Click on pictures to see larger image.
Visiting a Lake
Our next destination was one of Thailand’s best kept secrets. In fact, I’m going to help keep it a secret by not revealing its name or location. It’s an area where a hydroelectric dam was built several decades ago, in the process creating a very large lake that includes dozens of islands formed from limestone karsts, shooting up into the sky. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. In last year’s southern trip there were two people who had been to Gualin China and they felt that this area was ever more stunning and beautiful.
Our mission was to check out some new accommodations on the lake. Kasma had wanted to have the southern trip stay on the lake last year (2003) but the only cabins available at that time were truly decrepit and unsuitable. A new set of cabins had been built and we wanted to stay in them.
The only way to get to the lodging is by boat — about a 30 minute ride, traveling through dramatic karsts shooting up out of the water. Although the sleeping arrangements are a bit basic we’ve decided to put the group there for one night. The southern group expects to “rough it” a bit more — and I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to spend the night in such a beautiful place.
The added side benefit is that the food is truly outstanding.
A note about food in Thailand. Thai people love food. Thailand could easily be described as “a giant, open-air food market.” In Thailand there is food everywhere, much of it delectable and enticing. The Thai demand for good food is so taken for granted that even hospital food is excellent; when Kasma’s mom was in the hospital, we would go early on our visits so that we could eat in the hospital cafeteria. So you come to expect great food, notice it when it is merely good, and are delighted when it is really great — as it was here, on an island in the middle of a remote lake, virtually in the middle of nowhere.
After we left the lake we stopped at a truck-stop, Thai style. These typically consist of a number of food vendors set up in permanent buildings at the back of a gas station. You wander around looking at the food selection, pick the vendor whose food looks the most appetizing and order; a good clue is usually the section that has the most customers! The food is almost all pre-made, part of what is called “kao-gaeng” — literally, “rice, curry.” I’ve included a picture of the place we stopped — it’s fairly typical — and also a picture of our lunch. Fast food, Thai-style: healthy, delicious, inexpensive.
For the Birds
Our next stop was the Thale Noi bird preserve near Nakhon Si Thammarat. We decided to stay at the park so that we could catch a boat at 6:00 am the next morning, the best time to see the birds. Kasma was considering taking the group there and wanted to preview it.
The verdict is good. It is a large, marshy area, visible mainly by boat. Not only did we see a large number of birds on the ride, we passed through several areas where we were completely surrounded by water-lilies. Water lilies are done blooming by 10:00 am — it’s best to go out in the morning. Another area featured beautiful lotus blossoms.
Copyright © 2004 Michael Babcock. |
Last updated 27 August 2004.