When Dan offered to take us into town after breakfast one morning, we jumped at the chance. Dan, from California was on his way to Cambodia for 10 minutes so he could come back to Thailand for another 15 days but, after hearing we were going to Koh Chang, he aquiesced to his girlfriend's wishes and travelled to the island for day or two before making for the Cambodian border. We hopped out of his white hatchback rental and wandered around Trat township for a few steamy hours on Monday. We discovered that, behind a functional but somewhat uninspiring main street, is a maze of small and picturesque soi with guesthouses, bohemian cafes and bars as well as a really good 2nd hand bookstore. We marvelled at the mounds of fresh exotic produce, angry looking crabs with their pincers trussed up and flaccid baby squid. We kept happening upon baskets three feet tall of smooth, embarrassment-coloured paste (today I found out it was shrimp paste). As we got to the end of the market line up we had the chance to see local pest control in action as a slinky wee cream cat nabbed an exceptionally dozy mouse by an open drain.
Trat (population about 14,000ish?) is Thai small town life - where you don't see many farang and where people couldn't care less about the contents of your wallet. I really wanted to come here as a foil to Bangkok and what I expected would be also very different to tourism-driven island life in Thailand. Everyone is doing their own thing and noone approached us at all except a 2 year old boy in the market who was very happy to chatter at us. The next Thai ambassador to New Zealand perhaps? In small shops and stalls, many people beat the heat by lying down or sleeping, even in the middle of a pile of chopped up pork. It was 37 degrees on the day we visited Trat - we beat the heat by hopping back to Banpu and jumping in the pool.
I'm a little regretful that we didn't spend some time in one of the guesthouses in the town because, as lovely as Banpu Resort was, it was about 20km out of town.