Our Adventures in Phuket, Thailand – Part IV

***Final installment continued from last post.

July 23 – 6:30 pm – Karon, Phuket
Got up this morning at 6 am to shower and get beach things gathered up. Ate peanut butter on bread to tide us over til breakfast on the boat. Waited downstairs in hotel lobby for mini-bus to pick us up at 8:05 am, but it didn’t show til ten minutes later. The mini-bus drove us and some others to the Royal Phuket Marina on the east side of the island for the boat trip we’d booked to see Phang-Nga Bay. **Cost 5600B ($172 CAD) for Jordan and I. Yet another scary drive across the island.

At the marina we were introduced to Geoff of Simba Sea Trips, a pretty cool Australian guy. All aboard. Once we were out to sea on this beautiful hot day, we settled down for some drinks and chatting. Jordan and I got to sit up front with the wind whipping through our hair. Made it difficult to talk but it was great for photo-taking. Once the speedboat reached Koh Panak, it slowed down so we could take pictures. Geoff explained it’s the largest island in the bay and I think he said it is made of limestone.

Moved on to Koh Hong, a lagoon area, where we saw a monkey on the tiny beach. When it saw us it clambered onto the rock and climbed away. Here we dropped anchor and Geoff said this is where we will swim — not off the beach but right off the boat. One of the younger girls was the first person in the water. Jordan was next; he jumped right in! I was apprehensive as I could see sticks and stuff floating on top of the green water, but he said it was quite nice so I braced myself and in I went. The water was very warm and extremely salty! So buoyant that I barely had to move my arms and legs to tread water.

After that little adventure and a breakfast of fresh fruit and home-made banana cake, we moved on to sea canoeing. The boat pulled up to what looks like a large floating building, and everyone paired off to get into a sea canoe with a Thai guide. We were paddled under caves where we had to duck to pass through, and inside were lots of trees and vegetation. It was neat seeing the hollow insides of the caves when they look solid from the outside.

I took lots of pictures (all are not posted here). When the guide paddled us back to the floating building to rejoin our group, we tipped him 15B as a thank you. Before we got back into the speedboat, we drank fruit juice and hung around for a few minutes to wait for any group stragglers to return. Finally it was time to move on.

Next stop: floating Muslim village. Technically on stilts. The village is called Koh Panyee (not sure if spelled correctly). Here we were seated in one of the restaurants and served a variety of foods for lunch: chicken fried rice, battered shrimps, chicken with cashews, curry chicken and vegetables, peppered shrimps, egg omelet, and more. The food was very tasty; especially enjoyed the chicken with cashews, a nice sweet dish. To drink we had water or Pepsi. After eating, Geoff gave us a tour of the village and the school that the kids attend. As we walked around we saw lots of cats and Geoff explained that dogs are not allowed in the Muslim village. After a really interesting tour, we were given fifteen minutes to browse the stalls in the market. I bought a pretty pink pearl magnetic bracelet that can also be worn as a necklace. **Cost 250B ($7.50 CAD).

Boarded the boat once more and off we go to the famous James Bond Island. Never seen the movie it was in. Truly beautiful island with a lovely view of the special rock. We made our way up the stone steps, took some photos, and then down the other steps toward the sandy beach. At bottom of steps removed sandals to wade through water up to my calves to get to the actual beach. A market set up on the sand. Lots of people. More pictures. Geoff took some of Jordan and I for me.

Back into the boat and on we go! This time we found ourselves heading toward a real beach on the island of Koh Naga. Other people were there, too. Anchored the boat. While we clambered off and waded to shore to set up our beach mats and then swim in the lovely water, Geoff and the boat crew prepared more fruit for us and set up food for us. I tried dragonfruit for the first time, which is red on the outside, and inside is white with black seeds; tastes like kiwi but not as sweet, I think. There were also lots of tuna salad and egg salad sandwiches, made by Jenny. I ate so many of these, they were very good!

After everyone had eaten, swam to their heart’s content, and paid up for the trip, we boarded the ship home. What an amazing trip! Definitely the highlight of our vacation. I truly enjoyed every minute of this day’s adventure. Once back at the marina, quite exhausted from the long day in the sun, we piled into the mini-bus for scary trip back to the west side of Phuket. During the ride, we saw a dog perched on the back of a scooter, riding along behind its master, which was both funny and cute.

