We pulled up on the street in the bustling town and made our way to the My Place hotel, sidestepping the touting songtheaw drivers (they have funny songtheaws in this town, small vans, so almost like a cross between a sontheaw and a tuk-tuk) which we were paying the princely sum of £11 for a night that was pretty clean and comfortable, with air conditioning and a TV. They even had a blackboard with the names of the guests expected for the day and a welcome.
They knew we were coming!
We headed off into Surat Thani town, wanting to grab some food as we were quite hungry and ended up getting a KFC, sadly. One of the problems with a working Thai town that is usually just a way stop for tourists to get transferred to their boats or the airport out is that virtually all of the signs at cafes etc are in Thai script so it's difficult to determine what places actually sell. KFC is KFC however, even if the Colonel has different words coming out of his mouth, it's all chicken and chips (plus, this being Asia, side orders of rice if you want it). We wandered around the local shopping centres where I managed to get a replacement pair of flip-flops for the ones lost in the river in the jungle. I paid B79 for them, less than £2!
I should say that since I lost footwear and glasses in the jungle, there is now a part of Khao Sok National Park that is forever England, just as a corner of Thialand outside a Buddhist monastery near the Bridge on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi that is also forever England following an incident resulting from using the local tap-water to clean my teeth the previous night and a pair of discarded boxer shorts a few years back, but I digress.
After my purchase, we wandered around to see some of the local sights which were a few Chinese Taoist temples, a large Buddhist temple complex and just taking in the views of the river and the very ornate ferry gate. One of the Chinese temples was incredibly gaudy and clearly quite new, the other couple we saw (a Hainan and Hokkien one respectively) were much older. The Hokkien one had an open chapel area that had lots of swallows swooping around and the resultant guano.
A modern Chinese temple
The statue is huge, easily 20 metres tall
Buddhist temple guardians
This is a classic Thai holiday snap
An older Hainan Chinese temple
Nowhere near as gaudy.
Gateway to the ferry pier
Pierhead in Liverpool it ain't
Surat Thani river
Even dirty rivers can give you a nice rustic scene
After a little freshen up in our room we headed out to eat alighting at a cafe specialising in Italian food where I had a second pizza of the holiday. Jane just had a tuna butty which came with chips. Sometimes, after a long period of Asian food, even the fantastic things on offer in Thailand, you do need to get some western food (though twice in one day was taking this a bit far!). After this we went off to see the famous night market. We'd both got a little bit of Thai tummy so didn't fancy much of the food on offer, though a lot of it really didn't look that appetising anyway and there is an all-pervading smell around the town, probably due to the river running through it and the fact that the dustbin men seemed not too diligent. Rubbish doesn't take long to start being niffy in this climate. After we had been here we discovered that the river was notoriously polluted by nearby tetile factories, so that does explain some of the niff of Surat Thani. There were also various forms of dried seafood which added to the pungent aroma. I'm a bit disappointed I wasn't feeling up to eating much, for again there were deep fried insects on sale: crickets/locusts and some sort of larvae, deep fried.
Surat Thani night market
Good enough to eat
(if you can't smell the local ambient air)
The (in)famous durians
Fried mealworms at the front, crickets in the container behind
There's often not much to do in working Thai towns of an evening so we just headed back to our room to play rummy and drink Coke before bed.