Enjoying Craft Beer in Surat Thani

*Originally seen on Tar Heel Voyager

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One of the most difficult adjustments this traveler had to make when living in Thailand was the severe lack of diversity in beer options, or, at the very least, easy access to those options.  It can be quite difficult to dig yourself out of a pile of nothing but Chang, Leo, and Singha beers, but rest easy as a true craft beer scene is beginning to emerge in the Land of Smiles.  The options are still severely lacking but it is becoming a bit simpler to satiate your hops craving.

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New Places in Surat: Mouth2Mouth

The first time I heard about Mouth2Mouth, I actually couldn’t believe my ears. A place in Surat where you can get good draft beer? Nice wine? A large selection of imported bottled beers and ciders? In Surat?! Two years ago when I moved to Surat if you had told me that there would soon be a place in town to get all those things, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Yet, times are a changin’ here in Southern Thailand and it seems like things are getting a little bit more modern and westernized every day.

You’ll find Mouth2Mouth on Amphur Rd. If you drive down Amphur from Talad Mai, it is just past the Chalokrat intersection and Good Health restaurant on the right. The whole place has a really modern feel to it, with fake grass outside and cute patio furniture. Inside you’ll find glass walls, a sleek bar, and modern decor and fixtures.

Some drinks are priced a bit high, such as imported bottled beers and ciders at 150-250 baht for a small bottle, but you’re paying for something that you can’t get at almost any other bar in Surat. Other items are more reasonably priced, such as a pitcher of Carlsberg for 100 baht, a pint of Hitachino for 150 baht, and wine for 100 baht and up per glass. One of my personal favorites is the Hoegaarden Rosée on draft for 150 for a pint or 250 for a liter.

If you want to read more about this new bar, you can follow them at facebook.com/Mouth2Mouth. As far as places in Surat go, they definitely have an unbeatable selection of draft beer, bottled beers and ciders, and wine. You’ll surely come across other fellow expats and English teachers here splurging on a taste of home.

 

 

 

 

New Places in Surat: Jam Bar & Restaurant

Within the past six months or so, a few notable watering holes have sprung up around town. When I moved here just over two years ago, a good beer was hard to find in Surat. Heineken or Carlsberg weren’t too hard to come across in nicer places around town, but when it came to finding anything a step up from those at a bar or restaurant, there weren’t even a handful of options. Now though, a few new bars have joined the ranks in Surat and they’ve both quickly become two of the most popular spots in town to hang out and get a good drink.

The most recently opened establishment is Jam Bar & Restaurant. If you drive down Chon Kasem from the river, you’ll find it just past the Karunrat intersection on the left. The place has a nice ambiance and the vintage decor combined with the two-level open air setup make for a nice place to grab a few drinks with friends. The best thing about Jam though is that the drinks are tasty AND reasonably priced AND  made with good quality liquor. Most cocktails will only set you back 90 baht and they also have wine for 80 baht a glass. A few of us think that the strawberry margarita might be the best mixed drink in town and I can definitely recommend the white russian.

Their food menu is almost completely Thai dishes and while it’s a little bit pricey, everything I’ve tried has been good. The cashew chicken and fried shrimp are both nice. The food menu is not translated into English, but a few of the waiters and waitresses speak some English and can help you out.

With great cocktails, reasonable prices, and a relaxed atmosphere, Jam has quickly become quite popular among teachers and expats in Surat. If you haven’t been, go check it out!

Mai Sai Nam Tan

I’ve been trying to make an effort to reduce the amount of sugar I get in my diet and it’s no real easy task in this part of the world. “Mai sai nam tan,” is the way to ask for something without sugar. This is a good phrase to know when ordering drinks such as fruit smoothies. Thai people are usually a bit bewildered by this request because to them everything is better with more sugar.

I’ve gone as far as making my own yogurt at home now, which is actually much easier than one would think. The yogurt here is absolutely loaded with sugar. My homemade yogurt contains no sugar and although it’s not quite as sweet, it’s definitely healthier.

In the last few weeks I’ve found myself actually having what feels like sugar withdrawals. I’ve been craving it a lot and coupled with my reduced caffeine intake, I’m getting quite a few headaches. Halloween day at school was not easy!

Sad School Snacks..

It’s really a wonder that Thailand doesn’t have an obesity problem, or at the very least an issue with diabetes.

When people think of Asian cuisine, when compared to the west, a lot of people assume that the diet is much healthier. In some ways it is because the portion sizes are much smaller and there’s no dairy. I could go on about the lack of properly cooked vegetables in a majority of Thai dishes but that’s not the issue here.