9:30 pm – Karon, Phuket
Back at hotel around 6:30 pm (I think), showered off seawater and sweat. Watched some television and then out for dinner at the German/Thai place we’d eaten at before. Me: sweet n’ sour chicken with steamed rice, Sprite; Jordan: bacon, fried eggs, toast, juice. **Cost 265B ($8.30 CAD) plus tip. The food was good but my meal took much too long to be served. Stopped at 7/11 on the way back for ice cream, snacks, big bottle of Sprite, and chocolate. **Cost 155B ($4.80 CAD). Picked up two more postcards at some shop for 4B each ($0.13 CAD).

July 24 – 10:10 am – Karon, Phuket
Woke up to sound of hammering; don’t know where it’s coming from but damn it’s annoying when we are trying to sleep. Absolutely pouring buckets outside. Can see big waves on the beach from balcony. Going to make a tea and watch TV for awhile.

2:30 pm – Karon, Phuket
Went to lunch at “Karon Cafe”, but third time not a charm. Didn’t receive very good service today. Me: Italian chicken parmigiana sandwich, water; Jordan: American breakfast. **Cost 285 ($9 CAD) and no tip. Jordan’s breakfast came with both coffee and juice and even though he pointed this out the waitress asked him what he wanted to drink. She got a little huffy when he repeated it already came with beverages. My meal was great, like usual. After we finished, realized Jordan didn’t get the yoghurt from the breakfast, so we asked for it since we paid for the full meal. It turned out to be plain unsweetened yoghurt which Jordan found disgusting, so he didn’t eat it after all that. Did some shopping afterward and bought two Billabong tube dresses for gifts. **Cost 450B ($13.50) for both. Still raining lightly; gonna stay in and watch a movie but I’ll probably fall asleep.

9:30 pm – Karon, Phuket
Went for a walk to market by the beach, hoping to spend more money. Only bought two wrap scarves for around your waist (over jeans or a bathing suit). **Cost 350B ($10.50) for both. Very pretty, might have overpaid a bit. I found a pair of dark purple Billabong pyjama shorts but the guy wouldn’t go low enough. Maybe another time. Had dinner at “Angus O’Tooles”. I didn’t really want to eat there because all I like on the menu is the pizza, but Jordan really wanted to. Me: spring rolls, hot brownie with vanilla ice cream; Jordan: cottage pie with vegetables. **Cost 500B ($15 CAD) plus tip. Back at hotel, found a baby salamander on bed frame which freaked Jordan out. Managed to shoo it out of the room. Now watching “The Pursuit of Happiness” on TV.

July 25 – 10:15 am – Karon, Phuket
Woke up at 9 o’ clock, feeling hungry. Not raining at the moment but sky is grey. Jordan is finally shaving. It’s my last day here; leaving tomorrow at 4:15 am to go to the airport.

12:10 pm – Karon, Phuket
Headed out for breakfast. Thought we would try “The Little Mermaid” again. Both of us had pancakes, fried eggs, bacon, and the waitress brought us syrup, and a drink each. **Cost 330B ($10 CAD) plus tip.

10:20 pm – Karon, Phuket
I wanted to go to the beach market one last time. Ended up buying the purple Billabong shorts I eyed up the other day, plus a brown Billabong tube top. **Cost 180B for shorts ($5.50) and 200B ($6) for top. Left the market and continued walking down beach road; nice breeze near the water. Stopped at convenience store for a can of beer for Jordan and iced tea for me. Continued on our way past Hilton Arcadia, and into Kata where we stopped at a small supermarket. Picked up two croissants, two chocolate Ovaltine drink boxes, and a shampoo and conditioner. **Cost 289B ($8.75 CAD). Very cheap, especially for damage control Dove shampoo and extra moisturizing Pantene conditioner. Starting to feel warm from walking. Sat on bench to have our snack.

In Kata at a shop, found black flip-flops identical to the ones I got in Kamala for 59B, except the girl wanted 300B for them. I got her down to 200B and I said, “No way, why would I pay that for them when I bought pink ones for 59 Baht?” We left and moved on to the next shop in the alleyway, and the girl came back to us and told us to go to her other shop of shoes. We did, and the ladies there agreed on a decent price for two pairs of the comfy black flip-flops. **Cost 120B ($3.50) for two pairs. Found the full Star Wars saga at a DVD place. **Cost 360B ($10.50 CAD).

