Tag - crocodile farm

Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Samui, Thailand
Koh Samui, Thailand
Koh Samui, Thailand
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Located in Surat Thani Province in the south of Thailand, Koh Samui is Thailand’s third largest island and has an area of 228.7 square kilometers. Koh Samui is a very popular tourist destination and has much to offer. There are several beaches located around the island, all with distinctly different characters set to appeal to different desires, entertainment needs and paces of life.

Hat Chaweng is the island’s longest and most popular beach. This area is party central and you will find restaurants catering to every taste, large beach bars and theme pubs and clubs. Although not as large as those on Koh Pha-ngan, there are often lively beach parties at Chaweng, especially around the full moon.

Also popular is Hat Lamai, which is famous for the Grandfather and Grandmother rocks and the slightly seedier night life.

Hat Bophut is a quiet and romantic fisherman’s village. This area is relaxed and more traditional than the larger communities, and has a number of very good French-owned cafes and restaurants.

Nearby, Ao Bang Po is a quiet bay perfect for snorkeling, swimming and meditation, whilst Ao Tong Takian is a small cove north of Lamai beach. Also known as Silver Beach, this is a good place for people who crave tranquility.

Bang Rak, is situated just two kilometers east of Bophut. The big attraction in this area is the 19-metre gold tinted statue of Lord Buddha, which overlooks the entire bay. Climb the steps to the top for an excellent view over the island.

Getting to Koh Samui is pretty simple as there is a large airport on the island with regular flights from BangKohk. The flight takes just over an hour, or you can choose to travel by train or air-conditioned bus to Surat Thani and then take the ferry.

There are many interesting attractions on and around Koh Samui. Perhaps the most popular is the Ang Thong National Marine Park. A good way to explore the park is to go on a boat tour, which will enable you to see the 40 small islands, limestone cliffs, white sandy beaches, lagoons and caves. No trip to the park is complete without visiting Tham Bua Bok, a cavern filled with lotus-shaped cave formations.

Another weird and wonderful attraction is the mummified monk, which can be found at Wat Khunaram. The mummified remains are of monk Luang Phaw Daeng and can be seen complete wearing dark sunglasses.

Of course, water sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, jet skiing and kayaking are popular in the area. Other diversions include a crocodile farm, monkey theatre, elephant trekking, a snake farm, an aquarium and a butterfly garden.

Koh Samui is an island that likes to look after its wildlife, and visitors can donate to the Dog Rescue Centre Samui, which cares for hundreds of local pooches.

May Kaidee – Veggie Power

May Kaidee - Veggie Power
May Kaidee - Veggie Power
May Kaidee - Veggie Power
May Kaidee - Veggie Power
May Kaidee - Veggie Power
May Kaidee - Veggie Power
May Kaidee - Veggie Power
May Kaidee - Veggie Power

It’s early in the morning and May of May Kaidee looks fabulous, as always. I’ve had two cups of coffee and am still sluggish from the weight of the bags under my eyes, but May sweeps into the room with skin glowing and eyes shining. Looking at May, you would hardly guess that she is one of the hardest working women in Bangkok. She greets me warmly and then we are off.

First, we’re off to meet and greet the students signed up for today’s cookery class. Each day, six lucky travelers learn how to create delicious Thai dishes under the supervision of May and her sister. Today’s students come from Israel, the USA, England and Korea. This is their first Thai cookery lesson and all are excited about the experience. The first stop is the local supermarket, where May introduces the ingredients and explains how they are used. May tells me that she chooses the supermarket rather than the outdoor market because; “that way I can show the students how to find the ingredients in their own country.” When the shopping is complete, May leads the students to the kitchen, which is located at the back of her restaurant on Samsen Road. The students cook in pairs using a special instruction sheet prepared by May.

May demonstrates how to use the equipment and blend the ingredients, then gives the students space to get creative in the kitchen. When they have finished, May tastes each dish and offers comments and tips.

The cookery class lasts four hours – from 9 am-1 pm – during which time the students cook 10 specially selected dishes which they then can devour. The chefs look happy as they sample their creations. “This is great,” a beaming English woman tells me. “The perfect souvenir.”

May came from Bangkok from her Isaan village of Si Sa Saket in 1988 to help her Aunt and Uncle in their vegetarian restaurant. May, who was just 16, was working on the farm when the fateful letter arrived. “They had to write a letter to ask for my help; there was no phone in the village.”

Like the other villagers, May was not originally vegetarian. “I used to eat everything,” she confesses. “Rats, dogs, crickets, worms; we ate whatever we found.”

But in Bangkok May soon found her waistband expanding and decided to change her diet. May converted to vegan and lot a lot of weight. Her diet, combined with teetotalism, is obviously the reason for May’s clear complexion and abundant energy. “In 16 years I haven’t needed to go to the hospital about my health,” she beams.

May decided she wanted to share her healthy philosophy and opened her own restaurant. It was difficult at first as there were problems with the police and Thai traditions. “Many Thai people don’t want to change their habits,” May sighs. “They think brown rice is animal food, they won’t try it.”

