Ko Samet

IMG_8030

I have been very fortunate with the amount of paid holidays this semester since we had another 3 day weekend July 28-30. This time I visited a small island that took about 5 hours to get to by van and ferry. Ko Samet is a very small island that can be either very expensive or fairly affordable depending how you travel. For example, the ferry took about 20 minutes and had a pretty view but they also offered a speedboat option, which cost double the price of the ferry. They had a 20 baht entry fee for everyone just to enter the pier (but 20 baht is less than $1 USD so it’s not a big deal).

It was extremely crowded since it was a holiday weekend so I definitely saved a lot of money by booking a place to stay ahead of time. The hostel I stayed at was called Samed Thanee. They were the cheapest option I could find with wifi and AC included. It was very nice and clean but on the opposite side of the island from the good beaches, however you can drive there on a rental scooter easily in 10 minutes or less. The plus side of this location was that it was very quiet at night since it was pretty far away from all the touristy bars and party hostels.

There were also lots of food choices for about 150 baht on average but I managed to find meals for 60 baht since this was the end of the month and I had a very low budget. I also went to the beach early enough in the day that I didn’t have to pay the 200 baht they normally charge foreigners since the good beaches are located inside a national park.

The first beach I went to was called Ao Prao and it was fairly empty which was surprising considering that there are resorts located directly on the road on this beach. There were tree swings, which were fun to relax in the shade on especially since it was an extremely hot and sunny day. There was some trash which is a problem with a lot of the beaches I’ve visited around this area of Thailand but they at least have workers picking it up and have signs put up that ask tourists not to litter.

I stopped at one more beach that was next to Ao Prao (not sure of the name of this one) but this beach had very soft, white sand so it was very beautiful as long as you kept your eyes open for broken glass around the entrance. Overall, it was definitely an enjoyable weekend getaway with gorgeous views!

Advertisements

Thai Food

IMG_6378

This was my first meal in Thailand. It was a seafood fried rice and it was really good. It wasn’t spicy but the little dish contains a sauce with extremely spicy red chilis. I found out how spicy these little guys are the hard way but now I know to keep an eye out for them as they’re a very popular ingredient here.

I’m super proud of my extremely creative title for this post. However, it is accurate because this is a post solely devoted to the types of food I’ve tried so far while in Thailand. No, I haven’t tried mango sticky rice yet! I have been told several times it’s a must and I do plan to try it eventually but I am not a big dessert person so that’s why I haven’t rushed to try it in my first couple of weeks here.

IMG_6709 2

This is the one dessert I have tried because they were gifts from my teachers. I didn’t get a picture of the inside but they were really mushy and soft, white, squares that tasted like sweet coconut. They were pretty good but super messy to eat.

Sugar is added to almost any kind of cold drink here. It’s been difficult to find coconut water, iced tea, iced coffee, or any kind of healthy fruit/greens drink without a lot of sugar added. I went against my better judgment and tried a strawberry smoothie one day and could not believe how sweet it was. This has been a challenge for me since at home I drink hot or iced black coffee, plain iced or hot tea,  and coconut water with less than 14 grams of sugar (that was the lowest amount I could find so far and it ranges as high as 24 grams for just a small bottle).

IMG_6555

This seafood salad with some glass noodles is one of the healthiest dishes I’ve discovered so far and had a lot of Thai cilantro which is such a delicious flavor. I ordered an iced peach tea which tasted really good but is super sweet because of the added sugar so it definitely isn’t something I’ll be drinking regularly.

I eat a lot of salad, greens and other vegetables at home. Here it is very difficult to get very many vegetables at any food establishment. While there are plenty available at grocery stores, it is actually cheaper to eat out for every meal here than to cook. There’s a place near the school where I often have lunch that only costs $1-2 for a tasty, good sized meal (see photos below). Some places I go for dinner can cost around $4 for a good meal or $6 for a meal with a beer but so far I haven’t seen prices much higher than that and they’re often lower.

I am a pescetarian which means I don’t eat any meat but I still eat fish/seafood and I am about 3 months away from my 2 year mark. I would say it’s pretty impossible to be vegetarian or vegan here. While there is less dairy used in a lot of the food here, it is an extremely meat-based diet. The rare dishes that do not contain any kind of meat contain seafood. Additionally, ordering food here is very unlike ordering food in the US because you can’t easily substitute food items or ask for a certain dish without meat in it. Luckily I have been able to find things I can eat fairly easily so far.

Above are all things I ate while down in Phuket. The first was a Mexican Thai place. The second picture is red curry. The third is shrimp and vegetables with noodles. The last is just shrimp and vegetables in a light sauce.

IMG_6534

Seafood fried rice is something I’ll probably be eating a lot while I’m here since it’s a popular menu item even in very meat-based restaurants. So far I haven’t had one that wasn’t super good!

Sometimes the menus are completely in Thai in which case I look for a picture of anything that resembles shrimp, order it and hope for the best. I attempted yesterday using Google Translate to ask for a vegetarian dish to which the owners of the restaurant responded that they don’t offer any vegetarian options. I ended up trying a different place instead and found something with just shrimp in it. I have learned the Thai word for chicken so at the very least I can try to tell them “no chicken” since that is the most popular kind of meat eaten here.

IMG_6715

I don’t think this was a Thai style dish but it was from a place near my apartment and it was really good. Shrimp wontons with green egg noodles in a garlic soup.

Another difference from the US is that meals are brought out as soon as they are ready here. So while one person may be finishing their food, another person at the table may not have even received theirs yet.

IMG_6553

The one thing that’s healthy that I’ve been eating more of is fruit. I didn’t think I even liked mangoes before I came here and now I eat them all the time. There is a store really close to my apartment with fresh sliced fruit as well as some food carts will often have it as well! I have also started buying salad at the supermarket and recently bought a coconut that already has a hole in the top and came with a spoon and straw 🙂

UPDATE: I managed to find some pretty decent pizza! 🙂

IMG_6727.jpg