Just after Christmas my partner and I and another couple ventured to Thailand’s beautiful islands for a 3-week holiday to experience and rejuvenate.
We started in Phuket in the heart of Patong and spent New Years at Patong Beach. I have to admit that Phuket, and Patong, were nothing as I had imagined. The sheer mountain of determined (borderline rude) tourists milling along the crowded streets and alleyways, the endless stream of bars with ‘happy hour specials’ (Singha Beer 60THB!) and the constant harassment of the suit-makers in their fake Aussie accents (Hey Vegemite, want a suit? Cheaper than KMart mate!). Not to mention the obnoxious drunks down Bangla Road, the back to back rows of sunbeds on Patong Beach, the mini stalls offering chicken bum-hole on a stick and the constant wafty smells of what could only be described as shit.
I found myself telling my partner constantly, ‘It’s all part of the experience’, but it wasn’t long before I realised I was also telling myself this. The truth is, it really IS all part of the experience and once we came to this conclusion we began to embrace all that Patong had to offer.
On New Years Day Mark, Ally, Mick and I embarked on a 9-day Contiki tour which covered Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Krabi. (link here http://www.contiki.com/destinations/asia/tours/276-thai-island-hopper-west ) . I’m so glad that I booked this tour as it completely took the hassle out of finding accommodation, getting transfers and booking day trips or tours. We also had a fantastic guide by the name of Cassie.
Whilst we were still in Phuket we went on our first day-trip to James Bond Island and Ao Phang Nga National Park. James Bond Island itself (made famous by it’s appearance in a James Bond film obviously) was very overcrowded but the day-trip was great with us being able to go swimming and kayaking through various islands of the National Park and also eat lunch on a town built entirely on stilts over the water. Below is a picture of me whilst we were kayaking.
After Phuket our tour headed for Koh Phi Phi by ferry. I absolutely loved Phi Phi Island. The beaches and settings were stunning and the fact that there are no vehicles on the island is a big attraction! It also has the ability to appeal to everyone with one side of the island reserved for resorts and family friendly accommodation, whilst the other side was back-packer ridden with a wild beach party on every night of the week. It was while we were in Phi Phi that we had our own fluorescent themed night and were able to go on a stunning day trip to Maya Bay which is well known for it’s role in the Leo DiCaprio movie, ‘The Beach’. This was easily the best day trip of our holiday with plenty of opportunities for snorkelling, sight-seeing and even monkey feeding!
Below are photos from our time at Phi Phi Island.
During our Maya Bay day trip from Phi Phi Island.
Getting my tummy painted on the night of the Fluoro Beach Party in Phi Phi Island.
At Maya Bay during our day trip from Phi Phi Island.
On the last leg of our tour we were off to Ao Nang in Krabi. Unfortunately at this point of our trip a majority of the tour feel sick with the dreaded Thailand Tummy and weren’t very game to venture out of our hotel rooms. Mark and I did manage to still go for an elephant ride whilst in Krabi, but other than that were mainly confined to our hotel. Luckily it was a beautiful hotel as you can see from the photo below.
View from the pool-side bar.
After the tour my partner and I left our friends in Phuket and flew to Koh Samui to spend our remaining 8 nights. By this stage we were pretty over drinking (most Thai alcohol tastes pretty similar to metho and don’t even get me started on how much I missed a decent glass of Aussie or NZ sauvignon blanc!) and ready to be pampered and relax.
Luckily we had chosen the best spot to do it, Mantra Samui (link here http://www.mantrasamui.com/ ). I hit the jackpot with this hotel! It was set up in the rainforest a little but still only 10 minutes drive to Bo Phut Beach and 20 minutes to Chaweng Beach with free shuttles going all day everyday. And did I mention the in-house spa? Ahhhhmazing! I’m talking $60AUD for a 2.5hour massage, facial, foot bath package.
Let’s just say I dosed up on pampering whilst there, not to mention the bazillion foot massages we got whilst walking the streets of Thailand ‘just to pass some time’. Your average 1 hr traditional foot massage will cost you between $8-$12 AUD in Phuket and Koh Samui, what a bargain!
Whilst in Koh Samui we decided it was time to attempt sighting a tiger, despite being weary of the many stories of animal cruelty we had heard from our tour guide. We thought we had picked what seemed to be a promising safari trip and animal park (Namuang Safari Adventure Park) but unfortunately it turned out to be a disappointing experience. Whilst watching an animal show we spent most of our time noticing the poor living conditions of the exotic beasts, their chains and the obvious removal of their most dangerous physical assets (eg, the tiger and cobra’s top teeth were removed). Despite the saddening experience, this trip did take us to see the Big Buddha, Mummified Monk and the Magic (Buddha) Garden all of which I would recommend a look at.
The Friday night Fisherman’s Village markets are definitely worth a look with their abundance of little stalls selling banana pancakes, figurines, bracelets, white crochet tops, rip-off Ray Bans and Havaianas and Fisherman’s pants. The restaurants in Fisherman’s Village are also very nice with most splaying right out onto Bophut beach and almost into the water.
Other than being given a chance to indulge and relax, the highlight of Koh Samui was attending a cooking class at the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts (link here http://www.sitca.net/ ). It was here I learnt the art of creating Pad Thai, Green Chicken Curry and my personal favourite, Tom Kha Gai. All of these were created from scratch as our instructor took us through the various exotic ingredients and how we could source or substitute them in our own countries. The end result was a delicious meal and more food than I could ever hope to consume (and I’m a large eater)!
Overall, a fantastic and vibrant trip was had on Thailand’s islands and beaches. I think that the happiest and most positive people in the world would be Thai. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many strangers smile at me for no reason! It was truly refreshing to see such positivity considering the conditions they live in compared to ours, and yet we always have something to complain about. Go figure! I would definitely re-visit Thailand, but for now I’m quite content with my big backyard and only mildly smelly streets.
Yes that’s a tattoo of a Thai Elephant. This was done using the traditional Thai Bamboo technique which hurts a lot less and heals a lot faster!
I believe this was the Tom Kha Gai dish that I was preparing.
Not a bad view from the pool!
Highly recommend this place, beautiful spot and lovely staff!
Yelp, that’s a dead Monk in there . . . creepy.
Pretty self explanatory name.