72 Hours in Thoddoo – What to See, Eat & Do

Asia

The balmy air in Thoddoo is perfumed by the sweet scent of ripe papayas. Flying foxes flit in and out of palm tree fronds interspersed with rambling wild bushes. Clusters of coral reefs fringe the island as the sun scatters diamonds on the ocean blues. Below the surface, life abounds in infinite forms. Hawksbill turtles glide past bluestripe snappers, narrowly missing the moray eels nestled amidst the corals. The brimming reefs bring a flurry of psychedelic colours as reef fish scamper for their share of grub.

No one would have heard of Thoddoo a mere 10 years ago as it sits unnoticed among the resort islands. Everything is new and untouched. Today, travellers would take the two hours speedboat ride for a slice of this self-effacing local island, giving it a new breath of life. 

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THE SIGHTS

The island is cosily small – a mere two kilometres at its longest length. No traffic, paved roads or grand swimming pools. Stripped of modernity, the island is the epitome of the simple life where lying on a hammock or taking a 30 minutes amble is a mundane thrill.

Sunbathe at Thoddoo’s bikini beach, where clear-as-glass water washes against a milky stretch of sand. The house reef encircling the beach will keep you occupied for hours. Turtles frequent the western edge of the house reef for breakfast. To venture out of the island, boat trips will take you to sandbanks for snorkelling in reefs free from settlements.

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ROOMS

The minuscule size of the island means it does not house a string of big time hotels, but what bed & breakfasts it has are warm and intimate. Holiday Cottage Maldives is a row of cottages set on the island. Dinners are rich with local fish and lobsters on the grill. Doubles start at US$80.

The airy rooms at Coco Villa are just ten minutes from the bikini beach. Your arrival will be sweetened by fresh coconuts and papaya jelly. The chef does an eclectic breakfast menu – shredded pancakes are dipped in chocolate sauce with a side of devilled eggs, waffles topped with breaded cutlet, and tuna masuni with roshi. Doubles start at US$100.

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The Eating Guide to Bangkok, Thailand

Asia

Bangkok, at any time of the year, is a place that is hard to capture with a single idea. Masses throng the city centre as motorcycles zip past gridlocked cars on interweaving roads. At the same time, she never fails to draw the crowds like an immortal movie star. This is Bangkok; she never loses her verve. Back when things got too predictable, cafés exploded onto the scene, what with the thriving coffee trade in Thailand. Street grub is remade and intermixed with borrowed flavours. 

When night comes, the city is not ready to hit the sack. Incandescent lights colour bleary streets and the aroma from cooking pots forms a trail. As the world falls into a slumber, Bangkok is at her most vivacious. 

Look forward to: Street food

READ Café 

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Where: 21/40 Thanon Ngamwongwan, Khwaeng Lat Yao, Khet Chatuchak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10900, Thailand
What: Pancakes
For: Breakfast

The after school coteries are aplenty at this far-flung café many miles away from the city centre. A 24 hour coffee joint within the university town of  Rangsit, READ Café’s cushy corners are where students mug and patrons eat. The menu’s to-die-for dishes are the sweet treats – pancakes dusted with granola and honeyed french toasts. 

Prik Yuak 

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Where: Chatuchak Weekend Market, Project 2, Soi 38/3 Road, Kamphaeng Phet 2, Chatuchak District, Bangkok, Thailand
What: Stir-fried crab meat and mango sticky brown rice
For: Communal dining with friends

For unpretentious Thai eats, Prik Yuak is sure to win your heart. This rickety khao gaeng (rice and curry) shop is hidden in a corner of Chatuchak. Owner Ann does the whole nine yards – stir-fried crab meat, fish curry, fried garlic squid, garlic pork liver, tom yum kung, phanaeng pork curry, eggs stir-fried with crab meat, and brown rice. The best way to go about doing this is to go  communal dining with friends. Small dishes are shared while you have your own rice on a plate. For dessert, go for the mango sticky brown rice. 

Khao Kha Moo Truk Sung 

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Where: Soi Phetchaburi 30, Khwaeng Lumphini, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand
What: Pig trotter rice
For: Lunch

Synonymous with local Thai fare, khao kha moo is a down-to-earth everyman favourite. Pig trotters are braised for hours, then dished over a plate of rice and served with a side of preserved vegetables. This under-the-block shop does theirs with a bowl of bitter gourd soup. The day ends when the trotters are sold out, usually by mid-day. 

