Welcome to the land of smiles (Part 1)

Phuket

We set off on our trip from Cape Town and stopped over in Johannesburg. I have this tradition. Whenever I’m at Cape Town International I have a Spur breakfast (the only time I ever go to Spur), but I just love watching the planes from there. Tradition number two is when I’m at OR Thambo. I like to grab a beer at the Irish pub. So as usual, that’s what we did. However on this occasion, we failed to take the time into account.
Casually we walked down to passport control, standing in line having a chat, when we heard someone calling our names out in panic. Our flight had boarded and they were waiting for us at the gate! They rushed us to the front, stamped our passports and we ran to our gate. We were the last people to board, everyone was seated already and looking all red faced at us. Embarrassing! Not to worry though, we made it, and we were on our way to Hong Kong.
After what felt like forever, we landed in Hong Kong. We had 1 hour to get to our next gate and we were not planning to go through the same thing there as in Johannesburg. Problem was though, we landed at gate 5 and had to get to gate 500 and something and Hong Kong Airport is massive! Luckily there were English signs posted all over, but asking the staff for help was a little more difficult than we anticipated due to the whole language barrier. After taking trains and getting a little lost, we made it! On time!

best western karon

The Boeing has landed, in Phuket.
We booked a package deal with iGo Travel, which was great. They arranged everything; flights, accommodation and transfers. A little warning about the traffic in Thailand would’ve been great though. At first I thought it was just our driver, but then realised that’s just how people drive there. At one point I was convinced this was the end for me, so imagine my relief when we reached our accommodation in one piece. We stayed at the Best Western Phuket Ocean Resort in Karon beach. Our room was comfortable and well equipped. The resort has two lovely pools to lounge at. At one of which you can see the Big Buddha in the distance, and they had a quaint pool bar, which we fully utilised on arrival. Karon beach is more on the quiet side of Phuket. If you are looking for a night out, I’d rather recommend heading to Patong.
Later that evening we were sitting outside our room with a G&T when we heard music pumping. We thought it was a club close by, but on closer inspection, it was a tuk tuk. So we got in the tuk tuk and went to Bangla Road in Patong. So here we are, two girls in the party street of Phuket, looking for a bar to have a drink at. As we were walking we saw some lady boys. Very fascinated with how amazing they look, we asked to take some photos with them. Do not do this! They will harass you for money and will chase you down the street. As we were running away, we ducked into a bar in an alley way. This was another mistake. We ended up watching a ping pong show. If you were thinking you’re going to watch people playing table tennis, you are in for a big surprise. After having the shock of our lives, we found an Irish pub who had a very amusing cover band. We ended our night with a night cap at the hotel.

streets of Phuket

Up the next day to have breakfast and meet with our ground agent for some tips and suggestions on what to do in the area. Breakfast was great and we managed to book a kayaking trip for the next day. Jet lag, and last nights party, hit all at once. We went bargain hunting and shopping, because we had hardly packed any clothes. Going to Thailand with a suitcase full of clothes is just silly. Everything is so cheap and if it’s not cheap, you bargain it down until it is.
As we were walking along and shopping, we decided to try one of the many massage parlours. We were on a tight budget thus decided to go for the cheapest massage, being the Thai massage. This was very uncomfortable and at the same time very amusing. This is not relaxing AT ALL! I had no idea my legs could go behind my head. The good thing is, when we went to the beach afterwards, I was so tired from the massage that I slept for almost 2 hours. We went back to the hotel after that, and had an early night, as we had to get up early the next day for the kayaking.

kayaking thailand

Kayaking day has arrived. The company picked us up early at the hotel. It took us about an hour or so to get there. Everyone boarded the boat and we headed out into the Andaman Sea. It was incredible, we went kayaking into hidden bays, exploring the darkest, narrowest and scariest caves ever. Some of the areas were so narrow they can only be reached during low tide and even then you have to lie down with your nose almost scraping the rocks. It’s beautiful and peaceful, with the odd monkey hanging around. Our last stop was Bond Island. I am the biggest Bond fan and the Man with the Golden Gun is one of my absolute favourites, however, I was disappointed. It’s overrun by tourists and is a very small rock in the middle of some larger rocks. I think I just expected something magnificent and it was just okay. There was a storm coming in so we had to cut our trip short and headed back to the main land. I do recommend booking with Andaman Sea Kayak. They served us traditional Thai food on the trip and supplied us with waterproof bags for our phones and cameras. They even gave us a very entertaining tutorial on how to make animals out of towels.
Later the afternoon when the storm passed we went to the hotel pool for drinks. This is when we made friends with a few Namibians. What a great bunch of people. We ended up hanging around the pool with these lot until 3am.

bond island

The next day our new friends went on a fishing trip and I slept late for a change. Later the day we went shopping some more and hung out at the beach. That afternoon our new friends came knocking at our door with fresh tuna in their hands. They arranged with the hotel to prepare it for us for dinner that night. They were kind enough to prep some sashimi as starters and grilled the rest. Best tuna I had in a while. After dinner we went to see what Karon’s night life had to offer us and apart from the man dressed as a girl conning a drunk Australian, there was not much happening, so back to Bangla road we went. Tiger Bar was just fabulous. The dancers are amazing, the drinks a little expensive, but well worth the visit.

phi phi island

Our last day in Phuket, before heading off to Phi Phi Islands for two nights. We had early breakfast, packed up and said good bye to our new friends as we waited for our transfer to the ferry. I didn’t really know what to expect, as this was the first time that I would get onto a ferry. How stable is the boat? Am I going to get sick? Can it take so many people and their luggage? What if my bag falls off? Safe to say, it wasn’t that bad. I didn’t get sick, my bag didn’t fly off and there’s more than enough space for everyone.
Phi Phi is nice, a small place so I wouldn’t spend more than 2 nights here. You can walk from the one side of the island to the other. There are lots of shops, but it’s mostly the same stuff in each one. We stayed at the Bay View Resort which was fine. We had a nice view and breakfast was great, just take some bug spray with you as mosquitos are a bit of a problem.

phi phi islands

The next day we went on an island hopping tour. We went to Monkey beach, Maya Bay, and various other places. Maya Bay is unfortunately overrated and again, overrun by tourists. If you where hoping to see The Beach (it’s no longer like the movie), be prepared for masses of people and boats. There’s hardly enough space on the beach to put down your stuff, never mind getting a tan.
We went snorkelling on the trip too, which was great, however it was sad to notice the coral was starting to die out. We did however get to see some interesting tropical fish in their natural environment.
Lastly we got to have squid which was freshly caught and prepared on an open fire in a clay pot, by some of the locals. This is not usually part of the tour, but we made friends with our guide and he treated us to this delicacy. This was the best food I had overall in Thailand. They made this very light and spicy chilly sauce/salsa with the squid that I just couldn’t get enough of.

real thai food

Later that night we had dinner at the hotel, which was nice, but a little bit too romantic for two friends just having a meal. After dinner we went to a local bar where we managed to befriend some more locals. Sad to say this friendship didn’t last long as I got bored having look at a Rasta’s 1000 selfies. It’s safe to say we had another early night, which wasn’t such a bad thing as we had to take another ferry the next morning to Krabi.
To be continued.
Flights was booked with Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon
Travel was during the month of June.

Click the link to book accommodation

Booking.com

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