Beaches of Thailand

March 22, 2008 - Phuket, Thailand

Yay, finally we get to visit some Thailand beaches!  For our last days in Thailand, we really just wanted to relax and hang out on the beach.  So we headed south to Phuket. This was really just as a jump off point as we did not want to spend too much time in Phuket, itself.  We had heard from friends that Phuket would be way to crowded for our liking, so the plan was to get to out of there as soon as possible :)

We were not at all prepared when we arrived in Phuket (sometimes the best way to do it). Our first task was to get accomodation for the first night.  So when we landed, we headed straight to one of the travel agent booths at the airport.  The travel agent was quite helpful and found us a hotel near Patong beach in Phuket (Dave: picture Grand Bend 100 times over, on steroids with very few rules).  It is difficult to get a hotel right on the beach in Phuket.  There are a few 5-stars on the beach but the rest of the hotels are separated from the beach by a road.  Our hotel was on the other side of the road and up the street :(  Patong was basically what we expected...lots of hotels, shops and tourists!  However, it was nice to see how Phuket had recovered from the Tsunami.  You'd never know it was hit just a few years ago! 

On our night in Patong, our first action item (Dave: 'action item'!!! clearly Namita is back in work mode) was to figure out where to go from Phuket.  This was not an easy task!  Koh Pi Pi and Krabi were logical choices, however, we heard Koh Pi Pi was very crowded and Krabi was a bit too far.  In the end we visited a travel agent who recommended that we go to Raya Island - an island that is a 30 minute boat ride south of Phuket with beautiful beaches and only three resorts. It has far fewer tourists compared to Phuket and Koh Pi Pi.

After that was settled we decided to see what the night life in Phuket was all about.  Bangla Road, which is the main strip in Patong, is where all the action is.  There are tons of bars and restaurants, all of them with music blaring and some of them with "female" dancers on stages out front of the open air establishments.   Dave, Rupesh and I went into an area where the dancers were. It was made up of many small outdoor bars side by side. We sat down for a few drinks and just watched what was going on around us.  It was pretty crazy!  When the dancers weren't on stage they were mingling with the tourists and giving them glimpses of various body parts.  They weren't shy at all!  It was funny to see the older Chinese women tourists getting right into it, touching the dancers (inappropriately) and taking pictures.  We actually saw a couple of tourists with their kids, which we thought was also rather inappropriate!  Rupesh was close to giving the parents a talking to.  For a while we were trying to determine which of the dancers were indeed female and which of them were what the Lonely Planet refers to as "ladyboys".  After some time, one of the women who worked at the bar told us they were ALL ladyboys! I don't have to tell you that Dave and Rupesh were very disappointed and a little freaked out when they found out the women they had been gawking at weren't really women at all.  Really, these dancers looked like women! 

Raya Island
We left early morning to head to Raya Island where we would spend the next 3 days. 

Day 1: We were picked up from our hotel and taken to the meeting point where loads of tourists were getting on speedboats to head to surrounding islands - some were taking day trips and others were staying on the islands (like us).  After we boarded our boat we found out we'd be making a pit stop on Coral Island before heading to Raya.  We had heard that Coral Island was beautiful and had some greatsnorkelling so we weren't that perturbed.  Anyway when we got to Coral Island, Rupesh and Dave snorkelled while I sat on the beach.  I didn't have my swimsuit on and it wasn't worth changing for an hour of snorkelling.  We'd have plenty of opportunity to snorkel on Raya.  While sitting on the beach, I befriended Wim (who we later named "Fun Bobby"), who was from Sweden and staying at the same resort as us on Raya. Wim hit it off with all of us and hung out with us for most of the time on Raya.

We were very excited when the boat pulled into Raya.  I've never seen water so beautiful!  It was a deep green and looked even better with Dave's polarized sunglasses :)  As we came in, we knew we made the right choice.  We got off the boat (which was docked near the 5-star resort) and walked this very wobbly, floating dock before we were greeted by our driver.  He took us to our resort in a tractor!

Our resort wasn't fancy but very nice, and definitely enough for us.  It had a pool as well as its own little beach area.  Actually there wasn't much sand but the water was beautiful with good snorkelling.  Our room was basically a semi-bungalo (with porch) with electricity from 6pm to 8am. 

After settling into our rooms we went to lunch and Wim joined us.  After eating, Wim decided to head to the pool while Dave, Rupesh and I went snorkelling.  It was amazing how much there was to see and how close all the fish were.  As soon as we entered the water there were fish all around. So many varieties and colours!  We stayed in the water for some time.  As we went further out we could feel the drastic change in water temperature.  The water got quite cool.  Dave and Rupesh stayed out longer and after the snorkelling we just lounged near the water.

For dinner that night we decided to go to the 5-star resort.  When we extended the invitation to Wim he suggested that we meet earlier to have some whiskey (he had a bottle of whiskey in his room).  So we met back at our resort's bar and well, one glass of whiskey turned into two which turned into three, etc.  I of course stopped at one (not being a big fan of whiskey) and was slowly getting hungry. It took a while before I could get the boys up and out but we finally did head to the other resort.  Our initial intention was to walk there (we even had our flashlights) but it had started to rain so we had the tractor take us, not that it was covered or anything.  So, by this time, the boys were a bit loopy.  When we got to the 5-star, Dave wanted to go for another drink but I insisted we eat!  So the four of us went to the resort's restaurant which was very nice and basically on the beach.  Of course being a little drunk, the boys took a while to order and were giving the nice waiters a bit of a hard time.  For example, Rupesh said to the waiter when ordering the white snapper, "I want you to make the best white snapper you've ever made".  Who says that?  Anyway, we finally ordered our food as well as some wine and had a really nice dinner. 

