My itch to travel and desire to stare at the sea could no longer be ignored. It compelled me to surf the net and find the cheapest island holiday from Singapore. Phuket became the obvious choice, with $5 airline tickets on sale.
A French friend told me there’s nothing the sea can’t heal. Besides my long gazing contests with the sea, I welcomed eating Thai food at every single meal. Indeed, Phuket is a popular tourist destination. November to April is high season. But hotel owners, vendors and masseuse all tell me this year isn’t as busy as it used to be.
Phuket is definitely a tourist town, and what it offers in abundance is choice. There are more than a dozen beaches to choose from. Most popular is Patong Beach, where hotels, resorts, bars, and lady boys are plenty. Opting for a relaxing holiday, Karon seemed to be a better match. Lured by the promise of five-kilometer beach of fine white sand, I was not at all disappointed. Walking on this clean fine sand makes an odd squeaking sound. Head over early to get first picks on the hundreds of beach chairs, costing 100 Baht per person. It comes with the beach umbrella and a hanger for your clothes. Comfortably settled in my beach chair, I gazed all around me realizing I might as well be in Europe. I surrounded by retired couples and a few young families from Scandinavia.
Seizing every opportunity to eat Thai food, I was surprised by the menu offerings in this beach town. Tucking into a plate of Phad Thai on my first night, I was happy to be reunited with an authentic plate of rice noodles, eggs, tofu, bean spouts, garnished with ground nuts, lime juice, and fish sauce. But the waitress insisted I eat some free salat from the buffet. Weiner Schnitzels and Cordon Bleu with Pommes Frites were their specialties. I realized that almost every restaurant sold Schnitzels and Swedish meatballs to cater to the tourists.
Staying with an inn run by Finnish couple Freddi & Cathryn, I was pleased to find they shared my love affair with Thai food and duck. Spending six months of the year in Karon Beach running Divers’ Inn, they stayed away from the touristy restos. Instead they pointed me to Rose & Crown tucked in a tiny soi for the special Duck Nang Loy (photo above). The Finnish man was convincing, "Just go there tell them Freddi sent you." So I did on my second night. It did not look like a Thai restaurant. It had checkered red table cloths and walls filled with framed photos of farang customers. I walked in pointed straight to the specials, Duck Nang Loy 180 Baht, told them Freddi sent me. A boisterous group of about ten people were seated, apparently they came from another town to taste this duck. When my duck was served, Freddi and Cathry arrived to eat , what else. Duck Nang Loy. Nut, the Thai lady who owns the place and cooks the food refuses to tell them the recipe. It seemed like a duck with a red creamy curry sauce with hint of pineapple juice. The duck is fried yet juicy, then topped with this reddish sauce and slivers of pineapple. While it is a large serving, we all cleaned our plates clean. “I don’t to be away from Phuket, thinking why didn’t I eat all of that delicious duck,” I told the Finnish couple.