For Thailand, our visas were for exactly 60 days, so I decided to split our time equally between the north and south. To begin our southern month, I chose to spend the first week at a rather obscure homestay, La Manora. Most of my accommodation choices were formed around treasures I discovered on Tripadvisor. Based on many reviews, some guesthouses seemed such a great fit for us and were so highly rated that I shaped our destinations based on that. But La Manora Homestay was off the map, both literally and figuratively. Overall, we had an ok time with Bernard (French) and his wife Kanlaya (Thai). They are kind people who genuinely wanted make our time pleasurable with them. It was sort of a relief to be staying in someone’s home rather than among other people at a guesthouse, and the meals prepared by the resident grandma were amazing. However, the rainy weather, remote location, long driving times, their lack of experience hosting little kids, combined with their exorbitant rate made it one of our less fun weeks. Our entire trip has been a blast, so this was a mere blip on the map. It was ok, just not what we were used too, which is pretty damn close to perfect.
Despite the weather and the list of activities Bernard had in mind (which we could not do either because the kids were too young or it was pouring), they did manage to offer some fun excursions. We had the chance to visit the local primary school down the road, where Merle and Mathilda danced and played with the kids. Merle and I enjoyed teaching them the ABC’s with a proper American accent, and we all had a lovely lunch together. Here in Thailand, it is definitely NOT mystery meat. I think my lunch at that school was some of the best food I have had in Thailand. Still thinking about that ginger soy sauce. Mathilda was especially proud to help serve the food.
At home, Kanlaya and Bernard taught them how to make delicious Thai style dessert dumplings made out of freshly shaved coconut, sugar cane nuggets and rice flour. Simple but irresistible.
We also spent two nights at a quaint, unspoiled beach town called Pak Meng on the Andaman coast. It is a jumping off point for trips to the Trang islands, a gorgeous group of limestone formations, covered in jungle yet lined with pristine beaches. We took a traditional (yet deafeningly loud) longtail boat to the remote island of Koh Mook. Finally, a beach of our dreams, but sadly the water stung too much for long swims because of the proliferation of sea lice.
Our sunset dinners by the beach in Pak Meng were delicious, fun, and bereft of foreigners.
This area was special to see, namely in hindsight, since as we continued north towards Krabi (which has very similar landscape) where most foreign tourists go, we witnessed how the environment in and out of the water is really suffering. That day the rough waters, human-sized black spiny urchins, and plethora of jellyfish prevented us from snorkeling much. However, our lunch on Koh Mook was a taste of what was to come in the following weeks: sand, sun and plain ol’ fun.