Friday, December 21, 2012

Authentic Thai Food and Wish Lanterns

One of our first experiences with authentic Thai food took place on the beach next to the J. W. Marriott Resort.  These local vendors set up small wooden kiosks and sell authentic Thai food and serve it to you right on the beach!  There was coconut water served chilled right out of the coconut, Pad Thai and more served at our table.  The food tasted great to us, but Charles was somewhat disappointed as he stated it was not as good as what he had during his last visit to Phuket.
We did discover one of the hazards of eating on the beach under the trees while we were enjoying our lunch however.  A lovely bird who had perched in the trees above us decided to "poop" directly on Jon!  OMG, of all of us Jon was the one who would be most upset about a bird pooping on his head!  We were laughing hysterically as we tried to wash the poop off with some wet wipes we carried in our purses!  Jon was raving, and the Thai waitress told us it was actually considered good luck to have a bird poop on your head!  There was no convincing "poophead" however!  

We decided for dinner that our quest would be to find some fantastic authentic Thai food.  We asked the concierge at the Resort for some recommendations, and received a great review on a restaurant called LOTUS at Bangtao Beach.  It was about a 30 minute drive across the island to the location of the restaurant which was under renovation when we arrived.  At first we were afraid we might be disappointed, as it appeared it might be a "tourist trap" kind of locale instead of an authentic Thai restaurant.
But we were not disappointed for long!

As we entered the main part of the building we saw large tanks of assorted local live seafood from which we could pick our choice for our meals! There were huge lobsters and langoustines and shrimp and fish and crabs.  Beautiful! It was going to be hard to choose which delicious delicacy we would have for our meals! As you can see from the picture 
it didn't take Charles long to decide that one of these lovely Lobster Sea Monsters was going to be the star of our evening!

We were led by our hostess to an open patio just 20 feet or so from the breaking surf.  Sitting under the stars in the warm, breezy Thai night was amazing, and about to become even more memorable as we saw the first of the Wish Lanterns rise into the sky from the beach! Here is a bit of information about the Wish Lantern which is such a beautiful tradition in Thai Culture.

Thai Lanterns from Wish Lantern

Thai Lanterns from Wish Lantern ®
Thai Lanterns is another phrase that is sometimes used to refer to Wish Lanterns. Wish Lantern is the USA's original supplier of thai lanterns, the safe and quiet alternative to fireworks that create and amazing visual effect when they are released into the sky.
Northern Thailand could well be said to be the world wide home of wish lanterns - in Thailand, like nowhere else, wish lanterns are widely used all year round for celebrations including breath-taking lanten festivals, and are a part of the fabric of Thai culture .The phrase Thai Lanterns is a Western invention - Wish Lanterns are properly called Khoom Loy or Khoom Fay in Thai.
The largest and most stunning of all Thai Lantern festivals takes place during the month of Yee Peng - the festival of Loy Kratong in Chiang Mai - in which lovers and partners gather on the riverbanks to float flowers and candles, launch fireworks and release thai lanterns together.

Within just minutes of our arrival, we decided to join in the festive launching of our own lanterns!  I was up first and found myself fascinated with this unique custom.  You are instructed to write a wish on the lantern before it is lighted for release.  The Thai ladies light  the ring inside the lantern and set it on the sand as the air inside became heated, causing the lantern to begin to rise! Then the lantern is passed to you to release into the clear night sky.  It is an amazing feeling watching the beautiful lantern rise above you and you can see it travel for miles!  It wasn't long before all of us joined in the ceremony together - each writing their own wish and releasing their own lantern!
As you can see, we all got into the act and had a great time lighting our lanterns and releasing our wishes to the night sky!  It was such a joy to watch our lanterns filled wish joyful wishes float could see them for miles!  Amazing fun!

After watching our lanterns rise we went back to our table to choose the foods we would have for dinner.  As I said, Charles had pretty much decided on a huge lobster for our main course, and so our waiter brought one directly to the table for us to approve of it's quality and size!  It was HUGE and flopping it's tail proving how fresh and alive it really was!  Decision made!  One huge lobster for the four of us.  We ordered an assortment of appetizers to share, all of which were absolutely delicious!  This was definitely going to be an evening to remember!

The spicy soups with a coconut base were a huge hit as were all the delicious choices we had made for appetizers.  It wasn't long before our lobster arrived at the table, along with an assortment of beautiful vegetables.  What an amazing presentation, and it looked twice as big as we though it was before cooking!

We were delighted with presentation and flavor of the delicious crustacean and even though we found it amazing, the four of us were unable to consume the whole thing!  It was a succulent treat and we were all delighted with our choice of restaurant.  The LOTUS did not disappoint.  The atmosphere was amazing as was the food.  

Charles loves Mango Sticky Rice, a Thai specialty for dessert, so of course we had to have an order even though we were all stuffed with lobster and other delights.  Thank goodness the portions were fairly small, because in spite of our full status, we could not resist this delightful treat!  YUM!

After finishing our meal, and watching the ladies on the beach shoot off fireworks, Jon mentioned that he had never shot off fireworks.  He was really enjoying the roman candles being shot out over the water.  Charles decided to buy some of them to shoot off at the beach at the Resort on our last night in Phuket.
 I'm not sure who was more tickled with the decision to purchase the fireworks, but Charles negotiated a price for two packages of them, and we paid our bill and headed back to the J. W. Marriott to allow Jon to set off fireworks for the first time in his life!  It was a very dark night, and perfect for setting off fireworks on the beach side.  We all went to our rooms and grabbed cameras and flip flops and headed for the sand! The boys wasted no time in positioning the roman candles in the sand pointing out toward the water.  We had quite a display for our send off from Phuket!  A perfect ending for an absolutely perfect day, in an absolutely perfect paradise!  Amazing Phuket, and only the first leg of of trip to amazing Thailand....more to come!
GOD BLESS - Peace, Love and Joy!!

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