Thailand, Part 6
Day 59, February 25
We didn’t have anywhere to be or go until 11am so we had a nice relaxed morning again. Same thing for breakfast though, toast and coffee.
At 11 our driver picked us up and we went to the Lanta Animal Welfare Center. It is a non-profit, non-government assisted animal center that takes in stray dogs and cats to rehabilitate them. It was started 14 years ago by a lady named Junie Kodaks from Norway. After seeing how many stray cats and dogs there were roaming the streets, she decided to sell all of her belongings and move to Koh Lanta to set up this shelter. Her mission was to end the suffering of the hundreds of homeless, abused and injured animals living on Koh Lanta. We took a tour of the facility and they told us that to date, over 15,000 animals have been sterilized and treated. It is really remarkable what this shelter does. All of the workers are volunteers and the amount of animals they continuously take in is overwhelming. They said that many animals are just dropped outside the shelter to be cared for.
After the animals are treated, they are either returned to their owner or returned to the location where they were found, but only if it is safe. If the volunteers feel that the animal will be abused or anything like that, they will keep the animal at the shelter and hope that it is adopted. There were some older dogs that had been there a while and it was so heartbreaking to see. When the tour was over we were allowed to interact with the animals. I knew you could walk the dogs if you wanted to and I had every intention of doing that, but I got sucked into the kittens area.
There were 2 kittens in the crate to play with: Minty and Mango. When we went over there, a lady was holding Minty while Mango was still lounging in the back of the crate. I got to hold Minty and decided right then that I was going to adopt a kitten today. I have been wanting to adopt a kitten for a long time now and I would love nothing more than to support this amazing center. If my money is going to go anywhere, I want it to be with an organization that really needs the financial help.
The lady that was originally holding Minty was talking that she might want to adopt her. So I went over and got Mango out and held her. She was equally as adorable and the name is perfect for me and her. I have been obsessed with mango on this trip so it is only fitting that I adopt the cat whose name is Mango. The adoption lady also told me that Minty has had a lot of interest but Mango really hasn’t had any. That pretty much sealed the deal on which kitten I was adopting: MANGO!!!
The way the adoption works is that you find an animal you want to adopt. They check to see if the animal is done with all of their vaccinations (especially if they are kittens or puppies). Then they have to check the animal travel laws for whichever country the animal is going to. Luckily, America is one of the easy countries for animals to get into (or at least until Trump realizes this) so I just have to wait until Mango gets her last round of vaccinations and then they have to find a travel buddy that is headed to America to bring her to me.
After the adoption papers were signed, I said goodbye to Mango for now and we headed to Koh Lanta Old Town for lunch. It was very hot and humid (the humidity was at 78%) so we stopped at the first restaurant we came to. Honestly, any of them would have been nice because the are all over looking the water.
I got the papaya salad with tofu again. And again the waitress was not too sure about the tofu.
After we ate we went over to the swings that were near the water and sat on those until it was time to meet up with our driver again.
As we were heading back to the car, we came across a shake stand that had green tea shakes. I love green tea and have been trying many things over here with green tea so I had to give it a shot. It is made with sweetened condensed milk, green tea and ice. I was really excited to try it and then really disappointed in it all in the span of 30 seconds. It was not good at all. But I didn’t want to waste it because I took maybe 2 drinks of it so I gave it to our driver.
Then we headed to the Muh Ko Lanta National Park. It was about a 30 minute drive away on a semi-windy road on the southern tip of the island.
Once we got out of the car we were immediately greeted by the most beautiful view of the beach. We then headed to the lighthouse to catch the view from up there.
I was in my flip-flops and had my purse so the walk/climb up was a little difficult for me. But I made it and was blown away by the stunning view. The peninsular cliff, Ta Noad Cape, juts out and separates Had Hin Ngam (a rock beach) from Laem Tanod also known as Palm Beach. It is an absolutely breath taking view of the Andaman Sea, 2 beaches and various islands in the distance. And to top it off, it is a very isolated beach with maybe a handful of visitors. I’m not sure if this is because it’s a National Park and people don’t think it’s worth checking out but whatever the reason, I enjoyed the secludedness of it.
