Sunshine! Ouch.

Phuket Travel Blog

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Steve tries out the sofa in our new apartment in Phuket.
We woke up at 5am to get packed up and put our gear in order for the flight to Thailand. It's not like we have been buying lots of stuff along the way, but for some reason it gets harder and harder to get it all into our bags. I guess the warm weather means the jackets, sweaters, and pants are in the bags instead of on our bodies, and that little bit makes a difference.

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 kitchen.
There were various food bars set up, a big buffet, a coffee bar making lattes to order …incredible. At duty-free, Steve found a great deal on Remy Martin, and I picked up some tanner (finally! Not the kind I wanted but in Asia one can’t be picky about these things). Now maybe I won’t glow so brightly on the beaches of Thailand.

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 deck off our bedroom.
I was expecting a downpour and unbearably high humidity, but we got sunny skies. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very hot here, and the humidity is high. But it’s not as bad as Malaysia was and for that I am very. Very glad.

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.
Gasoline for sale in bottles.
We are on Kata Beach, not really in a town, which makes us both a little nervous now that we are used to an urban environment (with supplies and entertainment close at hand). Our complex is up on a hill, so we walked down the hill and towards the south, where I was lured by a sign that said, “To the beach.” The stairway was quite long and steep, and I was so focused on not falling and I neglected to look at the gorgeous scene in front of me until I got to the bottom. Then: wow! Bright blue water, white sand beach, surrounded by a palmy fringe… you know what they look like. Beaches are gorgeous!

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.
My first glimpse of beach in Phuket.
I walked down near the water while Steve walked further up (he hates sand and wasn’t enjoying the beach as much as I was!). I loved it! Off in the distance, I could see Poo Island, and of course just writing that makes me giggle. 

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.
Steve tries (unsuccessfully) to keep sand off his feet.
We could only find convenience stores that sold Pringles, cookies, and beer. A cab driver offered to take us to the supermarket in Phuket Town (and said he would stop along the way to show us some wild monkeys, for free), but we passed in order to keep exploring the area, still hoping to find the amenities we wanted. We came upon a dive shop with a possibly-soused-but-very-helpful English-speaking man (couldn’t identify his nationality, but probably English) who gave us some tips and confirmed that we needed to go to Phuket Town for groceries.

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.
Me, beach: happy.
  

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.
I need a tan!
Our bill was $100 (cheaper than at home, surely, but expensive by Thai standards I think). We signed up to get a membership card that will save us on future visits…just like Dominicks at home. 

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).
My shoulder. Ouch.
Sometimes it feels uncomfortable to be the only people in a big, built-up area. Since it’s the off-season, things definitely weren’t packed, but there were enough people out to make things interesting. There were no Thai nationals dining at the establishments, kind of confirming the suspicion that Phuket is all about tourism.

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.
Our pool area.
Steve and I craned our neck to find signs of home fires in the distance, but all was clear. 

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 :^).
kdjp82 says:
OUCH!!! Your poor shoulder!!!! I had a similar experiance in Queensland - was not good!!
Posted on: May 10, 2011
Anislaila says:
I am glad you had a lovely time. I had been to most of the beaches and my stay at cheap Phuket hotels was surprisingly very comfortable.
Posted on: Jun 01, 2010
cmgervais says:
All better now though!
Posted on: May 06, 2008
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Steve tries out the sofa in our ne…
Steve tries out the sofa in our n…
Our kitchen.
Our kitchen.
The deck off our bedroom.
The deck off our bedroom.
Gasoline for sale in bottles.
Gasoline for sale in bottles.
My first glimpse of beach in Phuke…
My first glimpse of beach in Phuk…
Steve tries (unsuccessfully) to ke…
Steve tries (unsuccessfully) to k…
Me, beach: happy.
Me, beach: happy.
I need a tan!
I need a tan!
My shoulder. Ouch.
My shoulder. Ouch.
Our pool area.
Our pool area.
Our apartment in Phuket. Entryway.…
Our apartment in Phuket. Entryway…
Our apartment in Phuket. (photo bo…
Our apartment in Phuket. (photo b…
Our apartment in Phuket, master ba…
Our apartment in Phuket, master b…
Our deck in Phuket. (photo borrowe…
Our deck in Phuket. (photo borrow…
Our apartment in Phuket. (floorpla…
Our apartment in Phuket. (floorpl…
The salad bar at Tops was tops in …
The salad bar at Tops was tops in…
Deck off the living/dining room.
Deck off the living/dining room.
Phuket
photo by: Aclay01