Our Adventures in Phuket, Thailand – Part II

***Continued from previous post.

July 15 – 9:00 am – Kamala, Phuket
Pouring heavily this morning. Hoping it won’t last long so we can go for breakfast. So foggy that the mist has completely obscured the mountains behind the hotel. The sea is slate grey and waves are crashing onto the sand. There was lightning last night.

3:30 pm – Kamala, Phuket
Went to “Oh La La” for breakfast, getting soaked in the process. Me: honey crepes, banana shake; Jordan: bacon, fried eggs, herbed bread, a beverage. **Cost 210B ($6.50 CAD) plus tip. The crepes were quite sweet, not sure what kind of honey was used, but they were yummy. The shake was great!

On our way to hotel, saw a cat from the bridge leading to the beach. He was clinging to a wood ladder, still half in the high water (first time we’d seen water under that bridge), mewing. Jordan tried to get at him but the cat ended up falling back in the brown water and managed to swim, bad leg and all, to safety on something attached to the back of a boat. Hopefully the cat survived, it was quite sad. After that we went for a swim in the pool since it had stopped raining. Going to head out for dinner in a half hour and then find a taxi or tuk tuk into Patong.

9:10 pm – Kamala, Phuket
Had dinner at “Chongdee’s”. Me: margherita pizza, Sprite; Jordan: a sandwich, water. **Cost 380B ($12 CAD) plus tip. Couldn’t find the metered taxi that usually sits near the Phuket Fantasea. Climbed into a red tuk tuk for a windy and scary ride to Ocean Plaza on Bangla Road. **Cost 300B ($9 CAD). He refused to negotiate any lower. The plaza is very small; left soon after using the toilets. Walked around Bangla Road for a bit, quite hectic. Found our way to Beach Road. At a stall I bought two stretchy shirts. **Cost 500B ($15 CAD) for both. I think I paid too much for them but the lady was very difficult to barter with, she seemed to think they were worth even more than that.

Found “Hello Kitty” shop that sells DVDs for 50B each. Jordan and I bought five. **Cost 250B ($7.50 CAD). Next we discovered “Mr Noon”, another place I’d heard about from the TripAdvisor Phuket forum. Also selling for 50B each. Bought eight DVDs and one game. **Cost 500B ($15 CAD). Next we went into a grocery store and picked up bread, small jar of Nutella, plastic chopsticks, and a bunch of drinks. **Cost 300B ($9 CAD).

Once again we looked for a metered taxi but they are no where to be found. Harassed by many tuk tuk drivers as we passed by. Bargained with a taxi driver to take us back to Kamala (air-conditioned). **Cost 275B ($8.50 CAD). I’m not yet sure if I like Patong. I think it is too busy for me. Only one more full day left in Kamala, then we move on to Karon on the 17th.

July 16 – 10:30 am – Kamala, Phuket
Woke up early today. Hasn’t begun to rain yet but the sky is overcast and a mist is beginning to descend on the mountains. Went out for breakfast. Since it’s our last day we wanted to go to “Jan Thai” one last time, but we had never gone out this early before and the restaurant was closed. Ended up at “Kamala Bakery”, an air-conditioned place. Me: fried eggs, hashbrown potatoes with onion and garlic, orange juice; Jordan: fried eggs, deep-fried toast, bacon, and beans, a beverage. **Cost 330B ($10 CAD) plus tip. The food was really good but I couldn’t finish my meal because I started to feel a little nauseous. I bought a cinnamon bun, though, on the way out the door for later, included in the price. On our way back to hotel we walked a different route that led by Kamala Temple instead of going down the main road. It started to rain lightly when we reached the beach and by the time we reached the hotel it had turned into a downpour.

1:05 pm – Kamala, Phuket
Watched some episodes of “Sex & the City” on the laptop. Decided to get ready to go to the pool but it started raining again. Hopefully it will cease soon. Jordan is singing along to a song now. Ate some of the cinnamon bun from the bakery, very tasty.

3:10 pm – Kamala, Phuket
Rain finally stopped and sun came out to say hello. We went for a swim for 45 minutes, then skies clouded over and once again down came the rain. We ran inside, dripping wet from pool AND rain. Wondering what to do on our last day in Kamala. Might go to “Oh La La” again for dinner and use the 15 minutes free internet.

