Phuket 2013

Saturday 13th July
3:30. Did you know there was a 3:30 in the morning? I did, but I thought it was time to go TO bed, not to be getting up! However, on this chilly Perth winter’s morning it was indeed time for the alarm to go off, for a hurried cuppa, and to be on the road to the airport. The roads sure are quiet at this hour and we enjoyed the rare excitement of actually being able to do the 100 kph on the freeway without any slowcoach idiots in the way.

We’d received an email from Virgin Australia a couple of weeks ago advising that we needed to get to the airport 3 hours early for international flights, not 2 hours as previously advised – you’ve GOT to be joking!

We left our car at the Car Port & Spa on Gt Eastern Hwy and the gorgeously cheerful guys there gave us the paperwork and then put us into their comfy shuttle bus and dropped us off without misadventure at the International Airport. At check-in we were told that our flight was delayed by 1 hour – the plane had had to call into Port Hedland to get fuel. Really??? And so much for arriving 3 hours early, just so that they could throw our early rise in our faces. As it happens, there were several announcements about flight VA 4149, and every single one of them was putting it back a little further than the one before. So the first FIVE hours of our holiday were spent admiring the inside of Perth Airport and waiting for the sun to rise.

After spending 4½ hours becoming acquainted with the inspiring (not!) scenery around Gate Five we were then asked to move to Gate One – how exciting! Something promising at last hee hee! The monitor then had some fun with us and said we should be at Gate Two, but it was just seeing who of us were actually awake and eventually went back to saying Gate One. We spoke with some other passengers and none of them had received an email asking them to be 3 hours early!?!?!? Oh how wonderful it is to have been specially picked for this honour!

Finally, our flight was called to board and we went through the doors and down the stairs, and down the stairs, and down the stairs… onto a waiting bus. Not quite what we’d envisioned to get us to Phuket! Amusingly, it drove us all along the apron up to, and past, Gate Five and we then had to walk across the tarmac and up into our plane.

Well, the flight was without remark and we were actually fed a meal and given free alcohol, for those who wanted it. We hadn’t been sure if we’d have to pay for food on the flight or not. However, it was a great relief to us that every single passenger had accepted the delay without emotion so a pleasant journey was had by all. At the far end we were once more put onto buses and driven to the terminus. Maybe Virgin Airlines can’t afford docking to the airport itself?

Once through customs at Phuket we looked for our driver. I had twice emailed the company from Perth to advise that our flight was delayed, and they had the flight details, so should have checked – however, the driver did not seem terribly amused so we presume nobody had bothered to enlighten him and he’d stood there for 2 hours holding the sign with our names, whoops!

The journey took about 40 minutes, which we had certainly not expected with how close our resort appeared to be to the airport on the map. But of course in Phuket, many of the roads have to skirt mountains, and this too was the case.

The final road to the resort was dirt with many potholes and the driver, who had obviously forgiven us for our tardiness by now, and had started to speak, gave us an apology for the state of it.

Our resort itself, at Bang Tao, was pleasant enough. The beautiful warmth of Phuket was truly welcome to our poor cold bones. Our room was a far cry from our expectations though and we had no towels, no tea towel, no shower curtain. One of the air-conditioner controls didn’t work and there were 3 air-conditioners and only 2 controls anyway. The toilet pan was stained behind the lid and the marble floor tiles had an unfortunate ‘stain’ (which was actually just the tile colouring) at the base of the toilet so that it always looked as if the toilet had been leaking onto the floor. The shower (jumping ahead, but keeping the topics together) didn’t drain very well and there was a hole in the wall tiles near the drain that water dribbled from. We had no idea where the water came from, and hated to think!

As the ‘greeter’ was showing us the safe, it just would not work. Eventually, David managed to get it to lock with our passports inside, but I may as well get mention of it over and done – it locked shut, never to open again the next morning! Reception managed to open it, but it then remained unlockable for the rest of our stay and we had to resort to hiding our valuables as best we could around the apartment. Not really what anyone would choose to do with their passports! We were told that they would buy us a shower curtain and a new safe ‘on Monday’ when they could get into Phuket Town, but Monday never came! They did, however, soon return with some towels for us. Just the human kind, not one for the dishes.

