22 Jan - 25 Jan 2013 N. Si Thammarat

Kingdom of Thailand aka The Land of Conditional Smiles
Thanon Chamroenwithi 1459/7-9
Muang Tong Hotel +6675343026
Adequate twin room with wifi and private bathroom for THB 350.- or US$ 11.80 per night. Friendly staff; zero English.
Beer: 640-ml bottles of ice-cold Chang Classic (c. 6.4 % alc./vol.) from the hotel’s helpful reception for THB 45.- or US$ 1.50 per bottle.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Muang Tong Hotel in Nakhon Si Thammarat, which we would recommend, and for directions:

Exploring friendly and down-to-earth Nakhon Si Thammarat, a small rural town off the beaten tourist track where a diversity of spiritual institutions (Buddhist wats, Christian churches, Chinese joss houses, Muslim mosques and Agnostic pubs) keep on good terms with their neighbours and learning that an overland route between the western port of Trang (by the Andaman Sea) and eastern port of Nakhon Si Thammarat (by the South China Sea) had functioned for ages as a major trade link between the western and eastern worlds.

Meetings curious Burmese monks at Wat Phra Mahathat, the biggest Buddhist wat in Thailand’s south, tilting our heads back in order to spot the details of the solid (?) golden spire, supposedly weighing several hundred kilograms, which crowns the impressive 78m-high mid-13th-century chedi, and putting our palms together in a lotus-bud shape (Thai: phanom mue) to show respect to those sweet local ladies who skilfully brew their delicious but fattening Thai ice coffee aka oliang for only THB 20.- per large, heavily sugared cup.
“...some of the largest companies are now using brain scans to study how we react neurologically to certain foods, especially to sugar. They've discovered that the brain lights up for sugar the same way it does for cocaine...”

Visiting the traditional workshop of Suchart Subsin +6675346394, Thailand’s acknowledged master of shadow puppetry (both manufacture and performance), who has performed for the king, and watching the intricate process of making puppets aka nang thalung from buffalo hide and rattan.

Taking a slow train in third class (State Railway of Thailand) from Nakhon Si Thammarat to the one-horse town of Phatthalung (100 km, 2 ½ hours, THB 22.- per person), located in the far south of Thailand on the west coast of Songkhla Lake at the foot of the Ok Thalu Mountain, and spotting en-route the three pillars of true rural Thai life: (i) neat rice paddies (...for their dietary needs) (ii) colourful Buddhist wats (...for their spiritual needs) and (iii) large rubber plantations (...for their sexual needs).

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2013 Map Konni & Matt

Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from Germany:

For Amazon deals from the United States, please click here
For Amazon deals from Canada, please click here
For Amazon deals from the United Kingdom, please click here

From the 2013 Moral Travel Compass for our Grand Children's Journey of Life:
It’s bad to gulp chilled pops;
It’s good to drink lukewarm water.
Keep your bearings!