If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you know I’ve been on vacation. Two great weeks in Thailand, well worth the 12 hour flight. And let me tell you, being stuck between a family with a non-stop crying baby in front of me and the tall man (whose feet were somehow in front of my chair the whole time) behind me, was not very pleasant.
But all that was forgotten once we landed in Bangkok, and traded the freezing cold of the airport airconditioning for the humid heat of South East Asia. You can have any style of food you like in Bangkok, and choose from fancy high end restaurants to tiny food stalls by the side of the road.
I like the latter, and so we went to the night market at Soi 38 (Thong Lo skytrain stop).
I had a superb green curry soup, and we tried Chinese doughnuts for the first time (recommended, they are very tasty and very helpful if you just ate something that was a teeny bit to spicy for your western tastebuds…).
After a cheap eat on the market, we decided to splurge on a ridiculously expensive cocktail at the nearby Marriott Skybar. But you don’t really go there for the cocktails, it’s the spectacular view of the city you’re paying for.
Bangkok can be overwhelming, and as we had visited the city before, we left quickly, heading north, to Chiang Rai. A small town near the borders of Myanmar (Burma) and Laos. I won’t give you a full description of everything we did during two weeks, as it would take forever, but I will give you the highlights as far as food goes!
We usually rent a motorbike to be free and see a bit of the surrounding area. I say this as if I am the one riding that bike.
I let MrintheKitchen drive and I sit behind him, usually with a map of the area in my hands. Sometimes that map is very detailed, sometimes I have no idea where we are.
The map we used for Chiang Rai was very vague, and so I can only tell you that the market we had lunch was somewhere southeast of the city. Quite a pity, as it was a wonderful experience, no one spoke English but somehow we managed to communicate and we had some great food.
After a few days in the north, we took a plane south, heading for the islands. And we had decided (back in Paris) to stay one night in Surat Thani, even though the Lonely Planet stated clearly that most travellers pass this town by without stopping.
Turns out, those travellers are right, but we still had a fun experience, even though no one at our hotel spoke English (good luck finding a taxi in a remote location if the staff can’t help you…).
We managed to find a tuktuk driver who spoke a bit of English, and as it turned out, Surat Thani happened to have a great night market. So we spent our time tasting new food.
In a local mall (with all the big brands you’d expect to find in every western shopping centre) we found this. I’m still trying to figure out what it was, so people from the UK, feel free to enlighten us! (although I have a feeling, you Britts have no idea what this should be either…)
After a night in Surat Thani, we took the ferry to Koh Phangan.
What a beautiful island! With very steep roads, so I often had my eyes closed on the motorbike (don’t worry, I wasn’t driving). If you visit Koh Phangan, I recommend you go to the No Name restaurant in Haad Rin, a very small place but with some really tasty Thai food! Unfortunately, most other restaurants in Haad Rin cater to the party people that come over every month for the full moon party, so it’s pizza and chicken wings galore…
Luckily, the rest of the island is more traditional, so there’s no shortage of good food. If you want to have a drink on the beach in a lounge bar, you should head over to Fisherman restaurant where you can relax on big sofas while watching the sunset (I think the food is really good too, but we didn’t try it).
Of course, Koh Phangan has it’s own night market, at Thongsala. Where you can get pizza and all that stuff, but I recommend you try finding an old guy that grills red snapper in a salt crust, infused with lemongrass and lime, on a tiny barbecue. It was by far the best I’ve eaten all holiday.
Another must try at this market, are these deep fried shrimps. You can eat them just like that, with a spicy chili sauce. Really delicious.
Koh Phangan has it’s fair share of beautiful beaches, and with the motorbike we tried to see them all. At Had Salad beach, we stopped to have lunch. Eating a tasty coconut soup (at My Way restaurant) while enjoying a view like this, was not bad at all.
After Koh Phangan, we hopped over to the next island, Ko Tao. A bit smaller and very relaxed (except when you just get off the ferry, then it’s mayhem with every taxi driver on the island wanting your business). Most people come to Koh Tao for diving, and thus you have the island practically to yourself during daytime.
Again, we rented a motorbike to explore the island. Not all roads are paved, resulting in a bit of a rough ride (my poor behind…). But of course, there was a big reward after a not-so-comfortable-ride, a big plate of delicious pad thai on the beach!
Whether you’re way up in the north, or down in the south, there’s one element of Thai cuisine present everywhere: Thai pancakes. A big favourite of me and the Mr, and therefore eaten on a daily basis (hey, a girl’s got to do, what a girl’s got to do… it’s practically mandatory over there!). I prefer the plain ones with banana, no frills, and definitely not drenched in sweet condensed milk. Sweet condensed milk is a real staple in Thailand, and most street vendors have a few cans at hand, ready to drown your food, so you must be quick in telling them you don’t need it.
After Ko Tao, we stayed one night in Koh Samui, clearly a bigger, more popular place (due to the airport on the island) and thus a way more developed area. We stayed in a hotel at Chaweng beach, a long stretch of sand that is perfect for beach walks. Or drinking fresh coconut shakes.
As we didn’t have a motorbike, we were confined to the area around our hotel. There was a night market near our place, but since there were only tourists (no local people at all) and the Mr was in for something other than Thai food, we went to eat at a restaurant with a big grill outside: Sydney Steakhouse Seafood. Not very cultural, but they did have very tasty grilled crab, and the sweet enthousiastic waiter helped me get out even the smallest parts of crab meat.
Our last location was Ao Nang in Krabi, you know, the region with those pretty limestone cliffs.
Of course we took a long tail boat to go to the famous Railay beach, a place that can only be reached by boat.
From Railay, there’s a small path (real small, see picture below) that leads you to Tonsai, where most people come for rock climbing. It’s a nice hike, and again we were rewarded by a beautiful beach at the end.
On our way there, we spotted some cool animals, like this fierce looking little buddy.
When it comes to food after a long hike, this grilled chicken, straight of the barbecue on the beach, will stay in my top 10 for a while. Maybe it was because we were so hungry, but we both agreed it was absolutely gorgeous.
Apart from a Chang beer, another must-drink in Thailand is a fruitshake. They sell them everywhere, it’s basically fruit blended with ice cubes (and sugar, unless you order specifically without). My favourites are watermelon, coconut and pineapple, as a refreshing treat during all this hard vacationing.
Ao Nang has a very busy (and tiny) night market on the popular ‘strip’, but if you go a little bit further out of town you’ll find plenty of little markets that are quiet.
The Thai alphabet is completely different from ours, and I have a big respect for all those Thai who manage to master both so that we tourists can read the menu, road sign or whatever. It does make for some pretty funny situations sometimes, I remember the time we sat down at a place where they served French fried. I told MrintheKitchen to be careful, who knows what they would do if they’d find out he’s from Paris ;)
Our last night was spent in Bangkok again, waiting for our flight back to Amsterdam. We spent this time, incredibly lazy, by the pool, eating a club sandwich.
We had two weeks of great fun, so bye bye Thailand, and hopefully until next time!