Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sun tanned toes ticklin the sand, cold drink chilling in my right hand ...

So ... Thailand. What an incredible vacation!

I'll give you a basic rundown of what we did...

George and I left Busan on Saturday afternoon and flew into Seoul. After a few hours in Seoul we flew to Bangkok and had a 7 hour layover which was terrible. We arrived in Phuket (pronounced Poo-ket) on Sunday morning and by the time we had found our hotel it was around lunchtime. Getting to Phuket was a long process (almost 24hours from apartment-hotel), one which would have been so much easier if we'd booked our tickets sooner, and had been able to take the Pusan-Bangkok flight. Oh well, next time!

The only planning we did before leaving for Thailand was to book a hotel (Kata Poolside) for our first 2 nights in Kata Beach. Since it was off-season we were able to get a great hotel with a pool, huge room and balcony at an amazing price - about $65 total for 2 nights. We spent our first day enjoying the delicious room service food, soaking up some sun on the beach and enjoying the warm ocean water. We also were able to see a gorgeous sunset ... something I've missed so much while being in Busan. The sun disappears behind the mountains in Busan, which is pretty, but just doesn't compare to sunsets over water.

Day 2 was spent on a Sea Canoe Excursion, booked through our hotel, but available at any of the tour booths in the area. We left early in the morning and spent the day on a boat, seeing James Bond Island, Hong Island, Bat Caves, a Mangrove Forest and all kinds of gorgeous scenery. There was a buffet lunch on board, and snacks of fresh fruit throughout the day. The guides were friendly and we had an incredible time canoeing, swimming and exploring. I'd definitely recommend this trip to anyone visiting Phuket!

We decided to move to Karon beach for our third day. It was a short Tuk-tuk ride from Kata, and is a bigger and more touristy area. George spent the day surfing while I split my time between boogie boarding, reading and tanning. A rain shower interrupted our day around 5pm so we decided to walk to a market about 10 minutes from the beach. The temperature was so high that the rain was quite pleasant, so we spent a few hours shopping. We also had some delicious banana pancakes and Thai street food (delicious and dirt-cheap) for dinner. We weren't overly thrilled with our hotel so we decided to book a trip to Koh Phi Phi (Phi Phi Islands, pronounced Pee Pee) for the next day. This was a part of the trip that we were really excited for. Gorgeous scenery, blue-blue-blue water, the beach where the movie "The Beach" was filmed ... and it didn't disappoint!

We had more rain on the ferry ride to Phi Phi, which made for a pretty miserable journey since the majority of the seating was outdoors. Miraculously the sun emerged just as we arrived and checked into our guesthouse. We ran to check out the beach then went in search of some lunch. While eating we ran into one of George's friends from Brampton who is also a teacher in Korea. We spent the day with him and a friend, enjoying the beach on Phi Phi. That evening we decided to go out. After a Western style buffet dinner and a walk all around the island to check out what was going on, we grabbed some buckets (literally just bucket filled with alcohol) and went to the beach. There were multiple fire shows going on and we spent a few hours watching one. The boys even participated when the pulled out a giant flaming skipping rope. The talent was incredible and the show was completely mesmerizing. The four of us sat for hours, barely talking, but thoroughly enjoying ourselves. As our buckets were dwindling we decided to check out a bar that featured Thai fighting. They also allowed drunk foreigners to jump in the ring. So stupid, but very entertaining.

The next morning we booked an excursion to all of the sights around Koh Phi Phi. Then, our brains still muddled by alcohol we walked towards the beach, and decided to stop for a picture with the cute little monkey that was tied up at a resort. George went first ... and long story short he got bit. I guess that's what happens when you support the exploitation of animals?
Anyways, the monkey also stole his shirt, and it took 1 policeman (who also suffered a scratch), and 2 resort employees to get his shirt back. We then set of to the nearest pharmacy to get directions to the hospital. The first thing we saw when we walked in was the sign "Doctor visit 500 baht. Rabies vaccine 1300 baht." I had the feeling that this little terror had bit many many people! After a wound cleaning and the first of 5 vaccines we left the hospital and spent a few hours walking around and swimming before our excursion started.

We boarded the boat in the early afternoon. Our first stop? Monkey beach. A wonderful place for someone who has just suffered from a monkey bite to visit. After everyone was safely back on the boat our guide said, "Oh wow, that's the first day ever that one of our passengers hasn't been bitten!". Hmm, and why didn't he warn us BEFORE going to the beach?
Stop 2 was some snorkeling. Unfortunately the day had started to turn overcast so we weren't completely happen with our photos, but it was still alot of fun.
We then went by Viking Cave on our way to Maya Bay. This is the place where scenes from "The Beach" were filmed. The boat stopped on the far side of the island, a few hundred metres out from shore and the guide told us, "Ok, please swim to the beach. It is about three minutes. Bring your shoes so we can walk through the forest to the other side of the island". Umm ... what!? I didn't mind the swim, but it was approaching sunset and I wasn't thrilled about prancing around soaking wet in a bikini. It turned out to be worth it ... Maya Bay was gorgeous, we got some great photos, some some neat sights, I pretended I was Leo and ran in video-game mode through the forest .... overall a lot of fun.

The cruise wrapped up with a buffet dinner and views of the sunset and we returned back to shore. The sights themselves were great, but the company we went through was kind of terrible and unsafe. There was a choice to take a long tail boat, speed boat or a big boat with about 100 other people, and we chose the big one that actually had a bathroom ... but i think we would have had a better time on one of the others! I guess when you only pay about $20 you can't be too picky.

After our second night on Phi Phi we decided to head back to Phuket for our last 2 nights in Thailand. Since we had enjoyed Kata Beach so much we decided to return. We spent 2 days on the beach, learning how to surf, swimming and just enjoying life.

On our last day we had to go to Patong so that George could get his 2nd rabies shot. Unfortunately it rained all day, and surfing was waaay more expensive the in Kata or Karon, so our last day was kind of a bust. We did get to eat Subway for lunch which was great, and George had a Thai massage while I got a manicure, so it was not all bad.

Leaving Thailand was so hard. I can't say that I'm happy to be back in Korea ... I guess it's just the post-vacation blues...

I'll post more on Thailand and our return to Korea later!

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