Getting Off The Beaten Track at Chanthaburi

We have been heading east (of Thailand) lately, and Chanthaburi was our latest excursion from Bangkok.

Located more than 200km from where we stay in Bangkok, it took us more than 4 hours of slow-mo drive. This region is known for gem dealing and fruits, especially durian. It receives less foreign tourists, compared to the Central region. A lot to love about off the beaten track Chanthaburi, and 3 days 2 nights are not sufficient to see everything … On top of that, the rain also put a damper on our travel plan.

It's a rainy holiday
It’s a rainy holiday

Oh yeah, it was a ‘rainy holiday‘, but it ain’t that bad … thanks the Chinese for the invention of umbrella in 11th century BC. Yeah, do you know that it was the Chinese who invented the useful umbrella?

Birthday gift from bf, 6 years ago
Birthday gift from bf, 6 years ago

I also rekindled my love for my Nikon D90 this trip.

Our 3 days 2 nights itinerary went as such:

Day 1: 4+ hours drive from Bangkok to Chanthaburi, and explore Chanthaboon Old Town

Day 2: Chao Lao and Laem Sing area

Day 3: 3+ hours drive back from Chanthaburi to Bangkok

The three key tourism areas are located in different districts, 30km apart from each other. It took us 30-40 minutes driving from one district to another: Chanthaboon Old Town (Mueang Chanthaburi district), Chao Lao (Tha Mai district) and Laem Sing (Laem Sing district). Because of this, a car is necessary to explore Chanthaburi, so do consider self-drive, or rent a car with driver. Otherwise, songthaew might be your next best bet.

Accommodation:

We stayed at:

Blues River Resort
Blues River Resort

Blues River Resort

1/8-9 Moo 4, Klongkud, Thamai, Chanthaburi 22120
Tel: +66 3943 3141, +66 3943 3131
Website: http://www.bluesriverresort.com
GPS Coordinate : http://boulter.com/gps/#12.562088%2C101.912764

Pool + construction view
Pool + construction view
Bedroom with swan love towels … soooo cheesy!
Spacious room
Spacious room

There are many room options: garden view, sea view, waterfall, etc. We stayed in pool view room (which comes with a bonus construction view), paid THB 3k+ per night, including breakfast.

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No this and that … Fine you 2,000 baht!
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Fine you 2,000 baht for whatever it says on the sign
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Outside food inside the meeting room .. fine you 2,000 baht
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No outside F&B in the resort area … who came up with this?!

This is the first time that I stayed in a resort, with ‘rule and fine’ signs posted everywhere … no outside food and beverages, no this and that,  … else, they will enforce 2,000 baht fine. I doubt that they are strict with fine enforcement. But … is this necessary? I find this hilarious, more than threatening.

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Beachfront resort
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Imprinted natural leaves into concrete path … I love it!

The best thing about this resort is definitely its location, on beachfront, accessible from the resort itself.

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Chao Lao market, from 1pm onwards
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Bf enjoyed his basketball sessions

It is also within walking distance to Chao Lao market .. and also a school with basketball court nearby.

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Clean, but smelly toilet

Stay was pleasant, though the sewer smell in bathroom was bad. We kept the bathroom door firmly closed throughout our stay. If you want to stay at this resort, be prepared with loud blaring of music from a restaurant next door, with live karaoke. They are also in the midst of construction of additional rooms (I assumed), not a bother if you do not stay in during daytime.

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Choose breakfast, the day before
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Porridge for 1st day breakfast
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Comes with rambutan and watermelon
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We had to insist on the western sides, as per order slip

Our first breakfast was ala carte basis, as there were not many guests on Saturday morning. We were told by reception staff that our selection comes with some sides: ham, sausage, etc .. but restaurant staff said otherwise. Bf insisted, and we were served accordingly.

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2nd day breakfast: buffet spread
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The food choice
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I ladled rice with soup, and ate with some dishes

Sunday’s breakfast was buffet-style, with more choices. But predominantly local dishes.

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DIY instant coffee

I was tickled that we had to make our own coffee: only instant coffee available … not very 4-star, as proclaimed, no?

Alternative:

There is growing popularity of homestay with all-you-can eat seafood buffet, or homestay at fruit orchards. Worthwhile to check it out for a different experience. There are also cheaper accommodations, less than 1,000 baht by the beachfront.

 

Day 1: Chanthaboon Old Town

We started our trip around 7am, driving out from Bangkok, with the intention of having lunch at Chanthaburi. As it was a working day, traffic was predictably a bit slow in Bangkok, but smoother once outisde Bangkok city center.

