The rain gods were definitely working overtime - Phuket (Thailand Part 3) - July 2015


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July 22nd 2015
Published: January 14th 2019
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An essential item in the Phuket market
I feel most people go to Thailand for the beaches. Having watched the movie “The Beach” you can’t really blame them. White sandy beaches that stretch for miles, crystal clear water and a horizon dotted with little islands out in the distance. To be brutally honest I was here more for the food, but beaches are always nice so we included some beach time in our trip. After all I we did not want to face the scrutiny question "You went to Thailand and did not go to the beaches?" The Thai coast-line has what seems like thousands of miles of pristine beaches and hundreds of little islands with each offering its own unique futures. We settled on the Krabi area since it was fairly easily accessible through the Phuket airport and it seemed a little bit removed from the touristy crowdedness of Phuket. My only concern was that this was the middle of the monsoon season, but hey how bad can it be? We’ve been flying all over the place on this trip so this was our last haul. As with the flight to Cambodia the ticket itself was really cheap from Bangkok to PHUKET, but they killed us on
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Fish curry, rice and bbq fish jerky
all the fees for baggage.

It’s a short flight and the beaches looked gorgeous from the air. In Phuket (as we do on any trip) we got a rental car. Since it was still early in the day we decided to do the NORTH-EAST LOOP DRIVE in the Phuket area. Supposedly a spectacular drive... it was ok. Honestly, I can think of many, many prettier drives in just the places we have been to, but it was on the list so we did it. It runs inland for a while before running down along the water which is really pretty with some gorgeous VIEWPOINTS OVER PHANG NGA BAY and VIEWS OF the ISLANDS right off the coast. Along the way you drive through agricultural land, trees, small towns, and FISHING VILLAGES. A nice little drive but really not one of the top drives out there.

Despite the disappointment with the drive something good did come out of this. Driving along the main street we kept seeing these little restaurants as was the case with most of the rest of Thailand – a small restaurant with about 10 to 12 plastic tables. The difference here was that there
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Green curry with rice
were these huge pots standing right in front of the restaurant. When I say huge I mean big enough to feed a small army and there were at least 10 to 12 of these. So, I guess how this works (once again the English at this restaurant was less than non-existent) is you just go through the pots by lifting each lid and you pick what you want and they bring it to you. We had absolutely no clue what we were getting, but somehow was able to at least ask for spicy vs non-spicy. This being Thailand and somehow we still have not had true good curry we decided to go for it and EAT CURRY WITH RICE. Nikkie being pregnant and generally not loving super spicy food stayed with the safe, non-lethal, green curry w/ chicken and rice that had some really good flavor. I went atomic with the curry fish stew w/ rice. When it comes to spicy our thinking/ rationalization has always been that if it burns your mouth to the point where it is just painful then it really is not food. Very hard to describe this, but this fish curry was literally right there
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It was some tough going
teetering on the edge of painful. My eyes teared-up after the second bite. My forehead broke out in a sweat by bite 3. My eyes were blood-shot by bite 5. By bite 8 I had to wipe by nose after every bite. I felt there were bodily fluids coming out of every body part imaginable. And despite this it was probably one of the best curry dishes I have ever had. I kept going until the very last bite. I could not stop. As a side you get these lettuce and "tomatillos"/ radishes with a sauce. I think it is there to sort of numb the pain. The old lady who was serving the food sat in a corner laughing (she did warn me that she did not think my choice was a good idea with me being a white boy). As a to-go treat I got some caramelized fish jerky (think some good bbq jerky but just better). It really was a pretty incredible tasting fish jerky. They also had a fridge full of ice-cream so we decided to EAT ICE CREAM WITH CORN. Now you may say “now wait a second – corn and ice cream does not
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One of the most disgusting things I have ever eaten - corn ice cream
belong in the same sentence”. Well in this case you will be 100%!c(MISSING)orrect in your thinking. This ice cream was one of the most disgusting things I have ever eaten.