Luckily, May’s warmth and open spirit drew her friends to her, and they would often bring her extra plates, spoons and provisions. It wasn’t long before westerners had caught onto the wonders of May’s cuisine and she had a healthy ‘farang’ (western) following.

In the last 20 years, May’s vision has expended conciderably. She now has three restaurants, a website, a cookery book, classes, rooms for rent and soon her own TV show. May Kaidee TV, starting in about a month, will take the form of daily 1-2 minute episodes on the internet. “I have four new things coming soon,” May tells me with a grin. “New cookery book, new restaurant, New Year and new government.”

But May’s vision doesn’t stop there. Having already traveled all over the world to spread her message, May is jetting off to India next month to learn about Indian health techniques such as Ayurvedic medicine.

May’s idea is to create a complete detox centre where people can eat food organically grown at May’s farm, meditate, sing and dance. “I want to create week long home stay facilities so people can fix their body before they go home.”

Song and dance are very close to May’s heart. When the students have finished cooking, she teaches them traditional Thai dancing, which they perform before singing the sontam song.

May Kaidee provides the perfect eating experience, combined with her flare and love of Thai culture.

May Kaidee is located at 33 Samsen Road (next to Soi 1) and 1117/1 Tanao Road, behind Burger King at the end of Khaosan Road.

Crocodile Rockin’ in Samut Prakarn

Crocodile Farm, Samutprakarn, near Bangkok, Thailand
Crocodile Farm, Samutprakarn, near Bangkok, Thailand
Crocodile Farm, Samutprakarn, near Bangkok, Thailand
Crocodile Farm, Samutprakarn, near Bangkok, Thailand
Crocodile Farm, Samutprakarn, near Bangkok, Thailand

Nothing says “you’re not in Canada anymore” quite like an afternoon in the company of 60 000 crocodiles. And so, in the spirit of fearless Thailand travels, I embarked upon a daytrip to Samut Prakarn. Here the reptiles range from newborn to world record-holders, all housed together in the world’s largest crocodile farm.

While organized trips to the Samut Prakarn Crocodile Farm can be purchased through any Bangkok-based travel agency, the independent spirit can make the trek with ease. From Bangkok, the orange 511 bus from Sukhumvit Road will take you into Samut Prakarn, though be warned that commuter traffic can make this ride a lengthy one. From the city centre, the famous farm is a mere 10-minute tuk-tuk ride away.

After paying your 300 baht admission, your first glance of crocodile will be in steak, purse, or shoe form. The main entrance to the farm houses an expansive gift shop of croc meat and leatherware, a darkly funny touch. Once inside, crocodile-enthusiasts have a maze of options. Animal-lovers could easily occupy a whole day here. In addition to a massive crocodile population, this farm has a large zoo and elephant shows, located oddly close to the local shooting range.

There are 60 000 crocodiles lurking inside, including the largest in captivity, the appropriately-named Yai (“large” in Thai), measuring 6 metres in length and weighing a record-breaking 1,114.27 kg (2,465 lb).

While guided tours dish out the reptile facts, visitors are welcome to walk freely around the crocodile tanks. There are rows of cement pens housing baby crocodiles en masse. A more daring crocodile fan can cross the rickety wooden boardwalks over giant tanks, where hundreds of adult crocodiles lurk on the land and water, moving with the eerie stealthiness that makes them so fascinating and also terrifying. For a newcomer to the reptile world, there is something truly menacing in the slow silence of the reptiles. A highlight of the crocodile experience occurs on these boardwalks, where 20 baht will buy a dead chicken that can be thrown into the tank. The result is a heart-racing show of quick lunges, snapping jaws, and deep growls as the meat gets devoured. Graphic, yes. But exciting? Absolutely!

The farm boasts two amphitheatres, each housing the hourly crocodile handling or elephant acrobatic shows. While both spectacles are light and family-friendly, the gimmicky croc show falls short of the “crocodile wrestling” promised on the pamphlets. The elephant acrobatics will amuse all ages in a show where elephants paint pictures with their trunks, and are trained to collect money from audience participants.

Located close to the exit, the farm’s “handicapped crocodile wing” is not to be missed. Like a carnival sideshow, it boasts crocodiles both rare and deformed. Crocodiles that are albino, tiger-patterned, 6-legged, fork-tailed and more are kept in smaller tanks so visitors can easily spot their unusual markings and traits
Since it was founded in 1950, the farm has expanded into a tourist multiplex with a zoo, dinosaur museum, countless foodstalls, and even go-karting, and have received mixed reviews from visitors. Still, the farm is a very worthwhile experience for reptile enthusiasts and curious sightseers alike. An afternoon spent watching, feeding, and fearing the crocodiles is an unforgettable one.

Anne Merritt is Canadian and has an English Literature degree. She has worked as a journalist for a university newspaper. She is currently living in Ayutthaya as an ESL teacher and is sharing her experience of Thailand with KhaoSanRoad.com.