8:10 pm – Kamala, Phuket
Rain stopped again so we made our way through puddles to “Oh La La” for supper. Me: fried noodles with chicken, Sprite; Jordan: spare ribs, fried eggs, and bacon, a beverage. **Cost 295B ($9 CAD) plus tip. The food was good like last time but the sauce Jordan dipped the spare ribs in was so spicy it burned the back of his throat. We used the free internet to check emails. When we left, used the ATM machine at the closest 7/11 to withdraw some cash. Went back to hotel and watched more episodes. Too bad it rained so much today.

July 17 – 9:30 am – Kamala, Phuket
Rained all night and still raining now. Tis to be expected. Will have to eat breakfast at the hotel before check-out.

1:10 pm – Karon, Phuket
Too expensive for breakfast buffet for the two of us at the hotel. Instead found a place called “The Beer House” to eat at. Still raining hard, wind is gusting, we practically blew into the place. Me: French toast, fruit platter, tea; Jordan: fried eggs, toast, fruit platter, Cornflakes with yoghurt. **Cost 370B ($11.50 CAD) plus tip. Loved the French toast, very thick slices, only ate banana from the platter but Jordan finished all his and some of mine.

Made it back in time for noon check-out. Paid 81B ($2.50 CAD) for phone call I made to confirm elephant trek for the next day. Expensive! A bit of trouble during check-out. Our mini-bar was checked (we didn’t take anything) and we were told one of the free glass bottles of water had a crack and they were going to charge us. Refused to pay since we had drank out of them that morning and there had been nothing wrong with either of the bottles. Did not appreciate the accusation. After that we stupidly paid the hotel to drive us to the Best Western Ocean Resort in Karon. **Cost 600B ($18.50 CAD). Yikes.

At check-in for the new hotel we were given a glass of grape juice. Bus-boy helped to bring our baggage up to our room. Fifth floor, lots of steps and passageways, luckily an elevator. Gave him a tip as thanks. The room very similar to the Kamala Beach Resort, set up slightly different but it’s almost like walking into the same room. There is a bedside clock and free in-room safe.

11:50 pm – Karon, Phuket
Jordan and I went for a walk to explore city. Our hotel is only a few minutes walk to traffic circle, the main street, and the road along the beach. Lots of different restaurants, shops, tailors, massage parlours. Popped into a shop and spotted some wood chopsticks I may get for Delia. Continued on our way. Starting pouring as if someone upturned a bucket. Of course we didn’t have an umbrella or raincoats so we ducked under an awning of a closed restaurant and sat at a table. Able to stay mostly dry, but the wind was really blowing. A lady and her son poked their heads out under the garage doors a couple times and smiled at us. Finally she opened up the restaurant (not sure of the name, a German-Thai place) after we’d been sitting there for ages and we went inside. Ordered food since we didn’t know how long the downpour would last. Me: Garlic and pepper fried chicken, steamed rice, Sprite; Jordan: chicken dish with coconut sauce, a beverage. **Cost 370B ($11.50) plus tip. Food delicious but unfortunately tried some of Jordan’s food that had a pepper in it and I felt like I had caught on fire.

Rain lightened but didn’t stop. Returned to hotel to dry off. Watched some episodes and one of the DVDs I’d got in Patong, “The Break-Up”. Went out again later in the evening, around 8 pm. Nice and breezy. Lots of tailors asking us to come into their shops. No thanks, not interested. Found a small indoor market, almost like a warehouse, that also acts as a short-cut to our hotel (we soon discovered). Saw an orange sarong I think my mom would like, but wasn’t impressed with the price. At another market along the beach I found a pretty blue skirt and haggled. **Cost 280B ($8.50 CAD). Pretty good price for the type of skirt. Finally ate dinner pretty late at “Karon Cafe”. Me: Italian chicken parmigiana sandwich, cole slaw, home-made chips, a beverage, hot apple strudel with ice cream for dessert; Jordan: ham and cheese croissant, cole slaw, home-made chips, a beverage, banana split for dessert. **Cost 465B ($14 CAD) plus tip. Food was really good, but chips tasted stale. Best sandwich I’ve had so far in Thailand.

As we left the restaurant, someone was using a remote-control car to chase a dog down the street. The dog ran towards me and the car smashed into the back of my foot. When we got back to the hotel, I noticed I was bleeding and there was a nice cut on my heel. The guy didn’t even apologize for hitting me.

July 18 – 8:00 am – Karon, Phuket
Today we have booked an elephant trek at Kok Chang. Must be ready by 9 o’ clock. Jordan’s feeling pretty lousy, poor guy; been sick a couple times.