During faffing around with the safe, the receptionist rang the apartment owner who had apparently waited around for us to arrive and sounded most put-out that we had not arrived on time. When I told him I’d twice emailed his office to advise of our delayed flight he said he would ‘have a word with her’. I received an email from ‘her’ on Monday saying that she doesn’t work Saturdays, so I’m glad he’s not my boss!!! Anyway, he said he would send a car for us on Monday and buy us lunch so we accepted.

The staff at the resort, thankfully, were incredibly friendly, kind and helpful and there was a small restaurant run by an American named Jason and a Thai lady named ‘A’ where we enjoyed several very nice meals and many drinks during our week there. There was also a really *massive* and beautifully crystal clear swimming pool. As soon as Jason heard that we were new guests he raced to make us a complimentary smoothie and these were very tasty indeed. I chose a mango smoothie and David had a dragonfruit one.

We were both very hungry, having had a breakfast on the plane around 10:30am and it was now 5pm so, needless to say, we decided to have our dinner here and both of us chose Thai curries. One was a bit spicy for either of our tastes but the other, Mandamman Curry, was delicious and we practically licked the bowl.

After this we took a walk down another dirt road, as instructed on the little photocopied map they left us, and through a footpath to the beach to take sunset photos that turned out quite nicely.

Beautiful sunset at Bang Tao beach

Beautiful sunset at Bang Tao beach

We also went into a tiny shop to get some butter and jam to go on the bread they’d left us in the fridge, but the shop had nothing resembling bread spreads, either fatty or sugarry. We hurried back to the resort before dark set in because there were no lights down the dirt road, which was overhung with trees and would not have been fun to navigate at night because of all the dips that were filled with mud. We had a cuppa in our room and fell into bed. I think it was around 9pm!

Sunday 14th
I guess we must have been sufficiently over our early morning yesterday because we got dressed into our running gear and headed off to the beach for a run along the sand. This met with mixed success – I didn’t have the energy I’d hoped for and the beach, to the left, soon ran out. We could see there hadn’t been a lot of distance before we hit a rocky headland, but sooner than this was a shallow (but not shallow enough to cross in our running shoes!) river. I use the word river *very* loosely! We had no choice but to turn back and, only a few metres from the path where we’d entered the beach, there was another ‘river’. All we could do was head back to the road, walk along the frontage of the shops (more about those later – but don’t get your hopes up), across a bridge and down another footpath onto the beach beyond the second river.

We managed a bit of a run, with one brief, sudden stop because some dogs barked and started to rush us – fortunately with tails wagging. But before long there was another insurmountable water feature AKA overflowing canal. Oh well, we’d tried, so we went back to the resort and had a nice ‘full breakfast’ with another fruit smoothie each.

We know all about not exercising after a meal, but we were not exactly out in the ocean with potential rips or deep water, so we swam for exercise instead. It started to rain, which was fun, and I kept hoping it would rain harder because it was so tropically warm and wonderful in the huge pool. The pool was kept sparklingly clean and was definitely the best kept part of the entire resort.

Resort Pool

Resort Pool

Finally we went back up to the room for a shower and I had a nanna nap.

Having failed to purchase anything to go on our bread the day before, we decided to walk to the Tesco Lotus shown on the extremity of the local map. The receptionist assured us that it was “Much too far to walk” – the second person to do so – so we set off LOL

The road to the right of our resort was not only pot-holed dirt and dust, but some workers were digging large trenches down the side of it, appearing to be putting in (or repairing) a drainage system. While they worked with buckets and shovels [hehehe, I so wanted to say ‘spades’] there was a large yellow trench-digging machine sitting, useless in the overgrowth beside them.

The houses varied from very ramshackle to quite grand 2-storey, gated, brick residences. Every spot of vacant land was covered in lush green overgrowth. Here are a couple of things we saw along the way…

Bed? Chair?

Bed? Chair?

What Truck?

What Truck?

We took a left turn and I took a photo of the street sign to make sure we would find our way back again correctly, but we knew that if we got lost we could easily catch a taxi back again – the little wooden shelters with men watching TV or sleeping in hammocks were placed at very regular intervals and all pleaded “Taxi?” as we walked by.

Ornate Street Sign

Ornate Street Sign

Once we’d turned off of the dirt road, we had market stalls and small shops on both sides of the road to look at as we walked. It was warm and humid, but not unpleasantly so! We walked and walked, and were impressed by how few stall holders we actually had to ‘beat off with a stick’. It turns out that it was 2.74 kms – a far cry from ‘much too far to walk’. But it felt like an achievement anyway.