Took a long walk through Kata, visiting parts we hadn’t seen during our first visit. Found a 7/11 for some Sprites and talked to a French guy outside the store about motorbikes and import taxes. On our way back into main shopping area of Kata, stopped at Starbucks because I really had to pee. Bought a pomegranate-peach frappuccino and Jordan had a danish. **Cost 170B ($5 CAD). Of course, no bathroom! Back in the outskirts of Karon, after a nice excursion, had dinner (and found a bathroom!) at “Baan Sailom”. Me: sweet n’ sour chicken, steamed rice, a beverage; Jordan: ham and cheese sandwich, French fries, a beverage. **Cost 240B ($7.50 CAD) plus tip. My last yummy sweet n’ sour dish in Thailand! Full from food, walked back to hotel, stopping along the way to take photos together. I can’t believe our time is up and I have to go back to Canada while he goes back to work.

Returned to the hotel through the short-cut market. Talked to a couple of the girls in their shops. Haggled for quite awhile with a young girl for two Billabong tie-front dresses in dark brown and light blue. **Cost 680B ($21 CAD) for both. I think I will give one to Crystal. Hit up the 7/11 for gum, cookies, and Milo drink box. **Cost 70B ($2 CAD). Gave the rest of money to Jordan for his final day. Wake up call will be at 2:30 am so that I can get ready; taxi at 4:15 am. Flight out of Phuket International Airport is 7:35 am. Must I leave?

***End of journal.

Obviously I made it home safely. The flights felt like forever; I just wanted to get home. At the Toronto airport, my dad was waiting for me. It felt good to be back in Canada, but I sure did miss Jordan. I still do, for that matter. Another few months and he will be coming home!

Our Adventures in Phuket, Thailand – Part III

***Continued from previous post.

July 19 – 3:40 pm – Karon, Phuket
By the time we got out for breakfast, it was lunchtime. Decided to try “The Little Mermaid”. Me: pancakes, bacon, water; Jordan: big breakfast of all sorts of things, a beverage. **Cost 295B ($9 CAD) and no tip. Didn’t receive any syrup or butter for pancakes that the menu said I would get, and I asked for sausages and was given bacon. However we did use the free wireless with our laptop. Stopped at a shop and picked up a set of wood chopsticks for Delia, a postcard to send to Dominique, and a little elephant purse for Jeena. **Cost 62B ($1.90 CAD). At the 7/11, got Fanta and ice cream. **Cost 54B ($1.50 CAD).

10:30 pm – Karon, Phuket
While it rained, watched some episodes of “Sex & the City”. Finally were able to go for a swim afterward. Cloudy skies, water chilly. Took a few pictures in the pool. An Irish guy came into the pool area and took a picture for us and we talked to him for a bit. Saw some cats sunning themselves on the lounge chairs, it was pretty cute.

Went out for a walk, looked in some shops for ball caps but too expensive. Walked down the road along the beach and had dinner at “Vitaporn”. Me: spaghetti carbonara, garlic bread, iced tea; Jordan: bacon cheeseburger, fries, Fanta. **Cost 495B ($15 CAD) and left 500B note. Much too expensive for tiny portions. Not that good. Before we ate, played Connect 4 that the waiter brought over. After food, walked over to the market by the beach but it was closing up for the night. Stopped at 7/11 on our way back for iced coffee (very strong) and cold chocolate Ovaltine. Going to watch some episodes before bed.

July 20 – 3:30 pm – Karon, Phuket
Decided to try brunch at “The Little Mermaid” again. Wireless internet wouldn’t work. Me: chicken burger, fries, iced tea; Jordan: fried eggs, bacon, a beverage. **Cost 295B ($9 CAD) plus tip. Chicken burger had no taste and iced tea too sweet. Disappointing visit, don’t know why I tipped.

Walked to the market by the beach but nothing jumped out at me. Getting frustrated by the shopping experience, everything seems to be the same everywhere we go. On our way back stopped at “Andaman Coffee Co” for a chocolate frappé with whipped cream and blueberry smoothie for Jordan, which we drank inside in the air-conditioning. **Cost 200B ($6 CAD) and worth it! Huge waves crashing onto beach but not much cooler by the water, still hot. Everything is very grey today but so far no rain. Finally someone sold Jordan a BMW ball cap at a decent price at the “short-cut market”. **Cost 150B ($4.50 CAD). At the same place, different stall, bought a pink Diesel skirt for a gift and an orange sarong for my mom. **Cost 400B ($12 CAD) for both.

4:30 pm – Karon, Phuket
Swam in upper level pool. Water still cold and sun has disappeared. Called Jenny at Simba Sea Trips and rescheduled our Phang-Nga Bay tour to Wednesday due to weather. Hopefully won’t have to cancel, I’ve been looking forward to this boat trip.