3:15 pm – Karon, Phuket
Had to cancel the elephant trek due to Jordan being pretty sick this morning. He is feeling a little more settled now. Fell asleep and napped for two hours, woke up and looked outside to see it’s not even raining. Jordan felt strong enough to get out of bed and we went to lunch at “One Man Restaurant”. Me: chicken burger, best French fries so far, Sprite; Jordan: toast with butter, water. **Cost 160B ($5 CAD) plus tip. Very humid, about 30° C. Came back to hotel, ready for a swim, but rain started. Now Jordan is napping.

8:45 pm – Karon, Phuket
Read some Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire then fell asleep until 6:30 pm. We then went for a quick (cold!) dip in the upper level pool. Still smells very strongly of chlorine. My hair feels like straw now. All moisture seems to be sapped from it. Gonna head out and see if we can find a hat for Monday’s boat ride and then dinner.

10:30 pm – Karon, Phuket
Didn’t find a hat because I am too picky. I don’t like hats and I refuse to pay much for something I don’t even like, but will need. Went inside “Big 1” grocery store to buy some detergent, toothpaste, and a candle gift for mom. **Cost 143B ($4.50 CAD). Found dinner at “Angus O’Tooles”, an Irish pub. Crowded and full of smokers inside so we grabbed a table outside. Of course then it started to rain so we had to move in. Me: ham and cheese pizza, chocolate milkshake; Jordan: tomato soup, toast, water. **Cost 310B ($10 CAD) plus tip. Pizza was delicious but I started to feel nauseous so brought the rest home with me. Jordan loved his soup. Spitting rain on the way back, took the shortcut through the warehouse market. Bought a pink necklace for Amy. **Cost 180B ($5.50 CAD). Also a red Billabong skirt for myself. **Cost 200B ($6 CAD). Discovered a big lizard over our room doorway when we returned to hotel. Took a photo then snuck into the room. Now washing underwear and some shirts in the sink.

***Continued in next post.

Our adventures in Phuket, Thailand – Part I

I am back from vacationing with Jordan in Thailand for two and a half weeks. Already I wish I was back there! During our stay I kept a journal of the things we did each day. I’m going to recreate that journal here.

We chose to go to the island of Phuket in southern Thailand. This island is in the Andaman Sea and is a very touristy area even in the off-season, which is when we visited. The off-season is also the rainy or “monsoon” season, but it’s still very hot and extremely humid even when the sun is hidden by clouds. We had some really bright, sunny days and of course many grey, windy, rainy days (still hot). The good thing about the rain is that it would usually start in the morning for a little while and then stop for a few hours; sometimes the rain came down so heavily it looked like someone was pouring buckets from the sky! Another great thing about the off-season is the hotel rates; they simply plummet and one pays cheaply for a very nice resort!

Before I get into the journal section, just a quick bit of information: I booked the two of us into 2 different hotel resorts so that we could experience different areas of the island. First we stayed in Kamala, one of the worst-hit areas of the 2004 Tsunami; it’s a small village but still bustling with activity, not as many tourists, very relaxing and quiet. The Kamala Beach Resort & Hotel is a great place to stay; the surroundings are very lush and green, and the hotel is situated right on the beach. It’s also small enough that one cannot get lost but big enough to boast two pools, one with a swim-up bar. We stayed in Kamala for 7 days, and then moved south to Karon.

Karon is bigger than Kamala and is definitely more touristy. I think the most popular place for people to stay is in Patong, but I found that city to be much too busy for my liking, even in off-season. We discovered Karon to be quiet as well, but there are also more areas for good shopping, more tourists, and more restaurants. From our hotel, the Best Western Ocean Resort, it was only a thirty minute walk into Kata, depending on how fast we were moving and how many stops we made along the way. The hotel we stayed at is pretty big, it hugs the hills as it rises up the slope; there are lots of stairs and connecting passageways, and luckily a set of elevators! This place has 3 pools, and we soon discovered our favourite.

Upon arrival in Thailand, I had $300 CAD in cash (exchanged at the hotel), 2500 Baht, and my debit card for further withdrawals. The in-room safe at the first hotel was not free, so I kept some money in my purse and the rest in Jordan’s backpack that he carried around. At the second hotel, the in-room safe was free and we kept our passports and extra cash in there. We had no problems with theft.

