During our stay in Thailand, we spent a week on the island of Phuket, staying at the Andaman Seaview Hotel on Karon Beach, in the south west. We flew down from Bangkok and were picked up by the hotel’s bus when we arrived at the airport in the north of the island.
The first few days we were there, rain showers would briefly cool but afterwards, the heat would bring humidty beyond belief. We spent a lot of time near the pool or in the air conditioning. We did get down to the beach a couple of times but didn’t stay long due to the rain returning.
I wasn’t having much luck with Internet access as I had to rely on wireless and coverage around the hotel was spotty at best. Fortunately, the best place for access turned out to be at the poolside bar. Damn, gotta hate that, no?
On the third day, the clouds and haze lifted, giving us beautiful weather to be by the beach, then by the pool. Nykolai really enjoyed being in the water, either at the beach or, more often, in the pool. I was able to keep an eye on him from the bar, having a few beers and reading or surfing the ‘net. Talk about some serious relaxing – it was wonderful.
After a few days, we figured there’d been enough time to relax and it was time to do some tourist-type stuff. We wound up going with Island Hopper for a day of snorkeling. After a rather intense bus trip from our hotel across the island to Phuket town itself, we got kitted out with gear and jumped on a powerboat for a 20 minute ride across to Khai Nok Island, just a few miles away. Here we spent the morning and had lunch, enjoying snorkeling off the beach. We had some amazing moments here, including being mugged by a bazillion fish when we took some food into the water for them. Oh my. I can only hope the underwater photos come out OK (they’re still off being developed).
After lunch we jumped on another boat and headed out to Khai Nui Island, about a mile away. Here we snorkeled off the boat as you couldn’t get up to the little island itself (rocks, protected, etc). This gave us about another hour or so diving down to the coral and exploring. The crew on the boat would take great delight in throwing small bits of bread into the water near us, leading to yet another mugging as fish came from everywhere to feed.
Finally it was back to Khai Nok to get the bags we’d left, relax for an hour or so and then board a boat back to Phuket. From there, another bus took us back to our hotel – this time it was a much more relaxed drive.
The next day we went on a half-day elephant safari with Siam Safari nature tours. Once again we were picked up by bus and taken over the hills in the middle of the island, heading towards Phuket town. We stopped well before Phuket though and piled into 4WDs to head back up into a different part of the hills. There we were shown some Thai cooking, watched a monkey being trained to pick coconuts, had a lesson in how to make use of every part of a coconut, saw baby elephants being trained and then went for an elephant ride around the native bush. After our ride we had lunch in the bush and then rode the 4WDs back to the depot, got on our bus and headed back to the hotel.
While there were a number of restaurants around the hotel, we wound up having dinner most nights at a little restaurant close by. The food was incredible and the staff really looked after us. When they found out that Kitt and I really like spicy food they took great delight in taking us through a number of their best meals over a few nights.
Sadly, our last day came all too quickly and it was time to return to Bangkok via yet another bus trip back over the hills and up through the island to the airport. Arriving back in Bangkok we found that there was an airshow going on at Don Mueang airport with some brightly coloured F16s entertaining a large crowd over on the military side. We got to see (and hear) a bit of it from the car as we drove back to my parent’s place.
All up, our time in Phuket was great – a good combination of relaxation and fun. Now we just have to try to save some money to get back there again…