Friday, December 2, 2016

Koh Mak

Getting There

Through a number of easily made miscommunications, our ferry trip from Mairood to Koh Mak was a comedy of errors and we weren't always 100% sure we were going to make it. Chin had asked us what time our reservation was for, and since he and Judy and others were going to Trat anyway, they kindly gave us a ride at no cost. The first miscommunication was him not being specific asking, and us not being specific telling (because we didn't really understand this) which ferry line (and consequently which of two piers) we needed -- and so, in the way things work, we went to the wrong pier. No one there spoke English and we speak no Thai, but somehow we realized we were at the wrong pier, approximately 20 minutes before the ferry was to leave -- and the other ferry was 40 minutes away. Our hotel on Koh Mak had already purchased our ferry tickets, but all there was to do was to buy new ones and take our chances. Someone at the ticket desk understood our situation well enough and called the hotel to tell them to pick us up at the correct pier on the other side.

So we boarded the big catamaran-style ferry (no life jackets visible anywhere despite a sign that said we were required to wear them) and headed off, hoping for the best. It was a 2-hour trip, since we stopped first at Koh Kood and then on to Koh Mak. Sure enough, a man from the hotel was waiting for us, with truly the most beautiful smile we've seen on our trip, and off we went.

en route in the back of a songthaew

The Hotel

Seavana Resort was really lovely, and our room was gorgeous -- but with a terrible absence of electrical outlets.

our jewel box of a room

we had the top floor

sitting on our patio - behind those chairs on a slightly elevated platform was a jacuzzi we never used,
and never planned to, anyway
The grounds were really beautiful too; a small creek wound through the property, and there were orchids and lilies and mango trees, and some kind of flower that smelled so sweet it nearly knocked us over when we passed.

the butterflies were fabulous -- often the size of small birds! This one wasn't that large, but it was beautiful.

hammocks and day beds (and swings) were scattered throughout the property

sunset reflected in the little creek




wrong island, dudes!
The first afternoon we were there was really the only lovely day for doing things, but of course we didn't know that. We did know it was going to be windy the second and third days, but we underestimated how much an impact that would have. So while we should've gotten in the ocean the first afternoon, and maybe even used a kayak to head out to a small nearby island, instead we ate lunch and then swam in the pool, walked around the grounds, admired the beautiful sunset, and had a too-huge dinner. SERIOUSLY. We ordered easily 2.5 times the food we should've ordered.

crab tracks made me so happy.

these giant red leaves were everywhere

so happy to be in such a beautiful place. I'd forgotten to remove my yellow ferry sticker. :)

Marc specializes in art shots and panoramas. I love it when he's taking pictures..

here's one of his beautiful panoramas

the sky was really soft and beautiful

And here is a shot he took because he knew I would love it -- and he was so right. Leaves at the edge of the pool.

and speaking of the pool -- there it is!

The place doesn't look real, does it? It was really so very lovely. That island out there is the one we
could've kayaked to. Too bad.

gorgeous sunset!

Just your basic paradise, really.
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, usually, and I especially love breakfast when we are on vacation. I still remember the enormous breakfast buffet we had in Hoi An, back in 2005; the fresh fruit was so luscious and it was the first time I'd ever eaten dragonfruit (or seen it, for that matter). The breakfast buffet here wasn't nearly as large, but it was so good.

In addition to the buffet items -- fresh fruit, homemade yogurt, homemade breads and jams, homemade croissants --
they also had a short menu of more substantive dishes. Although Marc tried a couple of different things, every
morning I just got the banana pancakes. The strawberry sauce that came with them was slightly salty, and
the way it complemented the very sweet, slightly caramelized bananas in the pancakes was fabulous. Every morning
I made a couple of cups of coffee, and while I drank them I was daydreaming about getting down to breakfast
and ordering these pancakes. YUM.

The watermelon and pineapple were SO SWEET, and the
yogurt was homemade, silky texture and lightly sweet with
vanilla, and my eyes practically rolled back in my head.
Every. Morning.

