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Friday, 31 August 2007

Nai Aow Restaurant, Kanchanadit, Surat Thani

The Nai Aow Restaurant has been a favourite of my wife since a long time.

Today is the first time I made it over there myself. Every trip we made to the mainland, once we got to the Kanchanadit exit, about 20 km's before Surat Thani town, she told me over and over about this incredible place. I know people on Samui who just go over with the ferry in the morning, have lunch there and go back to Samui with an afternoon ferry, so expectations were high!!

It's about 7 or 8 km's from the highway, but you gotta make a couple of turns before you get there. There's a big parking lot outside with some stalls selling oysters and sweets. The oysters come from directly in front of the restaurant, where they are grown (?).

Here's the scenic walk to the restaurant, after the market stalls. The little walkway goes past mangroves.

From inside the restaurant you have an immediate view over the ocean, today, when we were there, it was very low tide however.

A view on the restaurant, it's a big place and it was fairly full once we started our meal. More tables than on this picture were occupied.

An absolute fave dish of mine, 'puu phong curry', crab with Indian curry powder, done in an outstanding fashion here. We ordered a second plate!

What the place is known for, oysters! In all sizes and very cheap. Have a good look at the size of these oysters and these were the smaller ones.

Condiments to go with the BBQ'ed fish that we ordered.

A specialty of the house 'Yam Nai Aow' or Nai Aow salad, a sour mixed seafood salad. Very yummy!

Outside the stalls are selling these oysters, although the picture isn't too sharp, the prices for the oysters are stunnishing, 15 Baht for a big one!

In the stalls they also make sweets, fresh off the hot plate. All of us bought various goodies, from sweets to cashew nuts.

The restaurant definitely lived up to it's legend, I can't wait to go back and try more dishes that I saw pass onto other tables, loaded with crab, mussels and other seafood.

This was it, the end of our little week long trip. Tomorrow morning we're back onto the ferry at 9 am and than off to our lovely home in Plai Laem.

Hope you enjoyed the trip reports and pix and don't be shy to post some comments.


Goodbye to August

This year the month of August

didn't perform to it's usual beauty. There was a lot more rain and less sun than in all previous 7 years I was on Samui.
Although there were nice and sunny days, the average August performance was below par.

The whole Asian region was severely affected by bad weather conditions, heavy rain and flooding in India, typhoons and storms in Taiwan, flooding in China and unfortunately they were all three combined with loss of lives.

Let's stay optimistic however and hope that September will bring some good weather.


31st August, 2007

Today's weather in Phuket;

It's an almost perfect blue sky, now that we're are about leave! Current temp is 25C

Yesterday saw some sunshine in the morning followed by overcast in the afternoon with an occasional shower. Max temp was 30.3C

My father in law reported that the whole week it didn't rain in Samui.


Thursday, 30 August 2007

Mae Kai Restaurant, Rawai Beach, Phuket

Mae Kai Restaurant, Rawai Beach, Phuket

We had lunch at Rawai beach at a very simple beach side restaurant, recommended by a very good friend who accompanied us and had lunch together with us.

All the fish and shells are very fresh and were delicious. The serve seafood and Isaarn food.

This is how the place looks like from the outside. It's a very simple affair with no concrete floor, just earth, but the food is delicious.

A view of Rawai beach road, which is packed with small eateries and restaurants, definitely worthwhile checking out and enjoying the view and the food.

Big Buddha Phuket

Big Buddha Phuket

Today it was a nice and sunny day in the morning and it was time to kick back and relax at the pool with the kids.

Here are some pix of the pool at Centara Kata Resort. It’s a very big pool and has a small kiddy pool as well.

What the kids love most is the waterslide!

Another view of the pool. The hotel has 3 pools in total.

After the pool party, we were off to the Big Buddha in Phuket. The Big Buddha here is still under construction.

It’s on top of a big mountain and they’re construction a road to the top which is almost completed. On top you have great views over the Chalong harbor and Phuket town.

These funny things are the hair that’s going to be on Big Buddha’s head. You can ‘buy’ such a piece of hair and it will have your name stuck onto it on a piece of paper as sponsor for Big Buddha. The pieces are covered by marble.

The area is laced with various kinds of Buddha’s in various sizes. This one I liked for it’s peaceful appearance.

What I personally like about many of the temples in Thailand is the ‘old’ feel that many places have, this room has that old feel to it, with all the old pictures on the wall. It's almost as if time stood still.
As you could see in the first picture, eventually the Big Buddha should be covered with marble, this must be part of the marble that’s going to cover the statue.

A beautifully designed multi headed statue.

This area I would consider the inside of the temple that belongs to Big Buddha. There’s a monk sitting on the left, praying and chanting for people who do their ‘Tambun’.

