I’m trying to keep to a fairly tight budget of £10 a day. That’s not easy, and is generally not possible in Thailand anymore unless one stays in the cheapest places (grubby and poor security) and east the cheapest foods (not generally so nice). So I stretch my budget to about £15 per day, but I don’t loose sleep if I hit £20 per day.
My bungalow is £7 per day. Meals in touristy places are generally expensive and not the best quality. I have tried a few places here in Thong Nai Pan, and they’re all average. Today I noticed a very simple place that looked very Thai. It’s the outside section of someone’s house. It’s very common in Thailand to convert your front room into a restaurant/shop/laundry, and actually still live in it whilst running your business.
Tonight I tried this restaurant. The prices were cheap, about half what I would pay by the beach, and the quality and portions are much better. I love eating at places like this. You get more for your money, proper Thai food (with maybe less chili) and you know the money goes straight to Thai people, running a good wholesome business. Whilst I was there it got busy, full in fact. I could see Mum doing all of the cooking, the daughter (I’m making assumptions about the family members, but no doubt it’s correct) was taking orders, helping mum and serving. Dad was clearing tables where possible, I saw grandma re-fill the rice cooker, and cut vegetables, and I even saw grandpa take a sack of rice from the pickup. A proper family business. I have no doubt that this family are making more from their restaurant than any business venture they have been involved with before. The place was packed, with a range of customers (backpackers, tourists and a couple of families), at a time when Thailand has well below normal visitor numbers, and the beach restaurants are very quiet (some have even closed).
I will definitely be eating there again, probably every other day, or every day. I noticed a similar restaurant just a few doors down from it as well, which I’ll try tomorrow. I’m still not ready for a spicy breakfast yet though.
The funniest thing about the restaurant was that I could buy an ice cold Beer Chang for 30Baht there (60 pence) when it costs 45Baht in the shops. I knew the extra 20Baht or so the shops charge here, due it the remoteness of the place, was a bit steep, but this restaurant proves its over the top. Well I know where to get a cheap beer now!
I was famished as I had only eaten breakfast all day, so I had a banana pancake from the street vendor on the way home. 30Baht and a good chat thrown in for free.
Thanks Thailand, for still having the cheap stuff, although you make me look harder than every this time to find it!