Thursday, November 5, 2015

VSTR Day 4 - Exploring Trang

Kopi Tiam Heiress

Kopi Tiam Boss!

Trang has a reputation of being a mini foodie paradise. Gateway to the many gorgeous islands, this is where you get your fill before heading off. Not quite the same status of Penang or Spore but for a small town in remote Thailand, it can hold a decent candle to the big boys. If you are a fan of roast pork, you will be in heaven. The night markets too are amazing and offers all sorts of delectable delights. Famous too for Dim Sums, noodles, rotis and traditional decade old Chinese style coffeeshops like Ko Teng, our rest day had only one mission - food!

Morning breakfast itself in Trang was a huge challenge as there are so many places to try. Jo recommended the famous Ton Noon (remember cartoon) Dim Sum eatery which is a land mark. It took us 10 mins to walk there and I got distracted as I saw an impressive modern looking dental clinic. A quick enquiry for a scaling and polish job saw me making an appointment later that morning. At US$20, this represents a small fraction of doing it in Perth. Finding Cartoon Dim Sum was not difficult. Just look out for golden suckling pigs in all it's glory at the front entrance. Orders were coming in fast and furious and reducing this beauty to delectable pieces. If the roast pigs are sold out, looking up helps too as there is a big Tea Pot on the top of the restaurant to identify this famous eatery.

The restaurant was pretty full but we managed to get a table. Among all the staff bustling to and fro, there stood a very elegant young lady that looked exactly like the Air Asia Stewardess featured in a standup cardboard ad in the restaurant. She was the owner's daughter and was in charge of billing. Typical of any Chinese business, matters of the dollar is best left not to paid staff but trusted family members. She obliged us with a photo and kept insisting that she has nothing to do with Air Asia's model save for owning a substantial equity in Tony F's airline.

As with all Dim Sums, the fun part about this meal is we get to order many different types of dishes. Our table could hardly contain our orders and no one complained. Trang's Dim Sum differed slightly from the ones I am used to and tasted "Thai-ish" instead of the more Hong Kong style I like. Nevertheless, it was a great meal especially the roast pork!

After breakkie, we walked through the streets of Trang and explored a little into it's rich historical past. Christianity has made very little inroads especially in this Southern Region of Thailand especially in this Muslim area and I was surprised to see an old church. Trang Church has been around since 1915 and seems to be thriving looking at the church extension buildings. There were plenty of oldish shophouses as well and we finally arrived at the Trang Railway Station. 

Ref -

We had to book our tickets the next day for Kantang which meant Potato. The 28km train ride leaves at 11am and costs an unbelievable 5Baht per person! The lovely ticketing officer advised us to get the tickets the next day as really, this was the last stop of the line and crowds were literally non-existent.

Lance and I went for our dental appointment while the rest either went for a massage or while away their time at the historical Sri Trang Hotel coffeeshop. The Dentist was a very straight laced no nonsense person and he was very competent. He pointed me to a filling that was needed and the total bill of polishing, scaling and one filling was a mere US$35. Not only were we delightfully satisfied with the professionalism, we were each given a free tube of toothpaste! Free always works for me. Trang for dental work anyone?

Lunch was at Richy's, a Thai Western set up that seemed to have won many accolades. My team hopped onto a 3 wheeled taxi driven by an 80 year old who did not understand us and brought us on an unexpected tour of Trang. Fortunately, I had a smart phone with GPS and managed to guide dear Grandpa to Richy's. The rest of the gang enjoyed some fried snacks while waiting for us. This was the first time we ate in an airconditioned restaurant and it was so cool and nice. But their prices reflected that and after eating on the cheap since the beginning of the trip, it was a hard swallow. Service was good but the staff kept wanting to "upsell" us. Sadly, capitalism has arrived in Trang.

Coffee and cake was at Green Cafe. With a name like that, it resonates with us cyclists and just as we walked towards there, the skies poured and we had to take shelter in a government building. Here we chomped on fried bananas and other savouries bought earlier. When the rain stopped, we made our way again and it was unfortunate that one of Celia's slippers gave way. In a rare moment of chivalry and with a keen eye on my future visa approvals, I gave her my footwear while I walked the streets on one slipper. It was so weird that I decided to walk barefoot after a while. 

A lovely Vespa shop caught our attention, esp a scooter with a sidecar. George and Wendy wanted another wedding shoot with this beauty. How nice it would be if we were to tour on this? The sales people were quite excited to see us foreigners interested in their Italian offerings but alas, we had our own wheels that uses no fuel!

Someone just got out of the shower!

We enjoyed our coffees and cakes at Green Cafe and wondered if this was a cycling tour or an eating trip? The Choc Mousse I had was absolutely to die for! I was starting to feel slightly guilty drinking and eating all the time and not burning any calories on the saddle. Oh, I was glad that my barefoot entrance into the cafe did not attract any unwarranted attention. And I can attest that their floors have been well mopped! When Celia came in with new footwear, I've never been happier at seeing her new purchase since I had "crested" interest.

After a short rest at Yamawa, we had dinner at a nearby Thai eatery. Trust Claudine to remember every dish we ordered. Here are the dishes, lifted from her writings. "We had yellow curry, kang Kung, chap choy, fish basil, lemongrass , bah kien, Kau yok. Many voted the kow yok, a dish of steamed pork with yam in red bean curd and tauchu sauce as one of the best dish on this trip."  This was by far, the best meal we had! 

Then it was off to a different night market after dinner for more....  dinner. This one seemed smaller than the one near the Railway Station. As it did not satisfy, we made our way once again to the bigger night market but we passed the famous Ko Teng Coffeeshop cum Hotel and had to have a stickybeak. This place reeks 1950s the moment we stepped in, like going through a time tunnel. The reception was pretty dead and upstairs seemed a little spooky for me too. Claudine ever the brave explorer went on her own to check out the facilities, or lack off. Her bravery I discovered was misplaced as she thought someone was with her! Perhaps someone was but it sure wasn't me...

While Celia and gang went for more massage, Papa went to his favourite stalls at the night market and had thirds. I hung out at the cafe at Sri Trang Hotel until it was closing time.  This truly is a hotel with character and splendor. One sure way of identifying a great hotel in my books is whether they have bicycles on their wall. Sri Trang passed with flying colours!

We retired happy and with our bellies more than satisfied. Trang certainly is worth coming again for old world charm and great food. It's laid backness and friendly people certainly make for a wonderful visit. So glad we had a chance to be acquainted with Trang. I will certainly be back again perhaps on my Sym Joymax scooter as its only 1200km from Singapore.  

So pleased we cranked to Trang!

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