3+3’s is a reflection process I learned at my company, Peer Insight, to outwardly give praise to things that worked well and reflect on things that need improvement after a project, event, etc.. Here are my 3+3’s (… well, really 4+4s) from our time in Ko Lanta, an island off the coast of Thailand.
- Bamboo Leaf Restaurant. Pad Thai and Panang curry better than anywhere in the USA for $2.50 each. Need I say more? I will…We visited lots of restaurants in Ko Lanta but this by far was our favorite. It was located in a non-touristy area of Ko Lanta and it had just opened back in November 2013. The family-run business had the best pad thai we have had to date (and we have had a LOT of it), was one of the cheapest, and the experience was wonderful. The pad thai had a nice balance of sweet, salty and tart (with the careful balance of three core ingredients – fish sauce, tamarind paste and lime – we learn a lot more about this in our Thai cooking class…more on this in future post). The restaurant is not on tripadvisor or Yelp and it’s hard to locate the address on a map. When we asked the owner to get on TripAdvisor so he could drive business to his restaurant, his response was “next season.” Clearly not a business-focused owner but a more laid back Thai who knows how to create a business and still be chillllll.
- BEER! Malaysia is a pretty dry country because of the extensive Muslim population, therefore; alcohol is really expensive. We didn’t have much beer in Malaysia, but in Thailand – game on. No hoppy IPAs or complex Belgian Ales – only clean refreshing lager, and you need it after a hot day in the sun. Chang Beer is the cheapest (50 baht or $1.50 for a 630ml bottle) and highest alcohol content – 6.4%
- Snorkeling Trip. We decide to splurge on an all day snorkeling trip which included transportation to/from hostel, equipment rental, 3 islands and a buffet Thai lunch for $24 each. While the actual snorkeling wasn’t that great, seeing all the small islands in the water, visiting a deserted beach for 2 hours, and the amazing lunch was worth the trip. The craziest thing was riding in the Long-tail boats that are common throughout Thailand. They are a wooden boat with an automotive engine strapped on the back and jerry-rigged to a propeller blade in the water. There is no protection between the spinning belts of the engine and the open sea and people on the boat. (::ahem:: boat design innovation teams – are you taking note?).
- Whole Fish: At a restaurant on the pier, you walk up to the cook (who is outside of the restaurant at the grill), pick out the fish you want from the catch of the day and choose how you want it cooked. I got the Seabass. Steamed. Lemon-garlic sauce. It was delicious and an amazing experience (Papi, I was thinking about you the whole time!). The whole fish was $9 which is very expensive by Thai standards!
- Getting there. Oy. After catching a bus to the KL airport with literally 60 seconds to spare (it would have left us), going through a very different airport baggage/security process than in the USA and making it through Thai customs without them asking us why we only had a one way ticket into Thailand, we made it to Krabi, Thailand. We had read online that it took about 2.5 hours to get to Ko Lanta Beach from Krabi. Well, our reality was 6 hours and our hostel almost canceling our reservation. We had to take a bus, a mini-van and two ferries to get to Ko Lanta. It was a tiring journey but we arrived eventually.
- Touristy: At Bamboo Village in Kuala Lumpur we enjoyed interacting with local Malays who were on vacation. In Ko Lanta, it was a more typical scene you see in vacation spots in developing countries. The place was crawling with Swedes, Germans and other Europeans and all the local Thais were working in restaurants, taxis, etc. While it was an overall great experience in Ko Lanta, the goals of our trip include having more connections with the local culture (we definitely get a taste of this at Din Dang Building Center. Stay tuned for Amber’s upcoming post).
- Difficult to get around: Scooters/Motorcycles are the way to get around Thailand. I only felt comfortable riding a scooter after getting a lesson and nowhere would show us how. If they knew we were first-timers, they simply wouldn’t rent it to us. We did rent bicycles from our hostel but they were old and clunky so not very enjoyable for longer distances! We missed out on going to some of the other nicer beaches on the island but oh well!
- Bed Bugs: Amber was definitely getting mysterious bites on her hands at night, all in a row. The tell-tale sign of bed bugs. And they itched like hell. We sprayed our backpacks with Permethrin (which bedbugs don’t like the smell of and will die after contact) before leaving the US, so prayed to god that they wouldn’t follow us! (As of today, February 6, we haven’t experienced any signs of bedbugs since we left Ko Lanta two weeks ago so we are hoping that these critters didn’t follow us)
Also, here is a sweet video clip of Amber on the beach (we will use in the music video Amber and I are making).
After some rest and relaxation, it is off to the Din Dang Center, a nonprofit that is teaching locals to build with natural materials. We are supposed to be building houses out of clay when we get there. Hopefully we won’t work as hard as the Jews did in Egypt…
Fun Fact: Did you know that Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand all drive on the left side of the road like England? It is interesting since there wasn’t much British influence in Thailand. They have a parliament system with a king/queen but hmm….