Khanom (Thailand)

I am now back in Thailand after a month in Goa; I arrived in Goa on 11th January and flew back to Bangkok overnight on 10th February; in those 4 weeks I managed to complete the sale of the apartment that I had bought there in 2007/8…………..in a country where the simplest of tasks such as buying a SIM card for a mobile phone or an internet dongle for a laptop are so weighed down by bureaucracy that they become an endurance test lasting up to a week, it was a remarkable achievement, right up there with the very best, comparable perhaps to swimming the English channel with a gas stove strapped to your back…………front crawl, naturally………….

After one night in Bangkok I took an overnight train south to Surat Thani to meet up with my lovely friend Yada, who, some of you may recall, I travelled with last winter………….she recommended the quiet seaside resort of Khanom to me, which is about 30 kilometres from Donsak, where Yada lives and where she works as a maths teacher in a local government school; I am now staying there (Khanom) which means that we can spend time together at the weekends and meet for dinner some evenings during the week……….

I arrived here last Thursday the 13th February and booked in for 4 nights at the Rachakiri resort and spa, which is a lovely and luxurious hotel in a wonderful location on a small headland at the end of the beach………I have since moved to a much cheaper hotel under the same ownership about a kilometre away, where for £20.00 per night I have a lovely large air-con room, free wi-fi, free use of the swimming pool and facilities at the Rachakiri and a new scooter to poodle around on………….it would be too much to expect breakfast to be included for this price, but on my first day Yada arrived in her car with at least 10 kilograms of fresh fruit for me……..mangos, papayas, water melon, pineapple, rose apples and a couple of others that I don’t know the names of, oh, and a stack of paper plates and a new and very sharp fruit knife………….sorted !!

Above and below are a few photos of the lovely Rachakiri resort and spa…………..where you can swim in the beautiful infinity pool or plunge into the sea beyond……….

Above and below, the hotel swimming pool is surrounded by frangipani trees and their beautiful blossoms

This little fellow is to be seen lazing around the swimming pool every day, enjoying the heat from the tiles and the small rocks that border the pool; he’s about 18″ long, half of which is his tail…………

 

 

View across the bay looking towards Khanom from the road that led me to a lovely little deserted beach………………below

 

 

Above …………..lunch with a view; Somtum, this is the favourite food of Yada (which might explain why she weighs a mere 42 kilos) and she introduced me to it last winter……addiction soon followed……..it is a salad made with shredded green papaya, carrot, peanuts, garlic, chillies, green beans, tomatoes and a few other ingredients in a wonderful spicy dressing; it somehow manages to be very spicy and yet extremely refreshing………………………served to me here at a little beachside restaurant with a bottle of water and a clean glass full of ice for 50 baht……£0.93p at todays exchange rate………….cheaper than any lunch that you can now get on the beach in Goa…………….

Above…………whilst on the subject of food, I discovered this wonderful green vegetable on a recent visit to Bangkok…………. I was totally bemused by the description from the non English speaking restaurant owner, who said it was “stir fried melon seedling”…I assumed this to have been completely lost in translation, until Tuk, the wife of Goy at the Thai Pin restaurant in St Margarets, London, kindly informed me that it is known as Yod fak maew, a particular variety of melon that grows in the north of Thailand………..she also went a step further and posted a photo of them growing on my Facebook page……..see below……….so very well done Tuk and many many thanks (^∆*)

……….and to any of you that have never visited the “Thai Pin” or have not been there for some time, please remember that it provides the best Thai food outside of Thailand, but please do not expect to be fed and watered for 93p ……… (^∆*)

A wind of change………………..

One of my main reasons for visiting Goa again this winter was to sell the apartment that I bought here in 2007/8; I have sold it back to the builder Ramiro Sales, and I must say that he has been very honourable and straightforward at all times during the protracted procedure of the sale

 

Everything that you try to do in India is hamstrung by bureaucracy, and here in Goa they specialize in making things as difficult as they possibly can; this, dovetailed with the “everybody wants a piece of the cake’ corruption, makes for near impossible situations……..so I am extremely grateful to Ramiro for his honesty and integrity, without which, the sale that has now been successfully concluded would not have been possible……….

India………..

they pencil in

they cancel out

they smile at you so sweet

they kiss your arse

they make you wait

they doctor the receipt……………

 

There is a wind of change blowing through Goa, this beautiful idyll is starting to fall victim to its burgeoning popularity; there have been several reports of thefts from visitors rented accommodation, prices have increased dramatically, over 20% in some restaurants………..I have just had my haircut in the same barbers that I use every year, and his price has increased from 50 rupees to 100…………I must say that I got more scissor work for my money than usual, he obviously felt obliged to justify the price hike with a scalping, so I have consequently needed to exercise my editorial rights to deny this post any photographic evidence…………….

 

Okay, the rupee has fallen dramatically in the last year on the world currency markets and £1.00 now gets you 100 rupees or a tad more, and to the first time visitor from any European economy it will still seem very cheap here………….. this can be the only explanation for the increase in prices, but it is not a justification, because food prices have stabilized here, and an overproduction has seen the price of most vegetables fall, so if the rupee recovers to the levels of a year or so ago, it will no longer have the same appeal to long-stay visitors, many of which that I have spoken to are already eying up alternative destinations for next winter……….

 

……..and finally, the Russians are here; having been mostly restricting themselves to the north of Goa for many years, with the exception of a few in the exclusive hotels in the south……….they are here en masse………..all over the beach in Benaulim and Varca……..loud, rude, obnoxious, obese, beer swilling, cigarette smoking, totally style-less and manner-less oiks………….oh, and they have brought their men with them……….

 

……..the beach shack owners and workers are welcoming them from behind a painted smile, and you cannot blame them, it is easy to understand the dynamic……….I go there for the day and spend a couple of hundred rupees on a salad and a bottle of water, the Russians arrive ordering lobsters, fish too big for the cook to lift, bottles of rum and anything else the they can shovel down their enormous necks………….they spend thousands of rupees every day, and although they are as yet, still incapable of saying please or thank you, they are understandably given sun-bed and table priority over anyone else…………….the Brits and other Europeans are complaining incessantly to each other every day, but the flood gates are open…………………….time to move on

 

I have enjoyed some great times in Goa, but I am pleased to have sold my apartment here and look forward to the next steps on this unravelling highway………….. I leave here on Monday evening for my flight back to Bangkok, via Mumbai, arriving in Bangkok on Tuesday morning, 10th February………..

 

Above and below ……….some things don’t change……….the beach in the early morning, fishing nets strung out to dry in the sun

 

Above and below………..the beach cleaners at work

 

At Zumbri  beach shack…………………

Wonderful pomegranates now in season………..3 for100 rupees (£1.00)…….it usually takes me about 10 minutes to eat one, but time is not my enemy, don’t you know……….and you need to be very careful with any juice spillage, it is indelible, as one of my beach towels can now bear testament to………………