Ahh, Phuket. It was the last stop on our almost-as-long-as-our-honeymoon trip to Hong Kong and Thailand, and possibly the only place I wish we could have at just one more day. Whether this was because it was the last stop (and, hello, it is sad to say goodbye to a long vacation) or because of just how blissfully calm our few days there were, I’m sure I can’t say. But, regardless, it’s probably redundant at this point to say we had an awesome time there. We arrived at our hotel (in Kamala, not Phuket town, so it was slightly quieter in general) a little late for a solid day of beach-lolling, but did manage to head down to the water to say hello before we grabbed dinner at one of the many restaurants along the beach, careful this time to remember to apply our Thai 7-11-purchased insect repellent before dining.
Our first morning/early afternoon was occupied with a snorkel (for me) and scuba (for GP) outing with a company recommended by a friend who’d been there recently. Unlike the Great Barrier Reef exploration we did while in Cairns on our honeymoon, this dive was on a smallish boat where the majority of other people were either certified instructors or in the process of certification, which meant that each of us got a lot of individual attention. It was interesting, too, to talk to everyone and hear stories from the former au pair from Texas who had been living in Phuket for about four months, the Malaysian guy who shuddered when told the temperature of our beaches here in Santa Cruz and Monterey (he found the water temperatures that day in Phuket to be too cold!), and the Alaska native who was completing an internship at the dive shop (clearly, I’ve gone into the wrong line of work). When we got to our destination– a small rock island– the divers took off in small groups (GP had two guides!) and I had my very own personal snorkel guide (because I get something akin to reverse claustrophobia in open water, scuba scares the bejesus out of me). The entire trip only took about half the day (plenty of time to cower in umbrella shade on the beach later!), but we saw some pretty amazing marine life, from small barracuda, clownfish, and angelfish to an huge group of small yellow fish that swirled and schooled around GP on his second dive.
For the rest of that day and the entirety of our second day, we alternated between chairs on the beach (150 baht for both of us for all-day privileges, complete with a guy to adjust the umbrella under which we hid from the sun) and chairs on the pool deck at our hotel. Not a bad gig, if you can get it.
Our hotel was the family-friendly (and probably cheaper, but that’s just a guess) side of a dual-hotel resort that was run and largely occupied by Scandinavian families. It makes sense, I suppose: February in Norway is probably a little harsher, climate-wise, than in Thailand, so why not spend a couple weeks in the sun? (Oh, and they spent it in the sun. I saw plenty of people that had roasted themselves until they began to resemble fine Corinthian leather.) It was situated along the beach in the midst of plenty of other hotels, along the back of which ran the main drag through Kamala, with the beach to the front.
On our last night, we made sure to do two things that I had begun to consider must-do’s for our trip: (one more) stop at a roti stand for some banana-Nutella awesomeness (think crepes, but not a batter-based pancake) and releasing a lantern on the beach. We had had our first taste of roti at the night market in Chiang Mai, and I am fairly devastated not to have found a suitable analogue here at home (yes, crepes are similar, but the roti wrapping has a crispness that is somehow even better). It was easy to find a stand along the beach with a woman that was all too happy to oblige, so we took our treat and enjoyed it on a couple vacant lounge chairs (I mean, it was in the evening, so they were all vacant) with some wine coolers we’d bought at a nearby convenience story (because we are classy, duh). The lantern-releasing was something that I had read about before we took our trip, and we had seen lanterns rising from various locations in Chiang Mai, but hadn’t seen any place to participate until we made it to Kamala. Along the beach, not so far from the roti stands and the Bob Marley-themed bar, was a man advertising “magic wish balloons.” These were the lanterns we were looking for, the ones that (as our Chiang Mai guide had explained) people released when they wanted to symbolically let go of something and make a wish for the future. Well. Given that we were even able to take this trip because of a certain lacking, I’d say we had some letting go and wishing to do. It might have been a total tourist trap, or a completely inappropriate use of an actual cultural tradition, but we did it, and I went ahead felt feelings about it.
The next morning, we packed up all we had carried an accumulated over nearly two weeks, and made our way first to the Phuket airport, then on to Hong Kong, and finally home.
The rest of our Phuket pictures are here.
If you’re planning a trip to Phuket and haven’t seen The Impossible…go ahead and wait until after your trip to do so. Trust me on this.