A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about market

Hpa An

Markets and Meals

sunny 32 °C

We ventured down to the Cinderella Hotel again for a bit of a brunch. Ryan had Chicken Kinbao and I had Thai fried rice. Sadly neither could hold a candle to last night's meal but they did look quite fancy.


Getting a cab after that was fairly easy and only cost 2000 kyat to get to the bus station. From there the ticket to Hpa-An was only 1000 kyat ($1) each. The seats were tight benches. The windows only cooled the vehicle a little as there was no air-conditioning. I was a little worried about my Thai pottery getting crushed in the pile of cargo where my luggage sat. Luckily, I'd wrapped it up well and it was fine. Google Maps helped us find the street the driver had said was just had markets, but we found some cheap guesthouses and the tourism centre. It was a large and busy enough street with lots of buildings and a temple nearby.

We found Soe Brothers Guesthouse and snagged the first and only room that they showed us with a private bathroom for $18. The British family in the lobby hadn't jumped on it as it was a little grubby but our standards weren't as high. Our only issue so far was wanting more hot water, but if we timed the showers right it wasn't as much of an issue.

We went walking to check out the bakery nearby that didn't have much in stock. We crossed another busy street to the fancy supermarket where we could get snacks: Thai sesame nut rolls and another small snack. The non-perishable section made up most of the store and they had a decent amount of imported goods too. The stores were quite different than ours back home. Fresh food belonged at the markets.

Before sunset, we explored the market block around our place. The covered market had fruits and vegetables, but the deeper we went the more raw meat and stinky fish sat out. Flies buzzed constantly. We couldn't get to the end fast enough. Once our nostrils had cleared, we kept our eyes peeled for fruit, seeing only watermelon for awhile. One woman had good looking bananas for 1200 and small mandarin oranges so we got 500 kyat/ 50 cents worth.

We dropped off our purchases and headed down the roads to San Ma Tou restaurant that we'd found recommended online. It was a bit of a walk, but once we arrived they set us up with over ten side-dishes/condiments, half of which we asked them to take away because of the meat. Since the food was prepared in advanced and sat out in pots to be served, Ryan was very much onboard with a veggie set, less risk of food poisoning. We had potato and bean curry, vegetable curry and honey fried potatoes. The potatoes were the tastiest, but the curries could have been better. It was far from the best in Myanmar, as the blog we'd read had claimed, though it could have been on off day for them. For dessert, there were coffee candies, tamarind balls and coconut jaggery, which if you've never tried is quite sweet and delicious.

We walked back in the dark. The clock tower was lit up nicely. Despite being smaller than Mawlamyine, this place seemed to have more life and traffic.


Posted by Sarah.M 06:07 Archived in Myanmar Tagged restaurant market myanmar an clock_tower hpa san_ma_tou Comments (0)

New Years Eve in Ubon Ratchatani

sunny 29 °C

It was nice to wake up in a soft bed in the morning and go downstairs for a complimentary breakfast. They even had tasty cookies to go with our jam toast. We did some research in the room to try and find attractions to visit here and how to get around. The wiki-travel was a touch bare for Ubon Ratchatani. The girl at the front desk helped us figure out the locations on the map. Some were close and others far.

On the way to the first temple. we stopped at a restaurant with an advertisement for vegetarian food. Ryan had fried rice and pork and I tried the fried rice paprika, forgetting that paprika in Asia is ultra spicy. I was even slurping down my soup to make my mouth stop burning. I don't think I've really experienced such pain eating before without losing my wisdom teeth.

We found the tourism authority of Thailand (which abbreviates as TAT without explaining what it stands for) who gave us even more maps that were quite helpful. The first temple, Wat Tung Sri Muang, was easy enough to find. It had an ornate archway. We followed another woman past a tower and statue.


In a small pond stood a wooden building among the lotus plants. We walked the bridge to go inside and discovered it was a scroll house to keep religious documents. There was a small shrine in the middle and we walked around, able to take in Wat Tung Sri Muang from the open windows. The building had a musty smell.


The main temple had white pillars and gold nearing the roof. Inside, there were paintings. A monk had another woman translate for him to tell us that they depicted the life of Buddha. They were both quite friendly.


Next, we visited Ubon museum to learn more about the history of Thailand and the region. The exhibits went through different compositions of soil and resources in the area today. It detailed the introduction of Buddhism to Thailand then to the Dvaravati and Khmer periods. Another section had artefacts from Laos and Thailand. The Laotian Buddha statues had smaller and rounder faces. There were also animal traps and handicrafts.
Although the museum covered a lot, it was a manageable size, not overwhelming and considerably cooler than it was outside.


Afterward, we found the entrance to Wat Sri Ubon, past the bustling New Year's market. We walked around the exterior a bit but didn't really go inside. Lots of people were sitting around almost picnicking by the temples.


The next temple would require transportation: songtao eight or twelve according to our map. We walked awhile, tried flagging down two trucks with no luck. They saw us, stopped, but wouldn't let us on. Though other Thais further down the street could board. It felt quite anti-foreigner and frustrating, though we didn't fully understand their reasons. It got pretty hot so we flagged down a tuktuk who took us a on a short pricey ride.


