This is Fang.
This too is Fang.
People walking? What is this?
Fang became our next destination after Chiang Mai, we were eager to leave the Tiger Kingdom touts behind and get further north. After a few hours on the bus through forested hill areas with restos advertising steak and pizza, we arrived. We walked from the bus stop on the main road through Fang to our next hotel, while yellow jacketed tuk tuk and motorbike touts laughed at us when we told them we wanted to walk. But walking led us through the town and up some side streets and on to our new house for the next few nights. It wasn't far.
Our stopping off point in Fang was the Auang Kham Hotel, a bright orangey/brown building, the colour reminiscent of 1970s kitchen decor. Our room was a green concrete bungalow out the back (about 300 baht a night), worth it alone for the Hello Kitty interior decorating. The back yard area had a wonderful trailer park aesthetic to it, with little balconies with chairs to observe the traveller action. The clientele was mainly local business travellers and the odd ute full of farmers.
Fang may not be everybody's cup of tea but we loved it. A small quiet town given a little buzz from domestic tourism. There's not much to do, we basically sat on our balcony for two days - reading, eating and drinking. For folks less lazy than us there's a mountain to climb and hot springs to soak in nearby. There's also a strip of bars, some more dubious than others.
After the bus ride from Chiang Mai and an average hotel breakfast to start the day, we were keen to find something good to eat. We walked up the streets around the back of the hotel away from the main road to find this resto still open for a late lunch.
We debated if we should eat or not, it was almost heading toward a very late lunch and we risked throwing away an eating opportunity if we didn't. The pots bubbling away at the front of this no name place decided it for us.
There were two sorts of noodle dishes on offer, or that's what we were offered anyway. This khao soi had a far spicier kick to any we tried in Chiang Mai, a good curry gravy and small chicken pieces hit the spot.
"You want Thai spaghetti?" the owner asked, proudly beaming a smile at us. We nodded, oh yes.
The sauce was excellent, full of pork blood cubes and a small amount of pork mince that gave it a bolognese sauce taste, in a broth made even more luscious with halves of sweet cherry tomatoes. Fixin's for the noodles, pickled mustard, wedges of lime, onions and bean sprouts. This dish is so simple but oh so good, rocketing to No 1 on our Thai noodle charts.
Mix to your hearts content. The blood cubes don't have a strong flavour, they add an additional element of texture as well as the taste.
After lunch and a couple of Singhas for some afternoon sparkle, we wandered the back streets of Fang.
Another local resto.
As night came on we moved on from the bungalow and the lure of one more Thai whisky and soda on the balcony to this Thai Chinese resto on the main road. Our deep love of Chinese food has led to to exploring versions of Chinese food in every country we visit. So what is Thai Chinese food like?
The place was buzzing with a mix of families and younger couples. We were just in the mood for a bit of Chinese style food, this place seemed just right.
Deep fried squid, a bit of a craving sparked a desire for something fried and crunchy. The tentacles were included in the fried pieces, not just the usual rings of white rubber.
We always need some green veg. Chinese broccoli spiked with bits of roast pork does the trick.
We were feeling the need for more green power, this water spinach with bits of chilli (for a reminder you were in Thailand) had a wonderful flavoursome simple soy sauce base.
Dinner done for about 125 baht.
We spied a dessert place across the road when we were walking into town.
Basically a pick n mix stall, with everything chopped ready to be thrown in together. Fruit, vegetables, corn, rice, grains, eggs, beans or just about anything you wanted.
We made a selection, filling a bag for about 30 baht.
Back home to the ranch to finish off for the night.
Our blue plates come in handy yet again for our dessert.
Our picks of crunchy white melon, (like the white part of watermelon rind), apple, papaya, and cooked purple taro, with a small baggie of what we thought was custard but turned out to be more like a sweet mayonnaise that was both repulsive and moorish at the same time. You could smell and taste the egginess but it was cut with sugar or a sweet fruit juice like mango that made it strangely likeable.
Another day done.
