Tuesday, November 25, 2008

AO NANG FISHING PARK & SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

On our 3rd day in Krabi, we checked out from our hotel and moved to Ao Nang, a popular seaside tourist area which is about 20 - 25 minutes ride away from Krabi town. We were told to take a Songthaew or a converted pick-up truck as taxi would cost a fortune. I think I mentioned before that it is difficult to find meter taxi there (I don't think they exist), so unless you have good bargaining skill, do not simply travel around with taxi. Our ride to Ao Nang only cost us 40 Baht per person.
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We checked into Ao Nang Beach Resort, very strategically located in the heart of Ao Nang. Without wasting time, we immediately headed out to our destination; Ao Nang Fishing Park & Seafood Restaurant! Initially we had a bit of problem getting a transport. Although there were many taxi drivers hanging around the area, we were told that the cheapest return fare was around 400 Baht. There was one even tried to cheat us by telling us that our destination is far from Ao Nang, but thanks to my research, I told him that I know very well that this place is only 4km away from where I was standing. He was speechless! Finally, a tut-tut driver offered to take us there for only 200 Baht for return trip.
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Our drive made a sudden stop midway, turned out that he needed to take a toilet break. Immediately I asked Hubby to jump onto the driver seat to pose. Am such an opportunist!
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I didn't expect the journey to the fishing park would have to cut through a village and forest. The road was bumpy and luckily we had a skillful driver who swayed gracefully to avoid countless holes and water puddles.
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Finally we arrived to our much-awaited destination! I guess I need not describe much how I felt at that moment.
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When I walked in, I was stunned with the view that greeted me. I was at awe with the beautiful scenery. Claimed to be the only saltwater fishing park in Krabi, Ao Nang Fishing Park is nestled between towering karsts and surrounded by lush greeneries. Beautiful, so beautiful! Can you spot those huts? Yes, you can enjoy some privacy while fishing there.
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For those who are not keen on fishing, I would still highly recommend seafood lovers to give this place a go. Fresh seafood is available at the restaurant which served lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Initially, we didn't plan to dine at the restaurant as I thought it would be a 'cut throat' place but surprisingly after glancing through their menu, the food are reasonably priced!
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For the fishing package, each fishing rod costs 400 Baht and you can fish the whole day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Since it was already noon when we arrived and honestly, I didn't have high expectation that we will get any fish, we rented only one fishing rod to fish for fun. The package also came with one personal assistant (I shall name him Mr PA) who accompany us with a landing net, just in case we get any. Fish baits sold separately at 30 Baht for 4 pieces of small fish that looked like sardine or Indian mackeral to me. I was telling Hubby that "Geez, even the size of the bait is bigger than those infant Tilapia that we catch in Setia Alam". Mr PA helped us put on the bait as I diligently watch his every step. The size of the hook and the weight of the fishing rod was 5 times of what we had at home, and it strucked me then that we were in for some serious fishing.
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The first fishing spot that I chose was a private hut complete with a hammock for Hubby to rest while I fish. We were lucky as the weather was breezy and cloudy that day, making the fishing experience even more enjoyable.
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Hubby told me later that he actually didn't have much hope that I will catch anything. How wrong he was. Within minutes after casting in my bait, I felt my line jerked and immediately I pulled and reeled it in. I was confident that I caught something. It fought back. It was difficult to reel it in especially when the fish was pulling from left to right.
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Finally, gotcha!! A huge Seabass or commonly known as Siakap in Malay or Barramundi in Australia. For a minimal top-up, we were given the option to bring home our catch or to have it cook at their restaurant. Otherwise, we would have to release it back to the lake. Mr PA told us that the fish I caught easily weigh around 2 kg. Too big for two of us so back it went into the lake.
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Mr PA spotted a seabass right under our hut and asked me to put my bait in. True enough, within seconds I pulled up my second fish! It was so easy. Although it was smaller in size as compared to my first catch, I was very, very contented with my catch. Hubby was happy for me too as seen below with MY fish.
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Another shot of my 2nd catch before releasing it back to the water.
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Luck ran out after my 2nd catch. I think the two released fellas must have informed their comrades not to go near our hut. Mr PA suggested to move nearer to the restaurant and since he is the expert, we just followed him to our new spot.
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The fishes got smarter and they managed to finish off my baits yet avoided my hook. We bought another bag of baits and waited with hopes. Suddenly, I felt a jerk again and immediately I reeled in my line. It wasn't easy as my catch fought back real hard. The next thing I knew, the fish pulled my line to my right, twisted my thumb and it manage to free itself. It jumped out to the surface and the whole saga ended with a loud splash. Mr PA told me that it was a herring, a fighter fish which is not easy to catch. I was sad, so so sad.

