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Many readers will be familiar with the concept of the poetically named ‘Walking Street’ markets, ubiquitous throughout Thailand’s cities, towns and villages these weekly events are a hub for tourists and locals alike.
The Conrad has taken the essence of the market theme and given it a luxurious relook here with the quality and flair for which the brand is world renowned. Perched on the extreme south-western point of Koh Samui overlooking the Five islands jutting out from the crystal clear waters, the ‘Asadong’, meaning sunset, Beach Bazaar is not simply just a traditional Thai market but a standout event quite unique on the island.
Commencing at 18:30 guests are treated to one of the most fabulous spots to witness the sun as it slides into the ocean, heralding the start of proceedings. Set along a beautifully created stretch of pristine beach frontage the Asadong Bazaar comprises several food stations offering all the choices you could possibly wish for and local itinerant craftsmen exhibiting their skills, from soap carving to leatherwork.
Guests have a multitude of choice when it comes to the all you can eat fresh cooked food available from the quaintly rustic stalls, manned by some of the finest chefs on the island, who put their individual twists on some typical Thai classics. A nooodle station offers up a variety of noodle bases to which can be added succulent slices of Beef, Chicken or Pork. The Barbecue station, a very popular choice, has dawn fresh seafood ranging from; fillets of tender Barracuda, massive Tiger Prawns, succulent morcels of young Squid and brightly colourful Blue Swimming Crabs. Not forgetting the meat lovers, there are also juicy pieces of perfectly grilled Beef and Chicken breasts with a variety of spices and dipping sauces to complement your choice. A Thai curry station provides all the classic regional dishes from; Panaeng Moo, Massaman Nuea and Keaw Wan Gai. The Som Tam and Tam Talay station offers two wonderfully piquant versions of the famous Papaya salad and what ‘Walking Street’ would be complete without the universally acclaimed Pad Thai, presented here in all its glory. To round off your culinary experience, the dessert station provides freshly prepared light crepe style pancakes to which you can add your choice of filling from locally grown tropical fruits, Mangoes, Papayas and small sweet Bananas to aromatically enticing Honey or a rich homemade Chocolate spread. Free flow local beer and homemade fruit juices are also available at the beach side pop-up bar, served in hand crafted coconut mugs, to add to the island feel.
What makes the Asadong Beach Bazaar different and more of a spectacle is the entertainment that has been chosen for the guests to be able to fully experience Thai art and culture, whilst comfortably seated in front of a specially created stage with the palm fringed ocean as its backdrop. A group of musicians from the Isaan, north-eastern, region of Thailand play hauntingly melodic music on traditional instruments as two sylph like female dancers enthral the audience with their wonderfully choreographed and flowing dance routine dressed in the symbolic costumes whose origins go back centuries. Guests are encouraged to take part and join the performers on stage in the Bamboo pole dance, where a reasonable sense of rhythm is required as dancers step in and out of the lengths of Bamboo while the girls on either end clack the poles together to the beat of the drums.
The show stopping finale to the Asadong Beach Bazaar is the most spectacular Fireshow I have ever seen. This troupe of performers from Myanmar have perfected their craft to the point where they have truly become the masters of the flames. Their performance earned them a well deserved standing ovation from the spectators as the rushing and whirling flames lit up their astonished faces.
This is most certainly not just an ordinary Thai market experience and one has to be impressed by the way the Conrad-Hilton team have developed and adapted this national institution into a thoroughly enjoyable, and at times, quite breathtaking event.
(The Asadong Beach Bazaar takes place twice a week on Wednesdays and Sundays at the Conrad Hilton from 18:30 to 21:30, weather permitting.
The price is 2,000bht for adults and half price for children.)Asadong Beach Bazaar Conrad-Hilton Koh Samui