WanderMom's Phuket Story
Phuket was another amazing adventure for our family! For me, the highlights of the weekend included the amazing food, sea canoe tour, and finishing another marathon!
Amazing Thai Food!!
When we arrived in Phuket, it was around 8:00 and we had not had dinner. We wanted Thai food, of course!! We ventured to a Thai restaurant, Chao Lay, near the hotel property and feasted! I saved the menu as a memento because it was so good!! Hubby and I shared a 5-course set dinner. Check this out....and wine was included!
Appetizers: Nuea Yang Nam Tok - Grilled marinated beef sirloin E-San style with roasted rice.
Salmon Char Nam Pla - Fresh (as in raw) salmon with lime and garlic
Salad: Gai Ta Kai Som Tum = Green papaya salad with lemongrass, grilled chicken and crispy garlic.
Soup: Gaeng Oam Pla - Mixed herbs in clear vegetable soup with fish and fresh dill. The mushrooms were divine!!
Pla Ka Pong Phad Krueng Gaeng Keaw Wran - Wok fried fillet of sea bass in green curry paste, eggplants, and fresh sweet basil.
Choo Chee Poo Nim Thord - Crispy soft shelll crab in red coconut sauce
Nuea Phad Kha Orn - Stir fried tenderloin of beef with julienne galangal and black pepper corn
Phad Broccoli Goong - Stir fried broccoli with prawns in oyster sauce
Kaow Suey - Steamed rice
Dessert: Kanom Thai Kab Polamai Ruam - Local sweets and fresh fruits.
Delicious! This was just one of several amazing meals we had over the weekend!! Two other stand-out restaurants were Lotus, on the beach near our hotel where we really got to try local dishes, and Savoey, where we had the most amazing sea bass I've ever had in my life!!
John Gray Sea Canoe Tour
I am not the kind of person that usually enjoys touristy "tours". I was afraid this whole experience might turn out to be hokey at best. I am happy to report that the John Gray Sea Canoe tour was, by far, one of the top adventure experiences of my life (so far!).
We were escorted from our hotel to the boat dock. We then spent about an hour motoring out to Phang Nga Bay. During this time, we enjoyed a light Thai lunch, nature briefing, and instructions. We pass several small, spiky, limestone cliff islands. The time passed quickly and soon we were ready for our first trip into the caves. Our guide, Noi, paddled us expertly throughout the day. I soon learned how this works. We paddled by sea canoe into a cave. The caves can only be entered during low tide and it is a tight fit! We have to lay down in our canoes, sometimes letting air out, to make it through. I was in the front of our canoe and there were a couple of times that I thought I might lose some skin off my nose - seriously!! We spend time in three caves - bat cave, oyster cave, and mangrove cave - each named for their inspiring feature. On the other side of each cave awaits an untouched hong (best described as a lagoon surrounded by limestone cliffs). We explored the wildlife and learned about the ecosystems contained within each hong. The experience is quiet, breath taking, and spiritual. I don't know how you can see something like this and not believe in some kind of higher power - however you wish to define it. This is pure beauty!
We explored the caves and then made our way back to the boat for some time to swim and kayak. Jumping off the back of the boat was distinctly memorable for me - taking me back to my childhood when jumping off boats was a regular activity! We had fun - free spirited splashing, jumping, and diving!
While we waited for dinner, Noi helped us build our family's loi krathong. "Loi" means to float. A "krathong" is made from biodegradable materials - banana tree trunk, leaves, orchids, marigolds, and bamboo along with candles and incense. Thai people launch the loi krathong during a festival during the full moon in November. It is a ceremony to honor Buddha. The candles on the krathong are lit to show respect to Buddha. Releasing the krathong into the water symbolizes letting go of all of your grudges, anger, and resentment, so that you can start your life afresh. We also placed fingernails and hair (weird, I know) onto the krathong. This represents letting go of one's bad character traits. Floating the krathong is thought to bring you good luck.
We enjoyed a home-cooked Thai seafood buffet dinner.
After dinner, we boarded our canoes in the pitch black night and headed back through mangrove cave and into the hong. What struck me was the silence. There were at least 30 of us and no one was making a sound. The blanket of stars and sound of tree frogs surrounded us. We lit our krathongs and set them afloat, each of us feeling grateful for this amazing experience and making a silent wish.
Upon re-entering the cave, all was black. Noi instructed us to splash the water. The water was bio-luminescent and created tiny sparks! I had seen bio-luminescent water in Puerto Rico, but I was surprised to find that the luminescence here was different! I was secretly thrilled to hear the giggles coming from my daughter. Turns out that when we grow older, we still like sparkles - its just that they take a different form ;-)
As we canoed into and out of the cave, a storm kicked up on the sea which was all the better for heightening the mystical experience we were having. This was a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. When I look back 30 years from now, this is the kind of experience that makes a life-time.
International Laguna Phuket Marathon
Back in November, it was very cold in Pittsburgh. At the time, a marathon in a tropical paradise seemed like a really good idea. Um, what was I thinking? Since arriving in Singapore and struggling to run in the heat and humidity, I hada lot of doubts about my ability to accomplish this run! Hubby comforted me by pointing out that I had 7.5 hours to finish, so I went for it. I knew I could walk half of it and still finish in that time!
The marathon started at 4:30 am Sunday morning. The hotel provided a continental breakfast for runners (yeah!) and a shuttle to the start. I got ready, lathered up with sunscreen, and made my way to the race start. I didn't bother with my garmin or iPod. I was grateful for the early start time because I knew I could run in the "cool" dark for at least 3 hours before the sun came up. The temp at the start was 86 degrees and with the humidity, the "feels like" temp was 95. It was only going up from there! The air was thick!
As we started to run, I was caught up in the excitement of the marathon start, as I always am. I told myself to find a pace that I felt like I could run all day - heat or no heat - and then go even slower! I was going to need gas in my tank at the end. I settled in on a run/walk strategy - run 12 km, walk 1, run 10 km, walk 1, run 8 km, walk 1, run 6 km, walk 1, run 2 km. I felt okay - not nauseous like all of my previous runs in Singapore - and knew that I would finish, albeit at a slow pace.
As I ran, the moon was the only light!! My other senses took over. I heard roosters crowing, dogs howling, tree frogs, the cackling of the electrical wires, tribal drums, and the pounding of feet. I smelled jasmine and incense. Amazing! As the sun came up, I enjoyed running with feral dogs and alongside monks who were walking to temple. We passed one tiny village after another. My favorite part of the race were the sections near the coast, not just for the beautiful scenery but for the cool breezes as well.
Around 12 km I noticed a slap, slap, slap on my legs. I looked down to find that my running dress was saturated. I had to continuously wring it out during the run. I have never sweated so much in my life. I held it together with the help of my metasalt tabs. I was able to stick with the run/walk plan until about 33 km. Then, the clouds burned off, the sun came out in full force, and I was barely holding on. I could not keep up with the fluid loss. I am a "salt loser" on a good day, so this was tough for me. I managed a run 2 km/walk 1 km for awhile and then finally finished. It took me 5 hours and 39 minutes. There is no question that my medal was hard earned and worth every step!!
Oh, I have two continents down with the third planned for next year!!