A garoupa was watching us at the side of the lake while we fished. I made several attempt to lure the garoupa with my bait but he was very cautious, refusing to go near my bait although I can see from his face how tempted he was. Mr PA said that one needs to be patient to catch a garoupa, which sadly I am lacking of, so I turned my attention back to seabass and herring instead. There are many other species in the lake such as snapper, milk fish and I even spotted Soon Hock in their fishing net.
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Mr PA was bored. He got nothing to do as long as we don't catch any fish. In the end, he took a fishing rod to help us fish. Each time he got a bite, he will pass the fishing rod over to us to let us reel it in. Err, is that 'cheating'? Hubby was more than happy to be given a chance to reel in a seabass.
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I was getting hungry and so we decided to keep this beauty for lunch. Priced at 450 Baht, it was sold according to the weight at 50 Baht per 100 gram. I ordered to have the fish steamed Thai style.
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After we finished off our baits, it started to drizzle. Right on time, our lunch was served! Everything looked so delicious. For starter, we had succulent fresh oysters at 50 Baht each. Instead of the usual lemon and tabasco sauce, we were given a plate of condiments consisting of lime wedges, chopped birds' eye chillies, raw garlic, fried shallots and Thai herbs. Just a few drops of lime juice was good enough for me. *At most time, I am actually not that adventurous with food*
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I have no idea why they named Grilled Beef Salad as Waterfall but priced at only 90 Baht, I was happy with the generous portion of grilled beef and greens on the side. At first glance, the beef appeared dry to me but it actually tasted very tenderly good especially when dipped into their mixture of lemon, chillies and fish sauce.
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Lastly, our seabass returned to greet us once again. Steamed with lemon-based gravy, the fish was dressed with GENEROUS amount of chopped garlic and birds' eye chillies, absolutely appetizing. Being a saltwater fish, the flesh was chunky and firm, almost comparable to scallop. I love the way it was served 80% cooked as by the time the candle dimmed, the fish was 100% perfectly cooked! Delicious and if I ever return, in which I would, I will definitely order this again.
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After the scrumptious lunch, I spotted two cute and friendly puppies. They just couldn't stop checking me out by sniffing my clothes. They must have detected the smell of Pea and Pumpkin on my clothes.
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After spending time playing with them, it was time to go. The two puppies sent us off to our tut-tut.
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We bidded farewell and they gave me a sad look. I told them that I will be back one day, and I knew by then, they would be all grown up! C'ya soon Boys!
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It was such a great and fruitful trip for us. Certainly makes our Krabi trip so much more memorable. I can still feel the excitement of pulling up the Seabass. I can still recall vividly the taste of the fish. The next time when I come to Krabi, I will definitely spend the whole day here.

Aonang Fishing Park is located at:
109 Moo.4 Noppharat Thara Soi 12

Ao Nang Muang Krabi 81000 Thailand

Phone: (66) 089.866.2026 or (66) 081.797.1604
Contact: Khun Sayan


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

GOOD MORNING KRABI!!

Our hotel didn't provide us with breakfast and I was more than glad that they didn't. Who needs hotel breakfast when there are array of cheap and delicious local delicacies awaiting for me to savour?

Searching for breakfast in Krabi town was a bliss! On our first morning in Krabi, we were rushing for time because of our morning Phi Phi Island trip, hence we didn't walk too far to look for food. Right around the corner, I spotted a noodle shop from afar. With the neatly arranged trays of meat and pork spare parts and the fresh greens displayed at the stall, it looked so promising.
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I was even more convinced when I spotted these laminated newspaper cuttings. Luck must be on my side for discovering this gem! For those who are interested to try, I am sorry that I didn't manage to get the address but if you are staying in City Hotel (recommended), turn right at the hotel entrance, go straight till you reach the first junction and turn right. Go straight and you will see this shop on your left which is right next to a Roti Canai shop.
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I was grinning when my bowl of vermicelli soup was put in front of me. Generous servings of minced porkballs, slices of tender pork meat, soft pork stomach and chunky cubes of pig's congualated blood. Despite pointing at the pork liver and intestine and said NO NO...the boss still put some into my portion. Luckily Hubby who doesn't eat the congualated blood happily swap it with my pork liver and intestine.
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I expected the soup to be rich with pork flavour but I was very disappointed. Bland and diluted. I suspect we were too early since it was only 7.00 a.m. But don't worry cos the fish sauce saved the meal. After a dash or two, ok, make it three and four, the porky soup turned to octopus flavoured soup! I am so in love with fish sauce!
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On our 2nd morning, we decided to visit the local wet market as I wanted to get some fish sauce and glutinous rice to bring home. I love visiting wet market whenever I travel and am so glad that the Maharaj Market is located just 5 minutes walk away from our hotel. Hubby told me that Maharaj Market is the biggest market in southern Thailand.
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Apart from perishable products like veggies, fruits and meat, we also found the back portion of the market was filled with row after row of food stalls and with plenty of chairs and tables for diners to eat on the spot! It was fun strolling from one row to another to check out the goodies before making a decision on what to have.
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I was torn between the fresh fish fillet porridge stall with long long queue and the ever-tempting pork knuckle rice. In the end, I couldn't resist the pork temptation.
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I was glad that the pork knuckle rice didn't disappoint us. The meat was tender and the gravy was good. It was served with braised egg, boiled kailan and salted pickled vegetables. It was delicious!
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I have been eyeing this pork noodle shop located right opposite my hotel since day 1. I told Hubby that no matter how full I am, I would regret if I don't give it a try.
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I would really kick myself if I didn't try. It turned out SO good! The soup was flavourful even without any added fish sauce. It was so aromatic, guess why? Crispy lard was added into the soup!!! The meatballs were bouncy and the pork fillet was sweet and tender! I enjoyed the noodle and at the same time, busy complimenting the owner for the noodle. I gave my thumbs up to the owner on my way out.
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Last morning in Krabi was a bit sad as we spent the 3rd night in Ao Nang which is catered more for Caucasian tourists. It was almost impossible to locate local food for breakfast and I was against the idea of having American breakfast at premium price. Suddenly I recalled of the bread I saw in 7 Eleven the night before and so we grabbed this for breakfast "Shredded Pork with Mayonaise Sandwich".
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I didn't expect the bread to be so soft! The fillings were awesome too! Probably with all the good food I had for the past couple of days, I became very contented with simple plain bread.
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I am excited with the drafting of my next post. Why? Because it was the most memorable and exciting experience I ever had in my life. For this, I will definitely return again in near future. So, please drop by here again soon!