The Tesco was large and pretty well stocked. First inside the doors were some nice looking pastries, but they were not covered and the very few flies in Phuket had declared a meeting on them. Beyond this was the fruit and vegetables and we eagerly gathered some supplies – dragon fruit, mangosteen, grapes, custard apple etc. We also bought some bottled water – well, a large slab of bottles actually, and some savoury snacks. It was fun to see familiar brand packaging, but all written in Thai, and turned out to be a test on how much notice we took on a day to day basis at home so that we could choose our favourite flavours.

As we tried to pay we found that we should have had the fruit weighed and priced at the scale in the fruit department – whoops! The checkout girl was lovely though and made her meaning clear with her limited English, and much gesturing and smiling between the three of us.

Once we came out, David made it clear he had no intention of carrying 10 kgs of fruit and water 3 kms – well, not in those plastic bags that cut off your finger circulation anyway! So we priced a ride with a gorgeously smiley tuk tuk driver and agreed that he would take us back to the resort. My first step into the tuk tuk made the whole thing sway and gyrate madly, evoking a “Whoah!!!” from me, and a hasty grab of the framework from the guy that we presumed to be the boss. I had not expected this contraption to be quite as rickety as it was.

The journey home was fun, with the cooling wind blowing against our skin. It was also incredibly bumpy and bouncy and, although I was at peace and enjoying myself, my overriding thought was ‘if this collapses in a heap on the next bump, I wonder how much it will hurt?’ As we went over each bump, and there were many!, it went bounce, bounce, SKEW to the left, bounce in a perfectly jaunty and almost self-satisfied manner.

Once we got to the resort I asked the lad if he minded if I took his photo, as David gave him his fee plus a small tip.

Bike Tuk Tuk

Bike Tuk Tuk

We put the groceries in our room and decided that another swim was in order. As we aimlessly and lazily moved around the pool we ended up speaking with a New Zealand couple named Sheryl and Jon and really hit it off, so did actually chat for quite some time.

After this it was time for another shower and to wash the pool water out of our hair and then we went to take some botanical photos of the flowers around the pool.

David - Botanist

David – Botanist

Pink Hibiscus

Pink Hibiscus

White Hibiscus

White Hibiscus

Sunny Yellow

Sunny Yellow

Red Hibiscus

Red Hibiscus

For dinner, it seemed like a good idea to brave the dirt road and go to Nok & Jo’s for the cabaret buffet that we’d been told about the day before. We had discussed this with Sheryl and Jon earlier so when we saw that they’d beaten us round there we joined up and sat together.

The buffet was adequate. The food was tasty and cooked well, it’s just that the variety wasn’t what it could have been. But, as we were reminded in so many ways for the whole holiday, it was ‘low season’ so I’m not judging them. The drinks were really cheap and I indulged in a very nice mai tai. David and Sheryl indulged in a few beers, plus a few more, and Jon had a spirit of some description. David and Sheryl had had enough beers that when David made ‘please bring the bill’ gestures to the waiter at the end of the evening, he was misunderstood, (I think honestly so!) and 2 more beers were delivered LOL

But I’ve missed out mention of the cabaret. This was actually excellent. We didn’t need to visit Simons Cabaret this holiday, we had it included in the price of our buffet meal at Nok and Jo’s! The calibre of the… what do I call them? Actresses? I can’t say singers because, like Simon’s, it was all miming. But the outfits were beautiful, the ‘girls’ were stunningly beautiful, and their acts were extremely well polished. I’d decided not to take the good camera with me so all we have are a couple of ‘cheap camera’ shots. OK no, they’re awful so I won’t share LOL

I have deliberately not mentioned the décor yet because I will cover that tomorrow morning when we went back with our cameras.

So, having successfully received the bill in the end, we’d paid and returned down the dirt road to our resort. Trust me, I had taken a torch with me. Stumbling in the dark is absolutely *not* a part of my holiday plans, ever!!!

We indulged in a nice cuppa, and then bed was the order of the day.

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2 Responses to Phuket 2013

  1. Mal Daley says:

    Loving it so far, not one of your best trips so far but entertaining me well lol

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