Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Vacationing near Rayong at a beach on the Gulf of Thailand

On New Year’s Eve Day, we got an early start on our drive to the beach.  Chingchai had arranged to hire a driver with a van seating six in back, plus the large amount of luggage; the total cost including gas and meals for the driver was 8000 Baht.  We were headed for a particular beach in  Klaeng, Rayong Province; Dan and Chingchai frequent this beach because Chingchai’s younger brother Weechai has a house there.  About halfway on our four hour drive to Rayong, we paused at a rest stop where we had a snack of crispy mango (a tart version that I had never had before) as well as guava.  We passed by many fields of sugar cane

rubber trees

and palm oil trees

three major agricultural products of southern Thailand.

This large chicken processing plant

is staffed by workers who live in these dormitories

and who have to shop at company store paying high prices

We reached our hotel, the Centara Q Resort Rayong, shortly after 1 PM.  We were fortunate that although check-in time was not until 3 PM, two of our rooms were ready.  The hotel houses its guests in either a six-story building (with guest rooms on the second through sixth floors)

seen rising in the back of this photo

or in a series of rooms closer to the beach (in the foreground of the photo above). 

Our second-story room was reasonably sized

 with a small balcony big enough for two chairs and a nice view of the ocean

The building in between the two structures is the breakfast room (whose outdoors seating could be seen below our balcony in this photo

Although the rooms closer to the beach have much larger balconies, they lacked any view of the ocean.  And it would have been a particularly disadvantageous location on New Year;s Eve, in that the hotel staged a New Year’s Eve party with music that pounded loudly into the night. We could hear that music when we were in the hallway near our room (there was also a party on an adjoining property behind our hotel), but when the door was closed no sound penetrated our room.

Just past the pool and above the beach is small restaurant called Qube where we had a simple lunch.  The food was good (I enjoyed the massaman curry) but the service was painfully slow considering how small the restaurant was and how empty it was of other eaters

 Guests could also order food or drinks to be brought down to the beach from this facility.  In fact, they served a delicious ginger cocktail made (as best as we could tell) with rum, ginger (or ginger syrup?),  lime juice and seltzer) but the service was so slow that you might have to linger for 30 minutes before it was ready.  This, though, was the only criticism that I have of this very pleasant hotel on the beach.

Below the level of the pool and this bar/eatery was a road running behind several beach-front properties (including our hotel), and after that the beach.

After lunch, some of us walked along the beach (although we had to follow a dirt path over a promontory that stuck into the ocean at one point).

It was largely a local crowd on the beach                . 
After passing the promontory we came to Weechai’s house.  We paused to talk to Weechai’s regular downstairs tenants, a Swiss couple who spend the European winter in Thailand; and as we were leaving, Weechai arrived with his wife Chalida.  We greeted them and made plans to eat out together that evening’ we were invited for lunch the next day.

Further on, there was a market selling (or serving) seafood,

It had never occurred to me to eat horseshoe crabs

There were vegetables and fruits and other  things for sale in the market

It rained a bit on the walk back to our hotel – the only touch of rain so far on our entire trip.

For dinner, we headed to P Preecha Seafood and Restaurant, Au Kai, Rayong.  The fish was kept in a series of basins right near our table

so that they were alive just before they were cooked; in fact, for the whole fish thatwwe were served with a sauce, Chingchai selected the specific one on which we would dine.  A little too close to the living animal for me to be involved in the picking, but I confess is made the fuish super fresh.  Thus the squid (served with garlic) was as good and as fresh as the superb squid we ate in Capetown when we were there for the 2010 World Cup, and for the first time even I ate clams (served with a sauce) with gusto – they didn’t have that fishy flavor that comes from eating clams bought long-dead.  We also ate mantis, a sort of a langoustine that was roasted and delicious even without being dipped in the nice accompanying sauce.  We had a nice New Year’s toast with one of the two bottles of Veuve Cliquot that Dan and Chingchai had brought along – the other was reserved for a midnight toast to welcome in the new year

Unfortunately, I was the only one of the seven of us who was still up by midnight!

We rose for breakfast on New Year’s Day, a reasonably extensive buffet but not quite as good as we had enjoyed at the Kuangsri River Hotel – but the scene was much nicer.  New Year’s Day was spent lazing on the beach.  I ripped almost all the way through Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad, swam a few times in the gentle surf, and sat mostly under a beach umbrella but also in the sun occasionally, using the beach lounges provided by our hotel

At 12:30 we headed off for our lunch with Meechai and Chalida

– we heard later than she had been up since 6:30 preparing, and what a feast it was

Grilled marinated tuna, squid, green curry, and shrimp.

Dessert included Hao’s special cakes (seen in a photo here ),
We watched the sunset on the beach

hoping to enjoy ginger cocktails while doing so, but the sun was already down and we were long-past ready to leave for dinner by the time they got to us.

So we enjoyed seeing the gentle surf as we sipped our drinks

For dinner, we thought about going to a seafood restaurant in town, where we had walked the day before, but few of us wanted to use the path over the promontory in the dark, nor did we want to get into the van toi go anyplace.  So, we settled for a meal at the Auokhai Resort, just a few steps down the road separating the hotel from the beach

January 2, we had a last morning on beach before our drive back to Ayutthaya.  We stopped in Sunthon Phu at Je Muai restaurant (Big Sister, Little Sister).
Almost everyone was having pad thai so that is what we ordered though Chingchai also got Ka Prow Crabmeat

We stopped at this nice rest stop before getting on the main road

But the toilets were squat toilets!

We had anticipated very heavy traffic, but encountered only one traffic jam – there had been a horrific crash just ahead of us between a passenger van and a pickup truck carrying a dozen people, and 25 people died.  We dropped Sam, Nafisa and Abe off at the Bangkok Airport, then went on to Ayutthaya where we met Walee and went back to Chai Nam.       

On the way, we passed Sweet Teen Motel – apparently, it is an hourly motel, but the travelers have to bring their own sex partners, teenaged or otherwise.  We had yet another delicious meal that included Tod Mun, Fried Small Catfish, another catfish dish, Snakehead with three difference sauces, and Tom Yum Goong

Snakehead may be invasive in the DC area, but it sure it a nice fish for eating!

We saw a big lizard, a Ho Tia, swimming upstream

and there was another nice sunset even though the sky was a bit cloudy

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