The issue is the deplorable snacks offered to students in school. Just a quick browse of the snack options in the cafeteria today and this is what I’ve found: about 5 different kinds of cake with a rainbow assortment of icings, hotdogs with mayonnaise, fried chicken, donuts, some sort of processed meatballs, hot dogs, fried pork fat, fried chicken sandwiches with mayonnaise, muffins, pork donuts (donuts with pork inside of them), sticky rice with pork, instant noodles, about 10 different kinds of ice cream, chocolate milk, and iced tea. There’re actually mangos available today, but fruit is a rare option. There’s also milk and yogurt available but what 10 year old is buying that when they can buy chocolate milk?

The fact is, you can’t give children in a school all of these unhealthy options and expect them to make the healthy decision. That’s not how kids work. I’m all for not policing what people do as adults but as a school, only to provide unhealthy options to children, is really unacceptable.

What did I see 8 year old kids eating this morning at 7:40AM? Ice cream and cake! There isn’t even the option to buy juice! I’m still bewildered by this concept everyday. As a teacher, if I want to buy a healthy snack, 9 times out of 10, I can’t.

Health Benefits of Fruit Found in Thailand

There is no shortage of fruit in Thailand, and each have numerous health benefits. You might be missing bread, cheese, wine, and salsa but you can (try to) trade in those cravings for something much, much better for you. These are my top 5. I love fruit. I love Thailand.

Papaya was called “the fruit of angels” by Christopher Columbus. He might not have got all things right, but I’m on his side on this one. Papaya is also known for having papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins. It’s strongest when the fruit is unripe. Som Tom with marinated pork or barbequed chicken… Genius.

Mangoes are said to be great for clearing skin, helping with digestion, boosting the immune system, and lowering your cholesterol. They are a great source of Vitamin A and Vitamin E. Also, if you juice a green mango, drinking it with water and a sweetener, you can apparently remedy heat stroke. I would argue that eating it with sweet sticky rice makes it a little less than half as healthy.

Bananas – Do you teach Anuban? Do you need a seratonin booster? Eat some bananas. Are you hitting the gym after school? Need energy before and muscle cramp relief after? Eat some bananas. Got the runs? Did I just say that? Eat some bananas.

Mangosteens, the Queen of Fruits. Get these things while they’re hot. I’m not sure what that yellow stuff growing on them is all about, though. She’s been used in traditional medicine for centuries, containing some of the most potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal compounds in nature.

Coconuts can kill you if one decides to fall on your head. We should all remember this. Coconuts can also save you from being dehydrated as well as help you take the Cosby kids to the pool.

Cafe Review, Part 2

Here are a few more Café reviews.

Orange Café

Orange Café is located on Don Nok, just past Karun Rat if you’re coming from the river. It’s a comfortable café inside, with some tasty drinks. They’re quite expensive compared to other places, but they have a pretty full food menu, which isn’t very common with a lot of cafes in Surat.

The internet there is problematic. Admittedly, I’ve only been there three times, but it’s because every time I’ve been there the internet has been difficult to work with. They can reset the router, but that didn’t work very well.

It’s not open too late, but it’s a pretty convenient location. Oh, and if you like French fries, they give you a big portion.

 

My Cup

My Cup is a very popular location among English teachers in Surat. It’s very close to the intersection of Karun Rat and Don Nok. It’s large and they have good desserts. The upstairs area is pretty comfortable and we’ve had groups of people meet there before. They’re open until 1030pm also. They also have real salads (though they come with salad cream) that are pretty good.

Now that I’ve gotten the positives out of the way…  The drinks there are not very good. The coffee tastes burned and bitter (both to me and my coffee taster), the green tea is the worst one I’ve had in town, and on top of that, they’re expensive The place is full of mosquitoes, and the internet doesn’t work in the majority of the areas. The back area of the bottom floor has uncomfortable seating.

Don’t get me wrong, many people like it, and it’s a good meeting place for a group of people. I just don’t like it as a place to hang out by myself and work on the internet and drink a decent beverage.

 

Coffee Heart

Coffee Heart is located on Luk Sua Rd., the small little road that connects Karun Rat to Don Nok between Amphur and Chonkasem. I like this place quite a bit. It’s really cozy and comfortable, and the internet worked well there. They have a separate room to the side, along with outside seating. The coffee there was pretty good, though the drinks were on the pricier end of the spectrum.

It’s easy to miss this place because it’s so out of the way. But if you live in the Big House and take the back way home (avoiding Amphur Rd.), you’ll pass it often.

 

And some good news about Impression(s), it will be taken over by a group of brothers, some of whom work at Thida.