Thai satay lunch for two at Phang Nga
The first full day of my recent Thailand trip was full of mystery. It's not just that Phang Nga's Suwan Kuha (caves and cave temple) turned out to somewhat different from what I imagined. (As an example: for some reason, I had thought the there would be an opening that led to the sea -- but there wasn't!) Rather, it was also due to the fact that the fellow driving me around for much of the day -- a relative of a Thai relative -- turned out to have far more limited English proficiency than my aunt had thought was the case.
Before I got into the car, I knew that he would be taking me to Suwan Kuha and also that we would be having a Thai satay lunch in Phang Nga (since, my aunt told me, the town's famous for that particular dish). However, when we got to the eatery where we'd be partaking of Phang Nga's culinary speciality, my host for much of the day was unable to tell me what animal's meat and intestines I would be having on skewers for lunch with the happily easily identifiable whole shrimp!
Looking at its color, I figured it couldn't be beef (which usually ends up darker looking) and guessed that it was chicken. Having already tried skewers of wild boar bacon and venison in Takayama last fall, I figured I should just trust my host's taste and assume that the marinated mystery meat would be delicious. Thankfully, it was indeed actually very much to my liking along with the similarly marinated intestines satay from the same animal (which I later found out from my aunt was pig) -- and, in fact, I liked both the pork and pig intestine skewers I had for lunch more than the shrimp!
My host cum car driver also decided to make two other stops before we got back to my hotel at Surin Beach. At the first, I thought, upon spying a public toilet, that he wanted to use those facilities. But it turned out that he wanted to say some prayers at Lak Muang, the (locally) famous shrine dedicated to the diety of Phang Nga province (whose details I only found out in bits and bobs later, including post Googling a few minutes ago)!
After crossing the Surasin Bridge back into Phuket, we made a stop at a Buddhist temple in Thalang that looked to be pretty well regarded by locals as well as maintained but I'm guessing isn't actually a major tourist attraction (though I've seen a few websites suggest otherwise) since English language signs and explanatory information was pretty thin on the ground. Home to Luang Pho Phra Phut ("the Buddha that emerges from the ground"), Wat Phra Thong was built around a gold Buddha figure that, legend has it, was discovered after by a boy who tied his buffalo to a pole that turned out to be set atop a buried Buddha image -- and can never be fully dug out of the ground since everyone who has tried to do so has met with untimely deaths!
Again, my host for the day's reason for stopping at the temple involved his wanting to pray there. I think he also thought, after I had requested to go visit the cave temple at Suwan Kuha that I was a religious Buddhist and/or had a particular interest in religious sites. Mulling this whole matter further, something I found interesting amidst it all is that he deigned to go into the cave temple and was instead content to wait for me outside of it. Perhaps it's because Wat Suwan Kuha is more tourist attraction than a bona fide place of worship unlike those two others he opted to stop at; with evidence for this being the case including that you have to pay to enter the caves but not Lak Muang and Wat Phra Thong.