Select Traveler

JAN-FEB 2017

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t h d 26 selecttraveler.com J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7 "They raise tilapia and carp," said Patty, "also catfi sh and snakehead fi sh, and the expensive fi sh: grouper and sea bass. "We eat a lot of fi sh, chicken and pork," she said. "It has always been a custom here to not eat beef, but younger Thais are moving away from that." We boarded a long-tail speedboat and churned a couple of miles along rural, tree-lined canals, passing homes and rudimentary Buddhist shrines before tying up at the immense river market. Above the din, vendors hawked art, silk goods, toys and clothing. We were more taken with the fl oating vendors who were frying coconut pat- ties and bananas on wooden boats. Patty grabbed some of both, and we devoured them, washing everything down with ice-cold Coca-Colas served with straws in plastic bags. Back in Bangkok, we had a superb Thai lunch in the riverfront res- taurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Water taxis mimicking Chinese junks ferried people across the Chao Phraya River in front of us. The following morning, Patty escorted us to the airport for our fl ight to Phuket. To say goodbye, we raised our hands to our chest and bowed, palms together like a prayer. Patty did the same before opening her arms to give us a hug goodbye. PARADISE ON THE ANDAMAN SEA The Novotel Kamala Bay Resort offers beautiful views of Phuket's Kamala Bay and the Andaman Sea beyond. A seaside room with a pri- vate pool and cabana on the roof awaited us, and we were greeted im- mediately by executive assistant manager John Cannon, who made a point of seeing us several times during our stay. We got an early start for our daylong speedboat trip to the Phi Phi Islands. There were about 30 of us onboard the Crystal Sea Marine wa- tercraft powered by a trio of 225-horsepower engines. If you've seen im- ages of lush green islands breeching like whales from the sea, you've seen these. They form one of the most intoxicating landscapes on the planet. It was an hour at full speed to our fi rst stop at Phi Phi Don Island for snorkeling and lunch on the beach, followed by another stop for sun- bathing at Phi Phi Ley's Maya Beach, where Leo DiCaprio's fi lm "The Beach" was shot. We pulled anchor and made a drive-by of Viking Cave, a site fre- quented for centuries by Asian mariners who weathered storms there. The cave is uninhabited except for thousands of swifts that nest inside. Bamboo ladders climb into its upper reaches so locals can harvest them By Max Chew Vendors work from boats at the Damnoen Saduak fl oating market. Thailand night markets offer the day's catch. Th Th T ai ai ai la la nd nd n n ig ig g ht ht h m m ar ar ke ke ts ts o o ff ff ff er er e t t he he d d ay ay ay 's 's c c at at at ch ch c . Thailand night markets offer the day's catch. Rambutan is a prickly pear-like fruit popular with locals and visitors. . rs rs to to si si vi vi d d an s s l al al oc l l th t h wi wi r r la la la pu p pu po po o popular with locals and visitors. Ra Ra Ra mb mb b t ut t an n a i i s s a a pr pr ic ic c kl kl kl y y pe pe e ar ar a -l -l ik ik k e e fr fr ui ui t Rambutan is a prickly pear-like fruit A monk blesses followers at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Sunset from the Novotel Kamala Beach Resort Photos by Mac Lacy, except where otherwise noted

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