Day 18 – A night in Phuket
With all of our family visits behind us, it was finally time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. I mean, this is our honeymoon trip after all. We packed up our bags in the morning and headed to the Changi airport, but not before packing a few of our best friends: sunscreen, bug spray, and after bite cream. We’ve been told that Thailand’s bug situation can be bad.
We lunched at Peach Garden Noodle House in the airport. I had cravings for congee with shredded pork and preserved egg, and needed to satisfy my Chinese food hunger pangs. Dennis had the hot and sour chicken noodle soup, and we shared a few dim sum dishes as well. It was surprisingly decent for airport food.
We boarded our 100-minute Air Asia commuter flight to Phuket, where we would spend a night before heading to Krabi. Air Asia is quite dependable as a discount airline. It was only about $60 per person from Singapore. Don’t expect to get any free food or drinks on these flights though. The in-flight entertainment came in the form of one of the flight attendants singing.
Once we landed in Phuket, our first order of business was to arrange ground transportation. As soon as we exited the arrival gate, we were swarmed by a mob of travel tour vendors and taxi companies. We shopped around at several kiosks before booking our ferry to Krabi for $27 CDN each. We also booked our cab ride to our Phuket resort from the same kiosk.
Neither of us had been to Thailand before so we were both on high alert as we didn’t know what to expect. While we were on the way in the cab, our driver suddenly decided to pull into a random parking lot without informing us. A lady came outside and opened the door and asked us to step out. This caught both of us off guard. She asked Dennis to go inside to provide directions. Wait, isn’t this a cab driver’s job? In Thailand, apparently addresses don’t really make sense, and they rely on relative locations and landmarks instead. While inside, the lady kept asked him about our travel plans, where we were staying, how long we were staying, if we’d been to Thailand before, and even where we were going for dinner. Dennis provided very few answers as he was quite suspicious. After she called our resort for directions, we were finally on our way again.
We arrived at Royal Embassy Resort & Spa in Kamala Beach. We picked this based on its favourable reviews on TripAdvisor. There was one person working and one other guest staying at the resort. We essentially had the whole place to ourselves. We asked about the restaurant and the spa, but both of them were closed. The guy working there said it was their low season. That might have posed a problem had we planned to stay longer than one night.
Luckily for us, we enlisted the help of Victoria, our friend and a Vancouverite who had been staying in Thailand for awhile already. After cooling off in the pool, Victoria arrived with her friend Maddie, also a Vancouverite. We decided to go to Patong for dinner and drinks. Patong is Phuket’s main nightlife district. We walked up to the main road and flagged down a motorized rickshaw, or tuk-tuk, as the locals call it. The 20-minute ride to Patong would cost us 300 THB ($9 CDN). This was no ordinary ground transportation though. We were basically ripping along a single-laned winding road in the back of a mini pick-up truck, with no seatbelts or doors. These tuk-tuks come in all shapes, sizes, colours, some even with subwoofers and neons.
We walked over to Patong Beach and were just in time to catch the sunset. It was still really nice, despite it being a cloudy evening. Victoria and Maddie took us to Seahag, an upscale traditional Thai restaurant. Dennis and I were both excited to sample authentic Thai cuisine.
Wing bean salad tossed in spicy coconut and peanut dressing. We all LOVED this dish. The wing beans look like little ninja stars!
The above 3 items all came complimentary of the house: pork with garlic and pepper; spicy mixed salad; fried chicken cakes. I guess it was their way of hooking us up because their prices are a bit on the steep side. With the food we ordered and the free dishes, we were all beyond stuffed. We left the restaurant and headed down a street lined with outdoor bars. Surprisingly, many of them were showing the New York Rangers vs Ottawa Senators game. We stopped at one of them to get a round of Singha’s ($2.50 CDN each). We also played a pretty intense game of Ultimate Jenga right at the bar.
