We were in Takua Thung District Phang Nga hunting Salika Durian when Bee, a local tour guide whose family first planted Salika, recommended we stop by Pad Thai Ing-Thara Restaurant ผัดไทอิงธารา กะไหล พังงา.
“The Pad Thai there is not like from Chanthaburi,” she assured us. “It’s like durian, every place has their own flavor. You should stop by and see it so you can take Durian Tour groups there when the pandemic is over.”
Maybe it had been awhile since her last visit, because Bee didn’t mention Durian or Cannabis.
We arrived to a small restaurant on Phetkasem Road, the main double-lane highway that runs from Phuket through Phang Nga to Krabi.
Once upon a time, in the pre-pandemic era, this restaurant was clearly a popular stop-over for tour groups, which is probably how and why our friend recommended it.
There was a shady gravel parking lot nestled among a small oil palm field, large enough to comfortably fit a bus. Today the parking lot was empty except for our rental car.
A number of attap-roofed bungalows rimmed the parking lot to provide more private eating spaces, but I thought the larger restaurant area was airy and natural, and definitely a cooler temperature.
In the center was a small gazebo selling local farm products, including durian baan.
Normally I would have zeroed in on the durian and noticed little else, especially since it was fresh tree-dropped Durian Baan in an area that has really really good durian.
But, as we stepped into the restaurant I had paused at a sign, front and center, announcing that this Pad Thai shop was also selling Cannabis drinks.
Yes, Cannabis. As in Ganja (กัญชา).
My curiosity was peaked enough to distract me from the durians.
I knew that things were changing in Thailand.
In January, 2021, the leaf, stems, and roots of marijuana were removed from the list of class 5 Narcotics and permitted for use in medicinal, textile, and food products.
Suddenly, there were signboards in front of almost every cafe advertising cannabis, but I hadn’t actually investigated what form of marijuana they were selling. Let’s just say I don’t normally partake of anything but durian 🤷♀️
But was I about to pass up on the opportunity to have cannabis and durian together at the same sitting?
Not today. Richard and I were ready to munch 😋
Cafe Chakan CBD Tea
We ordered a Cannabis tea to share and a Durian Baan, which smelled super strong and just plain heavenly.
I really had no idea what to expect with the Cannabis Tea. This is not a type of product I had ever encountered in Oregon. There were some informational signs up, but everything was in Thai and I couldn’t quite figure out if we were just getting CBD oil blended with sugar syrup and ice, or if this was actual tea made from the shake (stems) of the marijuana plants.
So as we took our first sips I looked up the brand advertised on the sign, Cafe Chakan.
Cafe Chakan is a Bangkok-based company specializing in CBD. I still couldn’t figure out exactly what we were drinking, but I figured we were safe to drive.
We relaxed and turned our attention to the Durian Baan we’d selected from the little pile. I’d been pleasantly surprised to find the durian was fresh, with a sticky pale stems still oozing sap, as if someone had just left it there moments before we arrived.
The flesh was honey-sweet and syrupy, sticky and a wonderful texture that we had to lick off the kind of big seeds. It paired perfectly with the freshness of the CBD drink, which tasted a bit like lightly sweet green tea and grass.
When we finished, we weren’t quite ready to go. We felt like something was missing.
So we ordered Round 2. One more CBD tea, one more Durian Baan.
Tree Dropped Durian Baan
The second Durian Baan was even better, with thick white meat that was strong, mouth tingling, and bitter.
We were both feeling smiley as we sat together. Was it the drink or the durian?
“Oh! but what about the Pad Thai!” I asked Richard. “We forgot.”
We were both fully satisfied at this point. But…we owed it to Bee to try. So we approached the staff to order a Phang Nga Pad Thai, vegan-style.
But as luck would have it, Phang Nga pad thai cannot be made vegan. Unlike in Chanthaburi, whatever that special Phang Nga sauce is made of includes non-vegan ingredients.
While we had the staff’s attention, I asked where the durian came from.
He pointed across thee road. “There.”
Wat Kaew Manee Si Mahathat วัดมณีศรีมหาธาตุ
I followed his pointing finger to a temple complex with an enormous black statue of a man in meditation, then to the lumpy hills and low mountain beyond.
“The trees are at the foothill of Khao Poh,” he explained, “just there.”
No wonder the durians were so fresh! We thanked him and wandered across the street to look at the temple.
It was definitely a big one, and new.
I recognized the statue as Luang Phor Klai, one of the most revered monks in Southern Thailand. If you spend much time in Southern Thailand, you’re likely to hear about him, as he was believed to be able to either predict the future or influence what happened in the future — depending on who’s telling the story.
After our little walk around the temple, it was time to end our pitstop and get back on the road towards Krabi.
We’ll be back I’m sure — and next time, I hope our car isn’t alone in thee parking lot.
How to get to Pad Thai Ing Thara ผัดไทอิงธารา กะไหล พังงา for a Durian Cannabis Stop
Ing Thara was definitely a pre-pandemic tourist stop on the main highway between Phuket and Krabi, and just a 10-minute drive from the turn-off to James Bond Island (check out our durian adventures there).
The location is easy to find because as soon as you see the giant black monk statue at Wat Keaw Manee you know you’ve arrived.
From Takua Thung, go straight toward Phang Nga Town. Ing Thara will be on the right hand side across the street from Wat Keao
Find them on Facebook.