Wow! I can’t believe I haven’t updated this blog since 2007. Now is as good as any time to do it I suppose.
Hello 2009 and hello to a new relationship status! As of February 14th 2009 I am now officially engaged to be married to Donna. Most say it had been more than overdue, after all we have been together for almost 7 years. My excuse was that I was just waiting for the right time and the right place, not that it’s the right excuse but I wanted it to be somewhat memorable and at a place we would never forget.
That place was Koh Samui, Thailand. First time in Thailand and first time engaged, what could be better than that right? For those that haven’t been to Thailand you should probably note it down in your future travel plans because it is a wonderful place to go for a quick holiday. Plenty of nice beaches and lots of good food to eat, the people are friendly and a fantastic shopping destination. Just ask Donna who entered every single shoes shop in the three main cities of Phuket, Koh Samui and Bangkok. You think I’m kidding? Well I’m not! If you were in Thailand between February 6th and 22nd then you would have probably seen me outside one of these shoe stores standing outside carrying multiple bags of shopping with at least one pair of shoes in it.
So here are my mini reviews of Phuket, Koh Samui and Bangkok. It will be a four part article ending with an overall summary of what I thought of the Thailand experience. I don’t think it’s possible to write this in the one session so I will start off with Phuket.
Weather: I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of Thailand but I knew for certain that it was going to be hot and humid and that is exactly what we got. Stepped off the plane in Phuket and as the doors opened in the arrivals gate the humidity will slap you right in the face so unless you’ve been to any South East Asian countries before then you’re in for a shock. It was a probably a good idea that we arrived in the evening when it wasn’t so hot and there was a slight breeze which was enough to cool you down as long as you don’t move. The temperature in Phuket, Koh Samui and Bangkok were quite different, we stayed in Karon Beach while we were in Phuket and since it was a stone throw away from the beach you do get a nice sea breeze as soon as the sun goes down and the humidity drops a little bit.
Accommodation: This part of the holiday is important wherever you go but I don’t think you would need to worry about it too much when you’re Phuket, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of hotels and resorts on the island to cater for your budget. We stayed at the Diamond Cottage Resort in Karon Beach it is very much a Thai-style resort which is located on a hillside between the southern of part Karon beach and northern area of Kata beach, it is within short walking distance of the beach and Kata shopping. Along the main road it is ligned with many shops, restaurants, bars and atm’s. One of the many things I liked about this location is that it was not packed with Tourists unlike Patong which I will get to in a minute. If you’re young, single and on a tight budget then Patong Beach is probably your preffered location, but if you want a little peace in quiet at night when it’s time to sleep then Karon Beach is where you want to be. Diamond Cottage was a nice hotel even if you do decide to choose the basic room you won’t be disappointed, the cheapest rate that they had when we stayed there was 3,200 Baht which equates to about $140 AUD a night and if your budget allows for it then perhaps and executive suite for 17,000 Baht would be more for your liking.
Breakfast was included in our package which is always a bonus, the breakfast selection was huge, it caters for Western and Asian guests so there would be no problem finding something that you will like. The only problem that I had was that breakfast was served in their Ma-Prow Restaurant which is located towards the back of the resort and since it is on a hillside, a steep trek to your meal might not be your idea of fun in the morning. They do have another restaurant located at the front of the resort which is called Ma-Now Restaurant but only serves lunch and dinner. This restaurant has a little bar section next to the driveway which I think is perfectly situated if you’re coming back from a night stroll or shopping and you would like a nightcap before heading up to your room.
Although this hotel is situated conviniently between Kata and Karon as well as facing the beach, you don’t can’t actually see the beach which is a shame but like I wrote earlier it is only a short walking distance away. If you want ocean views then others like the Hilton or Karon Beach Resort down the road are available for you to choose from.
Activities: We had seven nights in Karon which I think is more than enough to visit the sights and do the tours available, I do advise however to shop around for a good deal and choose one that is within your budget. Donna and I didn’t know at the time but shopping can be left to the last minute if you’re heading to Bangkok, because that is where the bargains are. So if you’re smart and don’t want to pay “tourist rates” then Bangkok is your place. I don’t know if this is done with every hotel or perhaps only the bigger ones but there tour operators/representatives that hang around the reception area so they know if you’re a newbie and they will approach you to offer their services to drive you around the whole day for about 1500 Baht. Of course being new to the place we weren’t aware of this so after having our first breakfast in Thailand, we decided to head towards the beach and since 10 AM is still considered “early” in Phuket, no shops are open and there no tourists on the beach, just a handful of locals setting up their beach chairs. On our way back to the hotel, a guy named Dan approached us and in his hand was a laminated brochure which has pictures of the number of spots he is offering to take us for 1500 Baht. It’s similar to limousine service I guess which I thought was cheap enough so I paid him 1500 and agreed to meet him at midday so he can take us around. One of the places he took us was Prompthep Cape which is a spot with great panoramic views and a popular vantage point for watching Phuket’s spectacular sunsets but since we were there at midday, we didn’t get to see any of that spectacular sunsets. Looking back on it now it would have been another ideal place to propose, so whoever is reading this and you’re planning to propose, hire a drive to take you there at sunset and pop the question overlooking the magnificent views. Tell them I sent you! I can’t guarantee that they will know who I am but tell I sent you anyway.