We made it to the impressive Wat Ban Na Mueng, a boat temple. Statues of dozens of people rowed with giant oars fixed over the sides of the boat temple. At the back there was a row of golden Buddha statues, gleaming in the hot sun. The whole area was fun to photograph and not too busy. We could walk around on the boat as well as in the temple in the cabin area of the boat.


Toward the back of the grounds, sat the main temple on an island in a large pond. This boat temple was wider and sparkled. In the water, small whiskers surfaced attached to hungry catfish fed by the locals. Turtles came to the surface frequently too, though they were easily spooked. Blue Naga (snake) tails rose out of the back of the boat and their bodies traced the path of the bridges. The boat was white unlike the previous brown wooden one. On the way out, we passed another white temple under construction along with the bell tower.


We were a bit worried about transport back as we were now in the boonies and our tuktuk had taken off as soon as we handed him cash. A man in a black car stopped to offer us a ride but our destination was not on his way, though he wished us good luck (chok dee!). At the main road, we saw a taxi right away who offered to take us. He was nice and friendly, though he spoke little English.

We arrived at Wat Phra That Nong Bwa with some daylight still illuminating the white and golden tower. It was more boxy and tall than the others.
At all the temples, we had noticed white strings tied just above head-level in a grid pattern. Bundles of string were attached as well. Inside the temple, gold glistened as high as the eye could see and a large Buddha sat in the middle. Several people dressed in white were praying.


The back area of the temple was reserved for those buying products to donate in the new year festival. A couple explained it to us as we accidentally wandered into the space. We went to 7-11 for a snack then sat on the sarong in the grass by the temple until the sky went dark and the temple lit up in gold. It was quite beautiful to see. More families arrived for the ceremony, lying down bamboo mats and tying the white string to their donations.


Not wanting to take up space for the celebrations and getting hungry, we started walking to the main street to catch a cab. Since it was New Year's Eve, the cabs going to the city were all full. The ones travelling the other way looked that way too. Figuring we might as well cover some ground as we attempted to hail a cab, we made it all the way to a mall where we stopped for supper in MK restaurant known for its hot pot dishes. I had a veggie suki and mango drink, Ryan a chicken dish and later we also had some pretzels. Outside we met a family from Rayong as pumped about Koh Samet (a Thai island and few hours from Bangkok) as I was.


We walked down to the NYE fair to see alleys of games, shops, food and even carnival rides. We braved the Ferris wheel as it seemed safer than the fast spinning one in a country where we weren't familiar with the safety standards. It gave us a nice bird's eye view of the tents, stage, crowds and lights. The military had also set up a cap gun shooting range. We were tuckered out by that point and went back to sleep at the hotel. Ryan woke me up at midnight for a moment.


Posted by Sarah.M 22:13 Archived in Thailand Tagged temple market new years cab ubon ratchatani Comments (0)

Holiday Bus Travels

semi-overcast 28 °C

Our mission for the day was to get to Ubon Ratchatani and we arrived at the station to catch the 9:30 bus. It was unfortunately full. Christmas wasn't really a big deal, but New Years was a cause to celebrate in Thailand, meaning everyone was trying to get back to their families. We asked about tickets and the official information was to get our tickets on the bus itself. Another man came to try and buy tickets from him, but we declined as we thought it may be a scam. We waited it out.

At 10:15 another bus came. People asked or told us to get on the board so we did. The Thai vendor came running and yelling at us. I stayed with our bags near the bus in case there weren't seats while Ryan dealt with him. He'd been quite condescending but sold Ryan the tickets. When we boarded there weren't any seats, so Ryan ran back to try and get tickets for the next one. The guy threw his hands up and walked away, clearly not his problem anymore.

The driver pulled out plastic stools for us and the other Thai passengers who had purchased oversold seats. The same thing had happened to me in Malaysia a few years earlier so I wasn't too surprised. Once enough people left, we'd take their seats. This was technically the VIP bus, a private company so unlike the local bus (where you bought the tickets inside) they didn't say they were full, they just created more seats. Ryan was still pretty upset and wanted to punch the vendor.

After an hour and a half of hanging onto the backs of seats, handles and armrests, we got one of the big seats, larger than the average just so they could charge a high price per ticket and overfill the bus anyway. We even got to sit together later as the other passengers reached their destinations.

In Ubon, we took a tuktuk straight to Sri Isan Hotel. It had an actual lobby, unlike most of the budget places we stay, with couches, tables and lounging areas. We were led up to the second floor to our snazzy room which came with a couch, desk, hair dryer, kettle, fridge, TV and even free water in glass bottles. Weren't we special, usually our budget rooms didn't come with such luxury. It would be a nice place to spend the new year.


We went to the market to eat, passing a neat park in the process with a big track filled with joggers and runners. It gave me a good feeling to see so many active individuals engaging in basketball, running, and aerobics. There was a big gold statue area in the middle of the big park that we'd explore later. We passed the city shrine temple with animal statues in front of the white, gold and red building.