It was finally time to start our drive to KRABI to the TUBKAAK KRABI BOUTIQUE RESORT. This was sort of our anniversary so we splurged. The drive was incredible as we drove the back roads filled with limestone cliffs and occasional views of the ocean. The drive, mileage wise, was not that long but it did take quite a while to get there which we finally did. I keep saying it throughout these blogs but as with most hotels here we were treated so incredibly well by everyone. We were sat down to sign in, handed a drink and a hot towel. We got to our room with rose petals on our bed and in the outdoors tub – a nice little touch. We quickly changed and headed to the beach. Little did we know this would be our only beach time this trip.

The views and the beach was everything you could imagine. Beautiful white sand lined with coconut trees, crystal clear and crazy warm water, islands all over
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It was our anniversary after all so they did something nice for us
the place in the distance, and this sort of hazy look that seems to be an Asian thing on beaches. We got some drinks (well I got a beverage), but the mojito was extremely sweet and not really enjoyable and settled into the beanbag type chairs they had on the beach. We accompanied the sun on its way down from our beanbags and called it an early night after another long travel day.

The next morning, we were treated to a feast for breakfast on the beach consisting of fresh fruit, toast w/ homemade jelly, juices, bacon, sausage, potatoes au gratin, noodles w/ chicken, octopus w/ scallion and parsley in a sauce over rice, etc, etc, etc. And as we sat there the clouds rolled-in and when I say rolled-in I mean literally rolled-in. We started seeing this “movement on the water” that looked like a swarm of insects approaching at record speed. And all of a sudden we realized that it was the rain racing towards us and 5 minutes later everything was wet. Since the beach was not an option we headed into AO NANG TOWN for some Starbucks and just walked around some of the little
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Views from the beach
stores. Lunch was at the Guru Restaurant & Bar where we got some mango juice, a sweet and sour stir-fry w/ onions, little corns, tomato, cauliflower, shrimp (almost tasted like eating sweat and sour chicken from the local Chinese place back home) and Nikkie got a pretty good pad Thai w/ shrimp and nuts. With no break in the weather even driving around was not much fun.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in our room recovering from our travels. The rain let up for a little bit that night – just long enough for us to make it to the little Italian restaurant at the hotel. I think Nikkie had enough street food and in her words “I just want some pizza”. I for one could have kept going on street food, but I know sometimes too much is too much. I got some green alcoholic drink (not my favorite) and a good grilled fish with a salsa, lemon, and potatoes while Nikkie got a smoothie and a margarita pizza.

The rest of the evening was spent deciding what to do for the next couple days. Do we spend another day in Krabi where the weather forecast said rain, rain, rain? Do we head back to Phuket where it is just tourist after tourist? Or do we head further up north where it seemed there may have been a chance for a break in the weather? At this point you are probably getting the fact that all we craved was a little bit of sunshine.

So, the next morning we sat in for another nice breakfast while still praying for some sort of sun miracle, but it was not to be. We got back to the room and I booked Moracea by Khao Lak Resort that was about 2 hours north of Phuket. Like everyone else in the world we were pretty fascinated by the tsunami that hit Thailand and the incredible forces of nature. We realized we were somewhat close to one of the main areas hit by the tsunami so we decided to give it a go and explore a different coastline. We slowly made our way there through country back roads in the rain as well as some fairly mountainous areas with winding-foggy roads. Throw in some waterfall chasing, pretty scenery that required constant stopping, a water buffalo or two crossing the road and a mandatory food stall stop for me in a town in the middle of nowhere getting FRIED CHICKEN, a rangoon type dish w/ an egg in the middle on a stick and also some little chicken fingers and you got yourself a good old-fashioned road trip that took way longer than it probably should have. Heaven for us.