July 10 – 4:30 pm – Beijing, China
The plane left Toronto airport fifteen minutes late. Three meals on board. Had a headache since take-off and no Tylenol to hand. The headache made it difficult to read; I had to keep my eyes closed for relief. Window seat, so I had to climb over two passengers every time I needed to pee on a thirteen hour flight. Landed at Beijing Capital Airport on time. The skies grey and overcast, probably from pollution. Once off the plane an agent was waiting with my boarding pass for next flight to Bangkok. Found my way to International Transfers. Waiting at my gate number, boiling; there doesn’t seem to be air-conditioning. Beijing is 12 hours ahead of Ontario.

9:45 pm – Bangkok, Thailand
Thai Airways flight much roomier; had three seats to myself for first hour (a passenger moved into the aisle seat). Very tired, dozed most of the four hour journey. Meal served but since my body was running on 7:00 a.m EST I couldn’t eat heavy food that early. Quick process at Suvarnabhumi Airport to get boarding pass to Phuket. First in line at Passport Control. Made my way to my gate number for yet another security screening.

July 11 – 8:40 pm – Kamala, Phuket
Flight from Bangkok to Phuket International Airport took no time at all. Took off on time and we were served a snack. Landed at midnight (July 11). Found my way to Baggage Claim then to Passenger Arrival meeting hall at the exit to wait for Jordan (he arrived a couple days earlier). After waiting an hour I tried to call hotel but payphone wouldn’t accept my credit card. A security personnel helped me with payphone, called hotel, and after about 4 phone calls trying to explain that I wanted to know if Jordan had checked in and if he had left for the airport, I was finally able to talk to him. He was not able to get a taxi to pick me up. By then the airport practically deserted, the mass of taxi drivers were gone, this was about 2:00 a.m. Another security personnel had a vehicle he used as taxi and we negotiated the price to 600 Baht ($18 CAD) to Kamala (half hour drive). I knew Jordan had paid 500B for his taxi but the guy wouldn’t go any lower and I just wanted to get out of there. Scary ride to the hotel, these people drive way too fast around hairpin corners, even passing vehicles on a bend. Jordan met us outside hotel and I paid the driver. He showed me to our room on the top floor (3 floors). Stairs only, no elevator. Hallways and walkways are outside but with a roof, a cool feature.

In the morning woke up around 10 a.m (eleven hours ahead of Ontario). Pouring rain but cleared by the time we finished lunch, transformed into a beautiful day. Went down to the hotel’s restaurant “Sea Breeze Cafe” for lunch. For future reference, I almost always tipped 20B after paying for a meal, unless the food or service was really bad. Me: iced tea, club sandwich, fries; Jordan: grilled ham and cheese sandwich and a young coconut juice served in a green coconut. **Cost 480B ($14 CAD) plus tip. A trifle expensive, we soon learned.

After lunch went for a walk. Bought some drinks at a 7/11 (these are everywhere). Returned to hotel very hot and sweaty. Went for a dip in the pool with the swim-up bar. Water was very warm. Went out to look for dinner, walked by Phuket Fantasea, found “Chongdee’s” and ate there. Me: sweet n’ sour chicken with steamed rice, a beverage; Jordan: Hawaiian pizza, a beverage. **Cost 300B ($9 CAD) plus tip. Delicious food!

On our way back we discovered a night market near the attraction Phuket Fantasea. Crossed very busy road and wandered through. Bought pair of comfy pink flip-flops priced at 59B ($1.80) from one vendor and two summery dresses for 500B total ($15 CAD). Probably could have negotiated cheaper but this was my first time haggling. I simply love the dresses! Left market, stopped at 7/11 for snacks and water and headed back to hotel at full-dark to watch a movie on Jordan’s laptop.

July 12 – 10:30 am – Kamala, Phuket
Getting ready to go find breakfast. Happy birthday to me. I turned 26 today. Very hot, bright morning with blue skies. No rain yet. Jordan purchased wireless internet from the hotel when he had arrived; it wasn’t working yesterday but today we were able to check our emails, etc.

5:20 pm – Kamala, Phuket
Went for a walk and found a restaurant called “Jan Thai” which serves European and Thai food. The owner is from France, very friendly, chatted with us a lot. His wife Ana had been to Canada before and was very excited to meet us. Me: ham, cheese, and tomato omelet, a beverage; Jordan: fried eggs, bacon, and toast, a beverage. **Cost 220B ($6.80 CAD) plus tip. Food very good, staff friendly.

Another long walk around town in blazing heat. Walked along beach and found Kamala Temple. A toothless old man saw us wandering around the outskirts and told us to follow him into the temple. Inside he showed us photos of tsunami damage, talked a lot but hard to understand him, smelled of alcohol. Gave us “luck” bracelets and took our picture in front of Buddha. Afterward he begged for money.

