Country number 4, my final stop, was Thailand. Having spent a few days in Penang ( West Malaysia) I had considered ferrying my way up to Thailand but due to low season this was not an option. I flew from Penang to Krabi, a western coast province famous for the Phi Phi islands and your standard blue water paradise photos.
My hostel was the Funky Krab, run by a wonderful Thai woman and her family. They were warm, welcoming and very helpful with suggestions of things to do. On my first evening I explored the market nearby selling everything from fresh sushi to shoes and eventually grabbed some Pad Thai in a nearby bar where every drink comes with a free shot. The food was spicy as hell but delicious nonetheless. I met a German girl at my hostel and we decided we had to visit the islands the next day.
We were a short distance from the pier so we headed down around 11. If I remember correctly the last boat over leaves at half 11 but before that they’re pretty frequent. I headed for Railay Island which is about a thirty minute boat ride away. Once we arrived we were advised to go to Phranang Beach instead of Railay and I could definitely see why. The sand at Phranang was silky soft and the beach was so quiet.
You could relax and even pop into the water without worrying about your stuff on the beach. The major downside was the lack of food (and alcohol). There was one restaurant on the beach front that was charging an arm and a leg for a plate of spring rolls. We made our way back towards the pier and found a pretty nice restaurant with a good selection of food and drink at a great price. Having booked a cooking lesson for that evening we were quite keen to get the boat back early but the guy organising the trips refused until we got at least 8 people (just so you’re warned).
The cooking lesson had been booked through the hostel and one of the owners actually came to collect us. We drove for maybe 20 mins before reaching Thai Charm Cooking School (thaicharmcooking.com). It’s run by a young Thai couple, Heng and her lovely husband, and there were only 2 other people there with us. We got to choose 1 dish from each of the 4 courses (vegetarian options available). We prepped the ingredients for all the dishes first and then cooked them very quickly one after another.
The first dish was Phad Thai, a traditional noodle dish in Thailand. Next we made Tom Yum Goong, a sour and spicy soup, followed by an incredible green papaya salad. Finally we chose between a red, green and phanang curry which we made using our own fresh curry pastes. We covered each dish after we’d finished and ate the four courses one after the other at the table together. It was all absolutely delicious and so flavoursome. After the savoury dishes we moved onto 2 desserts; mango with sticky rice and banana in coconut milk.
At the end of the lesson we each received a certificate for taking part and a book containing the 10 recipes available in the class. I would highly recommend not only taking this class but also recreating the quick and simple dishes when you get home!
The days that followed involved another trip to the beach and a terrible temple visit. I visited the Tiger Cave Temple on my final day and it was far from peaceful. I entered the temple and was immediately shouted at because of my clothes. I have always been very respectful when visiting temples, covering the appropriate body parts and removing shoes if required but this time I didn’t know what to expect as I hadn’t been warned. After a quick wardrobe change (there are sarongs outside to rent for the day) I went back into the temple for a glance before starting on the 1,237 steps to the top. The walk was exhausting but the view from the top made it almost worth it.
Krabi was the perfect place to wind down my travels. I wasn’t sure if spending my final days in Asia on the beach would be a waste of time but it was actually lovely to relax after a hectic few weeks. I did however feel that I only really took in the touristy part of Thailand and can’t wait to return to explore the north of the country.
After taking in the sun for a few days I boarded the flight from hell and touched down in Ireland 3 days later, thus ending my 6 month Asia adventure.