After Chiang Mai, we decided to head South to Phuket, our base for exploring the Andaman coast side of Thailand’s peninsula. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, connected to mainland Thailand by two bridges. We knew Phuket would be busy and touristy (it hardly feels like an island) so we didn’t intend to stay long.
We flew from Chiang Mai to Phuket, for what should have been a two-hour flight with AirAsia. As we approached the Phuket airport, the jet turned away and we could see several other jets in what looked to be a holding pattern. An announcement came over the PA which no one could understand. After a couple more loops, Sylvie finally asked one of the crew what was happening – apparently one of the Thai royalty was landing in Phuket and was given “VIP” status, making the rest of the air traffic circle for 30 minutes. We finally landed and found our driver- sent by our B&B- waiting for us (she had almost given up). Max & Johann were there to greet us at their B&B and arranged a motor scooter for us and also clued us in with suggestions where to eat, tour, and lay on a beach.
One of our favorite places to eat was the Patong night market that went on every night – lots of food carts with a wide variety of cheap and very good eats. It was always crazy trying to get there as well as find a place to park our scooter.
Above and below: many food options at the night market. James even had sushi one night!
Above and below: we bought mangosteen (our first time trying it) from this truck, it tasted pretty good, a cross from clementine and lychee.
Above: You can buy gas by the bottle for your scooter anytime, anywhere. Very practical.
Above: cute kid fast asleep on mommy’s scooter
What visit to Patong (Thailand’s sin city) would be complete without a nighttime stroll down Bang La avenue where you run the ping pong vendor gauntlet, glitzy bars with (overly) made up Thai women, as well as the “lady boys” selling themselves for tourists’ pictures (and god knows what else).
Above and below: lady boys!
While in Phuket, our hosts arranged a trip via long tail boat for us to Phang Nga Bay along with 2 other american guests, Tai and Hope, that were staying at the BnB. We made a quick stop to the “monkey”temple/cave on the way to the pier.
Above: our long tail boat waiting for us at the pier
Above: with Tai and Hope
Above: our bnb host, Max
Phang Nga Bay is known for its sheer limestone karsts that jut vertically out of the emerald-green water. There are also lots of caves and we took a 30 minutes guided kayak tour through them before heading to lunch to one of the floating villages.
Above: Some of the spots we had to go under were really tight and we had to lay down in the kayak!
Above: Quick stop at a sand bar
Above: Floating village where we stopped for lunch.
We circled around Ko Tapu, also known as the James Bond Island which was featured in the movie “The man with the golden gun”.
We tried hard while in Phuket to look for an isolated beach and went for long scooter rides. But there was always people, jet skis, long tail boats etc and it was hard to get a true island feel… the nice thing about Phuket beaches though were the facilities and good service. Long chairs, umbrella, food and drink right at your chair, good restaurants, massage and shopping on the beach…so we took full advantage of them all!
Above: a somewhat tranquil beach – Banana beach- recommended to us by some French people. Still it had boat traffic.
Above: massage on the beach was nice but don’t let them use tiger balm. That woman massaged Sylvie with tiger balm literally everywhere. Being on fire took a whole new meaning!
Above: James sipping a delicious iced coffee
Above: Sylvie shopping with another French woman from Corsica, trying to get a deal by buying together!
On one of our last days, we decided to go to Nui beach, which was supposedly a nice isolated beach due to its hard to reach location (long pot-holed dirt road). We scared ourselves silly taking the scooter down this crazy road only to find out when we arrived we had to pay an entrance fee and the beach was just OK, still pretty crowded by our standards, including a few nudist guys. Oh well, we spent a few hours there and had to walk the scooter back up a few stretches of the road. On the way back to Patong, we stopped to see Big Buddha, the biggest buddha in Thailand (45 metres high!) covered in white burmese marble.
Above: Nui beach without the crowds (did not last long)