Found a pharmacy and bought an oral gel. Jordan’s wisdom teeth are cutting in and he’s in pain; the gel helped to soothe. Back to hotel for a swim to cool off. Ordered chocolate milkshakes from the pool bar. Ridiculously over-priced but it was the only time we got anything from there. **Cost 204B ($6 CAD). I guess that is about equivalent to what we would pay for two in Canada. Bought round-trip shuttle bus tickets to Patong from the hotel. Shuttle takes us to shopping centre Jungceylon at 6:45 pm, leaves us for a few hours, then returns. **Cost 300B ($9.50 CAD) for both of us.

11:20 pm – Kamala, Phuket
After a harrowing drive into Patong, we were dropped off at Jungceylon. Traipsed around the huge mall and open-air shopping centre. Quite busy. Some places one could barter but the indoor shops had set prices. The salespeople constantly follow you around and ask if you need this, want that, which is a little annoying. Bought a bracelet for Keesje at “Spice” for 159B ($5 CAD). Didn’t buy anything else, just browsed. Feeling hungry, looked at a bunch of menus, and finally sat down in an air-conditioned restaurant “Caffe Nero”. Me: probably a sandwich and fries, Sprite, chocolate oreo cake; Jordan: probably a sandwich and fries, water, banana fritters. **Cost 521B ($17 CAD) plus tip. Expensive and I can’t remember the food but the desserts were yummy. While we ate watched a Thai music video that was so long it was like an episode. We got right into it, wanted to know what happened next! Before we left to meet the shuttle bus, Jordan stepped into a gun store that smelled really bad so I waited outside. An interesting trip into the bustling city of Patong, although we only discovered one aspect of it.

July 13 – 10:30 pm – Kamala, Phuket
Woke up late. Very hot and humid. Went in search of lunch and found “Sportman’s Bar”, a pub-style restaurant on the main street. Sort of busy; two Australian guys being quite loud. Kind of funny listening to their conversation about girls. Me: can’t remember the food; Jordan: can’t remember the food, probably had eggs. **Cost 300B ($9.50 CAD) plus tip.

Boiling hot and sweaty after our foray into town. Went for a swim in the pool once we returned to hotel. Checked emails, banking, watched some television. Went down to the beach during sunset, sky looked very pretty, streaked with colours. Put my feet in the water. Jordan decided to go for a swim and jumped in the waves. Afterward we went to the pool again, then showered and got ready to go out for dinner. Stopped and looked into some shops on the way. Decided to eat at “AEW Seafood”. Me: cheeseburger and fries, Sprite; Jordan: cheeseburger and fries, water. **Cost 310B ($10 CAD) plus tip. Delicious burgers! Don’t get much in the way of French fries though. A meal like that would cost about $8 – $11 plus tax in Canada, per person.

July 14 – 12:05 pm – Kamala, Phuket
Woke up at a decent hour, showered, ready to go out for breakfast. As soon as we are ready to leave it starts pouring. On go the raincoats and off we go. Ended up at “Jan Thai” again for food. Less than halfway there, the rain stopped and sun came out. Me: ham, cheese, tomato omelet, toast, orange juice, and coffee; Jordan: same. **Cost 180B ($5.50 CAD) plus tip. The restaurant owner cooked our meal himself since the cook hadn’t arrived yet. He actually served us larger portions than last time.

Took a walk to check out laundry prices down a street we hadn’t seen yet. Ended up walking quite a ways into a quiet rural area with brightly painted homes. Saw some roosters and lots of flowers. On our way back we stopped for ice cream and water. Started raining lightly while we sat and ate the ice cream. Another dip in the pool once back to hotel.

8:10 pm – Kamala, Phuket
A bit of light rain throughout rest of day; overcast. Went out for dinner; after searching around we settled on a place closer to the hotel called “Oh La La”. Me: fried noodles with chicken, Sprite; Jordan: spicy coconut sauce with duck served in fresh coconut, herbed flatbread, banana shake. **Cost 440B ($13.50) plus tip. Food was delicious! Used fifteen minutes of free internet that is available with meal purchase. After dinner stopped at a pharmacy to pick up Tylenol. Jordan’s wisdom teeth are really hurting him; toothache and headache combined. **Cost 130B ($4 CAD). Back at the hotel I fell asleep for an hour. Very tired from the heat and lots of walking around. We watched a few episodes of “Sex & the City” on the laptop. Thinking of going into Patong tomorrow.

***Continued in next post.