Here are some dragon’s that live on top of a tubular bell.

Here's, at last, a detailed picture of the actual Buddha statue, still under construction.

Hope you enjoyed the pix.


30th August, 2007

Today's weather in Phuket;

Overcast with sunny outbursts, hopefully the sun wins today battle in the sky with a current temp of 27C

Yesterday was almost nonstop rain with at moments very hard showers. Max temp was 29.5C

We spend almost all day at Central Festival a great shopping mall that kept the whole family happy.
In the evening we had a very nice dinner with a friend and his family, also with two kids. The location was Kan Eang @ the pier and is a serious recommendation for good and affordable food. Beautifully located at the Chalong harbour with excellent food, served in a nice and relaxed atmosphere and they also have very affordable wines.

Today is already our last day on Phuket and we're planning on some relaxing times next to the pool. Tomorrow we're off to Surat Thani again, to have dinner with Sao and on Saturday back to Samui.


Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Phuket Zoo

Yesterday we visited Phuket Zoo

It's a nice place to visit and the kids, aged 2 and 4 loved it to bits and pieces.
My 2 year old son was still talking about the parrots and crocodiles he saw during the day time.
Phuket Zoo is easy enough to find and well worth visiting.

Have a look at some pictures;

An orang otang on a bike is not a daily occasion.

A pretty and exotic bird, looking like some sort of Tucan.

The crocodile show, pretty amazing, not something I'd like to do for a living.

Pretty flowers are all over the zoo.

Elephant on an (elephant) bike.

All the shows where good fun and in total we stayed well over 3 hours at the Zoo and if not for the weather (it started to rain), we would've stayed longer.

If on Phuket, highly recommendable, with thanks to Jamie, on who's Phuket blog I found info on the Zoo and who posted a lot more pix of the Zoo.


29th August, 2007

Today's weather in Phuket;

It's raining on and off this morning with a current temp of 26C

Yesterday started out with overcast but we took a gamble and visited Phuket Zoo (more later, with pix) which turned out to be a good decision looking at today's weather. It's currently 26C


Tuesday, 28 August 2007

28th August, 2007

Today's weather in Phuket;

This morning there was a blue enclave above our resort, but by now fairly strong winds and a thick overcast have taken over. Current temp is 28C.

Yesterday was a very nice and sunny day, in Phuket the max temp reached 30.6C

We were planning to visit Phuket Zoo today, but due to the current weather, we may postpone this till tomorrow.


Monday, 27 August 2007

Oishi Express restaurant, Phuket

The Oishi Express restaurant in Phuket

is located at the Winner shopping mall.

It’s a great experience, Japanese, Chinese and seafood all you can eat for 337,-Baht per person, including non alcoholic drinks and various dessert options.

The place is massively big, since they also cater to groups.

They offer loads o various dishes, ranging from Sashimi and Sushi and loads of different salads to chicken dishes, pasta (for the lone Westerner), various hot dishes, freshly made at request, just too many to mention. A real feast. For that price obviously not top quality but good enough to get good value out of it.

A view on the Sashimi bar.

Unfortunately there’s no Oishi (yet) in Samui, but in Phuket, Bangkok and various other big Cities in Thailand they have restaurants of this chain.

A nice touch is the children’s playroom, where they can have fun on their own!

If you like Japanese food, I can highly recommend a visit to your local Oishi.


27th August, 2007

Weather today in Surat Thani;

A very blue sky greeted us this morning, but within minutes of opening my internet connection, the Wifi system went down, so I can only update right now.

Here’s a picture from the hotel room with a view over the outskirts of Surat Thani and a nice blue sky to go with it.

Yesterday it was a nice enough day, not too warm but almost all day long overcast with in the morning even some drizzle in Donsak.

Today, after breakfast, we were on our way to Phuket however.
Driving on Thai roads is and remains an interesting activity which needs full attention levels at all times. There’s a new highway between Surat Thani and Krabi, a stretch of about 100 km, with 4 lanes.

On this short stretch of highway, we encountered 5 ghost riders and a good dozen motorbike ghost riders. They rather travel anywhere from a few kilometers to a couple of hundred meters against traffic rather than following the road in the right direction and hang a U turn.

The price of the day went to a guy who parked his motorbike on the hard shoulder on a bridge, on the side of the fast lane, where the shoulder is just about a meter wide, if at all, and he was fishing off this bridge, walking up and down the shoulder checking his equipment.

The mind boggles with so much ignorance and bliss to danger.

We arrived safely in Phuket however and went straight to an Oishi restaurant before we checked in to the room at the Centara Kata Resort, in Kata, Phuket.