8:30 pm – Karon, Phuket
Found a new place for dinner, “Sopa Restaurant”, a small place. Me: spring rolls, chicken fried rice, Sprite; Jordan: spaghetti with chicken, garlic bread, a beverage. **Cost 360B ($11 CAD) plus tip. I liked my meal but Jordan said the spaghetti sauce tasted weird.

July 21 – 11:05 am – Karon, Phuket
Woke up early and showered but Jordan is just getting up now. We’ll go out for food soon, I am starving! Beautiful day, clouds are less severe, can actually see horizon.

10:40 pm – Karon, Phuket
It’s been a long day! Had breakfast at “Karon Cafe”. Me: French toast, bacon, fried eggs, water; Jordan: pancakes, fried eggs, bacon, water. **Cost 345B ($10.50 CAD) plus tip. Delicious food! Stopped at 7/11 for cough drops for Jordan. Back to hotel to cool off. Jordan watched a movie on TV and I fell asleep. Woke up and “The Other Boleyn Girl” was on. Decided to go out for a walk around 4 pm. Walked down the beach with our feet in the water and sun on our shoulders as far as the Hilton Arcadia.

At the Hilton a security guard showed us into the hotel to “Caffe Cino” where we had some delicious ice cream and cream cheese-filled danish pastry. **Cost 196B ($6 CAD) and well worth it. We looked around the hotel after. Absolutely gorgeous! We should have stayed there, so many pools and the grounds are amazing.

Since we had gone that far we decided to keep walking to see where the road would lead. We found ourselves on the outskirts of Karon. Stopped at a convenience store for two cans of Lipton iced tea and we sat on a wall in front of a hotel to drink them. Kept walking and entered Kata. Saw a restaurant that looked like it stepped out of “The Flintstones”. Looked at lots of shops. Bought a pretty turquoise pashmina scarf. **Cost 245B ($7.50 CAD). Got some more DVDs for 60B each at a shop. **Cost 360B ($11 CAD). At dark we turned around to find a restaurant. Not sure of the name but it advertised bacon cheeseburgers “all day, every day”. Busy atmosphere. Me: grilled chicken stuffed with ham and garlic sauce, fried potatoes, chocolate milkshake; Jordan: ham and cheese grilled sandwich, French fries, beer. **Cost 450B ($13.75 CAD) and no tip, getting low on cash. Food very good. Long walk back to hotel. Stopped at 7/11 for water, ice cream, chips, iced tea. **Cost 92B ($2.80 CAD). So cheap!

July 22 – 4:30 pm – Karon, Phuket
Woke up at 8:00 am from a phone call from Jenny at Simba Sea Trips. She confirmed tomorrow’s pick up time to be 8:05 am. Fell back to sleep, woke up late, and went out for lunch. Ended up at “Angus O’Tooles”. We split a Hawaiian pizza and eggs on toast, two chocolate milkshakes. **Cost 370B ($11 CAD) plus tip. Used the free computer to check our emails. On our way back to hotel looked at some scooters to rent but they wanted us to hand over our passport for them to keep until we return the scooter. No way were we doing that. At the hotel we checked with reception and the lady told us we could rent a scooter from them for 3 days at 150B a day. We decided to think about it. Went out again and this time Jordan got two Harley-Davidson ball caps. **Cost 300B ($9 CAD). Went for a swim in the lower level pool, which doesn’t smell of chlorine and is much nicer. I can hardly brush my ruined hair.

9:30 pm – Karon, Phuket
Left the hotel and stopped at a shop that is usually closed every time we’ve passed by. Ended up buying another BMW ball cap for Jordan (150B) and a green skirt and blue Billabong skirt. **Cost 300B ($9 CAD) for both. Ate dinner at “One Man Restaurant” again. Me: sweet n’ sour chicken with steamed rice, Sprite; Jordan: cheeseburger, French fries, a beverage. **Cost 345B ($10.50 CAD) plus tip. Very good food and service like usual. Afterward went to a 7/11 to get Jordan a beer and some ice cream for me. **Cost 47B ($1.40 CAD). So cheap! Then into a grocery store for bread and a little jar of Skippy peanut butter. **105B ($3 CAD). Also cheap! A loaf of bread in Ontario is $1.50 to $2.50.

Went back to hotel through the short-cut market. Bought a blue floppy hat for the boat trip tomorrow. **Cost 150B ($4.50 CAD). At another stall, a Nepalese girl invited us into her shop to look around. Decided to be nice and actually go in and take a peek around. I found a black tube Billabong dress. **Cost 300B ($9 CAD).

***Continued in next post.

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.