Category Archives: food

Chiang Mai – Part 2

One night we decided to have a traditional northern cuisine dinner along with a show of traditional Thai dances.

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The food.

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There were many different dances and lots of good costumes.

The next day was Loy Krathong.  We visited a few more temples.  I’ll spare the pictures since they start to look all the same.  In the evening we walked around the city and participated in the festivities.

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A couple weeks ago we met Christine when climbing at Tonsai.  Turns out she was going to be in Chiang Mai around the same time as us.  She was with a bunch of other friends and invited us to Thanksgiving dinner.  There was no turkey (we had some chicken) but we got to have some other traditional thanksgiving dishes.  We also made plans to go climbing a day or two later.

Anong wasn’t feeling too well so she stayed in the city but I met Christine and Kat at CMRCA in the morning for a day of climbing.  We decided to climb at Reunion Buttress.  It has a few fun moderate climbs and a really good three pitch climb that we were able to do as 2 pitches thanks to my 70m rope.  First we warmed up on Teamwork 5c which was relatively straightforward.  Then we climbed Smells Like Team Spirit 6a which had a cruxy middle section and a really good finish.  Then we did did the Reunion 6a, 5a, 6a+ which was fun, a little scary on the last pitch, and had some really good views.  By this time, Kat had to catch her ride back to town but Christine was riding with me so we had time for one more.  We finished up with Reminisce 6a.  By now it was starting to get dark  so it was time to head back.  Pro tip, best to leave the crag around 4:30 or 5:00 even though it stays light till 6:00 or 6:30.  Once the sun starts to go down all the bugs come out.  My helmet didn’t have a face shield so dealing with all the bugs was annoying.  Other than that, it was a great day climbing!

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Kat going up Teamwork.

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Me getting started on Smells Like Team Spirit.

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Christine on Smells Like Team Spirit.

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Kat on Smells Like Team Spirit.

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View from the top of Reunion.

The next day we went back with plans to meet some friends of a friend who were also in Chiang Mai the same time as Anong and I.  We climbed at The Rooftop which doesn’t actually have any roofs but gets up up really high at Crazy Horse and the views are really good.  Warmed up on A Route With a View 5c+, then did Heun Fah 5b, and finally the best route at the crag, Skyscraper 6a.  It’s a rather long route at 29 meters with lots of fun moves.  We ate lunch then headed over to Tamarind Village and climbed The Chimney Sweep 6a which took me a couple of tries to get.  I guess I need to work on my chimney climbing technique.  Then The Queen Bee 5c, 4500 5a, and finally finished up the day on Happy Birthday 6b which I climbed clean first go but on top rope and was a good finish to the day / climbing at Crazy Horse.

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Anong belaying me as I head up Skyscraper.

Back in the city we had Khao Ka Moo from the cowboy hat lady.  It was really good.

Dinner.

Dinner.

Koh Tao

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Koh Tao is an island in the Gulf of Thailand near Surat Thani.  Since I came to Thailand, I haven’t done much travelling but a friend from home was on vacation there so it gave me an excuse to get out of Ao Nang and see a little more of Thailand.  Koh Tao also has climbing so it was an easy decision to go for a few days.  Anong and I packed our bags and headed out.

Getting to Koh Tao (from Ao Nang)

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Just got off the bus. Waiting for the ferry on the pier at Surat Thani.

Koh Tao is kind of hard to get to.  There are a few options.  The first and probably quickest is to catch a flight from Krabi Airport and fly to Koh Samui.  Bangkok Airways does one flight a day for about 3100 baht.  Once to Koh Samui take a taxi to one of the piers then a ferry to Koh Tao.  Total price would be around 4000 baht per person including taxi to / from airports and total travel time around 4 to 5 hours depending on how schedules line up.

The next option is to take a take a Songthaew from Ao Nang to the Krabi bus station and get a bus to Surat Thani.  Find your way to the pier then buy a ferry ticket to Koh Tao.  I’m not sure how much this would cost but I’m guessing around 700 baht and it will likely take all day and might require an overnight stay in Surat Thani depending on how the ferry schedules line up which would eliminate any savings.

The third option and what I think is the best value is to book a tour package through one of the resorts in the area.  I ended up at Slumber Party Hostel because they are close to where I live and they provided me with a package through Lomprayah High Speed Ferries that included pickup in Ao Nang for 1100 baht per person.  Total travel time was about 8 hours.  It also looks like tickets can be booked on their website.

Coming back, I was able to book tickets online through Seatran Discovery that included drop off at my room in Ao Nang for around 900 Baht because they were discounting tickets for some reason.  Standard price is 1100 Baht.

Where To Stay

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Sairee beach.

Sairee beach has the highest concentration of resorts, restaurants, and things to do.  I’ve also heard it can be very loud at night with many bars playing loud music all night.  I ended up staying about 1 kilometer past the end of the beach at Koh Tao Hillside Resort.  It was nice and quiet but I probably wouldn’t stay here again since my room was rather run down and not very nice for the price paid.  But the pool was nice and the restaurant had pretty good food.  If I go back, I might try staying on the other side of the island where it’s even quieter and more secluded.