After taking a ton of pictures from every angle possible, we headed down to the beach. As we were walking down we saw some monkeys trying to steal some peoples bags as they were in the water. We had read that the monkeys are little thieves so you have to be careful around them but it was still funny to see the people come running out of the water chasing the monkeys.
We decided we better take turns going into the water because we didn’t want the same thing to happen to us. So my sister went first and I stayed behind. I was filming the monkeys that were on the beach and as I was, one came up and grabbed my sister’s bag. In the video you can hear me yelling “NO, NO, NO!” and then the monkey drops the bag and runs off. The video is a bit of a mess because I was trying to film while also fighting off a monkey but it still makes me laugh to watch it.
After I had my turn we walked around a little bit before headed back to the car to head back to our hostel. We only had the driver until 5 and it was coming up on it.
We arrived back at our hostel and regrouped a little before heading to my favorite restaurant, Bambie’s, to do our nightly activity of sunset watching and eating dinner.
The sunset was another beauty. Tonight there were some sailboats on the water so it just added to the view.
I got the kang keaw wan (green curry) with steamed rice and mango for dessert. I learned a few words in Thai so I was trying them out on our waiter friends.
After eating we went back to the room to shower and pack up. Our van is picking us up at 6:40am to take us to the Krabi Airport. Our final stop of this amazing 2 month journey is Bangkok.
Day 60, February 26
My alarm went off at 5:45am so we could get up, get ready and quietly gather our stuff up all before 6:40, when the van was picking us up. We are very skilled at this now, so we had about 15 minutes of down time where we relaxed on the beanbags until the van arrived.
We were the last stop so we had to cram in along with the others. Luckily it was a short 2 hour ride back so it was manageable. The time actually went by really quickly. Before we knew it we were already at the Krabi Airport.
When the driver let us out, we all went into the same terminal and the line to check-in was outrageous. But then we realized that Bangkok Air was out of a different terminal and there wasn’t a line. We had time to give but we were both so tired and just didn’t want to stand in line.
We grabbed a coffee until it was time for us to check-in. Once we dropped off our bags we headed to our gate. We only had about a 45 minute wait so we just found a row and spread out.
We boarded at 11am and left at 11:35am. It was only an hour and half flight but they served us a meal. I love Bangkok Air but they messed up on this meal. They served fish. I’m not sure that fish is a safe go-to for a flight meal. But it was ok because we were planning on going to the big market in Bangkok and eating there so it really worked in our favor that it was fish because neither of us wanted to eat it.
Once we landed we grabbed our bags and headed for the taxi line. We read not to negotiate with the airport taxi drivers, instead just get them to run the meter. The guy tried to say 500 baht and my sister just kept repeating meter until he turned it on. We may have been suckered into negotiating a fee earlier in our trip but now we know the scams and tricks to look out for.
Our driver didn’t know where our hostel was so he wanted the phone number. But instead of asking he yelled “phone” multiple times. I don’t think he meant it in a mean way. I am realizing that is just how they communicate. Even when speaking in Thai, people tend to shout instead of using a normal speaking tone. And on top of that, when they don’t know much English, I think they overcompensate with the few words they do know by shouting it. It’s not meant to be aggressive even though it feels that way at times.
We were told that after the King died, that the whole country mourned the loss and that Bangkok, in particular, mourned the longest and most. Someone said they thought the signs, billboards, shirts, art, etc honoring the late King would go on for about a year. I saw this in a small dose in Chiang Mai and Koh Lanta but it is everywhere in Bangkok. There was a memorial in the airport and huge billboards (like the biggest I’ve ever seen) on the highways and huge photos on the side of building and black ribbons everywhere.
Anyway, we got to our hostel without any problem. The hostel is really nice. It feels more like a hotel than a hostel really. We have bunk beds and community bathrooms still but the lobby area feels like a hotel lobby and not a traditional hostel lobby.