Motorway Service Center
Motorway Service Center
Spoilt for choices
Spoilt for choice
Porky stick is a must
Porky stick is a must

Along the way, we stopped for coffee at a newly-opened Doi Chaang, at Motorway Service Center, Chacheongsao. I prefer the R&R stops in Thailand so much than Malaysia’s. There are so many F&B options, and of course, 7-Eleven stores. And price is still affordable.

As we had a too-long break at Doi Chaang, by the time we arrived at Chanthaboon Old Town, it was almost 12pm. We parked at The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in front of the Stri Manda Phithak School. As the church is closed for lunch hours, we went to look for food first.

We decided to skip Je Pen Restaurant (เจ๊เพ็ญเย็นตาโฟ), popular for its seafood yentafo noodle. Thai reviews weren’t that great, and people say the broth is too sweet. Oh yeah, Chanthaburi’s food is on the sweet-side, bf told me,

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Jae Eid Rimnum
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Busy with orders
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Bf’s mantis prawn noodles (70 baht)
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Mine, egg noodles with mantis prawn and crab meat (70 baht)


We had lunch at Jae Eid Rimnum (เจ๊อี๊ด ริมน้ำ) instead, and I enjoyed their popular seafood noodle. Mantis prawn is used a lot in Chanthaburi’s noodles. Bf ordered mantis prawn, and mine was a mix with crab meat, 70 baht per bowl.

A walk at the Chanthaboon Old-Town Waterfront Community was pleasant, with not many tourists. Most signages in Thai language .. they need more English info for foreigners lah.

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Chanthaboon Old-Town Waterfront Community
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Old riverside community
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Vietnamese bamboo hat?
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Come pray, pray
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Do you see what I see?
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For decorative purpose?

Most attractions were closed, and we were told that there were some sort of ‘feast’ happening, due to so-and-so visit. We just walked around the town and took in the scenes.

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“Old” advertisement

This is an “old” advertisement, brought back to life and restored to their original appearance. One blog mentioned it was the old Scotch advertisement.

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The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
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Inside the church
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Dress modestly, no hats, no sunnies, no pet, no smoking, no phone


We ended our walk at The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and I love the old houses surrounding the church. I made sure that I was properly covered, as read that it’s a must, but people walked in without problem. Free entrance, but donation is appreciated.

The church was our last stop at Mueang Chanthaburi. We then drove to Tha Mai District, to check in at Blues River Resort.

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Chao Lao market
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Salak fruits
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Crabs!
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It’s a seafood city
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And this, my yummy afternoon snack
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20 baht, with more than 20 pieces

After checked-in at the resort, we walked to the nearby Chao Lao market, and bought afternoon snacks. And these ain’t your normal snacks .. 20 baht mussels with dipping, my cheapest tummy-filling mussels ever.

Post-snack, bf went off to play basketball, and I enjoyed the deserted swimming pool. A pool that didn’t give me rashes, thumbs up!

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Pu Nim Seafood
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Crowded at dinner time
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Fern vege
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Chamuang pork curry (150 baht)
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Chamuang leaves
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Steamed squid with lime chilli (250 baht)
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Seabass 2-way (350 baht), with mango sauce and sweet & sour sauce

I suggested walking to dinner place, but bf was worried about the possibility of no street lights (it’s a quiet town). We drove to Pu Nim Seafood (ปูนิ่มซีฟู้ด) (not to be confused with Farm Pu Nim), a popular restaurant, the one and only restaurant packed that evening. Bi-lingual menu in Thai and English is available. Chamuang pork curry, a local specialty, was my most-look forward dish, but it was a bit on the weird-sour side.

After dinner, we drove around the near-dead town … so peaceful and quiet.

 

Jae Eid Rimnum (รายละเอียดร้านอาหาร)
ที่ตั้ง : 44 Benjamarachutit Rd.
Tel : 039 314 738
Business Hours : Daily 09.30 – 15.30

Pu Nim Seafood (ปูนิ่มซีฟู้ด)
Tel : 089-8319589
Facebook here

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Hours: Mon-Sat 08.30 – 12.00, 13.00-16.30; Sun 08.30 – 12.00, 13.00-16.00

 

Day 2: Chao Lao and Laem Sing

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KKB (Khung Kraben Bay) Aquarium
Doggie's road
Doggie’s road
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Once in a while, group tour arrives and all hell breaks loose
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The highlight
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Hello there

KKB (Khung Kraben Bay) Aquarium (in front of Laem Sadet beach) was our first stop, and we ended up spending a good few hours idling away to escape from the rain.

