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Phuket: Island Living

We traveled to Phuket and some surrounding Andaman islands in March 2010.  Our goal: beautiful beaches, delicious Thai food and coconut rum drinks.  Spoiler alert: Mission Accomplished!

Phuket is situated off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. The island is connected to mainland Thailand by a bridge. Phuket formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoyed a rich and colorful history. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign ship logs of Portuguese, French, Dutch and English traders.

We arrived the evening of Saturday March 20.  We started off on Sunday with a visit to Phuket town and the Sunday Market. Above, from left to right, are picturd a vegetable stall, a curry spice stall and a butcher stall. After the market, we went to Kata Beach and then back to the hotel for an early evening.

We woke up early the next day for our first excursion to Ko Phi Phi island.  Phi Phi is situated in Krabi Province in southern Thailand. The two islands that make up this group (Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le). The islands are famed for their spectacular landscapes – most notably the breathtaking cliffs, with tall sheer walls of limestone.  We snorkeled at the coral reefs of Maya Bay, a bay in the southwest corner of Pi Pi Le.  Maya Bay, which where the movie “The Beach” was filmed, has transparent seas and corel beds, which are home to a wide range of sea life.  Above is a photo of me on a beach in Phi Phi Don.

The following day we set out on another excursion to Phang Hga, to the north of Phuket. We’re pictured above cruising through the many karst islands of Phang Nga.

Our first stop was Ko Tapu or “James Bond Island.” Ko Tapu is a steep rocky monolith that lies approximately 200 meters offshore of the two-islet pair known as Ko Khao Phingkan. Ko Tapu found fame through the 1974 Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun”.   Ko Khao Pingkan is a tiny islet, with enough room for a short hiking trail, small beach and souvenir stand.

Out next stops on the tour were Hong Island and Panak Island, where we did some cave kayaking.  As you can see above, things got pretty tight.  This cave went on for about a one-hundred meters.

The long, narrow caves did not bother Laura (above), who – despite everyone else’s need for flashlights - put fashion over function by sporting her shades.

After cave kayaking, we cruised over to Lawa island for some more swimming and kayaking.  I swam, and Laura had some of our tour guides kayak her, to a small monkey beach on Lawa island.  I felt a little bad for the guy kayaking Laura, as it was very difficult to follow her ”close-enough-but-not-too-close” instructions at the monkey beach.  

On the way back home our cruise director gave us all a makeshift katoey show.

While in Phuket, we stayed a the Vijitt Resort, an all villa-style resort hotel situated on a private beachfront.  While we enjoyed exploring Phuket, we’d have had a wonderful enough time passing our whole stay at the Vijitt.  Above is a picture of us at the Vijitt outdoor lobby.

I particularly enjoyed the rum drinks served in a coconut.  Pictured left to right above, I lounge with my coconut, I order another coconut from my coconut guy, and I enjoy a walk on Vijitt’s beach with my coconut.

We also enjoyed “Fun Fun Hour” each day (above), when drinks were half price and band was full blast (above).

 

Laura, on the other hand, was all about the infinity pool overlooking the beach.

Laura (above) spent many an hour soaking in the saltwater pool.

We also enjoyed the outdoor shower in our villa.  Here I’m getting ready, after a tough day of snorkelling and swimming, for a cocktail reception hosted by the manager.

Pictured above, Laura and I enjoy a drink with Vijitt’s manager before dinner.

Mor Mudong, a hidden restaurant deep in a mangrove field made famous entirely by word of mouth. We heard about it first on Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods and subsequently read about it in his blog. While visiting Mor Mudong, Andrew samples stuffed mackerel, wasp larvae and stingray.  Getting there seemed tough.  The directions on their website say “start at the Phuket zoo, go straight on the Palai Soi [a dirt road], untill you see [another restuarant], then turn left.  Go straight along on the Mu Dong Soi [a narrower dirt road], you will pass a many restuarant…  After that go straight along on the road again, until the end of road.”  Fortunately, we told the manager that we wanted to go here and, after commenting that we in for some real local fare, he got us a driver who knew the spot. We were not so daring, not because we lacked the courage but more so because we barely had enough communication skills to order beer and rice. Mor Mudong is not really used to hosting westerners. We couldn’t do much more than point at pictures on the menu and take a wait-and-see approach to what came to the table.  As it turned out, our lunch was heavenly: steamed, whole kapong fish with lime; fried crab with black pepper, prawns with bean vermicelli noodles; and, fresh, raw prawns in fish sauce (mistake, but one I’d gladly make over).  Above, from left to right, is me before the meal, Laura with my fork-full-of-food in the foreground, and Laura after our meal.

Of course, all this favorsome food tasted even better paired with a frosty, cold Singha beer.

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