place to go in Thailand (apparently not for Americans, though, because we didn't run into any the entire time), so we were picturing it to be like the Cancun of Thailand. It is most definitely not. Sure, there's a crazy party street, but the town of Patong is pretty small and there is exactly one high rise hotel. There are a few other beach towns on Phuket island, but Patong Beach is the most popular, and you can easily walk around it on foot. While it is a hugely popular tourist destination for Asians, Austrailians, and Europeans, most Americans only know of it because of the devastating tsunami that hit a few years back. You wouldn't even know it now; they say the area was rebuilt in less than 6 months!
This vacation was mostly about a free hotel stay (thanks Steve and Patti!!) and relaxing at the beach, but we did manage to have a few adventures along the way
. One day we rented a motorbike and cruised around the island to check out the other beaches. As you know, we've done this in many countries, but this was Peter's first time driving on the left side of the road. It was quite a shock, especially at intersections, but turned out not to be as difficult as he thought it would be. Being on a motorbike made it easier, I think, because in a car you have to deal with sitting on the right side and all of your controls are opposite. Anyway, we surivived, despite all of the roadsigns being in Thai as well. Another goal of the day was to see some Thai elephants. There obviously aren't any wild ones left in this area, but there are many places that you can go take a short ride on one through the jungle. Phuket is very tropical, and anywhere that isn't covered by beach or torn down for hotels, is overrun by the jungle. In addition to elephants, there are also gibbon rehabilitation centers on the island. We were torn between wanting to fulfill that fantasy of riding an elephant through the jungle and not wanting to support shady tourist traps that keep a bunch of elephants in less than desirable conditions. In the end we didn't ride one, but we did get to feed a basket of bananas to a baby for only 100 Baht (about 3 bucks). Still supporting the industry, I know, but she was so cute! She was also so sad chained up to his little peg, pacing back and forth. If you called her name, Lucy, or said "thank you" she would respond with a little trumpeting noise.
I was so excited to fulfill my dream of visiting one of those picture-perfect Thai islands that you see in calendars and on posters. We signed up for a boat trip to Koh Phi Phi Islands, one of the stops being Maya Bay, where "The Beach" was filmed. The boat ride was an hour, and there was a downpour right before we boarded, but the rest of the day had perfect weather. It was a little choppy out on the ocean, but not too bad, and the islands were amazing. Maya Beach was so gorgeous! The only negative was sharing it with another several hundred people and their boats. We expected it, but I could tell other people were disappointed. We also stopped in at Emerald Cove, where the water is seven different shades of beautiful turquoise colors, and Monkey Beach. Yes, there were monkeys playing on the beach, splashing in the water, and climbing the rocks. We didn't get off the boat because, "Monkey's Bite! Like a dog bite!" said our guide.
We had lunch on one of the islands and then got a chance for snorkeling. It maybe wasn't the best we've seen, but we were surrounded by colorful fish. Very nice. After that, the trip got a little rocky. When we climbed back in the boat someone was puking, and someone else had apparently done so in the water. Yuck! No more than 10 minutes in route to the last island, and nearly half the people on the boat were throwing up into little plastic bags. We were not seasick at all, but sitting in the middle of all that kind of weakens the stomach, you know? Luckily, we didn't. I don't know why people insist on doing boat trips if they can't handle it! It's not like it was stormy. I have to say that 90 percent of the pukers were Chinese. All in all, it was a fun trip and one of those special places in the world that we feel truly lucky to have visited.
We heart Thailand :)
With love M and P
Patong Beach - it's where the party's at! Although, if you know us well, you know that doesn't exactly mean the same thing for us as it did for all of the other Aussie and Russian tourists in Phuket. Phuket is