Sawasdee-ka! Here is part two of our trip (click here for part one).
We had enjoyed a week of urban living and shopping in Bangkok – and were now ready for a week of winding down in Phuket. Cleaner air, slower pace, greener landscape!
Well … there’s just one thing you have to get through before you can relax in Phuket, in my opinion. It’s slightly chaotic (by NZ standards) when you exit the airport in search of a cab. In my experience people seemed gruff, and I was sharply reminded that here I was, foremost, a paying tourist. :-$
That said, once we located a suitable cabbie and arrived at our base for the week, those stressful minutes were forgotten :-) We stayed at Mangosteen Resort for the duration of our visit.
Our room and en suite bathroom were spacious yet cosy and relaxing – and there was a jacuzzi area attached.
Dinner at Rawai Beach
Our top highlight would be having dinner at Rawai Beach while the sun set behind us. It was absolutely beautiful (and personally I think it is a great spot for romance ♥). We ordered our dishes from a restaurant named ‘Nong Pla’, sharing sticky rice, som tum (papaya salad), some gorgeous fried scallops, chips, pineapple rice, tom-yum-goong (spicy soup with lemongrass and shrimp, one of my all-time favourites). Everything arrived hot and promptly, and we enjoyed our delicious dinner.
I rather like the unique system the restaurants on this stretch of the beach use – running their kitchens and restaurants on one side of the road, and setting up an ‘al fresco’ extension of their dining area across the road right next to the beach. Staff take your orders at your table, then whiz them over from the kitchen across the road when they are ready. Genius! All you need to take along is your appetite and a can of mozzie repellent :-)
After this we took our full bellies across the road to Baan Kanom to get cold drinks before heading back (highly recommend their chocolate frappe).
Songkran is Thai New Year, and takes place in April each year. This year we both experienced it for the first time. Google “Songkran” and you will find many great photos and write-ups about it and its origins online. Basically we were quite blessed indeed as we rode through the local area on our little rental scooter and got thoroughly soaked by both locals and tourists standing on both sides of the road fully equipped with buckets and hoses. We were both glad to have experienced this, and also to have experienced a ‘tamer’ version of it than we might have at a more ‘touristy’ location.
Altogether a novel experience, one that will have you laughing and shrieking and, indeed, letting go of ‘bad luck’ to embrace the harvest of the present moment.
We ventured out most mornings on our rental scooter to eat. Most places cater both to the Thai and Western palate, which I love.
Amongst our favourites: Arlecchino, Boulangerie Chez Nous, Rawai Beach (right corner when you are facing the row of eateries), Baan Kanom. A very decent breakfast (along the lines of fresh juice, coffee / tea, a main dish such as muesli or eggs and bacon on toast, and fresh fruit) costs approximately NZD$10. A Thai-style breakfast (e.g. rice or congee with condiments) is approximately NZD$4-5 – worth every savoury, flavourful bite.
If you aren’t an early riser in Thailand it doesn’t matter either, for there is never a shortage of food and restaurants seem to be ever open for business. And if a big breakfast ain’t your thing – you can always opt for a fresh coconut instead (swoon!)
You’ll find it hard to escape massage places in Thailand – we had mostly positive experiences, bar one where I drifted off to sleep in the gentle hands of my masseuse while Jarred reported feeling like he had been “mauled by a toothless bear” … maybe what you get when you look too strong ;-)
While a full body massage feels and is luxurious, and a good cure for heavy shoulders and a stressed mind, I think targeted massages are often underrated. A foot massage in particular is quite rejuvenating and works wonders for tired feet, and is much more convenient!
It pays to (1) check for cleanliness and respectability, if those things are important to you; (2) decide if you wish to receive a Thai massage – including contorting and twisting; (3) tell your masseuse if you’d like your massage to be strong, medium or soft. And of course don’t forget to give a little tip directly to your masseuse before you go :-)
See, eat, watch, and experience it for yourself. Reviewers online seem to love it or hate it, and having visited (we got the buffet, show and pick up package) I understand why. Definitely an Experience!
None of the photos below are touched up – it really is as cool and lovely to look at in real life :-)
On our last trip we really enjoyed visiting Phuket Walking Street / Lardyai so we went there again on our last night (a Saturday) in Phuket. Alas the market was a Sunday market, not a weekend market, so we were slightly disappointed. However we still enjoyed a brief stroll through the very quaint and charming street.
We went to another market after this, on the recommendation of a shopkeeper – Naka Market. A loud, sprawling market which for this introvert woman is stimulating enough to keep one up for hours without a sip of caffeine, so Lardyai remains my (and our) favourite so far :-)
Below are some pictures taken on our last trip:
Travel by scooter
There are many places which offer scooter rental in Phuket, most we’ve seen price them at approximately 250-300 baht (NZD $10-12) per day. We opted to hire one through our hotel as other places wanted to hold on to our passports while we had the scooter. They likely have good reasons for this but I wouldn’t recommend handing over your passport!
Phuket has its potholes and quirky driving antics but all in all we enjoyed exploring the place via scooter and would recommend this over taxi, especially in the neck of the woods we were in.
I’m sure no one needs to be told to spend some time at the beach! Warm, lovely water and plenty of Vit D are gifts for the soul :-)
Two other places we visited on our last trip (but not on this one) are:
When looking up cooking classes last year I came across a recommendation for Pum’s Cooking School on the popular travel website Nomadic Matt (which by the way is an excellent resource for travellers).
We did “Pum’s Little Wok” class last year and were not disappointed – Pum made cooking easy and fun, introduced us to the basic principles of Thai flavours, and we had a little tour through a nearby market and a delicious shared lunch of our creations afterwards.
Yes, I almost lost my appetite for a moment there …
Jarred gets top marks from me for presentation and taste.
There is a strong Buddhist culture and influence in Thailand, and their many temples are testament to that. A few I’ve seen are exquisite in their attention to detail and design, including the well-known Wat Chalong.
If you’re lucky you might get to witness the firecrackers:
And that sums up our highlights … hope you enjoyed reading it and that it gives you some inspiration to visit amazing Thailand!