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Getting Around

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Depending on what you want to do / where you want to go you’ll need your own transportation.  Taxi’s on the island are ridiculously expensive.  I heard one couple was quoted 400 baht (just over 11 dollars) to go from Sairee beach to the pier which is about 5 minutes away by car and only 2 or 3 kilometers away.  But a quick search online shows motorbike rental shops are notorious for scamming tourists and charging outrageous fees for small scratches on the bike that were already there at the time of rental.  But be careful.  If you’ve never ridden a scooter or motorcycle before, Koh Tao is a bad place to learn.  It’s hard to believe but the people on Koh Tao drive even worse than the people in Krabi.  On top of that, the roads are filled with potholes, covered in sand or dirt, and some of the roads are extremely steep.  I had heard good things about Oli’s Motorbike Rentals and that they were an honest shop.  So I took my chances and rented a 125cc Honda Click from them.  I also left my passport with them even though it made me throw up in my mouth a little bit.  The bike was had just enough power to get Anong and I with our climbing gear to the top of Mek’s Mountain where we went climbing.  No incidents while driving and Oli’s is indeed an honest shop.  If you find yourself on Koh Tao and need a motorbike, use Oli’s.

What To Do

The main activity on the island is diving.  From what I hear the diving is very good and PADI diving certifications aren’t very expensive.  But I wasn’t stoked on the diving.  Instead, Anong and I found some other things to occupy our time.

Go Climbing!

The island is littered with massive granite boulders and some cliffs so we hired a guide through Good Time Adventures to show us around.  It’s not necessary to hire a guide but since we were only there for a few days I didn’t want to waste time finding the best climbs.  We went climbing the first day with Good Time Adventures then two days later went back to Mek’s Mountain on our own.

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Try Something New

Good Time Adventures also gives flying trapeze lessons.  I’d never tried it before but it looked like fun.  It was lots of fun but one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done.

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Eat and Drink A Lot

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Lap Gai from some unnamed Thai restaurant on the side of the road.

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Som Tam Thai from the same restaurant.

There are lots of good restaurants on the Island.  A few I recommend are:

  1. tHAITA iTALIAN RESTAURANT.  Simple Italian food prepared with fresh ingredients.  The best dinner I had on the island and it was reasonably priced.

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    Bruschetta

  2. The Gallery.  Fancy Thai food.  I only had a drink and an appetizer here but based on what I saw I’m sure everything else is also delicious.
  3. Le Petit Palace.  European / American food.  I had a hamburger here that was very average.  But I liked the place anyways because they have a good but pricey selection of beer.  I had a Deschutes IPA for the first time in 9 months and it was delicious!
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  4. Thai-Riffic.  The Thai food here is sort of westernized but it’s still pretty good.  But the real reason to come here is for the dessert and baked goods.  They are delicious.  Finding this place was extremely difficult.  It’s not on the map where Google says it is and asking local Thai people where it is doesn’t work because they only hear “Thai restaurant” and say oh, there are 3 on this street and point you in the completely wrong direction.  But we persevered and eventually found it.

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    Pad Grapow Moo

 

Practice Yoga

IMG_7791We went to Grounded Yoga two times while we were on the island.  I though the teachers were good and drop in classes are fairly priced at 250 baht.

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Pre class warm up with high plank.

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Yoga students after class.

Get A Massage

There are many massage shops all along Sairee beach.  Standard price for a one hour Thai massage is 300 baht.  A bit more expensive than Ao Nang but not too bad.  We went to one place and got ok massages.  The next night we tried the spa at our resort and got a much better massage but it was 100 baht more.  I’d say it was worth it for the better experience.

Watch The Sunset

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This is the resort next to the one we stayed at. It looks very fancy and much nicer. I checked online and it was about the same price ! 😦

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Windy and cloudy but still very nice sunset dinner at Aminjirah

 

Go Explore

Driving around the island is also fun.  There are several large hills / small mountains and driving up to them provides beautiful views.  There are also some temples and shrines on the island that we visited.

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Thai Buddhist temple.

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My best impersonation of Alex Honnold

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Well, that’s about it.  5 days on the island and I was ready to come back to Ao Nang.  But it’s been raining every day since I got back.  I might need to go on another vacation to a less rainy part of Thailand.

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Chong Phli – Day 67

Anong and I met Lee and Ahn at Chong Phli.  We climbed Zak Attack 5, EFZ 6a+, and Momentum 6b.  I was happy to climb Momentum 6b cleanly.  Even though I haven’t climbed much over the past 2 months I feel like I haven’t lost much strength.  It must be the yoga and forearm exercises I’ve been doing for my elbow.

After climbing we all ate lunch at Banana Leaf then parted ways with plans to climb at Railay in a few days.  Anong and I went home and were going to take a short nap before heading out to do some shopping.  The short nap turned into about a 2.5 hour nap.  Shopping got done though and we cooked then ate “Chicken Under Water” which is a delicious Thai dish originating from Isaan and is apparently not well known outside of Isaan.

