Phuket Travel Blog› entry 49 of 251 › view all entries
May 1st, 2008 – by: cmgervais
After breakfast we jumped onto the super-convenient Express train to the airport. We went early so that we could A) check out the Malaysia Air lounge [we saw it on a video on the plane and it looks like a 4-star hotel/restaurant], and B) buy some duty-free "supplies" for our next stop.
The lounge was indeed all that and more -- I have never seen such a well-equipped and nicely designed airport lounge.
Our flight was short -- just over an hour -- so we passed on the meal service. It’s amazing that they have time to do the whole linens and silverware thing on such short trip. On American airlines, you are lucky if they throw you a bag of peanuts on a short flight.
We landed and quickly found our taxi driver in the crowd at the airport. I was a little surprised to be greeted by sun, too. We got a good deal on the apartment because it’s the “off season,” which means monsoon.
The drive to the apartment took just under an hour, and along the way we passed lots of built-up areas and beach exits. Phuket was one of the areas hard hit by the 2004 tsunami, but has rebuilt and is without a doubt, very much open for business.
The lady who owns the condo we are renting is Thai, but lives with her American husband just outside of Chicago. Just a funny coincidence. I found the place on GreatRentals.com, and knew from the photos it was going to be nice, but…wow. What a great home we have for the next month!
After settling in a little bit, we went out to explore the area and find lunch.
The beach was not crowded by any definition, but there were a number of (ridiculously tan) people playing on the beach and in the water. The red flag was out and it looked more like a surfer’s tide than anything a less-than-Iron-Man-fit swimmer should attempt.
We were hungry and stopped at one of the many resorts that lined the beach for a ridiculously expensive (by Thai standards) lunch. I had a salad (although you are not supposed to eat fresh vegetables in Thailand due to possible sanitation issues, I think it’s OK in touristy Phuket) and Steve had a cheeseburger. We enjoyed our lunch while facing out to the beach. Nice.
We walked back to the road, which was lined by shops and restaurants. There were many places to buy custom-tailored suits, and options for massage were aplenty, but we were looking for a grocery store.
It never occurred to me at the time (duh!), but sunscreen would have been a good idea. The road was exposed to the sun, hot and hilly. Steve started talking about cutting Phuket short to go elsewhere…
Hmmm, we need a car.
Since we were obviously not going to get a car quickly, we ended up hiring a cab to take us to the big supermarket in Phuket Town called Tops. It was at a mall that had an Office Depot and other familiar Western-brand stores. I get the sense that Phuket is ALL about tourism and creating a nice, sanitized version of the country for its visitors. I visited Bangkok, Ko Tao and Ko Samui many years ago and remember a very different country. I understand Ko Tao is very busy these days, but when Lisa and I went diving there we were the only ones on the boat. Ah, the good old days…
Anyway, the grocery store was great fun for me and we really stocked up. I loved the wonderful selection of fresh vegetables -- and there was a salad bar! Heaven.
Back at the apartment, I tended my sunburned shoulders with lotion, and set to my computer to research options for car rental. Everything is pretty expensive. The best rate I could get was $35 per day, and that’s for a full month rental! It should be less. I worked on this problem until it was time for dinner. Then I wanted to go have some SPICY Thai food!
We walked down to the beach area, and had a much better impression of the place this time. What seemed almost sordid in the daylight was now a very chill atmosphere, with little restaurants and bars prettily lining the beach (we were on a different beach from this morning’s walk).
We found a beachside place serving $3 plates of “Thai food.” We ordered and watched a woman on the beach send off some “lucky balloons.” This was a 3-foot-high paper (or lightweight fabric) tube attached to a simple frame and affixed at the bottom to a wick, which she lit prior to sending off. The heated air from the fire sent the balloon high into the air (Mike, you would have loved this). It was very pretty, but seemed odd to send these flaming contraptions into a populated area.
My Vegetables with Green Curry was good, but totally tamed down for the foreign palates I believe. I was frankly a little disappointed that my mouth didn’t catch on fire from my first bite. Steve had prawns in peanut sauce, which he said was also pretty good. We will need to find some real Thai food, though -- I am ready to be hurt by curry!
Tomorrow I will find a car, book some diving, and hopefully get a lead on some side trips to Cambodia and Laos. Maybe I will even have time to work some more on my sunburn, I mean suntan, when all that is done. Got to catch up to those brown people on the beach :^).
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