Due to the threats of inclement weather, we decided to craft today’s itinerary around things we could do indoors if the skies opened up again. After yesterday’s somewhat sleepy experience in Mae Nam, we decided to venture out into Chaweng, the island’s biggest beach and most commercially developed town. Although the interior of the town was much more heavily developed, we didn’t see it as necessarily a bad thing – it just meant more restaurants, bars, spas, and shops. Plus, the majority of our time would be spent on Chaweng’s beautiful beaches, which spanned a 6-7 km stretch. We ate at a restaurant called Poppies, and although we initially questioned the “authenticity” of the experience what with it being inside a resort and markedly more expensive, the food was night and day better than what we had the day before. We started with chicken grilled in banana leaves with a peanut coconut sauce, and followed with beef panang and a grilled beef salad. Since we had a little bit of time to kill before our 3:30pm cooking class, we explored Chaweng along the coast (with its lukewarm water and sand as fine as sugar) and inside with its plethora of little shops (great spot to shop for those back at home). We found a sangthaew, a shared “bus” that we jumped onto, to take us back to Mae Nam, where we grabbed a quick drink at our resort’s swim-up pool bar (had to take advantage of that at least once!) before sharpening our kitchen knives.
Our cooking class took place inside the resort’s restaurant with the head chef and just the two of us. It was a little strange since our package came with a photo CD, so there was a photographer that followed us around and made us feel like celebrity chefs. Our chef gave us a quick intro to all of the local ingredients, helped us prep all of the ingredients for the 4 dishes we would make, and then off we went with grilling and sauteeing. The cooking process was really quick, with each dish only requiring a few minutes over the heat, so we actually managed to cook all of the following in a little over an hour: Chicken Satay, Chicken Pad Thai, Chicken Massaman Curry, and Glass Noodles with Shrimp. However, many of the sauces were pre-made ahead of our class (like the peanut sauce, curry paste, and pad thai sauce), so we didn’t always feel like we had cooked all of these from scratch, but it was fun and delicious nonetheless. We made so much food – 8 plates between the 2 of us – so it looked like we’d hardly even made a dent even though we were exploding at the seams. Our favorites were the curry since it had this great peanutty flavor, and the pad thai but everything was good!
That meal was all we’d need for the night, so in lieu of dinner we decided to get another Thai massage and enjoy a few drinks back in Chaweng. We started our makeshift bar crawl at a place called Beach Club at a resort, followed by a pretty cool spot called The Library that specialized in mixology cocktails. Despite the fact that it took them a good 20 minutes to actually make our drink, the end products were pretty impressive – Doug’s was a torched pineapple with aged rum, hazelnut syrup, mint, and lime; mine was rum, muddled watermelon, vanilla caster sugar, mint, lime, and a giant leaf of basil. We ended the night at the most westernized bar one could find one the island called Tropical Murphy’s, which was pretty funny since the bar may as well have been in Ireland given its decor and clientele.