Sunday, 26 August 2007

Sao's wedding party

The wedding party was in the early afternoon near the Donsak pier in a local school.

The location was inside a gym hall, which was turned into a giant room with dozens of tables where all the guests could eat and drink.

This must've been one of the prime weekends for weddings this year so far, all over the place wedding parties were held and we met and saw various wedding convoys, on their way to their respective parties.

Here's a view from the back, in front you can clearly view the typical table set up, with 8 covers, a bottle of Thai Whiskey, a big bottle of Coke, a couple of smaller bottles of Soda water and a bucket of ice.

Once a party of 8 (or less) is seated, the food starts arriving. In this case we were served Moo Waan (sweet pork, delicious!), Plaa Nung Manau (Steamed white snapper with chili sauce), Yam Saam Klob (spicy mixed salad), Pat Pak Ruam (mixed fried vegetables), Tom Yam Talee ( sour sea food soup) and Kao Pat (fried rice).

The couple had to endure loads of speeches and here they are with the MC.

Outside the people that left were donating their envelopes, which contain money. The amount of money in the envelope depends on how well you know the person in question, and ranges from a couple of hundred baht to a couple of thousand Baht or sometimes even more. All envelopes are named, so the receiver now knows how much he has to give next time you throw a party.

A view of the entrance of the hall, on the left the table with the white boxes for the envelopes, in front the entrance to the hall and on the right a picture of the wedded couple with flowers.

All in all a great day which went by rather quickly. The kids had a blast, met some old friends and played till there was no tomorrow. They're both dreaming right behind me in the room.

My wife had a great time since it was her best friend being married and she met various other old friends, amongst other Kob, who she doesn't get to see that much, since they live about 1500 KM away.

Tomorrow morning it'll be a relaxed breakfast in the hotel and than off to Phuket, unless we have lunch with Kob first!

Hope you enjoyed today's pix and I'm looking forward to hear your comments.


Sao's wedding

Sao is my wifes best friend.

Since a couple of months it was decided that today was a good day to get married, according to the monks. So, we're off to the mainland, to Donsak, where she originates from. Donsak is also where the ferry arrives from Samui and this weekend proofs to be a very popular weekend for marriages, all the monks must've looked in the same crystal ball, since it's marriage galore, everywhere are marriage parties, both Samui and the mainland.
The hotel we're staying at in Surat Thani has a party every night as well.

Sao in her wedding dress. She's in her room in her house, where she had to stay all morning, waiting for the groom to show up.

The groom and his family are arriving. The women of his family have been sent in first!

The groom has to pay a fee for every door that he enters in Sao's house. He will give the holders of the gold chains a small amount of money in an envelope. The chains are normally held by the bride's friends.

The groom arrives with his posse. His Dad in front and he's on the left next to him.

Before he can enter the actual house, he must take off his shoes, which in this case is done for him.

One of the envelopes that is used to 'bribe' his way into the house.

Entering the living room, where the actual wedding ceremony takes place.

Earlier this morning, around 6 am, the monks came to the house and had a blessing party.

The actual wedding is about to start and prayers are held.

The ceremony is not supervised by monks, but by elder people, in this case the Grand Mother of the bride. The elderly are very well respected in Thai culture.

The dowry, or Sin Sot in Thai, is paid to the father of the bride (the Mother has already passed away a few years earlier).

Here's the complete dowry, about 50.000,-Baht for this wedding, a golden wedding ring, a gold wrist chain and a golden necklace. The gold is worth a few bath as well, in this case, the word Bath is used as a weight rather than the monetary variation. One bath equals about 10 gram (if memory serves me correctly) and is currently valued at about 12.000,-Baht per Bath.

Putting on the wedding ring.

The bride thanks the groom for everything.

The groom receives his ring, so he can proof he's married.

Final blessings by the elderly.

A few over the crowd that gathered in the room, watching the ceremony.

Than we were off to the groom's village, about 70 km away from Sao's village, since she had to meet the groom's family elders, who all gave their blessing.

Around the corner of the groom, one of my wife's other very good friends lives. Sao, Kob (the other friend) and my wife all went to the same school and university.

This is Kob's beautiful wooden house, in the middle of nowhere, very relaxed.

Sofar it's been an eventful and busy day. We have a short break now but are almost on our way again for this afternoon's wedding party in Donsak at Sao's, to be held in the school grounds next to her house. About 400 to 500 people are expected during the evening.

It was interesting to experience the wedding for me, since it's the first time I actually witness the actual wedding. Parties for which we are about to leave soon, I've visited plenty of times in Samui already.

Hope you enjoy the pictures, more pix later from the party.

Please feel free to leave comments.