Zhiyi and I made a short getaway to Phuket on the 13th to 16th Aug for much needed break. Although I’ve never really been fond of Thailand (despite never being there!), I’ve heard many great things about its beautiful islands and experience as a shopping paradise. True enough, I wasn’t disappointed after this short excursion!
Upon arriving, we were taken for a city tour as we could only check into our hotel at noon. One of our destinations was the Phuket Gem Centre which is one of the biggest in the world, if their slightly outdated looking marketing video is to be trusted. Not only that, Phuket happens to be one of the largest producers of pearls in the world.
The workshop where gem cutting, polishing and setting is done.
Phuket’s most famous tourist location is Patong Beach, a few kilometre stretch of beach that is packed with hotels, eateries and shops. In fact, our hotel was a mere 3 minute walk from the beach (which also meant it was quite badly hit by the tsunami of 26th Dec 2005).
Not much watersports going on due to the huge waves caused by the monsoon season.
We were fortunate enough to be able to get accomodation at the Bura Sari Hotel as we found out later on that the hotel was fully booked. There were a lot of Western and Japanese tourists on the whole in Phuket although the number of Chinese tourists paled in proportion. I guess it has something to do with this being the ghost month or something like that. Despite there being over 2000 deaths in Phuket during the tsunami, I am glad to say that nothing went bump in the night and we slept very soundly in our beautifully decorated hotel room.
The pool right next the the hotel lobby. Some rooms on the ground floor even had steps going directly into the pool!
Patong is also famous, or should I say infamous, for its nightlife. Transvestites and scantily clad women prowl Bangla Street and discos blare loud thumping music all around. However, what we really enjoyed was the fact that many shops stay open until midnight and we had a great time shopping for clothes almost every night we were there.
The start of Bangla Street, the most crowded and happening street along Patong Beach. There was a huge two story disco called Tiger Disco that I couldn’t resist taking a photo of for my good friend (you know who you are!).
Seafood in Phuket is also very cheap compared to Singapore and we took full advantage of it by feasting on tiger prawns. Tiger prawns are HUGE, and they cost over $10 in Singapore. However, over there, they only cost around $3-$4 for one prawn (70-100 baht for 150 grams to be more precise and 100 baht = approx $4). Still expensive but just two of those deliciously fried critters are enough to fill our stomachs.
Sunday night: Tiger prawns steamed in garlic sauce and fried in butter sauce. Monday night: Tiger prawns fried with dried chilli and butter sauce. *BURP*
Finally, the good part! Our day trip to Phi Phi Island – one of the most picturesque islands along the west coast of Thailand. Our boat ride there took over 2 hours as we couldn’t travel by speedboat which would’ve been too bumpy for pregnant wifey. However, I found out that slow isn’t too good either as the smell of engine fumes and people smoking can also make one nauseous after awhile! Two very famous beaches on Phi Phi Island are Maya Bay (where the movie The Island was filmed) and Monkey Beach (where families of monkeys call it home). We had a chance to go snorkeling along Monkey Beach and the experience was simply breathtaking. Never in my life have I felt the sensation of so many fishes swimming alongside me as I explored the beautiful corals a few metres below.
Look at how clear and blue the waters along Phi Phi Island are. Imagine hundreds and thousands of those fishes you see in saltwater aquariums swimming right below!
Stopping at Phi Phi Island for a quick lunch and some shopping. Note: Jame Born was here!
The beautiful and intricately designed soap carvings really caught our eye. They look good AND smell good!
Sad to say, our wonderful adventure had come to an end. But, the fun activities, beautiful islands and hospitality of the people are some of the things that we definitely look forward to visiting again one day!