Bat Cave – Day 2

Today I woke up with a hangover.  I drink a lot less alcohol than I used to and no longer drink alcohol every day.  But last night I felt like imbibing a little bit and had two 500ml cans of Chang Export.  I think this is basically Thai malt liquor even though the can says it’s only 5% alcohol.  I suspect it is higher.  Maybe I should start drinking every day again so I don’t get a hangover after only two cans of beer.

So the day started off low energy but I was pretty stoked to climb at the Bat Cave wall again with Martin and Dorothy.  There are four fun climbs there right in my grade range.  We met at Arawan Resort to rent kayaks then paddled over to the wall.  I had grand thoughts of sending the two 6a’s and leading one of the 6b’s today but those plans were quickly abandoned after the first climb.  I did successfully redpoint Mini Kingdom 6a which I was happy about.  I struggled to figure out the beta at the crux for a minute but the rest of the climb was easy and straightforward.  When I got down my energy level was pretty low so my new plan was to just do some laps on top rope of the other climbs.

So the next climb I did was Tai don’t die 6b.  I found the start to be a little awkward with dirty rock but up higher the rock is nice.  There is one cruxy section in the middle then easier climbing at the top with an exposed move at the end to get to the anchor.  Next I climbed Don’t kill Killer 6b+.  This has a fun start and consistent 6a to 6a+ climbing to the middle of the route where the crux is.  It took me a long time to get past this but a few powerful moves leads to easier climbing at the top then the same finish as Tai Don’t die 6b.  I climbed Don’t kill Killer 6b+ a second time and made it through the crux much quicker.

In total, I think I only did 5 or 6 pitches.  I wanted to do more but I think the changover and overhanging climbs might have been a reason for my low performance today.  I was pretty wiped out after climbing and enjoyed a swim and nice lunch at Arawan.

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Gaeng ga-rii gai (Thai: แกงกะหรี่ไก่)

After lunch, Anong and I headed back to our room.  I thought I was going to miss yoga but got back just in time to gather my things and head off to class.  I should have just stayed home since I was still very tired from climbing and full from the late lunch / early dinner.  Happily I made it through class without embarrassing myself.

Birthday!

Yesterday was Anong’s birthday so we went out and did a few fun non-climbing things.  We slept in then went to the Catfish Farm.  It’s sort of like a zoo.  They have lots of catfish obviously and a few other animals.  It costs ฿50 to get in and they also give you some food for feeding the fish.  It was fun throwing the fish food in the lake and watching the fish try to be the first one to eat it.

IMG_6657Next we went to lunch.  I don’t remember the name of the place but it was on the way back from the catfish farm.  The food was pretty good but the best part was it was next to a creek and under a canopy of trees so it was relatively cool.  The weather has been quite hot this week.  Getting up to around 37C.

After lunch we went back to the room to relax for a bit then went out and got massages.  There are dozens of places to get a massage in Ao Nang and most of them are pretty cheap with an hour long massage costing ฿200 to ฿300.  Quality of the massage is hit or miss but it’s usually not bad.  When paying for the massages I was reminded that not every Thai person is out to scam the tourists.  I accidently gave a ฿1000 note instead of ฿100 note and the lady let me know I gave her too much.

After the massages we went back to the room again to get cleaned up for dinner at Lae Lay Grill.  The food is pretty good but the view is amazing.

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Coconut Caramel Ice Cream

I was craving some ice cream so thought I would try making my own out of coconut milk.  I found a recipe online for coconut caramel ice cream that sounded good.  I don’t have any measuring spoons, cups, and the recipe called for cans of coconut milk.  I only have 8.5 oz cartons.  So, I winged it and it came out pretty good.  Here’s my “recipe”

  1. Put 1 carton of coconut milk in a pan and add a lot of sugar.
  2. Add a little salt.
  3. Turn head to medium high and reduce until the liquid turns brown and look like caramel.
  4. Add the second carton of coconut milk and bring to a boil.
  5. Temper some egg yolks.
  6. Place the whole mixture back in the pan and place over medium low heat.
  7. Stir frequently just until the mixture thickens a little bit.
  8. Put in the freezer.
  9. Stir every couple hours.
  10. Done!
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Coconut Caramel Ice Cream!

Valentines Day

Ate pizza at the Spaghetti House in Ao Nang followed by some pasta.  They like to advertise that they have no Thai food.  Which I guess is a good thing.  I’m always suspicious of the restaurants that have Indian food, Thai food, hamburgers, and Italian food on the menu.  They can’t possibly cook all cuisines well.  The pizza was ok but not what I like.  The crust was paper thin and crackery without any chewiness to it.  But it was bread, meat, and cheese so it was still good.  The pasta I thought was a bit better.  Then I had a glass of red wine that was not very good.  Overall, about what I’d expect from a restaurant in Ao Nang.

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