Well, I’m here! I’ve wanted to come to Thailand for quite some time now and I’ve finally made it. Yesterday was the big trip itself with today more of a settling in period and getting the feel of the place. Loving the heat – hot, but dry hot! You certainly notice it but it is not as difficult to adjust to as it would be if it was very humid as well. Anyway, on with the blog!
We awoke early – 2:45am New Zealand time to get ourselves ready and head off for the airport to make it for a 4:00am check in. Now, I’m not a morning person at the best of times but I must admit to getting out of bed a wee bit earlier than usual with the excitement of the trip ahead.
We flew Qantas ex Wellington, New Zealand with roughly a three hour lay over in first Sydney, Australia and then Singapore. Flight time from Wellington to Sydney was roughly 3 and a half hours and about an 8 and a half hour flight from Sydney to Singapore (by the time Qantas aborted the initial landing despite being cleared by air traffic control – safety reasons, good human factors stuff by the pilots!). The flight from Singapore to Phuket was about an hour and a half.
Ultimately we arrived in Phuket at about 9:30pm local time. We were travelling with my six year old and I have to say he was magnificent. Quite the trooper! All up he would’ve been awake about 22 hours, with very little grizzling, before finally hitting the wall on the flight into Phuket. He made our lives so much easier with the way he travelled!
Our accomodation in Phuket is the Centara near Karon Beach – it is beautiful! The grounds are very well kept, staff are super friendly, three pools (including one outside our bedroom door) each with swim up bars, plenty of activities and easy to get to local beaches, restaurants and markets. Quite simply its pretty close to perfect. Our bed is so big I don’t actually need to kick the wife across – I can barely reach her from my side!
Oh, and the buffet breakfast……..my good God! Fruit, yoghurt, cooked meals in a variety of cultural styles, cereal for the less adventurous. It was fantastic. I have also now discovered water infused with lime and lemon, very refreshing to start the day – like a mojito without alcohol (more on that later).
I thoroughly recommend this as a place to stay if it is within your budget.
We only had a quick explore around here this morning after breakfast. A walk along the beach for a couple of hours to unwind from travel and stretch our legs. A quick dip in the water – very warm and very clean and clear. Sand was super soft.
The current, particularly the under-current was quite strong so you do have to be wary of young ones as it can be overpowering and I came across a few holes underfoot when out in the water which dropped me from waist deep to shoulder deep a couple of times. They have flagged areas to swim between, but honestly, I don’t think the life guards were paying all that much attention – better off watching your own.
There is the odd scammer here on the street trying to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists so keep an eye out for them. The ploy at the moment is to say they are from a newly opening hotel. Apparently we were very lucky, big winners! Go on, pull the other one fella, if only it was that easy.
This is where we spent the bulk of our time this afternoon. We caught a shuttle from our accomodation into Patong for 350 baht and began wandering the streets first. This place is a lot more hustle/bustle than Karon and probably more “Thai” – but with it only being a 15 minute trip from our accomodation, I actually think I would rather stay in Karon than Patong.
Streets in Patong are very busy with traffic – scooters and tuk-tuks everywhere and they drive as if they have no concern for the value of human life! As a pedestrian you are rolling the dice every time you want to cross the road. Walking down the side streets you need to keep your wits about you as well as the little buggers come out of nowhere from behind you, brushing perilously close to you in the process! Road rules are loose at best. Scooters – scooters everywhere!
The markets are more what we wanted to see and they don’t disappoint. Fresh fruit is abundant, vegetables, meat and fish with lively banter and bargaining between the locals create for quite an atmosphere. I love local markets in places like this (although there is some way to go when it comes to animal welfare) as they are something we don’t have in New Zealand and is quite the cultural experience.
After spending time in the markets we wandered down to Patong beach and I have to admit to not being as impressed by this beach as I was by Karon. Hustlers are everywhere hassling you to purchase, whatever, from them. The water is dirtier (a mucky brown colour when we were there as opposed to the azure of Karon). It’s still a nice beach, but if I was tossing up where to spend my money and stay I’d pick Karon everyday. Having said that, there are more jet ski’s and boats off Patong than at Karon if that is your thing (just watch out for the scammers).
There are also some lovely old buildings throughout the place. I must admit though to being a little concerned about the wiring and electrical standards of the place. I’m sure there is method to the madness and despite its apparent chaos…..must be!
Once we’d finished looking around, we took a 300 baht tuk-tuk back to Karon (most were trying for 400 baht and would pull out a “price list” to try and prove that’s what you should pay). Be sure to shop around. We had another quick swim to cool down (and a couple of cocktails in the pool) before heading out to dinner at Karon Seafood, about 5 minutes walk away. The food was very tasty, service was super-fast and you can’t complain at only paying 750 baht for 3 main meals, a beer, and a juice. I would recommend eating here whether or not you are on a budget! On the walk back we grabbed a couple of Oreo ice-cream rolls from a local street-vendor (80 baht each) – you definitely want to try these!
Tomorrow, we’re off to James Bond island!