Phatsaya Village Phad Thai 

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Where: 59/79 Soi Tha Sai 1, Khwaeng Thung Song Hong, Khet Lak Si, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10210, Thailand
What: Phad thai
For: Supper

This street stall does a mean plate of phad thai with your choice of prawns,  mussels, or both. This place only opens in the night, so make it a supper visit. There are only three seats but the people just keep coming. 

P’Aor

Where: 68/51 Soi Phetchburi 5, Phetchburi Road, Thung Phaya Thai Subdistrict, Ratchathewi District, Bangkok 10400, Thailand
What: Tom yum goong
For: Dinner

The strong broth laden with prawn stock is what makes the tom yum goong at P’Aor a winner. If you are unafraid of spice, go with the option of having rice noodles in the soup. For those who go for unconventional digs, the lobster tom yum goong will win you over. Queues are wonted but they move fast; it’s not a place to sit and dawdle. 

Chatuchak Coconut Ice Cream 

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Where: Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand
What: Coconut ice cream
For: A cooling dessert

Bangkok’s coconut ice cream can be found in the makeshift shops along the main street of Chatuchak Market. There are many in the coconut ice cream trade, but the fabled one comes in a husk, and includes two toppings and a cup of coconut water. Go for the sticky rice and peanut toppings – they are absolutely divine. 

Sukhumvit Soi 38 Wanton Noodles 

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Where: Soi Sukhumvit 38, Phra Khanong, Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
What: Wanton noodles
For: A late night snack

Once a midnight food haunt, Sukhumvit Soi 38 has lost its lustre following a prolonged hiatus. A baa mee (wanton noodles) stall – amongst a handful of others – still stands strong, dishing out bowls of noodles into the wee hours of the night. Order a small bowl, then head next door for a mango sticky rice. 

The Eating Guide to Ko Lanta, Thailand

Asia

Somewhere south of Krabi, there is a secluded oasis away from the crowds of overly touristy islands in Thailand. At Ko Lanta, it’s all about enjoying life with simple pleasures. You’ll see tourists resting on hammocks in the island’s rustic Drunken Sailors café, restaurants opening as late as 11 am, and cars cruising along the deserted roads.

This little piece of paradise reminds us that sometimes, all it takes is to sit back and watch the world go by, to enjoy the true meaning of travel.

Look forward to: Removing your shoes before entering any place indoors, as is their custom.

Drunken Sailors 

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Where: 116 Moo 5, Ba Kantiang, Ko Lanta 81150, Thailand
What: Pancakes and English breakfast set
For: Breakfast

It’s hard to miss this laid-back café with travellers lazing on the several hammocks and bean bags around tables with plates of American-styled food. You can often find cats lying around on the chairs at Drunken Sailors, seemingly unaware of guests dining just next to them. The homemade fries are top notch, but it’s their breakfast sets that made me fall in love with this casual joint. Two pages long of breakfast options, ranging from English breakfast sets, to fluffy pancakes with tropical fruits, to English muffins with homemade jams.

Red Alert Restaurant

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Where: 272 Moo 5, Koh lanta yai, Krabi 81150, Thailand
What: Waffles and salami
For: European flavours

If you’re looking for European flavours, then Red Alert Restaurant is the place for you. The restaurant is located in The Houben Hotel, a boutique establishment owned by a Belgian family. Gourmet European food items such as smoked salmon and salami are part of the breakfast menu. The waffles and pancakes are absolutely delicious – what I would expect for Belgian standards. Enjoying your meal with those around you is extremely important, and the restaurant goes as far as to offer 10% off your bill if you surrender your phones to them.

Phad Thai Rock n Roll 

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Where: Tambon Ko Lanta Yai, Amphoe Ko Lanta, Chang Wat Krabi 81150, Thailand
What: Phad thai
For: Local Thai food

The retro vibe is unmistakable in Phad Thai Rock n Roll. It felt as though I took a step back to the 60s, and the man manning the wok is actually a guitarist who used to be in a rock and roll band. It’s a small place with less than 10 tables. There’s no doubt that the ingredients right down to the limes are fresh, and the phad thais have that authentic Thai flavour.

Greek Taverna 

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Where: 665 Moo 2 Klong Khong Beach, Ko Lanta 81150, Thailand
What: Grilled meats and seafood
For: Greek food

Walk along Klong Khong Beach in north Ko Lanta and you’ll find this Greek food haven. Typical Greek specialties such as gyros and moussaka can be found on the menu at Greek Taverna, but the grilled seafood and meat platters sure hits the spot when it comes to soaking in the beach atmosphere. The owner comes from Greece, and you’ll be hard pressed to find something tastier or more unique along this stretch.