Been here in Trat since Tuesday; heading to Bangkok tomorrow, and then on to Penang. It’s not so much the rain that kept me from going to one of the islands – though it’s been coming down in almost non-stop torrents – but rather, it’s that Trat has become my fruit mecca.
Durian, you say? It’s better here than in Chanthaburi (though not as many different varieties from which to choose)…and cheaper, too.
Mangosteen, you say? It’s better here than in Chanthaburi…and cheaper, too. It’s not only abundant at the Markets, but also walking down the street. Practically every-other shoppe – nominally selling clothes, or seamstress services, or mini-mart products, or whatever — has a big crate of Mangosteens (and usually Rambutans or Longkongs as well) out front. I found one shoppe whose fruits’ signal-to-noise ratio is almost perfect – and the taste is…well, there’s a reason it’s considered the Queen Of Fruits. The teenaged boy who weighs up my catch and takes my money may be under the impression, given how many kilos I’ve purchased from them, that I couldn’t possibly eat anything other than Mangosteens.
Watermelons, you say? Not only the best/most consistent I’ve had in Asia, there’s only one grower working the Seattle Farmers’ Markets whose are better than these. Not kidding. Only one vendor, that I’ve seen, selling them here. He seems to be aware that he’s got the Watermelon market cornered, and also that his are so outrageously delish: they’re not exactly cheap. Fucking worth every last Baht he charges, however.
Mangos, you say? Better here than in Chanthaburi…and much cheaper. Still not in the same class, to be clear, as what I was eating in Chiang Mai a few weeks ago. But their season is earlier in the year here in the south.
Cucumbers, you say? Much better here than in Chanthaburi…and cheaper, too.
Even Sweet Corn: not really close to what one would find back home, but very much good enough to eat. Rarely even see it sold raw in the Markets in Asia, though steamed or grilled corn is very widely available in most cities.
And, you see, I’m not here trying to besmirch Chanthaburi’s fruit scene. It’s truly great. But (it’s been my experience that) Trat’s is both more better and more easier on the pocketbook. Huhn, it’s kind of a wonder I have time to even sleep, such has been the prodigious quantities of fruit I’ve been consuming.
Do the binoculars seem an odd inclusion? It’s a blanket here at my Guest House. Sure, I get that binoculars are frequently employed to aid in the viewing of wildlife. But, why put them all over a blanket filled up with images of said wildlife in its natural forest setting? Whatever.
Didn’t have much opportunity to get out and explore, as the rain barely ever let up for more than twenty minutes at a time. The first two days here, though, it did hold off for a few hours in the afternoons.
Went out to a lake near town, which is 10km to walk around. Unfortunately, there’s not a separate pedestrian trail from the main road, so the traffic noise is too much. It’s pretty nice, though. Some people down in the marshes harvesting something.
There’s also a reservoir about a half-hour’s walk from downtown, with lots of green space around, and plenty of walking trails (with pagodas, from which to escape the latest downpour, spaced out around and about). No motorcycles! It’s great – and surprisingly deserted. Maybe people prefer to go there in the evenings to jog around on the paths?
Odd thing, there’s what looks to be an airstrip right in the middle of it all.
When one walks down the strip, dragonflies come out from the grass there on the right, like five or six at a time, and escort you down the road. Even doing tricks right in front of you, as well; flying backward, zooming to-and-fro’, crossing manoeuvres, and shit like that. It’s kind of spooky – like if one were being escorted by UFOs – but also very cool.
Okay, one doesn’t usually find that many chickens gathered in one spot, least of all festooned with garlands. But, to me, the weirdest thing about this shrine is, why did somebody leave as an offering a frickin’ tool box?
Chickens, by the way, play an important role in the town’s streetlight regime. So awesome.
And this shrine, it looks like a Buddhist D&D game in progress…
Some more goofiness. Anybody knows what the sign says, please advise.
There are some good-looking temples – including a few that are nice and secluded, back in the woods – but they’re all all closed up. Barely ever even see any monks or novices walking around the grounds. This is kinda neat, at any rate.
Some beautiful leaves around, too — and some Cherimoyas coming in.
People-watching isn’t in the same league as in Chanthaburi – but that’s at least partially owing to all the rain (i.e., fewer opportunities to be out and about checkin’ things out). It’s not bad, though.
The cab drivers are pretty funny. They seem utterly shocked when you tell them you don’t need a ride either to the Bus Terminal or to the coast to get a boat to an island. It’s as if no farang ever spent a night here – though there are a good six to eight budget-priced Guest Houses in town. (Hmm…come to think of it, I have only seen two or three other farang walking around.) Also, the cabbies are always after bumming Mangosteens off me.
Okay, here’s a example of how hard it’s been raining. Over and over and over again, the torrential downpours arrive, with nary a moment’s opportunity in-between to catch one’s breath. At the end of the clip, there’s a shot of a tree that came down on my second night here. The owner of the Guest House, a very nice guy name of “Jum”, came out and hacked it up.
I love rainy season, don’t get me wrong. And the temperature is absolutely perfect. But, it would be nice to have some time, if only an hour or two per day, for walking around in sunny/dry conditions. (I did go out running during one squall – wearing only a pair of swim trunks. That was a lot of fun — including, happened to pass by one of the many schools in town, and the kids — nominally at recess, but in reality just huddled together under a shelter – had great fun cheering on the nekkid farang in the rain.)
Also, the nightsounds are pretty intense here.
And the harder it rains, the louder they get. Don’t know how they do it, but they bust out with some bizarre doppler/stereo effects, too – it’s at times kinda like listening to a Pink Floyd record (or what). It does all begin to get annoying after several hours’ persistence. But then, around midnight, it suddenly and without warning stops…and the silence is just about deafening.
In a few days’ time, I shall be eating Durian in Penang. But now for my last Puangmanee feeding. Don’t let their small-ish size fool you: these things pack a gustatory wallop. Most all the Durian-addicts are of the opinion that it’s the finest of the Thai varieties – can’t say that I disagree.
Here’s hoping that my dimpled ass finds itself back in Trat sooner rather than later!!