Monday, November 17, 2008

PHI PHI ISLANDS

On our 2nd day in Krabi, Hubby and I decided to join a day tour to Phi Phi Islands which are located right in between Phuket and Krabi. The tour costs around RM160 (varies between different operators) and it includes hotel shuttle service, English-speaking guide, a long list of interesting places, lunch, snorkelling gears, life jacket, national park entrance fee, insurance, drinks (unlimited iced cold coke and mineral water) and fruits on board.

They came to pick us up at 8 a.m. and we headed straight to the pier in Ao Nang, which is about 30 minutes away from the Krabi town. Weather was good too, cool and cloudy around mid 20 degree Celcius. In fact, I didn't perspire much and ended up bringing back all the facial tissues that I packed for this trip!
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When I was told that we will be travelling on a speedboat, I was a bit worried having discovered that I am actually prone to seasick from my previous Bali fishing trip and the Gold Coast whale cruise. Luckily, the ride wasn't that bad or it could be cos I was sitting quietly at my own place when the boat was on the move.
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There are many, many, many magnificient looking limestones scattered all over the clear turquoise blue ocean.
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I lost count on the number of limestone hills we passed by, after awhile, the excitement dissipated. Nevertheless I still took quite a number of photos of each limestone hill I saw.
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Viking Cave is inhabited by swallows, yes yes, that means bird nests! I was more captivated with the crystal clear ocean floor. I could see the reef and the little fishes swimming around it. Ahhh..if only I could jump in for a dip.
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Beautiful, isn't it?
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We made a stop at Maya Beach, the beach made famous by Leonardo Di Caprio during his filming of "The Beach". We were given 30 minutes to roam around the place.
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Sadly, this place was hit by the 2004 tsunami but has now been restored and there is no sign of destruction. This signboard is a new addition to the beach.
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Next stop was Phi Phi Leh for open sea snorkelling. Ah-Ha! Time to put my camera with underwater function to good use!
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Hubby was 'finding nemo'......
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The trip supposed to come with a stop at Monkey Beach but I guess we were rushing time for lunch so we just have a look of the beach from our boat. I didn't mind at all when I saw monkeys roaming around the beach! I am terrified of monkeys so I was glad we didn't have to stop. We then made a stop at Phi Phi Don Island for lunch.There are a number of hotels here. Initially Hubby wanted to book a night here. Not cheap! And ahem, this place was badly hit by the tsunami too and I wouldn't want to spend a night here. Thank goodness Hubby didn't manage to book a room there. My dear friends who know me well would know what I would bring along with me during trips for my hotel stay.
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Lunch was buffet style. Pretty standard stuffs such as sweet sour fish, oyster sauce chicken, mixed veggie, fish nuggets, tomyum soup and spaghetti. It was slightly above my expectation cos I thought we would only be given a box of cold fried rice each, well, that was what they served when I went to Pulau Payar in Langkawi!
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Right after lunch, we stopped at Hin Klang for another open sea snorkelling. I wonder why right after lunch, shouldn't we be given time to digest first?
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Last stop, Bamboo Island for more snorkelling but this time, it was from the beach. I brought along bread which I bought the night before specially for fish feeding. There are lots of this small yellow fishes which I believe is called Sergeant Majorfish.
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Taken underwater by Hubby during earlier snorkelling trip at the first stop. Notice that the water is so much cleaner and blue?
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Another shot taken by Hubby.
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Hubby lure the fishes over to me by throwing the bread in. Here fishy fishy!!
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We spent quite some time hunting for fishes.
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I think my bright shocking pink camera captured this beautiful Moon Wrasse attention. A few of them kept attacking me from all direction. They were even brave enough to come right in front of my camera to give it a kiss. And of course, I was excited yet screaming away each time they came close to me, so much so, Hubby can hear me gurgling away in the water.
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I was exhausted after chasing over the fishes, time to chill and enjoy the beautiful sea. Ahhh....bliss!!!
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If you want to join the same tour operators that I went with, jot down their contact details here:
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