Last Post from Thailand

20130202-143424.jpgSadly this is our last post from Thailand. Good times go by fast…

We had the best send off: a trip to Similian Islands. We took a boat out to the Similian islands, about hour and a half away from our resort. Our journey started with a surprise – one engine blew and had to wait for it to be fixed.

The crew was really fun and experienced. We had a great time before we arrived at the first island #9, as they called it. We had an hour and fifteen minutes to relax, swim and explore. Only disappointment was the amount if garbage on the beach. we could not tell if the tourists made it or it just washed off from the ocean. Sad to see… we hope there will be some clean up effort or we will have to start one up!
20130202-143844.jpgThen we headed to #8 for snorkeling. We stopped counting the number of fish variety we saw. We also went to #5 and #4 – for more snorkeling and beach time.
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We were blown away by the beach and clarity of waters at our last stop. Took us 20 minute to get over the amazement – powder white clean beach, crystal clear waters and fish that swim and dance around us even by the shore. One can only be humbled and feel blessed by this miracle of nature.
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Thankfully, Thai government has shut down some of the islands and they are not accessible. They are being preserved for nature and sea turtles to lay eggs and continue the circle of life.
20130202-144757.jpgWe will miss Thailand and Thai people – thank you for the memories, and grace.

Khob koon kaaaa!! Lagkon!
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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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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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Surprise! We are in Thailand!

20130119-113140.jpgWe made it to our final destination… Phuket, Thailand. Sawatdee!! Hello

Woke up to a 90 degree weather, nice light breeze and a huge beach…

Taking a cab from the airport was an experience in itself; the chaos of tourists ripe for picking by the smart locals is a scene. So stay on course to go and just get in line for Taxi Meter. Don’t talk to hawkers who will try to bargain with you unless you mean it an you can drive a hard bargain.
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Let the exchange rate sink in… last night our first dinner here was a large plate of fresh grilled seafood and veggies for two – it was amazing. We paid 500 Baht which is about $17 USD. Hard to believe…

Activities for today will include a Thai massage and fully exploring the Andaman sea.
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Kapkun ka… thank you.
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