As promised in my previous post I’m back with my travelogue on Thailand. My travelogue or my memoirs are not only the destinations that I have visited but also has the tips and information which are very important for anyone travelling for the first time or nth number of time to Thailand. It is also a quick guide to the destinations I have covered with the travel time and expenditure required and also my opinion/view about them. I will also suggest which markets to visit, what you can shop and where you can shop. Where all I shopped and what all I picked. Being a food blogger I will lay a lot of emphasis on the food. So, I will also discuss what kind of food is available, what precautions you should take while eating, the local produce and the recipes too.. so here we go..
Thailand is a kingdom rich in culture, with fascinating history and has it’s own uniqueness. It has exotic wildlife, beautiful and inviting islands. We planned a nine days trip to this amazing country which I will like to visit again definitely sometime in future.
Normally people visiting Thailand land up visiting Bangkok and Pattaya, as both the cities are close by. But my brother Dr. Ashwin insisted us on visiting Phuket and I’m so glad that he did, as Phuket is a much beautiful place to visit than either Bangkok or Pattaya, especially if you want to stay out of the hustle bustle of the city life and stay in more isolated places, see some exotic destinations which in itself is a once in a life time experience. So, our first destination in Thailand was Phuket…
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and is 862kms away from Bangkok. By road it takes 9-10hrs to reach Phuket, we took a flight (Thai Airways) from Bangkok to Phuket by which we reached in an hour. We stayed for 3days there in a resort called Alpina Nalina near Kata beach in South Phuket. Kata, Karon and Pattong are the popular beaches in South Phuket but Kata beach (or as Thai call it Kata Beer) is a quieter place with less chaos and crowd as compared to Pattong beach which is highly commercial. The sea is amazing with the lush blue color and white sand, one is mesmerized by the beauty of the nature by just looking at the sea. The water is so clear that even at the beach one can see the fish swimming in shallow waters.
The highlights of the beach streets are definitely the massage centers (dozens of them) which are cheap and worth all the penny you spend. We landed having foot massage after the entire day of walking, which would cost us anywhere between 200-250 baht for an hour of massage. Also the highlight is the seafood which is available in abundance and variety at a very reasonable rate. You could find roasted and fried versions of sea food. The fresh sea food produce is displayed in tubs filled with ice outside the sea food restaurants for people to check what’s available (I saw blue lobster and crab, scampi) . I could not indulge into any of that due to obvious reasons but that did not stop me from checking the variety available, who said curiosity ever dies..and I did click the pictures for my non vegetarian readers..
Phuket offers a variety of cuisines to try but the only problem for us was it offers largely non-vegetarian food. It is definitely a paradise for sea food lovers. While ordering Thai food in any restaurant, I would give prior instructions ..no fish sauce, oyster sauce and shrimp paste in my food, only vegetables please. After clarifying what I wanted, never faced a problem. If you are rigid on eating Indian food, Pattong beach has multiple Indian outlets to try and other cuisines too.
As I said street food is very popular and what we loved eating were the banana pancakes (40baht per piece). There were two versions available, fried and crepe style, filled with banana and served with various toppings like chocolate, Nutella, caramel and condensed milk. The pancakes were sinfully tasty (sinful as they were loaded with calories).
We were glad that Phuket was celebrating the yearly Chinese vegetarian festival (15-23rd October) and we tried a variety of vegetarian food there. It is festival celebrated by The Chinese Buddhists and various non vegetarian substitutes are used to cook a vegetarian meal. A variety of curries were available using soya, seitan and veggies. I loved the tender bamboo shoots in yellow curry and the Chinese water cress curry. We tried a variety of food, sharing a few clicks here..
I was particularly attracted to two simple things, one was our own raw mango which was served with salt and chilies and the other were the coconut doughnuts which were made in a ‘ paniyaram’ pan like in India. The coconut doughnuts are very light to eat and mildly sweet in taste.
