalds: as disappointing to see, but also it is funny…
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Lunch at a sidewalk restaurant: morning glory veggies and spicy seafood dish (remember to ask for the rice). Fresh black and green peppercorns were the hit of the dish! 4 people, 4 dishes, 1 large beer, 1 fresh coconut juice = 700 baht ($23.54).
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Per G’s friend Iris from Taiwan, we stopped at a 7eleven to look for ‘birds nest drink and seaweed snacks’. We found both and more to try:
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Birds Nest and Collagen Drink: we drank both right away… both are made from some fruits, no added sugar. We suspect we would have to drink a whole bunch to see any effect. Was so fun and surprising to try them.
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