June 20. We're off to Chanthaburi.
Our first stop was to the gas/service station owned by the friends of the folks, the Ngarm Rabiebs. This was a really cool place. The waiting area for customers was under a latticed canopy with planked flooring, comfortable chairs, fans, and what looked to us like a huge coy pond. Everyone was gathered around the pond checking it out when my brother-in-law screamed out "There's an alligator in there!!". Well that certainly got our attention!
Believe it or not, when these fish were purchased, they were only about 2 inches. They will not eat any fish that was in this pond when they were introduced. Any new fish added now is a meal. There are smaller versions of this fish in there and they are aggressive as hell. So don't go dangling your hand over the water thinking you're going to tease them.
That's the Ngarm Rabiebs there in the middle. Such gracious hosts, loads of local and agricultural knowledge, and great entertainment for the folks. The weird one on the right? That's Bee's sister. She's being studied by animal behaviorists for abnormalities! LOL!
Let's see some sites!
Two owners of the current shop have pointed down the street and we amble on down to her. And yes, she was very familiar with pulasan. Said she was able to taste some while in Indonesia. She brought back a bunch of seeds and got them growing. A neighbor of hers actually has a fruiting tree but we were not able to determine its origin. She hinted that it was the same fruit from Indonesia and said that the fruit were large and very sweet...about 7-8 per kilo. They have plans to graft up some seedlings and maybe do some airlayers soon. She gave us her card and said we should contact her next year to see where they are at with this venture. So at least we found someone who knew what the hell a pulasan was! Hasn't put any plants in the yard yet, but we're closer.
No one had a long lap lae durian trees so we headed off to another part of town that catered to the farmers. There were grafted durian trees everywhere! Large areas under screening were lined up on both sides of the street and further into the fields.
We spoke with the owner of the nursery we purchased the tree from asking how they do their grafting. There are many ways of grafting durian and most have varied success rates. She said they take the end of a small branch...about the diameter of a phone cord. 1/8 of an inch maybe. They take one node each from this and graft onto a seedling that had germinated only a few days before. They carefully do a wedge graft and secure the graft first with a single coconut fiber tied around it. They then will seal it off with grafting tape. She said they have nearly 100% take.
To the farm
The farm we were going to was one of two they have. This one was the smaller one of only around 20 acreas. They co-opt with nearby farmers. There is a large pond from which they all share expenses for pumping water to irrigate the farms.
See all the baskets of fruit? They filled several huge nylon bags full of mangosteen and longkong. The folks in the neighborhood were in for a surprise from mom and dad!
We had some issues on the way to our hotel. Bee's brother was having some intestinal issues that required a few stops. Hey! Someone other than me but having been there, done that, I felt for the guy. But we eventually made it to the hotel to off load our crap. The hotel's name was Kasemsarn. Was okay. The rooms must have been 150 degrees and guess what? The rooms were set up to where the electronics only work when the key chain was put in a holding slot...which includes the pitiful air conditioner. We weren't in the room long enough to even take the temp down a single degree since we were loading up once again to meet up at the restaurant. Take the key out, yep. Sure as hell everything shut off. Shit.
Dinner was at Chan O Cha. Remember that this town is a major fruit producer and distribution hub. So it wasn't surprising to walk in and see that the place had a little retail portion full of fruit products...mainly durian.
But nooooooo. Not when the effing room is 150 degrees! It took a couple hours for it to cool down enough to where I felt comfortable getting into the shower. To me, there's nothing worse coming out of a shower crisp and clean only to sweat your ass in a room hot as an oven. But when I did get in there...damn it felt good!
June 21. Heading back to Bangkok.
Watching the landscape go by at a brisk clip, we all soon started nodding off. In between nods, I noticed there were lots of oyster and clam farms. Pretty cool. We passed quite a few. In fact, they never seemed to end. Before long, the van slowed and we were pulling in to a place for lunch. It was right on the bay where the farms were. Coincidence? And what's this? Surprise surprise! It's the Rabiebs once again! Yes...they wanted to make sure we experienced nearly everything the Chanthaburi and Rayong provinces had to offer and this was going to be fresh seafood straight from the bay. This restaurant was actually in Rayong. Guess we dosed off more than I thought.
This was Nam Tok Prew waterfall park. Markets at the bottom, site seeing at the top. We walked thru the markets for a bit up to the park entrance. We paid 10 baht for a golf cart ride to the top. Turned out to be about a 30 second ride!! We needed this at the start of the markets to take us here.
This place was pretty neat. Lots of historical shrines, pagodas, and such on the way to the falls. I'm not going to show them all here, but you can seem them on my galleries page. Seems as though only one pic was clear enough to be able to read the inscriptions. Most of them were in honor of lost members of the royal family of long ago.
This wraps up part 4. Only one more to go. So don't quit now. Go check out the last blog in the series by clicking: part 5 that covers my last week in Thailand.