in the morning, it was off to phuket with jp.
a lifetime ago, i went to phuket with some friends here in singapore. i was a different person then. and even if i went with good friends (with exceptions, of course), it wasn't really a good trip for me. so it's nice that i get to enjoy the place with someone who makes me smile. it was definitely a happier trip this time.
flying over phuket's seas, you get treated to a wonderful view of these almost mystical islands. it set my mood for the entire trip.
our hotel room was small, but nicely furnished, with a view of the pool area.
inside of that "bayong" were some beach towels, which we can take outside to the beach. convenient.
in the afternoon, we just laid on those beach beds the locals rent out for 200 baht for 3 hours. with some coconut and street food. phuket, like bali, had this really good set up of not having the hotels directly set up in front of the beach. this way, the hotel owners don't get "exclusive" access to a part of the beach. the entire stretch of sand and sea is open for everyone.
we also walked around and arranged to join an island tour for the next day. at 1700 baht for a whole day tour with free lunch, it was a good deal, actually.
when night time came, we went for traditional thai massage for 300 baht. massage services in singapore are notoriously expensive, so hindi pinapalampas ang ganitong pagkakataon. haha. the patong area is very commercialized. they have a MALL! it just goes to show how things change when a place gets really popular with tourists.
on saturday morning, we were picked up at our hotel and whisked off to the tour meeting point. we got on the speed boat with about 30 other people and toured around the islands. first stop was "the beach". yes, the beach were leo and crew shot that movie. in my opinion, ummm.. nothing special.
we also went snorkelling, and fed some monkeys. the highlight of our day, well, at least mine, was laying on the beach in the afternoon. this is the life! sun, sand, and a cold drink, and in my case, a glass of ice cream! i finally got some color on my skin, which was becoming a bit pasty from staying inside airconditioned rooms (read: office).
our dinner was super affordable crabs and some local thai food, plus to top it off, sticky rice and mango!
to cap off the night, we walked to that famous bangla road. no, we did NOT go to those "ping-pong shows". been there, done that.
so i have to thank jp for taking me on this much-needed break. although it was short, i got to make new (better) memories in phuket. we will definitely come back soon.
more pictures here
hotels: this map is very useful to check where you want to stay in patong. i went to tripadvisor to look at the reviews for the hotel we wanted to book. depending on your budget, you'll find a lot of good hotels. most, if not all hotels are within walking distance to the beach. as i said, you have to walk a little to get to the beach. ours was opposite the holiday inn and behind marriott. the area was quiet, as it's a few blocks off the noisy bangla road.
taxi: since i've read of some not-so-good experiences with travel from the airport to patong beach, i booked for transfer online. it's about 32 sgd (one-way), but the driver will meet you at the airport exit, and you get to ride in comfort in a nice car for that 1 hour trip to your hotel. you can also book in advance to ride a minivan with other tourists for a cheaper price.
going to the airport for the trip home, we decided on a minivan ride. we booked it the day before we left for 350 baht at one of those booths that offer the tours. the vans operate hourly, so you can choose what time you want to be picked up at your hotel. make sure you have enough time before your flight, the lines in the airport can get long. think: naia.
tours: along the streets of patong, there are a lot of small booths offering various tours. almost all the ones we talked to offered about 40-50% discount to the printed price on the brochure. i think the actual price of the tour IS the discounted price, they just want to make you think you're getting a good deal. again, depends on what you want to do. our tour was a five island tour of the phi phi islands on a speedboat. there's an option to go on a bigger (slower) boat, but it doesn't go to maya bay (ie. "the beach"). free lunch is included, plus mineral water and sodas are provided onboard the boat.
food: no tips here. the area is full of good restaurants offering a variety of food at a cheap price. but obviously, you have to try out the local food: pad thai, green curry (heaven!) and the mango/sticky rice.