Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Whaleshark at Koh Haa after just 2 days of being open!

Photo taken from the boat!

Just heard from Andaman Dive Adventures, that they spotted a Whaleshark from the boat today!

Damn 2 days too early!

Monday, 15 October 2018

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Ready for you!

One of my Mesh Bags for the Day
I am sure that you have heard that Maya Bay, on Koh Phi Phi, has been closed this low season and when it will open, if in fact it will, remains unclear. The Similans Marine Park have also extended the closure of The Similan Islands and will have strict limits on the number of visitors to the park (click here for the most recent update)

However the Koh Lanta Marine Park have been shutting our main dive and snorkelling sites (Koh Haa, Koh Rok and Hin Daeng/Muang and recently Koh Muk) every low season, to enable the areas to get a break and recuperate. The Koh Lanta Marine Park is much quieter than Koh Phi Phi and the Similans, but they have recognised that every year the visitors are growing and they want to preserve these sites for the future.

Koh Lanta Marine Park Managed the Day
Every year the Koh Lanta Marine Park opens on the 15th October. This year the Marine Park Chief contacted Scubafish and Trash Hero Lanta on Koh Lanta and asked for their help in ensuring that both Koh Rok and Koh Haa were ready for visitors.
Trash Hero helped with clear up at Koh Rok
On the 13th October, Scubafish took a groups of professional divers to Koh Rok and Trash Hero Lanta joined other volunteers who were tasked with the job of cleaning the beaches. Nearly 300 people turned up, and it was lucky that they did because it was a big job as the low season tides and weather had washed up lots of garbage. The volunteers did such a great job the marine park had to return the following day to pick up the rubbish they could not fit in their boats!

I was lucky enough to be invited by Andaman Dive Adventures to be part of their team, on the Scubafish boat, for Day 2 at Koh Haa. Now as an ex dive instructor, Koh Haa and I go way back, but I had not been there for a couple of years so I was keen to see how it looked.
Seeing Koh Haa for the 1st time this season
Not only were we joined by professional divers from Andaman Dive Adventures, Scubafish, Go Dive, Lanta Diver, Palm Beach Divers and Flip Flop Divers, we were also joined by Pimalai Resort staff, the Chief of Police on Lanta and many Thai volunteers from Bangkok. All avid divers, we were all keen to make the most of the day.
Brian and Lee (My team) admiring the visibility at Koh Haa Lagoon

On arrival at Koh Haa, we were joined by the Marine Park officials who organised who would dive where to ensure we covered as much of Koh Haa as possible. My team, (Lee, Brian and I) got Cave to Beach on Koh Haa 5. This is a dive I love as it has caverns, caves and swimthroughs and as we jumped in I was struck by how great the visibility was and how clean the site looked, big schools of Travelly and Baracuda were everywhere. Indeed we picked up very little rubbish, until the end of the dive when we spotted a large fishing net by the beach. The net was too big to pick up with what we had and we were running out of air.

When we got back to the boat, Lee (Andaman Dive Adventure) and Magnus (Scubafish) took a short break and then jumped back in to retrieve the net. It was no small task, requiring lift bags to assist them and they had to be careful to ensure the coral was not damaged. 

Lee, from Andaman Dive Adventure after picking up the net
After a sumptuous meal provided by Pimalai Resort & Spa we returned to the water to clean the lagoon. My team was heading to Koh Haa 2 whilst the other half of the boat were over on Koh Haa 4. Again the rubbish was minimal until half way through the dive, when we discovered some piping, that had been discarded with some wiring.

I would like to thank all those who assisted in not only making sure I had a great day's diving, but also contributed to the clean up.
We left Koh Haa a little cleaner than what we found it!
What are you waiting for, the Koh Lanta Marine Park opened today, book your snorkelling or diving tour today!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Young Entrepreneur

Aarm, our youngest Entrepreneur on Lanta
 We think it is an important part of being an eco resort that we not only try to reduce our carbon footprint but that we also support local charities and businesses.

Our New Reusable Eco Bags
So when my husband was approached by our accountant's 8 year old son, Aarm, with an environmental business idea. How could we refuse?
This young lad is making his own reusable cloth bags, with your own design, to reduce the number of single use plastic bags we use on this island.

So he made us 20 lovely bags, which our staff use and are available to our guests.
Our Staff love them

Sunday, 30 September 2018

What a wake up call!

Watching me from the apex of the roof
So for the last few mornings, at 6am, there has been something clearly on my tin roof, making a lot of noise!

This morning, I decided, in a towel, to investigate. I was hoping all the guests were still asleep!

As I looked at my roof, I saw 2 cute baby monkeys looking back! So I rushed back for my phone to try and take a picture/video of them.

Now whilst there are loads of monkeys on the island, this is only the second time I have seen monkeys near my resort. Both times were in low season, so they may be hungry and looking for food.

I think I might be up early for the next few days and I think some of my guests might be joining me! Probably should make sure I am fully clothed next time!

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Another Thai Cookery School?

