The Hunt Is OverJune 1, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C
One of the main reasons we chose to stay in Rayong was to attend the fruit festival taking place at the Taphong market from June 1 trough 5. In fact, our travel plans were built around that festival.
As soon as we were settled in our hotel we went to the front desk and asked for directions on how to go to TaPhong, which is about 11 kms from the hotel. We had only to take a songthaew from the bus station all the way to the market. One of the employees kindly offered to drive us to the station and then arranged for a songthaew to bring us to the market for 20฿ each. Excited, we arrived at the market about thirty minutes later only to find nothing going on. No festival signs, no durian cutting contests and no all you can eat buffet. WTF?!? Okay, maybe we're a little early and the festivities will commence a little later.
We walked around the market scoping out the vendors, many of whom were selling different varieties of durian for prices ranging from 80฿ to 250฿ per kilo. For our first tasting, we opted for a Monthong durian at 140฿/kg and bargaind the price down to 300฿ for the whole fruit. The vendor cut it up for us and it yielded four decent sized pods, which we promptly packed away into our bellies. It was good enough, but didn't have the wow factor either of us was expecting. Since durian is a "hot" fruit, we ate it with a 100฿ purchase of two kilos of mangosteen, a "cool" fruit, to balance things out.
I have to point out that we were awake at 5:00am and hadn't eaten anything all day until arriving at the market just before noon. Needless to say, we were both quite ravenous.
We continued walking around the market and came across a lady selling packages of Chanee durian pods. This variety, for some reason, is the least expensive of all and is easy to spot by the vibrant yellow colour of its pods. We thought we had never tried Chanee before and purchased a package of two good sized pods for 80฿. It was delicious, very flavourful and ultra buttery and creamy, by far superior to the Monthong we ate earlier. It was so good, in fact, that we returned to the same vendor and purchased a whole fruit for 200฿ that yielded five huge pods. By the time we ate our way through three of them we were already beginning to feel sated. But hotels here will fine you 2000฿ for bringing the stinky fruit into your room, so you're left with no alternative but to devour everything you purchase before returning to your hotel to sleep off your meal. And so devour we did.
With full bellies, we were doing one more tour of the market when I noticed a fellow farang with his Thai girlfriend. I asked him if he knew anything about the fruit festival, but neither he nor his girlfriend were aware of it. She asked one of the vendors about it and was told the start date had been postponed until June 16. What's that old Steinbeck line about plans, mice and men? We certainly won't bother trekking back out to the TaPhong market again.
Disappointed, we songthaewed back to the bus station and decided we'd kill time and explore the city until the night market opened at 5:00pm.
On the way into town this morning we passed by the Star Market, which seemed to be teeming with activity and, from our quick glance, appeared much larger than TaPhong. And indeed it was. The market groups the different vendors together; the fruit vendors here, the vegetable vendors there, the meat vendors in that corner and the seafood vendors way over there. There were rows of vendors selling dried fruits, nuts, dried fish and fried pork rind. As you moved from section to section, the aroma in the air changed to reflect the vendors wares. The sweet smell of the fruit, the pungent aroma dried fish and the grassy odor of cilantro all seemed to hover over their own distinct domain. But one smell outranked them all: the king of fruit, durian. There was literally durian everywhere. Even the meat and fish vendors seemed to have a fruit in their stall to bring home to share with their families.
Like the Muang Mai market in Chiang Mai, a portion of this market is a wholesale zone with huge baskets filled with fruits and veggies being sold at ridiculously low prices. If we were staying here longer we'd probably take advantage of some of these deals, but we simply don't have enough time here to eat that many mangoes.
We also learned that there is a fruit festival starting here tomorrow at 3:00pm, so our trip to Rayong to attend a festival isn't for naught. And on top of that, we found a vendor here selling that wonderful Chanee durian for only 70฿/kg.
We certainly seem to have found the durian mother lode and we haven't even ventured out to the farms yet.
Things are definitely looking up.Read more