For supper, we found Vietnamese baguette sandwiches which were crunchy and a touch bland, but vegetarian friendly for me. Ryan tried some fried chicken and I had some taro dumplings. Back at the room, I managed to get my belated Christmas Skype in with a decent connection.

Posted by Sarah.M 21:01 Archived in Thailand Tagged temple bus market thailand ubon ratchatani overcrowded Comments (0)

To Krabi town!

Our (re)introduction to Thailand

sunny 33 °C

The flight to Kuala Lumpur was long but we managed to sleep just a bit. The cabin was pretty dry when combined with all the arid weather we faced in China, so we had to buy a bottle of water. If you've never flown budget Asian airlines, the only complimentary extra they offer you other than the ticket and a smile, is the barf bag. You pay out of pockets for everything else. I had some Malay currency from my last trip so it worked out fine and we got our tiny bottle.

I had been dreading flying into Kuala Lumpur's airport since we booked the flight, but as it turned out they'd built a new one in the past two years which meant that we didn't even have to go through immigration or customs or reclaim our bags. They actually had a layover counter to make sure our bags were coming through and that we were in the right place. We did have to collect the tickets that the clerk in Beijing failed to print for us. We spent our few hours using the free unrestricted internet again, hurray for Facebook and Google! We also ate sandwiches at Dunkin Donuts which was one of our few options. They even had free drinking water at the airport. We hardly wanted to leave.


The flight to Krabi was short and sweet, but the immigration lines less so. Once we cleared them, we were free to go with our 30 day stamp. We ditched our Beijing sweaters that had made us stick out in KL but the jeans and long sleeves would have to stay a bit longer.

Ignoring the offers from bus companies and taxis, we set off to find a songtao I'd read about on wikitravel. We tried to find a spot in the shade on the main road as we kept an eye out for pick-up trucks. They were colour coded and we just needed a white one. The hot, sticky, air wasn't doing us any favours and after fifteen minutes I was beginning to doubt the advice I read was valid.

Finally, we flagged one down. Ryan wasn't too sure about riding in the back of a truck. I had forgotten that normal people found it a bit strange and unsettling. After a year living here, it had just become normal for me. He went with it anyway and we made it into town for just under a dollar combined.

Once we were there, I could finally use Google maps to help us find the hotel. Fun fact, if you load the city's map beforehand, the built in GPS will even keep working once the wifi disappears. Before we found our destination, we did have to stop and buy fruit from a vendor with what little Thai I remembered. She spoke English anyway, but it was still fun to be able to communicate with people again. Ryan loved the Thai pineapple and I'd missed it too. He was already falling in love with the country and I was beginning to wonder why I ever left. A sweet treat and some heat mid-winter will do that to a person.


We found our guesthouse on the main street, past some cheap food vendors, tourist clothing stands, convenience stores and a very lost drunk Finnish guy. The lobby was nice and spacious with a tour desk and high ceilings. The woman working greeted us with a smile and told us we had a wonderful room, lots of space but very high. The cheapest ones always seem to be on the top, in this case 5th, floor. She wasn't lying about the room though: bright walls with so much space to move around, plus a balcony.


Excited about the city, we went into Krabi town to explore. We found where to buy water and food. A grocery store with an imported foods section even carried Skippy peanut butter so we had to pick some up despite the marked up price, plus a little spoon. If anything we were budgeting and saving money - think of all those cheap breakfasts we could have. Wandering the outdoor shops, Ryan even managed to find himself a bandana before we settled into a little tourist cafe with prices three times as high as I remembered. The pineapple fruit shakes were nice and our curries delicious. I had a Tom Kha coconut milk soup and Ryan had Penang curry.

A market sprung up as the sun went down. Food, clothes, accessories, electronics, crafts and all kind of stands were set up to cater to the mix of foreign and local customers. English signs helped us figure out some of the dishes we might try tomorrow. Ryan found a pretty sweet tiger shirt that he'd been anticipating buying long before we hopped on the plane to China. He went back and forth on the price before agreeing to it. I still had a pretty good sense of what was a fair price so he did well.

We found Thai pancakes with banana and chocolate and sat down to eat them while people on stage performed some sound checks. The young women working at the restaurant we ate at before were running around collecting dishes at the tables. They saw us, waved and laughed, probably because we couldn't stop eating. How could you with all this tasty food?


A lot of people rag on Krabi town as a place they wouldn't want to stay. Personally, I loved seeing the mix of local culture and tourist infrastructure. Markets, street stall food, restaurants, shops on the first floor of multi-story buildings. To me this was Thailand. Because we were in the South, there were more Muslim Thai people and that was reflected in the dress. It was something I had missed my first time crashing through the south as a speedy tourist. The fact that local people were out enjoying the market meant that this wasn't all for show for the visitors too. It felt real and I loved that part of it.

Posted by Sarah.M 07:36 Archived in Thailand Tagged market kuala thailand krabi maps lumpur google curry klia2 songtao Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 4 of 4) Page [1]