While Khao Lak had more of a quiet beach town vibe over the busy resort vibe of Phuket, we had a hard time finding street food. Our trip to one of the markets turned out to be a bust and our dinner at “must eat” “local” restaurant was just okay. After we realized this, we stuck to eating at our hotel’s restaurant where the food was fresh, decently priced, and tasty.
Oddly enough, Khao Lak seemed to be travel hotspot for Europeans, in particular, German tourists. We found many Italian restaurants and even a really nice European grocery store, but where were all the real Thai food street vendors hiding?
We should be lying on the beach in Hawaii right now, but we’re not. Our trip was canceled last minute. Of course, this was right after I bought tickets, which, of course, were only partially refundable.
Even though we loved the food at our little beach bungalow resort, we also wanted to try, and eat, as much Thai food as humanly possible given that we were in Thailand. We consulted several online restaurant review sites, but at the time, there were very few restaurants listed, reviewed, and that appealed to us. I don’t know what it is about some travel review sites, but we often find that the “top rated” restaurants are Western/Italian/Steakhouses, even in a country like Thailand.
Instead, we turned to our Lonely Planet guidebook, which I checked out from the library, and was, therefore, more than likely somewhat outdated. Or I should say even more outdated than usual for an LP guide. There weren’t many restaurants listed under Khao Lak, but one stood out to us. Mama’s Greeting, also known simply as Mama’s Restaurant, was described by the LP guide as an “authentic,” “hole-in-the-wall,” “beachfront,” “local gem” that we’d be “foolish to miss.”
I might be paraphrasing a little bit, but that was the gist of the review. Everything about the description appealed to us, so we jumped into our car and, using terrible directions, made our way to Mama’s Restaurant…
After an afternoon hiking in the jungle and swimming in waterfalls, we drove back into town in search of something tasty to eat. It may sound dubious to most, but street food is always our first choice. Especially in Thailand where they do street food so well.
We stopped at a big outdoor market along Bang Niang Road, the main street that ran through town. My heart (and stomach) leapt at the sight of row after row of stalls. Surely we would find something amazing to eat!
However, when we arrived, the market was absolutely dead.
Just off Bang Niang Road, Khao Lak’s main street, a small road across from a nightclub leads to one of the area’s many waterfalls. Located just 7km from town, we contemplated renting bikes and riding to the entrance of the Ton Chong Fa Waterfall hiking trail, but ultimately decided to drive. For one, the weather was unpredictable. It had rained the entire morning and it was highly likely that it would rain in the afternoon. But most importantly, it was just so damn hot and humid.
A Slice of Paradise
After a few days in Phuket, we traded in our luxurious pool suite resort for a simple two-person bungalow located on White Sand Beach in Khao Lak. On our mini road trip up North, we stopped at a gas station to purchase interesting Thai flavored Lays chips and a couple bags of our latest addiction, pineapple jam cookies. Even though Khao Lak was only a two-hour drive from Phuket, it felt as if we had escaped to a deserted island. Khao Lak was beachy and laid back, and because it was low season, almost entirely empty.
We didn’t plan on staying for longer than a day or two. Ao Thong Beach Bungalows were to be a quick stop before we headed off to another set of bungalows on Khao Lak Lake. However, once we arrived, we both knew we weren’t going to make it to the lake. Surrounded by palm trees and with access to a pristine white sand beach, we had found our little slice of paradise. All previous plans were canceled. We spent the remainder of our trip in these simple bungalows, doing as close to nothing as possible.
It rained off and on while we were in Phuket. Typical tropical rainy season weather. It didn’t stop us though. When there was a break in the rain, we grabbed our flimsy trash bag ponchos, hopped into our car and headed to Phuket’s weekend night market for a bite to eat.
If you’re ever in Thailand, in particular, Phuket, you’ll no doubt be lured by the many animal-focused tourist activities to partake in. Ride an elephant through the jungle! Take a photo with a tiger at a “tiger sanctuary“! Watch elephants perform at Fantasea! As animal lovers, we immediately knew that the latter two options were a definite no. “Elephant tourism,” on the other hand, including riding/bathing elephants, straddled more of a gray line (to be discussed in a much later post). There were elephant camps in Phuket, but according to a friend who had just visited, they were quite expensive. Our other options seemed like tourist trap elephant ride type places that cared very little for the elephant’s welfare. Ultimately, due to lack of research and interest, we decided to avoid anything elephant-related, sanctuary or otherwise.
So, Monkey Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suwan Khuha) it was! Continue Reading
I haven’t updated this blog with my books of the month in a while partly because those posts are rather laborious to compose and also because I was boring myself. So let’s try something different! Instead of my usual list of monthly reads, here’s the highlight reel of what I’ve been reading this summer, and what is on my summer reading list.