For some reason it took us quite some time to find the hotel and once we did we were golf-carted down to a little house right on the water. The rain subsided a little bit and we saw a break in the clouds, but our beach area was pretty much all break-water with these incredible waves crashing into the wall right in front of our room. We were just too tired to go anywhere and look for food so we ordered some room service getting pad Thai with egg, sprouts and cashew nuts (it was delicious), fried rice with a fried egg and spring rolls (also really good). I am not going to lie – I am not a fan of room service but this was a pretty amazing meal. We were actually able to sit on the patio and enjoy the meal
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Breakfast on the beach
and a couple sun rays. And that’s when the fun started. Some of the hotel staff came by and anchored down our sunscreen. Why would they do that? Well we soon found out. The wind picked up. And picked up. And picked-up some more. And then it really picked up. And then the rains came. By 10 it felt like a storm. By midnight a hurricane. And it never stopped until early morning. Was this another tsunami coming? Was this what it felt like? It was a restless night and quite a terrifying experience to be pretty honest.

The next morning, we were greeted with no rain but still overcast conditions and our entire house still intact. Breakfast at the hotel consisted of baked goodies, bread and jam, juice, bacon, an egg dish, and an octopus dish. Since our flight was early the next day we decided to spend our last night in Phuket at the Serenity Resort & Residence Phuket. The drive back to Phuket was uneventful. We found Starbucks again and got our caffeine fix. On the way to the hotel I saw this little market in a dirt patch and without a thought I pulled over. It turned out to
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A small sample of the fresh fruit available
be one of the finds of the trip. Any type of produce you could want was being sold. Fruits, vegetables, chicken hanging from the tents, fresh fish, crabs and eels still swimming around, slabs of beef laid out on tables and then for the crème de la crème. All sorts of freshly prepared local delicacies. Fried chicken that is till sizzling from the hot oil that it just came out of (a darkish red color instead of the typical golden brown), a pork station where you choose any part of the pig accompanied by a chili sauce. A coconut gelatin desert wrapped in a banana leave. Veggie pot stickers. Heaven once more again for me.

The hotel was nice with a pool right on the beach. From the outside it looked a little dated, but the inside was really nice and modern and it was a really cheap hotel for the price. We got all the food goodies to go so we feasted quickly at the hotel, got into our swimming gear and headed down to the pool. The sun finally started breaking through in places so we laid at the pool enjoying the semi-sunshine and a couple cocktails – a virgin bloody mary for Nikkie and for me a Last Swim (vodka, vanilla, cinnamon syrup and stick, lime and pineapple juice) and a Burnt Lemon (white rum, burnt lemon, fresh ginger, lime, sugar). The drinks were really good. Breakfast was decent the next morning and we could really see how the tides work here. The night before the surf was right up to the wall of the hotel and that morning you could walk out pretty far on the sand that was covered by water the night before. And that was the end of another little adventure. Not the beach time we had hoped for but it is what it is.

Good - The beaches are gorgeous (the little we saw when the sun was out)
- everything was still pretty cheap

Bad - monsoon season really sucks. I am sure we just got really unlucky with the constant rain for 4 days
- they really got us on the baggage fees, but now-a-days that is the new norm regardless of the airline I guess
- Phuket seemed extremely commercialized catering to the tourists

Advice - kind of going hand-in-hand with the above. Yeah monsoon
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Local statue in Ao Nang
season is not the greatest, but it is a lot cheaper
- in this part of Thailand (especially from Phuket) I don't think you really need a rental car unless you love to explore the roads like us. There is lots of islands and nooks and crannies to explore, but you can get to them all by boat (probably not the cheapest option, but definitely available)

And that is the end of an unexpected rainy beach vacation. The only thing we crossed off was the north east loop drive that was in two books. So 316 down and 5,465 to go.

Til' next time from monsoon Thailand


Additional photos below
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Interesting sign in the rental car - no durian fruit. After smelling this stuff you would understand why.
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Rain, rain, and some more rain
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Getting some advice from the locals on what to eat
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Little chicken tenders for the road
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Saw a couple of these guys just doing their thing next to the road
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Chicken - and all the possible parts that goes with it
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Porkey porkey
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Satay


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