Left: A woman rings the bell at the bar signifying that she’ll be buying a round of shots for the whole bar. Most bars here come outfitted with big bells for this exact purpose; Right: Enjoying a round of Singhas with Maddie and Victoria
After a drink at the bar, we headed to Soi Bangla, a street lined with Go-Go bars. All of these bars have scantily-clad women (?) dancing on stages. This street was crawling with tourists, as this is the main street in Patong at night. While walking down the street, you should try your best to ignore the dozens of people trying to lure you into bars or ping pong shows (use your imagination on that one).
We ended up at IQ Bar for more drinks. We didn’t stay long as we had to be up by 6am the next morning for our ferry. We hopped into a tuk-tuk and went back to our resort and called it a night. All in all, it was a very eventful day in Phuket. We certainly didn’t see everything. But we felt like we got a good taste of it. Thanks again to Victoria for being a great tour guide.
Day 19 – Krabi aka paradise
It wasn’t our first choice to take a 8:30am ferry to Krabi, but in hindsight, it was actually a good call as it allowed us to spend more time under the sun. We woke up bright and early as we were told our ride to the docks would arrive at 7am. We started panicking as our ride was over 20 minutes late, and the company who we booked with wasn’t answering their phone that early in the morning. Our driver finally arrived and we were on our way. The direct trip from Phuket to Krabi takes about 2 hours by boat and is quite a treat especially on a clear day, since you pass by all the smaller islands on the way. We docked in Ao Nang, where we met a driver to take us to our resort about a half-hour drive away.
We were immediately blown away once we checked-in to the Amari Vogue Krabi resort. Located right on Tub Kaek Beach, it really is an island paradise. We were greeted by very welcoming and friendly staff, and were served iced teas and provided with cold towels right when we arrived. Our deluxe king room is very large, has a private balcony, and a great view.
We decided to go to Bellini Italian for lunch. It is part of the resort and located right on the beach. I ordered a Capricciosa pizza (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, artichokes, olives, ham, and mushrooms) and Dennis had an Australian beef cheeseburger. Overall, the food was decent, but nothing to write home about. We did make a mental note of the advertised 2-for-1 happy hour drink special for later that afternoon though. After lunch, we went for a swim, first in the ocean, and then in one of the five landscaped swimming pools. Then we laid around on the beach and did some tanning.
After an afternoon at the beach, we cleaned up, took a short power nap, and then headed back down for happy hour drinks. We downed 6 cocktails while watching the stunning sunset, and then headed to dinner at Vogue, the resort’s Thai restaurant. The dishes were quite unique and had good flavour, and the ingredients were very fresh.
It was a perfect day in paradise. We’re definitely going to enjoy our 4 nights in Krabi. We can’t wait to explore the other islands.
After waking up for a breakfast buffet and lounging around the beach for some tanning and swimming, we were off to a private cooking class at Siam Cuisine. Since we both love Thai food and we both love learning how to cook, it was only fitting to take up some lessons. We were picked up from our hotel by the head chef and taken to her nearby cookery school. Because it was just the two of us there that day, she gave us her undivided attention. In about 3 hours, we were able to learn to cook a total of 11 dishes. Although it sounds like quite a lot to learn in just 3 hours, it was actually really manageable. Most Thai dishes are made up of 4 core flavours: hot (chilies), sweet (sugar), salty (fish sauce), sour (lime). Once you understand that, you really just need to know how to work each of those elements to achieve the right flavours. We were pleasantly surprised by how easy Thai food actually is to cook. Using fresh, locally grown produce and ingredients, we were able to create some really delicious dishes. Here is what we made. We were essentially cooking ourselves our own meal. By the end of the lesson/feast, we were completely stuffed. For only $35 CDN each, it was quite a bargain. We even got to take home a recipe book that had all the dishes that we cooked plus more. If you ever find yourself in Krabi and have a love for cooking, you should definitely check out Siam Cuisine. Here are the dishes that we cooked:
We ate every single thing that we cooked. Knowing that we made it ourselves made the food taste even better. We’ll definitely be taking these newly learned skills with us back home for some homestyle Thai cooking. Dinner guests are welcome! After our cooking class, we headed back to the resort where we enjoyed the sunset while indulging in some happy hour drinks. We watched a Stephen Chow movie afterwards, ordered room service, and called it an early night as we had to be up early for our island hopping tour the next day.