I started playing around with my DSLR, and had a really good time with my ‘bubble’ photos. Notice the quality of photos, versus iPhone?

Clown fish
Clown fish
Clown fish and bubbles
Clown fish and bubbles
Me and my bubble photos
Me and my bubble photos
Bf wanted to eat this fella
Bf wanted to eat this fella
.. and more bubbles
.. and more bubbles
It's magical
It’s magical
Left, right, let's meet halfway
Left, right, let’s meet halfway at the bubbles

At one point, I was interviewed by a group of students from a school in Laem Sing, for their school project. Wish I have a copy of the video interview!

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Sea Farming Demonstration Unit in Kungkrabaen Bay
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Clams cultivation
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Clams cultivation
Bf likes the photo's angle .. yay!
Bf likes the photo’s angle .. yay!
Colorful hammocks
Colorful hammocks
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Hey there
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Beautiful scenery

From KKB Aquarium, we drove around, and stumbled upon the Sea Farming Demonstration Unit in Krungkrabaen Bay, reviewed by some bloggers. A beautiful place, perfect for photo opps.

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Raw oysters for sale
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That’s how Thai eat raw oysters

They have raw oysters for sale: 100 baht for fresh oysters were too much a temptation, and I bought one pack to try. Bland taste, no wonder chili dipping is given … I didn’t finish it, enuff’ said.

Yai Tu Seafood (ยายตุ๊ซีฟู้ด) was our intended lunch destination, but unfortunately, the restaurant was fully booked. We then decided to look for food at Laem Sing area, and it was a smart move.

Crossing the road
Crossing the road
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Love this shot

Stopped at one of the two bridges at Laem Sing district … it’s the King Taksin The Great Bridge, if mot mistaken. I was lucky that there were few monks, and I quietly snapped some pictures with my DSLR.

Many people stopped to take photos here
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What were they doing?
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Collecting jellyfish
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.. to be pickled and sell

Saw people collecting something on the beach, and it was jellyfish! They told bf that they will pickle the jellyfish, and sell it later. Little encounter like this, makes this trip a memorable one.

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Mae Somjit
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What greeted us
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Grilled squid (220 baht)
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Steamed seabass with chilli lime (350 baht)
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Super gigantic grilled prawn (550 baht)

Tummy grumbling, and we went to Mae Somjit Seafood Restaurant (านอาหารแม่สมจิตร), a restaurant with good reviews, near to Khuk Khi Kai and Teuk Deng.  The restaurant next to it was also packed with diners. Bill came up to 1,460 baht.

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Fish roe in hot & sour soup (280 baht)
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Weird fish roe

Fish roe in hot & sour soup, the fish roe is one of the weirdest thing that I have ever tried. The soup itself is tamarindish-nice though.

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Food carts

I like it that we are allowed to buy food from street sellers, and consume in the restaurant.

After lunch, we walked off our calories to Khuk Khi Kai (คุกขี้ไก่) or Chicken Drops Jail and Tuek Daeng (ตึกแดง) or Red Building, within close walking distance. Both attractions are free of charge, yippee.

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Khuk Khi Kai
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Khuk Khi Kai

Khuk Khi Kai was built to hold Thais who were against the French occupation of Chanthaburi in 1893. The ancient prison is square-shaped and the walls were holed for ventilation. The roof was used as chicken coop .. It was such an evil plan, through which the birds dropped their excrements onto the prisoners. Yukes.

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Teuk Deng

Teuk Deng  was created by French army. Teuk Daeng is a single storey building used as a guard house for French officers.

Horseshoe crabs deco?
Horseshoe crabs deco
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Small pier nearby
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So many scallop shells on the water

From Teuk Deng, we walked in an alley to a small pier. Everywhere is just so serene in Chanthaburi.

 

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Coconut ice cream
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The toppings
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10 baht only

Walking back to our car, we chanced upon a coconut ice cream seller. 10 baht coconut ice cream with a little bit of this and that toppings, anyone?

Phliu National Park was in our itinerary, but due to our late start, we had to give it a miss.