After we dropped our stuff off, we got a tuk-tuk to take us to the huge market we heard about. It’s only there on the weekends so we timed it just right without even knowing it.
Our first order of business when we arrived was to find food. I wanted to eat light so that we’d still be hungry for dinner since we were eating at a later time. My main priority was fitting in as many meals as possible.
After the waitress took our order she asked where we were from. We weren’t sure why until she brought out our food. My sister got the mango sticky rice and a cute little American flag. I got the fresh spring rolls with a cute little Malaysian flag. We think they just saw stripes and thought it was the American flag.
After lunch I really wanted some mango after seeing my sister’s. I found a place that had it already sliced up for 50 baht. I’ve been able to get it cheaper in other places but I’m thinking Bangkok might be higher. But it was the worst mango ever. It was not at all ready to cut open and eat. It was hard and had no flavor so I threw it away.
Then I saw a stand with specifically all mango items. They didn’t have anymore sliced mango so I got the iced mango juice for 50 baht. And this drink was gross. It didn’t taste like mango at all. It might have been a powder mix or something but it was gross.
We roamed around the huge market for a while. I saw a top I thought was cute but needed to try it on. There was a sign that said TRY with a big circle and line through it. I asked the lady if I could just see if it fit and she said no. I went back and forth with her asking well how will I know if it fits. And she said buy it. So I walked away. So far I was not loving this market.
Then I found a tea stand that had all sorts of different flavors. I kept seeing one that was called Flowers Tea so I thought for only 20 baht, I’d give it a try. Big mistake. I should have realized today is not my day to try and discover new items. It tasted like old tea with a ton of sugar in it. I threw it away.
After blowing 120 baht on gross items and not being allowed to try on a top, I was done with the stupid market. It was way too big and spread out to be enjoyable. The one in Chiang Mai was huge and overwhelming too but I really liked that one because it was a row so you knew where you had already walked. In this market, we kept getting turned around and couldn’t figure out where any of the sections we actually wanted to be in were.
We got another tuk-tuk and headed back to the hostel. As we were about to turn on our street, we saw a long line at a restaurant. So when we got into the hostel, we asked the girl at the front desk what it was. She said the name and we went up to the roof top to split our Chang beer and seaweed chips we bought from good ole 7/11 and googled the restaurant.
It is a pad thai restaurant called Thipsamai that is known to serve the best pad thai in the world. So obviously, we had to eat there for dinner tonight.
When we got there, there a long line out the door but surprising it moved at a decent pace. The cooking is done outside in different stations. The guy that was closest to the street and near us was taking the pad thai and tossing it in a coating of egg to make it like an omelette around it. The skills these cooks have is incredible. It was so hot and humid out and they are doing this all over a big flame and going at such a fast pace, it was difficult for me to just keep up watching him.
As the line was inching up, there was a stand next to us that had my favorite little coconut dessert patties that I got in Chiang Mai. I mixed it up and got the plain coconut and pumpkin ones. The pumpkin ones were ok but nothing competes with the coconut ones.
We waited another 15 minutes or so and then were seated. The inside of the restaurant walls are lined with accolades and newspaper and magazine clippings raving about the pad thai. The menu is a basic as can be. There is no other item on the menu except pad thai. You can either get it vegetarian or with seafood and/or wrapped in egg, omelette style like I described. I didn’t even see chicken or any other meat options so we both got the vegetarian pad thai.
It came out really quickly because, with such a simple menu, they are cooking these dishes in a rapid succession knowing that it will be ordered at some point.
It was really, really, really good. I’d say all the awards and top rated headlines hanging on the wall, are absolutely justified. I liked it so much that I got an order as take away. There is no lingering at the table after eating because there is such a long line still waiting outside so we had to pay and leave pretty quickly.
We stopped at 7/11 one last time for the night to get waters and headed back to our hostel. We enjoyed the hot shower the hostel provided and climbed into our awesome little bunk hideaway.