May, the owner and teacher at May's Cooking School
Yes indeed, it is a new season and yet more cookery schools are opening up on Koh Lanta. This year May, from May's Kitchen has built and opened one near her home in the hills of the island. So why choose this one?

1. Well it could be because May has been a chef on this island for as long as I can remember and runs the hugely successful May's Kitchen.

2. It could be because she speaks great English.

3. You have tried her food and really want to eat it at home!

4. Or it could be due to the fact that learning from May is like learning from your mama!

Indeed whilst I watched May teach her first class this year, she regaled the story how she learnt to cook from her grandma and how her grandmother taught her to cook with 'her heart!' And whilst she was teaching, her two beautiful daughters both walked by us to run May's Kitchen as their mama taught them!'

Only fresh ingredients
May is quite a lady, softly spoken, very knowledgeable and sometimes surprisingly funny, which probably helps when your partner is Irish! She instills calm wherever she is and makes cooking look simple and most of all enjoyable.

On this day, May had two students, Sarah (German) and Thomas (French), both of whom live in Salzberg in Austria. May has built her beautiful, rustic outside teaching area with only space for 4 students, because she wants to 'keep the classes small and personal,' she tells me. Shaded by the trees, which was fortunate because the sun was blazing, the area is cool, calm and serene (much like May).
Thomas & May comparing Som Tams
May takes her time with her students, she cooks 4 meals, but individually, eating as we finished each course. She explains all the different ingredients she uses, why she uses them and where she sources them from. For May, freshness and environmentally friendly produce is a must, so she sources most products from the island. With every ingredient, she explains what it is, why it is good for you and, if you cannot source that ingredient at home, what you can replace it with.
Sarah is very proud of her accomplishments!
For the first course today, she shows Sarah and Thomas how to make a Som Tam (Papaya Salad), she explains how a Thai would traditionally make it and how this is often changed to please Western taste buds. This is where she encourages her students to taste constantly and adapt the mix to their taste.

After completing the dish, May, Thomas and Sarah, sit down together in a Sala to eat together. There is no rush here, and plenty of soft drinks to rejuvenate you.
May teaches us about baby Bananas!
The second course is Pad Thai and May demonstrates how to make the Pad Thai sauce before they make the dish together. At this point May is able to adjust the meal according to the students dietary requirements. This time May makes the Pad Thai for me with both chicken and prawns and it is delicious. Thomas comments on how delicious the prawns are and May informs us that that is because they are from the sea (I did mishear this and thought she said tree!) and were freshly caught by local fishermen.
The school is only designed for small intimate classes.
At this point we are all full but after a short interval May starts with the third course, Green Curry, she says that if Sarah and Thomas are too full, they can take this meal home with them and eat later. But once they start cooking, the smells are so good, they quickly get their appetite back!

May, Thomas & Sarah enjoy a Green Curry together
Finally, May makes mango and sticky rice  and despite finishing all the food they have had already, Thomas and Sarah make space for one last dish! Although I think they may not have eaten for the rest of the day.

May only offers one class per day, to small groups only. The class is not rushed, so whilst you make 4 dishes, there is plenty of time between courses for you to regain your appetite and if you don't, May will send you home with a take away. If you would like to book this course, ask at May's Kitchen or ask me to organise for you.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

This week's recommendation - Larb Bplaa

 Eating Larb Bplaa whilst watching Jo make cocktails
This week's Thai dish was an easy one for Sibua (Sibby to her friends) and I to agree on. I have known Sibby since she was a young girl and now she is married with a child of her own. Whilst she was growing up she used to work with her mum (May) in a bar and restaurant known as Opium (unfortunately not here anymore). One day I went in there for dinner and could not decide what I wanted and Sibby chose Larb Bplaa for me.
Sibua, Head Chef at May's Kitchen
Now this was an interesting choice for me, firstly I love my Thai dishes spicy and Larb Bplaa (Salad Fish literal translation) is certainly that. Not a salad as you would see in England, a Larb is usually meat or fish ground with chillies, spring onions, mint, onions, maybe a few other vegetables and a spicy, but fruity sauce. Sibby's Laab is slightly different to the Traditional Isaan dish, as the white fish is battered and deep fried, which gives this dish a lovely crunchy texture.
Everything is cooked fresh and in front of you at May's Kitchen
From the first moment I tried Sibby's Larb I was hooked and I recommended it to so many people, who could not remember the name, that it became know as Mellisa's dish at Opium! Even the non-spice lovers love the taste of this dish, but needed a lot of rice and cucumber (traditionally used to take the kick of a spicy dish away) with it.
Crunchy battered White Fish, in a spicy and fruity sauce
If you are not a fish lover, and I was not until I tried this, this dish is also commonly served with chicken (Larb Gai), beef (Larb Nua - really delicious), pork (Larb Moo) and sold in most thai restaurants. Sticky rice is usually ordered as an accompaniment to this dish.

Sibby's Larb Bplaa now available at May's Kitchen
If you want to try Sibby's version, she now works as Head Chef at her mother's restaurant in Lanta, May's Kitchen.