We left Phi Phi around noon, yesterday, joining a diverse group of folks at the dockside. Thank goodness we are travelling with small bags, because you have to climb from one boat to another to get to the one you want. This ferry took us across a calm stretch of water, again into a bay surrounded by fantastic sheer limestone cliffs and tiny sandy bays.
[Image = distant view of Phi-Phi Island]
Ao Nang is a few miles from the town of Krabi which is much easier to find on a map. Ao Nang a pretty resort town with a high class clientele, clean streets and many international restaurants. The traffic, however is characteristically fast and the streets are no place to dawdle. Vehicles flow in the opposite direction to ours and if you look the wrong way for a second, you can be flattened. Taxis are motorcycles with a sidecar chassis and enough seating for 3. Seven is the max! A canvass surrey keeps you out of the sun and a fast talking driver makes for a fun tour around the coastline. Our hotel is modest and clean and the air conditioning works like a charm. Without it, we would have to really change our routines and our clothing many times a day.
[Image = view from hotel room balcony]
I walked down to the beach this morning and bought a lemon ice from a street vendor. The fruit drinks here are fantastic, flavorful, fresh and cold. We go from stall to stall on our travels trying all the juices and the local fare. Cocoanut, pineapple and bananas taste so sweet and different from the imported fruit we get at home - we just can't get enough.
A few observations: So many young European travelers have tattoos. This is big business here. Tattoo shops are combined with laundry, travel and manicure businesses and the art ranges from sublime to ridiculous.
Cashews grow here and the nuts are available in every flavor- much like our potato chips. A single nut grows on the end of a pepper-shaped fruit. The fruits are soft, red or yellow and they make a sweet drink- much like apple juice. The nut pod on the bottom of the fruit is so hard it has to be cracked by an instrument built especially for this purpose. I always thought cashews grew like walnuts - this was a real eye opener. No wonder they are so expensive! We bought some packages to give as gifts, but we have no room to keep them, so they have become part of our menu.
[Image = interior of food store]
Small private shrines are everywhere. You see them at gas stations, in mini malls, on street corners and in front of private homes. Gifts of food and drink are put on the balconies of these shrines as an offering. I rather like these customs; the idea of praying to a fat, smiling man seems so positive - so healthy!
[Image = exterior of Buddhist temple]
The big community temples provide baskets of miniature food and drink items for you to give as offerings. You can also buy the thinnest gold leaf sheets to press onto the icons. Lotus blossoms on long stems are also a popular gift when making your devotions. Outside most temples, a cone shaped hollow oven provides a safe place to blow off a few dozen rounds of fireworks for good luck and after awhile, the noise drives you crazy! The vendors must be used to it because the tourists are the only ones jumping out of their skins and holding their hands to their ears! This is the Asia I’ve been looking for!
[Image = Side view, Buddhist temple]
We are off to continue the adventure, so I'll sign off for now. Sa-was dee, ka!
- Now that Katie and Lane have taken her to the sights she expected to see in the first place, she's far and away happier than she was earlier in the trip.
- This is not to say that she still doesn't make mistakes; however, her warped take on Buddhism is pretty much what one could expect of a slightly sheltered WASP suburbanite.
- Her next oversight is that she seems to not notice the protests that have been rocking the country of late.
- What's more, it's not very likely that she realizes that she's pretty much visiting a theme park version of the real Thailand.
- She seems to have been slightly surprised that the people of Thailand drive on the same side of the road as do the British.
- She can't seem to resist looking down on her fellow guests, making arch remarks about congestion, boasting about the AC or talking about snack food.
- She also reminds us that as a linguist, she tanks; that's because "Sawatdi ka" is Thai for 'Hello'; she should have used the phrase "Laagan" instead.
- About the only thing that I did find surprising were her remarks about cashews; I didn't know that they grew like that either. Wow! Lynn Johnston taught me something interesting! I never saw THAT coming!!