I took this picture after the winds came in, so they started having to roll down the shades to keep the
wind from flying through the restaurant. It was very nice the first day and night, having the space open to the air.
The second morning, even with these pulled down, the wind was so strong it blew the yogurt off my spoon.

walking to breakfast -- that's the restaurant on the right.
We ate too much. Breakfast, always, lunch always (a curry or for me a green papaya salad), and then a big dinner. The first night I ordered a green papaya salad (no prawns) and a red tofu curry -- with rice. Marc ordered two dishes, one with fish and one with shrimp, and rice. My god. We could've split my green papaya salad, ordered one of the mains, and each had a little rice and been so full. The food was just very, very good. By the last night, we were so overly full we just had club sandwiches and called it a night. And since I had a Thai beer with lunch every day (and at Mairood I'd had a big bottle of Singha with dinner each night), whoo boy have I put on vacation weight. But that's what home is for; I'll get this weight off then . . . for now I'm just enjoying the pleasure of all this good food.

On the second day, we decided to take a bike ride to the other side of the island. We figured it wouldn't be as windy as it was on our side (we were right), and we also figured the breeze would help moderate some of the heat. Although we thought the island was supposed to be flat, we'd obviously noticed that the bikes were of the mountain bike sort, and we scratched our heads over that. Hmph, why would we need to change gears? Why those larger tires? Why no basket for water and our phones? Hmph.

At the Koh Mak Temple, these Buddhas watch over the harber

The monks' bathtub -- that snake with the little silver hat would make me nervous.

The Buddha you first see when you enter the temple grounds

Five Buddhas sitting around this tree.

MY GOD I was hot. I did stop and drink water, and I had my hair up and a hat shielding my
eyes, but man. At one point I just wished someone would jump out of a bush and murder
me so I wouldn't have to keep going. Marc and I both got a bit of sun poisoning,
even though we took breaks and drank water. The rest of the day we felt odd and weird
and out of it, and we ended up taking aspirin. We didn't really feel better until the next day.

But he is mighty cute riding his bike.
We passed so many rubber trees -- always planted in orderly, straight rows, each one
outfitted with a small black bowl placed underneath a diagonal slash in the bark.
On our third day, the wind was whipping around so hard we just piddled around a lot, disappointed not to have had a chance to swim in the ocean or snorkel (although the seas around these islands have a kind of jellyfish that either kills you or is extremely painful, depending on which news articles you read -- though there have been deaths, so that's no joke. The hotel fenced off a large section of the sea to make it a bit safer, but the wind was whipping the ocean over the fencing so much we wouldn't have wanted to try anyway -- plus it was chilly, with those winds). We ate, tried to swim in the pool and lie in the sun, napped, walked on the beach a few times, and read. Not bad, but the whole vacation has been quite low-key, so it was another in a long line of very low-key days and we were getting ready to move on.

so windy! But the clouds weren't blowing around at all -- it was all just whipping in across the ocean

But the sunset was still gorgeous -- not the pale pinks and oranges of our first night, though



We travel together very well


DANG it was windy.
Leaving Koh Mak

We'd planned to take the 1:30 boat back to the mainland, but due to the wind the later boats were all canceled, so we had to take the 11:30 boat instead. HOLY COW. That was like riding a bucking bronco, no lie. I was grateful Marc had dramamine in his backpack, because I'd have been puking. While we were waiting to get on the speedboat (not a big catamaran ferry like the last one), we started talking to a couple from Germany who were just leaving after 5 weeks -- they had also been at the Mandala Ou in Nong Khiaw! They talked to us at length about Sulawesi, in Indonesia, the island we'd planned to visit on that vacation but heavy rains caused us to change our plans and go to Bali instead. I don't know; the pig and rooster slaughters sounded pretty horrible, and the death ceremonies, and while I'd really love to have gone there, I'm not sure I could manage the actual being there. But MAYBE! They were quite adorable, those two, and when we boarded, they sat at the very back of the boat, the last row. And then as the ride got underway, and the waves started splashing us, and as the boat would go way up in the air and then slam down hard on a wave, we could hear them both laughing so loud, having a blast with it. Since I wasn't seasick I could have fun too, and while I was very cold from having sea water splashing me throughout the trip, and my glasses were so wet it was hard to see, it was still lots of fun. Of course it was great when we got to the mainland, too, I won't lie.

This is the speedboat

REALLY GLAD TO HAVE LIFE VESTS

Dripping wet, but so happy
video


So we have a night here in Trat, and tomorrow we fly from Trat to Bangkok to Taipei, where we'll spend the night and have much of the next day to sightsee before we board the flight home to NYC. Not sure I'll get a post in before we get back to NYC. Koh Mak was gorgeous, the people we met were all so kind and beautiful, and we had a great time. The staff were especially sweet to the small children at the resort; they would carry a baby around while the parents ate, or play with a child and put her pacifier into her mouth, or just chat with them so sweetly. We'll remember it with a smile, for sure.

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