After spending a week in crowded Bangkok, boyfriend and I took a train from Hualamphong Station to stop in several cities and villages on our way to the south. This turned out to be the best decision ever. We discovered places we have never heard of, not knowing if there would be any place for us to sleep.
October 24th 2010. Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand.
This morning we left Hua-Hin, a beach-side town popular with those living in Bangkok for weekend getaways. Seeing the Gulf of Thailand for the first time I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t the turquoise water I had seen on the television watching documentaries about tourism in Thailand. But Hua Hin had this tranquil feel about it. Wide sandy beaches, where we had walked at sunset, a nice ocean breeze.. Nothing to complain about.
Again we took a train heading south. Ninety kilometers (56 miles) in three hours cost us forty Baht per person ($1,20). Riding a train in Thailand is an experience itself. Every five minutes a nice lady or gentleman will walk through the railcar with drinks, snacks or hot meals. Rice and sauces, all separately stored in little plastic bags, are kept warm in coolers and served in palm leaves.
Prachuap Khiri Khan is a fishing port with magnificent curving bays and steep mountaintops. We are here in the off-season but I don’t think there are ever many tourists here. I haven’t seen any hotels or restaurants and bars for that matter. We have found one Guesthouse, a beautiful traditional Thai home with big rooms and wooden floors and a lovely hostess: Maggie.
Because there are almost no tourists here, the rooms are very cheap. We want to stay for at least a few days here to save up some money for the more expensive places. We are traveling on a very tight budget so we can stay in Asia as long as possible. That is why we don’t eat in restaurants or sleep in hotels. We stay in so called Guesthouses where locals rent out their spare rooms and we eat from food carts in the streets.
Maggie’s neighbor has a food cart in her garden with enough patio-furniture so all of her friends and family can eat there in exchange for a few Baht. She made a roof of corrugated iron and plastic, there is no menu, just the products she could find that morning at the local market. The woman has only one burner and one wok, wherein she prepares all foods.
We, and all others, seem to be welcomed as if we are family. It was hard to communicate because in this town no-one speaks English but after a few minutes of monkey-language we got her to understand our wishes for dinner: Thai chicken curry!
In Bangkok I had savored this tasty dish, spicy but just enough, and loved it. Of course in Bangkok they are used to having foreigners tasting their specialties and mellow the curry down a bit. In Prachuap, they don’t.
It took the neighbor only two minutes to make our bowls of curry with rice and serve our diet cokes. So we began the adventure that is called -Thai cuisine-. After one one bite I noticed that this wasn’t the yellow curry, or even the green version that is a bit spicier but this was the Red Curry that makes many Thai recipes “Thai Spicy”. After bite three our cokes were no longer. At bite four we asked for a pitcher of ice-water.
Boyfriend is so spice-intolerent that he doesn’t even eat mustard, so you can imagine what a nightmare this was for him. His face turned red, his eyes all moist.. The ladies at the table next to us seemed to enjoy his discomfort. They started laughing and yelling stuff in what was to us, gibberish. We apologized to the neighbor and payed for two other plates: Omelets on white rice.
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