The perfect trip: Thailand’s islands
‘Often, we find that what our students think of as Thai cuisine isn’t authentic,’ says Bim, who has been working at the school for the past five years. ‘Four flavours are essential to Thai cuisine – sweet, sour, salty and spicy. The combination makes Thai cuisine what it is, but it takes a lifetime to learn. I’ve been cooking since I was a small girl and I’m still learning new things.’
Food is inextricably linked with Thailand’s identity. Shared family meals are still part of daily life for most Thai people, and girls are taught techniques of traditional cuisine from a very young age, always cooking from scratch using fresh ingredients – lime juice for sourness, palm sugar for sweetness, fish sauce for saltiness and chillies for heat. Food even underpins the language. One of the country’s commonest greetings, ‘Gin khao reu yung?’, literally translates as ‘Have you eaten rice yet?’.
‘Food is a part of Thailand’s soul,’ Bim continues, stirring away at a batch of green curry bubbling away on the stove. ‘It brings people together, and there’s nothing more important in life than that.’
Ko Lanta is two hours by ferry from Ko Phi-Phi. A couple of scheduled boat trips operate daily and much faster speedboat services are also available. Time for Lime runs courses daily from 4pm-9pm, covering a range of dishes every day. All profits are donated to Lanta Animal Welfare (day lessons from £35 per person).
Where to eat
L Maladee serves some of the best Thai food on Ko Lanta. It’s just outside Ban Sala Dan and standards arehigh – try the Thai-spiced mussels or flame-grilled barracuda (00 66 878 913 149, mains from £3).
Where to stay
With its sharp lines and infinity pool, the boutique complex of Costa Lanta, near Hat Khlong Dao beach, wouldn’t look out of place in a glossy design magazine. The minimalist bungalows are spread out across a shady garden and feature stylish touches such as concertina doors, rainfall showers and rendered concrete walls (from £65).