{thai ed.o2} islands galore.

8:57 AM sians 0 Comments

quite frankly, this is my first time travelling on an island getaway with friends. 

after a relaxing (albeit tiring) day on railay beach the day before, i was very much looking forward to a new day of exploring the clusters of krabi islands. 

the sisterhood of travelling longchamp were setting out again!

we purchased the tickets for phi phi island tour on the speed boat the day before - the lure was the reduction of price by almost half from 1800 thb to 1000 thb per person - crossing our fingers for snorkelling-worthy weather the following day. several tour guide companies offer almost the same itinerary but we were lured by barracudas tour first before the other companies. 

note :: haggle for the island hopping tours if you are interested in going.

hotel pick up was at 8 am (they were half hour late) and we were surprised to see the pick-up truck. even so, i truly enjoyed the short ride of fresh air as they ferried us to the meeting point to get our stickers for the respective tours. 

as we were waiting for the full group to gather, i quickly shopped for a water proof bag - a black 10 litre dry pack by camp inn bag for 400 thb. it is an awesome investment for frequent adventure seekers to beaches and camping at waterfalls. 

note :: water proof bags, water proof camera/phone case (certified please!) are handy equipment to have. most essentially, don't forget your sun screen/sunblocks either!! oh, sea sickness pill is really a good idea, just in case :) 

unfortunately, the weather wasn't the best for both snorkelling nor for a speed boat ride to the islands. not quite raining but it was cloudy and almost gloomy with the rare, occasional peeks of sunshine - the sea wasn't as calm. thank goodness, i popped a sea sickness pill an hour prior and according to our tour guide since it was the last boat out, the number of travellers on the boat was small so there were ample space on the boat. 

tip :: good idea to sit all the way to the back of the speed boat to savor the awesome view in comfort without the boat ride being exceedingly bumpy if you've sat at the front deck.

starting from the lovely view from the boat, the rest of the itinerary included:

bamboo island (ko mai phai) - hin klang* - viking cave - pileh bay - loh samah bay* maya beach - phi phi island (phi phi don)
{*snorkelling spots}

bamboo island - hin klang* - viking cave - pileh bay - loh samah bay* - maya beach - phi phi island 

as we reached the first spot, the view was simply spectacular. despite the sun missing in action, the water was clear as the waves slowly rolls down the soft, sandy white beach. i took a minute to take in the view as i feel the wind running through my hair. we decided to take a quick dip in the water and as our body temperatures eventually equilibrate with the cold water temperature, we decidedly stayed as long as we could because we would be freezing in the light gusts of wind.. 

our stay there was a tad short (4o minutes) and during our short exploration on the island, we could barely find bamboo trees on the island despite its name. 

bamboo island - hin klang* - viking cave - pileh bay - loh samah bay* - maya beach - phi phi island

a half hour stop at this beloved snorkelling spot. snorkelling gear +  life jacket were provided although the gear were haphazardly stored in a basket.

it was my first attempt at snorkelling and it turned out rather.....
....unsuccessful - sad face!

i panicked in the water, which is probably the worst thing one can do for a non-swimmer like myself especially in slightly choppy water. after struggling in the water for 5 minutes and clinging onto my friends, it was best for me to get back on the boat to allow them to enjoy their experience. at the very least, the water was thankfully clear enough for me to watch from atop the rocking boat at the fishes, swimming in the water.

hence, it is my resolution that before my next snorkelling experience, i NEED to learn how to swim (i know you need not know how to swim but i feel safer when i have control in water)! 

bamboo island - hin klang* - viking cave - pileh bay - loh samah bay* - maya beach - phi phi island

snacks of cakes and cloyingly sweet drinks were provided as we moved on to our next spot. this part of the itinerary consisted of a quick tour as we soaked in the beautiful blue shades from the sea before a stop by the loh samah bay for a second half hour snorkelling session. i didn't even attempt to get into the water. the view was simply breathtakingly amazing. 

as feedback to {as}'s query of snorkelling at this spot, it was too dangerous since it was too deep although there were some private tour agents who would stop for a quick dipping spot. 

bamboo island - hin klang* - viking cave - pileh bay - loh samah bay* - maya beach - phi phi island

off we were heading towards the "hidden" beach - the famous spot where leonardo dicaprio filmed the beach.