The next day in Fang starts off misty and cloudy, a grey fog crept in overnight and blanketed the town.
We decided to walk and find the morning market and were given directions to head out toward the temple and then turn near the 7 Eleven. This pussycat couldn't help us find them.
Nope, no idea.
We ended up walking around back streets, going around in a huge loop through residential and slight industrial areas.
Sleeping on the job.
Back on to the main highway we found an all you can eat kanom jeen buffet stall (39 baht a head).
The owner opened up all the different simmering pots to let us have a peek and a sniff. She had made up pork, vegetable and fish sauces to different levels of spiciness.
Fixins for the noodles, fresh green snake beans, eggplant, tomatoes and red shallots. You could help yourself to as much as you wanted.
We chose yet another pork and blood cube version (we wanted to try this at every opportunity) and a spicy fish version. We add pickled mustard greens, an essential addition.
A final shot of the finished fish curry plate. The best part of these dishes is all the extras you add to taste. Like many meals served in Thailand you finish off with additional flavours to your own liking, a meal isn't just served and eaten as is.
The simple set up. Pots simmering in the front and the cold additions to the side.
Dessert is included as well, herbal jelly with condensed milk and a splash of sugar syrup.
The owner insisted we have another plate of food but we didn't want to blow all our stomach space in one spot. We could have stayed here all day otherwise.
Once we had walked back a way into town we came across a fried banana and sweet potato stand. Earlier decision to stop eating justified.
Fried sweet potato, ready to munched while we walked further along.
By some strange fluke we did eventually find the temple and the 7 Eleven and lo and behold, the morning market!
First up sweets. This beauty was squares of custard topped with slivers of shredded pumpkin. We also picked up a cake made with soft rice and coconut, sweet from sugar (palm from the darker, fuller flavour) and yellow mung bean balls.
So much to choose from. The market was small but nicely contained. The meat stalls smelled good with fresh looking cuts, we could live and shop here happily.
Which one do you want?
How do you pick from this selection? We ended up with two different types of sausage, one a turmeric yellow number and the other filled with pork mince, lime and herbs. The purchase was accompanied with a little baggie of cabbage, greens and sauce.
Have we told you how much we love the blue plates we bought? Here they are again coming into use. This is the sweets selection we foraged.
For lunch, we mixed the sausages with a leafy curry and grain speckled rice from a vegetarian shop in the main town centre. Then we had to lie down for a bit to recover.
In the early evening we got out to walk around the town some more. Not everyone shared our need to move.
The back streets of Fang are quite lovely, residential community areas. Different to what you see out the window of a bus trundling down highways, walking these areas gives you a sense of everyday life.
Fang main street. Everything you might need.
We're not sure if this was a dog or some sort of exploded fur ball. Perhaps part Gremlin.
These friendly guys hung out in front of the convenience store, there were a few visits back to say hello.
We didn't end up going much further along the street than the night before to get to dinner that night. This wooden building along the main street was dark, with the kitchen jumping in front out near the street.
Without a menu, we stood and watched what they cooked then pointed and ordered. We ended up with a very sweet noodles with a few prawns and veg (a fair bit of vinegar and chilli was added to mask the uber sugariness), a plate of bean shoots and limes and a pork larb that was hot and herb heavy.
The prep station out front.
If only we'd had another night, we might have tried this place as well.
Fried rice takeaway. No plastic containers here.
A few veg and a little chilli sauce on top and the peppery egg flecked lot was gobbled back home.
After waking to the sounds of revolutionary harmony (there's a public broadcast at 8.00am that sounds just like it was right out of the Peoples Republic) we scoffed coffee, packed bags, said goodbye to the convenience store dogs and headed off to either find breakfast or a bus, whichever came first.
This lovely silky terrier-ish shop dog came out to say goodbye. There was a truck ready and waiting to head up to Thaton and we were getting on it.
But this friends, waiting right near the bus stop, was truly the one and only Fang.
Get out of my town, ya punks. Yo.
We love Fang.