After dinner we walked to the beach.  We hadn't yet finished our wine so we asked the waiters if we could bring our glasses with us.  I was suprised when they actually said yes.  I think they were just happy to get rid of us (as we were the only ones left in the restaurant).  The boys had planned to race down the wobbly dock that we'd walked on earlier that morning but then decided against it.  So we just walked to the end of the dock. Then the boys discussed jumping in the water.  Wim was the first to jump in followed by Dave and Rupesh. I had no intention of jumping in as we had already showered and just had a huge meal (Dave: Namita, always the practical one) but, after much convincing, I jumped in too. In the end, I was glad I did. It was pretty cool to be floating in the water, looking up at the moon and stars.  I just tried not to think of sharks or anything else that could be in the water.  While in the water, the guys thought it would also be fun to get onto one of the boats, somebody else's speedboat, that was docked nearby.  When it was time to leave, Dave and Wim raced back to shore on the wobbly dock. Fortunately neither of them fell, though I still think they lost a wine glass (they denied it).

Our way home that night was also eventful!  We obviously weren't paying close attention earlier that evening because soon after we started heading back we got lost.  While we walked around trying to find our way, we did however find a little store that was open so the guys bought more beer (how convenient)!  Obviously getting back was not as high a priority to them (can you feel my frustration?)!  Then finally, a Thai man on a bike (with buggy attached) drove towards us.  We decided we would stop him and ask for a ride. That's when Wim went running towards him and basically put his body in front of the driver and bike.  He probably frightened the Thai man.  Anyway, the Thai man was very sweet and drove us all back to our resort.  Dave sat behind him and the rest of us sat in the buggy.  The guys kept joking around with him.  When we got to our resort, we tried to pay our friendly driver, but he refused and kept saying "me happy, me happy" (as in he was just happy to help us). How nice is that?!  Then the poor guy - once we were all off the bike, including him, he must have hit the gas because the bike started on its own and ran into the bushes.  He also had a punctured tire - us westeners are a little heavier than the average thai person.  Nevertheless he still had a smile on his face and kept saying "me happy, me happy"!

Day 2:
The next morning Wim woke us up for breakfast.  Last call for breakfast was 10am and it was a few minutes to 10.  It was hot and stuffy in our room as the A/C had turned off already and we were feeling a bit rough from the night before.  Anyway, today was our only full day on the island!  After some deliberation, we decided to rent bikes and ride to some of the other beaches on the island. The whole trip I had wanted to rent bikes and now we were finally doing it!  The first beach we stopped at was only 5 or 10 minutes away.  This was a cute, little beach with a few hammocks and a restaurant.  There was an area to set up camp as well. We hung out here for short while before getting on our bikes to head to the next beach.  It was early during this stretch that I realized that what I thought was going to be a leisurely ride was going to be more like a workout!  It was probably 35 to 40 degrees already and we were making our way around the island, having to ride up and down hill.  The guys were doing much better than I and for the most part I lagged behind (the boys took turns staying behind with me to make sure I was ok).  Anyway, to say the ride was rough would be an understatement!  It was more like spinning class times 10!  There were definitely a few times I thought I just wasn't going to make it!  Near the end I was getting especially tired and ended up falling twice!  I nearly fell a third time but thankfully avoided it.  We were making our way down a fairly steep hill and Dave and Wim went first.  Rupesh had me go next.  Well, I ended up going down the hill a little too fast, passed Wim and Dave (who had stopped after the first hill), and continued down the second hill.  I should have put on my brakes but I was too busy focusing on not falling.   Dave said that when I passed them I was going quite fast and had the look of fear on my face.  If I had fallen I would definitely have broken some bones!  Anyway, after some more riding we finally made it to the second beach.  We all could not wait to jump in the water!  The tough ride to the beach made it all the more sweeter!  Jumping in the water that day is a moment I'll never forget. 

We basically stayed on the beach all afternoon into early evening.  We were surprised that the beach wasn't more crowded.  There was a Thai woman giving massages right on the beach so we took turns getting a massage ($10 for an hour massage!).  Nothing like getting a massage while looking out onto the ocean!  By the time we left the beach, the tide had gone out a fair bit and the beach looked completely different from when we had arrived.  Heading back to our resort, we took the shorter way through the island - a much more leisurely ride!

As soon as we got back to the resort we returned our bikes and headed straight to the pool.  We must have spent a couple of hours at the pool as we were all pruned up!.  For the most part we had the pool to ourselves.  It was a beautiful night and the stars were out.  At one point I mentioned that we could really use some wine so Wim went to the bar and ordered a bottle! After the pool we had dinner at the restaurant at our resort.  It ended up being a fairly early night as we were all pretty exhausted from the riding and the day at the beach.  It had been a really great day!

Day 3:
Unfortunately this was our last day at Raya.  We spent the morning in and near the water.  Dave and Rupesh snorkelled while Wim and I hung out closer to shore.  Then before we knew it, it was time to leave.  So we loaded up the tractor, said our goodbyes to Wim, and headed to the 5-star where we would catch our boat.  The boat ride back to Phuket was a bit somber.  I think it was really starting to hit me that my trip was coming to an end.  Once we reached Phuket we were picked up and taken to our hotel on Karon Beach, the Karon Princess Hotel. 


New Wat on Mountain
Paradise - Raya
Incredible Water
Our Resort

1 Comment

Kurt Richardson:
November 5, 2008
My wife and i are from St maarten located in the caribbean and we went to Bali for a week and when our time came to an end we were feeling just like you'll, but i can tell you it is a paradise on those islands so i know just what you guys experience was like.

From Kurt
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