Day 21 – Lobsters in Krabi
We were up at 6:30am to get ready for our 5-hour island hopping tour with Chokpaisan Andaman Sea Tours. We went for breakfast buffet again and were picked up shortly after. The plan was to explore 4 islands around Krabi, where we’d get to experience sandy beaches, snorkeling, sunbathing, and cave exploring. In the middle of the night, we woke up to some loud thunderstorms, so we weren’t sure how our day was going to turn out. But thankfully the weather forecast called for a clear afternoon, and it actually stayed true to its word.
We were dropped off at the pier in Ao Nang to wait for the rest of the tour group. Once the entire group of 8 arrived, we set off on the speedboat. We brought our own arsenal of bug spray, sunscreen, and water. Can’t be too prepared, right? The commute from the pier to the first island was short, but very choppy since there was some wind. We both had to focus on objects in the horizon to avoid motion sickness.
Although the speedboat tour was more expensive than the long tail boats, it includes a lunch, drinking water, and park entrance fees. Reaching the islands is also faster via speedboats. By the time we arrived at the first island, the other boats started arriving, and soon there were about a dozen other boats, each carrying about 8-12 people.
The first island we stopped at was Tup Island, where there were beautiful views of the water and another island that was accessible by foot as the water was quite shallow. There isn’t much to do here, but we stayed for an hour, so we hung out, took pictures, and found some cool corals and shells.
Have you ever made out shapes of animals from clouds in the sky? Well, it seems as though people can make shapes out of islands too. The next island we visited was called Chicken Island. It boasted a tall rock surface that was shaped like a chicken head. We stopped here to do some snorkeling, as the area was a thriving habitat for colorful salt water fish. It was both our first times snorkeling, and it was exhilarating. Not only do I hate swimming in deep waters, but I had to quickly grasp the concept of only breathing out of my mouth and through a tube. Once I pulled it together and figured things out, we saw so many varieties of fish around the coral reefs, even clown fish and a moorish idol (aka Nemo and Gil, from Disney’s Finding Nemo), and also sea urchins. The tour guides brought food with them so the fish came to us in schools. This is something we will remember for the rest of our lives. I kind of wished we had an underwater camera.
It was hard to top this island and the tour guides knew, so the third stop led us to Poda Island where we stopped to have lunch. We totally forgot to take a picture but we were exhausted, slightly dehydrated, and hungry. Our packed box lunch consisted of rice with a fried egg and spicy minced chicken. Once our stomachs were attended to, we started to explore the island. We saw a big group of people at one end, so we walked over and saw a group of monkeys. These ones were definitely not shy. We also noticed several tsunami warning signs as well as an evacuation route map, a grim reminder of the catastrophic disaster that killed over 600,000 people in 2004.
It was at this island where I realized we were absorbing the salt from the water after snorkeling. They should totally have fresh water rinsing stations at this island for this circuit tour. I couldn’t wait to go back to take a nice shower. At the same time, Dennis realized he was getting sunburned. We quickly dabbed on more sunscreen and sought shade for the rest of our tour.
Our final destination was Phra Nang Cave, located on Railay Beach. The limestone caves were grand and spectacular, and the cliffs are a international hotspot for rock climbers.
The tour may have only been 5 hours, but it was a fun-filled day, and we both experienced new things. Despite our efforts in protecting ourselves with sunscreen, the sun was just too strong, and we both turned into lobsters after returning to the resort. Where’s that after-sun lotion or aloe when you need it? Guess that be the first thing we will seek when we venture out to Ao Nang tomorrow. In the meantime, water, body butter and hotel body lotion will have to suffice.
This concludes part 1 of 2 of Thailand. Click here for part 2: our adventures in Ao Nang and Bangkok.