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Oasis Sea World
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Oasis Sea World
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Double-pricing for foreigner and Thai
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“I am Thai”

Since Oasis Sea World (โอเอซีส ซีเวิลด์ ) is nearby, we headed to this ‘ sad’ little place .. the dolphin show was great, but the place is in dire need of upgrade. Dual-pricing: Adult: 300 baht entrance fee for foreigners, and 130 baht for Thai people … Children: 200 baht foreigners, 80 baht Thai. I got in on Thai price, by keeping my mouth firmly shut 555.

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Feeding the fish
Fish for feeding
Fish for feeding (30 baht)
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Huge fishes waiting for feeding
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Chow time
Feeding the poor deers
Feeding the poor deer
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These deer look malnourished and dirty

Since we had to wait for the dolphin show, we walked around the park. Bf bought some fishes (30 baht) to feed the white snapper fish, and there are other feeding animals activities around too, such as feeding deer.

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The main attraction, the dolphin show

Do take note of their schedule timing below:
ตารางเวลาเปิดแสดง

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Noen Nangphaya View Point
Lucky shots
Lucky ‘starlight’ shots
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Lucky ‘starlight’ shots

Luckily, we pressed ahead to Noen Nangphaya View Point (นินนางพญา) after Oasis Sea World. It reminds me of the Great Ocean Road. This stretch of road is famous for advertisement shoot location, I was told. I had few lucky shots, playing with my DSLR.

Love locks
Love locks
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Super-kiasu lock
Love love
Love love
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Poor tree vandalised by love birds

I enjoyed taking photos of these love locks, more than the scenery shot. Landscape is just not my thing. No locks sellers were seen around, so do come prepared with one.

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Dark road
Playing with speed and lights
Playing with speed and lights
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My lighting

Leaving Noen Nangphaya View Point, a wrong turn brought us to pitch dark road. It inspired me to take some ‘lighting’ shots, again, playing with my DSLR camera.

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No durian for me

We wanted to buy durian from a street stall, but the durian is still not ripe enough to be eaten on the same day.

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Yai Tu Seafood
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Open kitchen concept

We finally had our meal at Yai Tu Seafood, for dinner. Food was super fast .. and yummy, no wonder the restaurant is popular with the locals. There were lots of mosquitoes though.

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Deep-fried soft shell crab in garlic
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Gaeng som again
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His love .. the grilled seabass

I enjoyed the soft shell crabs the most, all for me. And bf finished the seabass happily.

 

Yai Tu Seafood (ยายตุ๊ซีฟู้ด)
Tel : 081 983 2674
Business Hours : 09.00 – 21.00
Facebook here

Mae Somjit Seafood Restaurant (านอาหารแม่สมจิตร)
Tel : 039499283 / 0815898811
GPS : 12.480608,102.064542
Business Hours : Daily 09.00 – 21.00

Noen Nangphaya View Point (นินนางพญา)
GPS: 12.591252, 101.881068


Day 3: Chanthaburi to Bangkok

We decided to leave early, to avoid weekend traffic.

Giving his basketball to school kids
Giving his basketball to school kids

Bf wanted his last game of basketball, and was joined by some school kids. Before leaving, he gave his basketball to the school. The little thing he does, that reminded me of the man he is.

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Phraya Tang
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dtac everywhere
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The cooking station
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Where we were seated, because bf said for my photos

Phraya Tang Moo Liang noodle( พระยาตรัง), is a famous herby noodle restaurant.

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The ingredients used
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The food menu, bi-lingual
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The snack menu

Menus are in Thai and English, completes with picture.

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Sen chan, beef
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Sen chan, beef
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Sen chan, pork
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Sen chan, beef, dry version


Our order, both soup and dry version. Only sen chan noodles for us, as this is Chanthaburi’s specialty.

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Flies-infested restaurant

Sadly, this restaurant is infested with flies. For goodness sake, invest in some flies trap machine lah.

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Sen chan noodles
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Souvenir galore
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We like this durian snack

They also sell snacks, so it makes a perfect last stop. We bought Sen Chan noodles, as souvenir for bf’s relatives and also some titbits.

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Fruit galore
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Puang Manee durian

Along the way, we stopped at a stretch of stalls … because of durian, and that’s where we bought the best-est durian in Thailand, the Puang Manee durian.

 

Phraya Trang Moo Liang ( พระยาตรัง)
60/1 Moo 12 Tambon Tha Chang
Tel: 039 339 761

Writer

Travel opens up a whole new world, which is cliche but true. I am a strong advocate for independent and solo travel. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but now live in Bangkok, Thailand, resulted from a chance encounter in 2009 with my why-are-you-Thai bf. I am now split between two countries. One country for my bf, another for the family, for the occasional weekend together.