a very popular spot for the tourists, in fact too popular. there were too many people. the sandy beach was one of the best ones that i've set my foot on - cool, soft sand cushioned my feet but we couldn't even enjoy the water since the line of speed boats dominated the shoreline. there was a path way to walk towards the heart of the island for restrooms and snack bar. however, i would strongly advise to avoid the restrooms because it was unpleasantly dirty..

after about half hour on the beach, we headed back to the boat for a serving of fresh fruits - slices of pineapple and watermelon as we sped off to our fifth destination for lunch.

bamboo island - hin klang* - viking cave - pileh bay - loh samah bay- maya beach - phi phi island

finally, we have some extra time to actually enjoy the beach. 2 hours for lunch and beach bumming. we'll take it! 

we were semi-glad that we were finally heading back to aonang beach from phi phi island, which took about an hour and half of short naps that ended with a series of daring boat turns (he did it just because!) as we reached the aonang beach at about 4:15 pm. we decided to walk back to our hotel on our own instead of waiting for the drop off truck since it was only about a 10 minute walk. 

similar to guided tours in cities, i felt i spent more time on the speed boat and not enough on the beaches. probably perfect for those who wants a mix of snorkelling pleasures and short sightseeing on the different islands. i prefer spending more time on a couple of beaches, relaxing and taking in the sun. in fact, i think i might have enjoyed my escapade to railay beach more. my friends were slightly bummed out by the very short snorkelling stops and the cloudy weather didn't help either.

after showers and our pact to dress up in beach dresses, it was time for the fun stuff! our missions included shopping for souvenirs, searching for local authentic food and getting thai massages! our evening started off with another banana chocolate pancake! oh and meet its new friend, mango chocolate pancake! 

verdict | not a fan of the mango - the tropical sweetness of the mango disagreed with the flavor profile of the chocolate sauce and left an unpleasant trail in the wake of each bite. the banana counterpart is a clear favorite with us but the execution of this pancake didn't beat the one from railay beach. it was slightly greasier and didn't have the the crispy shell we were hoping for.

an island getaway isn't complete without a fresh young coconut, the ideal refreshing drink after a hot day out in the sun.

dinner plans ensued after where we set off in search for the local authentic thai dishes- no fusion. {smd} and {as} mentioned of a hole-in-the-wall place that they came across earlier sometime, which i didn't even notice. as we looked along the streets without much success (yet!) to the point that i began to think that the restaurant may only exist in the magical world of narnia, we stumbled upon it but not before stopping by the street cart for some shrimp tempura as appetizers. it was going to be our back up plan if we didn't find that food shop.

the hole-in-the-wall shack had an outlook that promised local authentic food coming out of its kitchen. this petite sized shop is called jamai restaurant.

we managed to fit ourselves in a small table at the corner. i was excited about finally trying local cuisine but wasn't too hungry after our evening snack, so i ordered a bowl of mild shrimp tom yum soup {tom yum goong | ต้มยำกุ้ง} and another green papaya salad since i couldn't resist. oh, and of course one of those thai iced tea.

the thai iced tea featured the use of palm sugar, which was pleasantly imparting a rich, almost rounded sweetness amid the ceylon tea flavor profile but was borderline too sweet.

it wasn't because i am a wuss that i ordered mild tom yum but i felt a sore throat coming. it was really very mild without any spicy heat. the almost clear soup hid the fresh shrimp (slightly overcooked), straw mushroom, tomatoes, onions and cilantro. the sour-ish broth itself could have used a more distinct lemongrass flavor and the herbaceous fragrant punch of kaffir lime leaves. despite that, their rendition of this local favorite was decent.

green papaya salaaaaadddd!. i can never seem to get enough of it.. probably because it tickles the taste buds with savory from the fish sauce accompanied by the hint of garlic, sweet of the palm sugar and tart-tanginess from the lime juice. what is of utmost importance was the balance it struck between the three flavors. 

this one almost had it right. the green papaya retained its fresh crispness but i could have done without the long beans. perhaps a touch more of sugar and fish sauce could lead it to hit the right note while the peanuts were the perfect pairing to mellow the sourness and add a different kind of crunch.

