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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thailand. Part III

I had REALLY wanted to go to a floating market this time around while in Thailand. Unfortunately, I found out when I got there that they mainly happen on the weekends, and we weren't going to be around Bangkok on the weekend. So we did the next best thing we could. Hired a taxi driver to take us out to a market on the river bank. It's not as photogenic as the floating markets, but Don Wai market had enough interesting food items to satisfy our food desires.
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Fruits galore!!! We had every single one of these fruits, but my favorite are the longans on the top left. It was definitely the season for them, and they were so sweet & juicy. Yum! Jackfruit (top right) was not really in season, so they didn't taste as good as they should have.
Middle left: mini-mangoes were so-so.
Middle right: Dragonfruit. This fruit always looks so much better than it tastes to me. It's got a very light, mild fragrance to it with a slight sweetness. I'm sure it tastes very refreshing served cold on a hot day, but it doesn't make the cut onto my favorite fruit list.
Bottom left: Rose apple. It's also got a light fragrant taste to it. A bit juicier and sweeter than the dragonfruit. Definitely a nice, healthy snack.
Bottom right: Salacca. I guess this one is an acquired taste. I actually can't remember too much except that it was weird and neither of us liked it. Even so, if you're ever in Thailand, try it all!

After exploring the market, we took a little boat tour down the river.
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Tons and tons of ginormous catfish in these waters! I'm sure they eventually end up on the dining table, but there's so many that there's no need to worry about a shortage. On the boat ride, they sold rolls of bread so we could feed the fish. Environmentalists would probably say it's not good for the ecosystem, but it was what all the Thai people were doing, so we did it. (I know, I know...if your friend jumps off a bridge...)
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It was quite interesting to see these big fancy houses being constructed next to tiny little shacks on the river.
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A delicious Thai lunch with our driver, Mr. Prasat, as he referred to himself when I asked him his name. He's actually much friendlier than this picture shows, and we found out a lot about the Thai culture and government from him, even though our Thai was non-existent and his English was limited.
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I thought this was a cute way to display the table numbers in this restaurant.
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Day 3: Koh Phi Phi
And off we go! Flying within Thailand on their local airlines was extremely cheap. On Day 3, we flew down to Phuket, and then took a boat over to Koh Phi Phi.
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When I was in Phi Phi back in '98, there was some protest to Hollywood coming over to film the movie, The Beach, with Leonardo DiCaprio because they were going to bulldoze and re-landscape part of the beach. Needless to say, Hollywood won and the movie was filmed on Maya Bay, which has now become a big tourist attraction.

We didn't go to Maya Bay, but there was no need since the beach and water right off our hotel was beautiful enough. We even rented snorkel gear one day and snorkeled right off of our hotel's beach. The water was the perfect temperature and sooooo crystal clear!
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We stayed on the north side of the island, far away from the main village area, so each time we wanted to go to town, we had to take a 45 minute long-tail boat ride over.
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Flowers and/or cloth are tied to the front of the boat to appease the sea spirits.
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The view from our hotel room. Happy, happy, joy, joy!
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The restaurant next to our hotel had a muay thai boxing ring. We didn't see a fight here, but we did see one in the village where most of the tourists hang out. The Thai people are so smart that they don't even need to hire fighters. They have workers walk around with a sign that says "Free bucket of beer if you volunteer to fight" and it was a night of endless amateur muay thai fighting by a lot of drunk tourists.
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Koh Phi Phi was where I got certified for scuba diving twelve years ago and to this day is still the best diving I've done so far. The coral reefs and marine life down there are absolutely amazing. I wish I had gills so that I could just hang out down there all day. Imagine Finding Nemo times ten!
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The scuba company gave me a little point and shoot so the quality isn't that great (especially the color!), but I'm happy to be able to document most of what I saw. The best was the purple and black sea snake (bottom left). Actually, I love all the different anemones and clown fish as well, not to mention tons of other colorful fish swimming around.
Another sea snake!
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I love how so many of the fish don't even care that you're there. They'll just swim right past your face with no fear.
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If you ever have a few days to spend on an island in Thailand (preferably on the Andaman Coast side), get scuba certified! You get to see so much more than if you snorkel.

I'll leave this post with an image of our last sunrise on Koh Phi Phi.
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