When it comes to living in Thailand, you are bound to speak about the local cuisine. Thai cuisine is something people love to talk about because yes, it is good, with a spicy edge, lots of herbs and other ingredients with medicinal benefits (such as garlic and onion), colourful, varied, and nutritious.
Some years ago though (I would say four even), vegans would find it hard here, since even dishes without meat would have been based on fish sauce and chicken broth. Today, there is a variety of vegan and vegetarian food, rice and noodles with veggies, stir-fried veggies with herbs and soya sauce, dal and other legumes. Among my favourites there would be Laab Jay, Mixed Tofu – Tao Hoor Song Hreung, Pak Boong (Morning Glory with garlic and rice, which I often make for light dinner – I usually have my lunches out), Pad Thai (stir-fried noodles) – which can, however, also be served with meat, Vegetarian curry (Gang Jay) and Pad Phuk Tong (stir-fried pumpkin which I also cook myself, with coconut oil or sauce and sometimes rice).
Since I, however, do eat meat sometimes, mostly chicken and fish (as well as sea food), I would often have my Pad Thai with shrimps and from time to time I would get a Thai Chicken Curry (hot as hell) just to keep the bugs at bay.
Among my top street food there is chicken satay and omelette with pork which you can both get for one euro. And then, of course, there are the specialities such as squid with salted egg and Thai Crab Curry.
The thing that I love the most is the coconut ice cream, pure frozen coconut water and sometimes coconut milk scooped into a cup with fruits and nuts and sometimes honey. This delicacy can be obtained for approx. one euro and it always makes me feel as if in a gastro paradise.
Alcohol here is rather expensive; a beer in a street food canteen would cost almost three euros which is a lot for a person coming from the Czech Republic, where you can get one for a euro.
Except for canteens and street food stalls there are proper restaurants, usually aimed at tourists so you can get something more expensive in exchange for service in good English. In those restaurants, if you go there at the happy hour time, you might get a small drink fixed for the same price of 100 BHT which makes my choice of drinks here clear.
Now – speaking of service in English. Surprisingly, with all the tourists coming here, English is still a problem for the local people: I went to a few big shopping malls and supermarkets and I really struggled through asking for what I wanted – almost nobody could understand me. My camera broke down and I wanted to have it repaired, but I was told that repairs are done only in Bangkok. Funny enough, cameras here are twice as expensive as in Europe. So, all I have is my cell phone camera now.
In the malls here, you find more or less similar structures like in Europe: food areas, clothes, shoes, home decorations but also stalls with objects for worship and small jewellery stalls where they sell crazy kitschy things that look like gold but are clearly not. Shoes and the clothes in the malls here are not very comfortable, I dislike the non-natural materials and fabrics and well as the cheesy design.
So I usually walk out of a supermarket, when I have to go shopping for food for the kitchen, just with a few packages of candies made of tropical fruit and seaweed snack which I truly love. I also like their dry rice caramelized snack and the nice chips they make (only some oil and salt used with dried potatoes, sweet potatoes etc.).
Another big thing about Thailand would be its beaches. Krabi is lucky enough to get some of the most marvellous beaches in the country, such as Ao Naang (where I go most frequently), Fossil Shell Beach or Railay (which also offers lovely caves and which is reachable by boat from Ao Naang beach). From all these beaches you get beautiful views at the blue sea, white sand, a few quint barks anchored and – above all – the wonderfully shaped limestone cliffs.
Boat tours are a big thing in the area; they will take you to some cool beaches and islands, such as Phi Phi Islands, Thailand’s island-superstar featured in various movies, and a stunning, probably the most prominent island, which towers from the sea as if out of nowhere, Ko Khao Phing Kan, more commonly known as the James Bond island, as it appeared in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun. A boat will drive you around the island but there is no chance of stopping for a swim (if you cannot understand why, check out the shape of the island on google images).
Those who love cliff climbing, canyoning, kayaking, rafting, trekking and elephant riding will fall in love with the area immediately.
Diving is also a big thing here, though, as it seems to me, not as common as in Amed, Bali.
Sunsets here are a something! A pure stun. You just stare at the colours in awe and even the greatest non-believers cannot help shivers sent down their spine – it does feel like the universe and the gods talking when you see the flood of purple and red and orange and red and yellow. The transcendental power of the beauty just leaves you speechless and appreciative.
Another big thing is trekking. The most well-known trails would lead to the Emerald Pool and Saline Hot Spring Khlong Thom, around Wat Tham Suea – Tiger Cave temple (to the top of the mountain and to a cave in the jungle) and to Dragon Crest mountain, Khao Ngon Nak, where there is also a stream and a waterfall on the way. From the top, there is a wonderful view overlooking the surrounding mountains and the sea. The place is known by tourists for the photographs people take in the end of the trail at the peak, where there is an overhanging rock. Visitors like to pose on the rock with the magnificent view behind them to gain some lifetime snaps. I did not take any pictures on that rock but many on the way. The trail is totally worth the effort required. I like hiking and walked a part of it barefoot which was sometimes a struggle due to the roots of trees sticking out of the ground, the sharp rocks and slippery sandstone parts.
I enjoyed all of these treks immensely and even hope to go to some of these again.
The area is generally Muslim, but there are Buddhist temples, such as Sai Thai with a Reclining Buddha (a statue that represents the historical Buddha during his last illness, about to enter the parinirvana; after the Buddha’s death, his followers decided to build a statue of him lying down; they first built the Reclining Buddha statue inside of the Wat Pho Temple, then – decades later – they started making the sculpture everywhere in South East Asia), Wat Kaew in the town of Krabi (that has given the name to the whole area) and the previously mentioned Tiger Cave temple (known for the tiger paw prints in the cave and the strenuous flight of stairs to reach the summit where there is a huge Buddha statue located and the monkeys sneaking around).
To get around the area, you can rent a scooter or go by a car (a taxi, which is usually quite expensive) or a tuk tuk (which is also quite expensive here). The local buses and their system are hard to figure and tourists usually do not even bother to try.
All In all, I came to this area not really knowing much what to expect and I am thrilled every day by what I am discovering here. To me, this place is truly among the top ones I have been to, including my residence at Marina Reiki and Yoga centre which is filled with amazing atmosphere, great vibes and lovely people, not to mention the great yoga classes and reiki healing as such, which are combined with cacao ceremonies, om chanting, mantra singing, sound healing ceremonies, Tibetan bowls playing, shamanic drumming and dancing and other amazing activities and experiences that simply swipe you off your feet.