after having completed one of the three missions, we embarked on the an hour long search for souvenirs along the streets of krabi where price haggling was a skill to be practised.

in between our souvenir hunting, we also searched for our well deserved and coveted massages at one of the many thai massage parlors in krabi. my family warned me to be wary about krabi's massage parlors and of its cleanliness, which got me all nervous but we managed to find a place where the accommodating masseur gave us a mini tour of the parlor before we agreed upon pampering session. the hour long relaxing full body massage was long overdue and the best part was that it only costed us about 350 thb. yum!

i vowed to return the next day perhaps for a double time! :) but more on that in the final part of the series depicting day o3 - probably the shortest of the entries and it will be in the works soon :) wait for it!

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may wary for others.


{thai ed.o1} krabi tripping!

11:57 AM sians 0 Comments

{ กระบี่ }

it's synonymous to lovely beaches, clear waters and relaxing vacations.
for me, it marked my first real vacation since i started my job.

oh, if you're still wondering what the word in thai is... it's krabi !

that's "krabi tripping, baby!" for me.

to fulfil our beach savoring quota, we decided to take the first flight out to krabi at 7am. but that also meant an REALLY early morning rise to get to the airport. considering the cheaper flight ticket as well as an earlier beginning to our vacay, it was worth it.

oh, btw what i mean by we -- it is as in the sisterhood of travelling longchamp :) i gave us that nickname simply because each of us brought our beloved namesake and it wasn't a planned effort! hehe.

note :: btw here's a couple things you could do to make the ungodly hour flight a little more bearable:
o1. check-in online on the airline website one day prior.
o2. have the boarding passes ready & printed.
o3. only carry on luggages (esp if it is a short trip).
o4. make reservations for a reliable ride to the airport the night before.
-- consequential gain: the extra half hour of precious sleep since we wouldn't need to be at the airport two hours prior to flight time despite it being an international destination. 

after my failed attempts at napping (better luck for the rest of the troop) for the next hour and a half, we were finally here! we made a beeline to the prepaid cell phone booth at the bottom of the escalator after the immigration for the unlimited data package for the next 3 days. what i would reason as an investment in the name of sending warmest regards from krabi via captured instagrams of the beautiful beaches :)

info :: rates for the truemove h carrier for 3g data plan totaled up to 200thb for 3 days.

our hotel was located in the lovely and busiest tourist town of ao nang beach (formerly known as princess bay). a 30 minute taxi ride along the semi-empty streets later, we spotted the signature bright cyan roof of krabi tippa resort, requesting if we could check into our rooms without much expectation. much to our surprise, the rooms were ready so we could settle down before heading out to hunt for a meal to appease our hungry bellies.

note :: it's a good idea to get the taxi driver's phone number because there may be discounted rates for the return fare to the airport at the end of your trip.

we were actually in the mood for some thai food but much to our disappointment, most of the food establishments along the streets were a fusion with international influence that stretched from the likes of thai-indian to thai-italian. during our stay here, it was a common sight where the staff from these petite eateries who would stand at the entrance along the street, calling out to passer-bys in their attempt to entice tourists to their restaurant; more evidently starting from the afternoon lunch rush extending towards the late hours of night. it was impressive that some of them were multi-lingual!

note :: the price tags of the food were a tad steep. 

ah, the first sight & smell of sea. :) without much of an itinerary in mind after our not-so-thai brunch, we agreed on a 20 minute boat ride to railay beach for a lazing session till the early evening return to aonang for dinner. however, we were missing some vital things to make our beach bumming plans a comfortable success, which we bought at one of the many tiny shops along our walk towards the boat ticketing counter -- a huge foldable mat and a multi-functional pareo!

note :: pareo is a must have for beach goers! its awesomeness lies in the different, easy ways to wear it - from a wrap around dress to a skirt to a towel. just ideal as cover ups over the wet swimwear after a dip in the sea. oh and don't forget a pair of flip-flops too.

getting onto the boat was a wet situation - realized it is probably an excellent idea to have on pair of flip-flops, slips on and off easily. the boat ride to railay beach was a tad nerve wrecking but the breathtaking view itself along the journey was very calming.

the weather was perfection - beautiful and sunny with the sea breeze occasionally leaving a cooling sensation in this trail of gusts. the combination of soft sandy beach and clear blue waters was the definition of island getaway. despite the huge number of tourists occupying the beach, we managed to find the best spot under the shade for our beach bumming session! each of us with our favorite book, a pair of shades and a cool drink as we lied down on the mat, this was paradise.