I will not recommend shopping in Phuket as most of the stuff comes from Bangkok and is sold at a higher price there. But one can check out T-shirts on the islands and soap carvings. Also one can check out malls, the biggest being Central Heritage. One can also checkout the Big C and Tesco Lotus.
This can be quite expensive in Phuket as the bus services stop by six in the evening. The taxi is quite expensive and near the beaches the local transport is costly too. However if you have an international license you could hire a two wheeler and go around. We walked a lot in Phuket!!!
I’m not a very temple loving person so you will definitely not find many pictures of that here unless it’s really worth visiting. Phuket is more a place for ship cruise into islands in the the middle of the sea and hidden caves, sounds interesting right!!
The two islands that we visited were the Phi Phi Island and James Bond Island which are the biggest tourist attraction in Phuket..
Phi Phi Island
The trip starts at 6:45am with the concerned travel agent picking you up from your hotel (they are very punctual with time).The ship departs by 8am from Chalong Pier.
travel time:1-1/2 to 2hrs
travel expense: 1000-1200 baht/person
Food provided by cruise on island. Inform if you are a vegetarian in advance.
What you can explore: shopping on Island and snorkeling in Maya bay. A lot of people stay overnight on the island and close by beaches and enjoy scuba diving too.
Return to Phuket by 4:30PM
James Bond Island: ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’ was Shot here
Starting Point: Ao Po Pier
travel time :1hrs
travel expense: 1000-1200 Baht/person
Food provided on board. Inform if you are a vegetarian.
Places to see: James bond island, canoeing under limestone cliffs and Mangrove Bush in Talu Island
Return back By 4:30PM
If you are into adventure sports one can also try bungy jumping in Phuket. Checkout the weekend market and for an adventurous night..walking street near Pattong beach.
Some observations to note
Indians get Visa on arrival in Bangkok by paying a fee of 1000Baht/ person at the airport.
Change your currency into dollar or pounds as the exchange rate is better. Plus in Thailand while exchanging the currency into Baht use private money exchangers as the exchange rate they offer is better than local banks.
Certain number series in dollars and pounds is not accepted in Thailand, so check that before leaving your country.
If you eat only vegetarian food then ask for Jain Vegetarian food in the flight as Hindu vegetarian also has non-veg.
Carry light cotton clothes only as the country is quite warm.
Do not hesitate to bargain anywhere.
Carry good walking shoes, sun tan lotion, calamine lotion, medicines, cap, sunglasses and swim wear.
From your travel agent in your country carry contacts of the people who conduct the tours in Phuket. Once in Phuket compare the rates offered by local tours and then decide.
Now Coming To a Thai Recipe, starting off with a dessert for sweet lovers..
TUB TIM GROB ( Ruby’s In Coconut Milk)
This is one of the most popular Thai desserts. A chilled serving of this dessert is very refreshing after walking under the sun. I tasted this dessert in Grand Siam which is a Thai restaurant and fell in love with it. This dessert makes use of five ingredients, is very quick and easy to make and exotic to look at!!
about 30 water chestnuts, peeled and cubed
400ml coconut milk
3tsp rose essence
3-4drops red color or beetroot juice
a cup of cornstarch
For serving: Crushed Ice
In a vessel take the water chestnuts and sprinkle the red color and a little water. Mix thoroughly and let it stand for 10mins.
Transfer the colored water chestnuts into a zip lock bag and also put the corn starch. Mix properly till several layers of cornstarch is coated on the water chestnut.
Transfer the water chestnuts into a sieve to remove excess corn starch.
Boil about 5-6 cups water in a vessel, reduce the flame while putting the coated water chestnuts. Boil till the shiny red coated cubes float.
Remove the cooked cubes (ruby’s) and transfer immediately to cold water. Strain.
In a pan boil 1cup water with sugar and make a sugar syrup. Cool and mix coconut milk and rose essence. Chill.
While serving take the rubies in a glass a pour coconut milk over it and add crushed ice cubes. Serve immediately.