Monday, 28 November 2016

Sawasdee Thailand - A Week in Phuket

Phuket: 22/11/16 - 28/11/16

From 2 weeks in Indonesia to a month in Thailand...

After a pretty hectic 2 weeks in Bali and Java, we flew to Phuket (Thailand's biggest island - south Thailand) to relax. This was pretty exciting for me for 2 reasons: I love Thailand and we were meeting up with my two most favourite friends for a week. We arrived on the 22nd of November '16, and met up with Sam and Beky on the 23rd. On arrival in the airport we were a bit annoyed to find that every ATM in Thailand has a 200bhat (approx 5gbp) ATM charge, which was annoying because it meant we had to get a lot of money out at once. Apart from this, Phuket airport was pretty nice and we managed to get a metered taxi to our condo. 

Now we'd been travelling on a pretty tight budget up to this point (forgetting Europe, because Spain in summer is crazy expensive), so we were used to staying in 0 star hostels, on mattresses I'm sure were made from brick, in the loudest part of town (see: India) for about 3-5gbp a night. However, obviously because it was a proper holiday for Beky and Sam it wasn't really fair to them to stay somewhere like that. So Sam had booked us a pretty nice condo on Air BnB for about 60GBP each for 5 nights. Bob and I arrived a day early so got to check it out first - it was very nice. Huge living room/kitchen, 2 bathrooms and 2 bedrooms. The bed was amazingly comfy (in comparison to others; see: India) and there was a swimming pool. Only downside was it was located a bit far away from the attractions. 

The week we spent in Phuket was pretty amazing, albeit expensive. We rented a car for a few days as it was the easiest way to get around (props to Beky and Bob for driving the pretty crazy roads, and to me for navigating. And to Sam for the top quality conversation). We also got to chill on the beach, swim in the sea (which for some reason is mad in Phuket - waves are crazy huge), see some temples (standard) and enjoy the local markets. Some things we did in Phuket:

Yeah it's pretty big
> Big Buddha (Karon, East Phuket) - lives up to it's name, it's pretty big. We got a taxi from our condo to the Buddha. It was pretty touristy at the top but the views were impressive and the Buddha even more so. We made the mistake of not asking the taxi to wait for us at the Buddha, so we were pretty stuck when it came to getting back down to the town. The winding path to Karon was quite long, but we were informed that there is pretty much no way to get down if you're not on a tour/have a taxi waiting. Also no WiFi to order a Grab. We started to walk down and made it to a viewpoint cafe where we had some food/Margaritas. The taxis from there were waaay to expensive so we started to walk again, when we were picked up by a truck, and the driver said he'd take us down to the town. We were then able to get a taxi from the town.
Lesson: Make sure the taxi waits for you, else you have the 3k trek back down to look forward to! 

>The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project & Bang Pae Waterfall - both located in the same national park. The project was really interesting, and if you're lucky you can see some gibbons in their cages. It looks after gibbons who can't live in the wild due to illnesses or being captured previously by humans and made to entertain tourists. You can adopt a gibbon or make a donation, as none of the entrance fee to the park goes towards the project. 
Waterfall life
We also walked up to the Bang Pae waterfall, which was beautiful. There are a few different parts in which you can swim, which we did. It makes for some great photos - which I could post here, but our GoPro decided that it would delete all our photos from this trip, which was really useful. Apart from this, it made for a nice day out. 

>Coconut Island - I don't think we did this trip right, but we drove to a pier in east Phuket where you can get a boat out to the island and to the floating restaurants. It was a nice little journey, but I'm pretty sure we got off at the wrong side of the island. We got to the pier on the island and walked for about 35/45 minutes up the road in the sweltering heat, only to see a lot of trees, dead frogs and the occasional bus full of construction workers. There was a little village and a couple of resorts, so we walked back to the pier. There were a lot of little crabs that we found on the beach, but I think that was the highlight of the island. We went to the floating restaurants which were very nice and offered some lovely views. 

So excited for meatballs
>Phuket Weekend Market (Phuket Town, close to the Public Park) - my favourite place. Okay, maybe not favourite but it was a pretty cool market. Filled with the obvious tourist tat, we did buy some elephant pants (standard Thai tourist attire) and had a look at the many stalls on offer. At the end, we discovered the fantastic food hall, filled with an insane amount of street food (Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese...). We had to try everything, obviously, so we started with some skewers (or as we like to call them: random 10 bhat meat on a stick), had noodles, fried sweet potato balls and Thai cakes. Could have stayed there all day. 

We also visited Kamala beach a couple of times, which is full of cafes/massages/people selling you things. It was a lovely beach, but as I said the waves were huge (like, if-you-just-stand-there-you-will-drown kinda huge). It's all overpriced for the tourists too, but that's to be expected really. If we came with a bit more money it would have been perfect. Beky also did a para sailing type thing where you're connected to a speedboat and it lifts you into the air, which was very cool! 

So yeah, Phuket was pretty awesome. It was great to see my girls (as always), and we came away with some cool memories, a bad sunburn and a craving for White Almond Magnums (well, I did anyway). 

Ciao, Sarah :) 

For more photos -- Instagram: wheres_halliday

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