"sigh, this is life" :)

it wasn't long before we were in search for a late lunch spot and we found a place called flame tree restaurant that served thai dishes which i was absolutely thrilled and excited to finally get some thai food :)

since it was a late lunch, we decided to share a couple a dishes - an appetizer, an entree and also dessert. actually, make that two desserts since {smd} went on a hunt for thai banana pancakes, drizzled with melted chocolate. oh and obviously, it would not be a thai getaway without a cup of thai iced tea!

the drink wasn't served in two distinct layers of milk and tea as i've had previously at other thai restaurants. however, despite of its appearances, it had the foundation of what thai iced tea {ชาเย็น} is made of, the distinct ceylon tea fragrance in the midst of the creamy lightness of milk but not cloyingly sweet. not bad but i've had better.

appetizer :: som tum | green papaya salad {ส้มตำ}

the crunchy green papaya absorbed the vinaigrette of sour, sweet and savory from the fish sauce. we were hoping for a bit more heat and it was lacking a bit of the balance of flavors with a bias towards the sour. a good effort but not the best that i've had.

entree :: pad thai | stir fried rice noodles {ผัดไทย}

the signature noodles classic thai style. i've been craving for pad thai and was hoping to taste what "authentic" pad thai should be. the fresh squid and shrimp was cooked just right but the noodles were a tad overcooked in the flavors of sweet savoriness with a very light nutty disposition at the end. the fresh squeeze of lime was a much needed boost to the whole dish. pretty good though.

dessert :: khao neeo mamuang | mango sticky rice {ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง}

a must-have in thailand, its best during the peak of mango season, where the mango is sweet with its tropical fragrance. the mildly salted sticky rice against the sweet, soft mango echoed by the slightly sweetened coconut milk. a couple of drawbacks: the coconut milk could have been thicker and wished the mango was sweeter.

a quick look up on the restaurant - trip advisor reviews gathered several food poisoning cases from their experience at this restaurant. however, thank goodness for us that it wasn't the case for us. probably explained the lack of people at the restaurant despite the flavors of the dishes weren't too bad.

however, the star of the afternoon lunch was the thai banana chocolate pancakes!

in malaysia, this would be akin to "roti pisang" or banana prata bread. crispy, sweet, almost caramelized slices of bananas with the soft chewiness on the inside, then topped with a mouthful of dark chocolate making it a sinfully buttery yet sweet delight. i quickly understood why {smd} was searching for this since we set foot onto krabi soil.

we had a quite a few of these throughout our whole vacation and i think this was the best that we've had. since i didn't follow {smd} to the specific petite stalls, my guess is that it was one that were closer towards the entrance of the restaurant row.

after a few more hours that ended with enjoying the sunset at railay beach, it was time to head back to aonang beach to get ready for dinner. as we were to head out, it started raining rather heavily that we opted for a restaurant closer to our hotel (room service was closed for the day much to our dismay): tanta restaurant

their menu was a combination of a lot of different styles, we opted the just thai food - no fusion for us, please. thanks!

entree :: thai basil stir fry noodles with seafood

it was a bounty of vegetables with a side of noodles. the fresh squid and the shrimp was cooked right but it was missing a punch of heat and was definitely lacking the fragrance and herbaceous sweetness of thai basil. predominantly soy sauce flavor with very faint whispers of fish sauce. despite its shortcomings, it tasted alright but i wouldn't have thought it to be a thai basil dish.

dessert :: bua loy phuak | taro balls in coconut cream

this was a lovely treat to end the night with. i am beginning to think i have a fondness for coconut milk based dessert but the sweetness of the warm, creamy coconut milk that coated the chewy taro balls that evoked comforting and cozy feelings as i took a bite.

we were contemplating to explore the town after our huge dinner but due to the bad weather and time, we decided to call it a day since we were also exhausted. a tad bummed out that we didn't get our thai massages yet but there's always the next day.. actually make it two more days.

for day 2 and day 3 at krabi, those will be a work in progress -- so please anticipate those entries !

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.