Tuk Tuk anyone…..
13.11.2009 - 17.11.2009
View Credit Crunch Escape 2009 - 2010 on vin.pri's travel map.
For the first time in a while we had pre-arranged both our accommodation and transfer from the airport. When we landed into Phuket airport, it proved to be a wise decision - as we were hounded by taxi drivers, motorcycle drivers, luggage handlers and even hotel and tour touts who were trying to get us to buy something. Luckily for us as we stepped outside we spotted our names on a board and headed straight through the crowd towards our driver and to the car which we discovered belonged to a super Britney fan.
After 2 hours of driving in rush hour traffic and listening to Britney’s greatest hits we arrived at our hotel in Patong.
We went straight out and headed for Bangla Road which was about a 5 minute walk away. So much had changed since Vin was here 5 years ago and we discovered that was a lot to do with the Tsunami - which we were reminded of as soon as we walked outside. There were huge brand spanking new malls, brand new hotels, roads and even more of a shock was coming across lots of “Tsunami Evacuation” signs for directions on where to go ‘in case’.
We walked down Bangla Road which was packed full of bars - the regular and the ‘go-go’ kind as well as hundreds of tourists.
From there we headed to a free beach party where David Morales was headlining and then found ourselves at a bar at one end of the beach road. We stayed there for the rest of the evening as the beer was dirt cheap (60p!!) and the views of a thunder storm coming in over the bay were amazing.
The next morning we hired a scooter from the hotel and headed out to see the rest of Phuket away from the crowds of Patong.
We drove down to both Kata and Karon beaches and stopped at a couple of elephant sanctuaries on the way.
After feeding the elephants at one sanctuary we decided to get on and go for a ride around the hills.
It was such a calming experience as the mahout just talked to the elephant the whole way and didn’t hit it or use any type of spike which we had seen at other elephant safaris. The elephant was left to go at its own pace - stopping to stare at butterflies, grab some leaves which it munched as we went along and even stare at the scenery (the elephant - not us). It did get a little worrying though, when the mahout decided to jump of the elephant and let it go its own way back down the hill (with us still on its back!).
We got back on the scooter and drove up to the viewpoint from where you can see right up the west coast of Phuket. Most of what we could see had been affected by the tsunami - but looking at it now you couldn’t even tell.
From there we drove to Wat Chalong - a beautiful Buddhist temple before heading back to our hotel.
In the evening we headed to Jung Ceylon, a huge shopping mall, and decided to watch 2012 at the cinema.
After the movie we headed back to the beach and ended our night with a BBQ dinner at one of the many seafood restaurants along the beach road.
The next day we had planned to head out early on the bike but as our luck would have it - it rained to the point of flooding until about 3pm. We took it easy and instead headed back to the mall to do some shopping and have some dinner.
The next day we were picked up bright and early and taken to board our boat which would take us around the Phi Phi islands.
We boarded our ‘speed boat’ and decided to sit up front. This was amazing at the beginning of the day as the morning sun was blazing and the islands we passed were postcard perfect.
We stopped at Viking Cave where the Thai people cultivate swallows birds’ nests which they use for both eating and medicinal purposes.
From there we headed to Maya Beach - where the film ‘The Beach’ was filmed. The small beach is probably an amazingly idyllic place - but with about 200 other tourists there - it didn’t seem so at the time.
After about an hour at Maya Beach we boarded the speed boat and went to Phi Phi Lei.
We stopped at Pi Leh Bay to take in the scenery but as the bay was crowded with snorkelling tourists we didn’t stop for long. Instead we headed straight for Loh Samah Bay where we happened to be the only boat in the bay.
We jumped straight into the water and went snorkelling for about an hour before swimming up to the beach on what was known as Monkey Island as it was home to curious macaque monkeys.
As we left Monkey Island we hit a huge storm. Of course, as we were sat up front - we got thrown around, got absolutely soaked from the hard rain and from the salt water which was being washed aboard due to the rough seas. We did wonder at one point whether we should have been given life jackets - but the boat’s skipper just kept on speeding along with no signs of slowing.
To our relief the storm did pass after about an hour and we made our way to the other side of Phi Phi Don, where we stopped for lunch.
After lunch we got back on the boat and headed to our last destination for the day and probably our favourite on the day - Khai Nok Island. This was a small sand-bank island which had nothing but sun loungers and bars right on the beach blasting reggae.
After having a few drinks we finally boarded out boat for the last time and headed back to Phuket.
We had planned to move on from Phuket and make our way across Thailand to the Southern Gulf Coast and then board a ferry to Koh Samui. However the full day in a speed boat had taken its toll on us and we didn’t want to get back on any kind of boat straight away. We decided to stay on dry land instead (for the time being anyway) and booked a flight to Bangkok for the next day (probably the best thing about this trip was being able to change our plans at the minute!)
On our last day we packed our bags and went out to make the most of Patong by eating, drinking and passing our time at the shops and bowling alley before heading to the airport in a torrential downpour.
We have been keeping an eye on the local weather news and it seems that Bangkok has been experiencing the same serious rain storms but on a daily basis… hopefully luck will be on our side and it will have passed by the time we land there…(well we hope so anyway)…