Good morning fellow readers! My close friend has recently returned from an incredible trip to Thailand and couldn’t wait to share her experience with me. Hearing all of the amazing things she has encountered in paradise, I thought it was a good idea for her to share the experience with you all. So here it is, enjoy! 🙂
First of all, I am very excited to be writing this guest post for an inspirational travel blog such as “Postcards From Around The World”. I recently returned from a trip to the sensational island of Phuket, Thailand and had hoped to share my experience as well as provide a little insight into this beautiful country.
This being my first time going beyond the Middle East and into Asia, I was full of excitement, anticipation and curiosity. All I had known of Thailand was Pad Thai, Thai massages (with or without so called happy endings?) and elephants… all of which I was determined to expand my knowledge upon. I’m not sure if I knew what to expect and to be honest I must have checked the weather forecast for Phuket a million times before take-off. However I was reassured that despite the ominous cloud icon of the weather report, spotty weather leading up to Thailand’s rainy season was typical, and the appearance of sun tended to be more often than not. Regardless of the forecast though I was just pumped to eat a bunch of tropical fruits whose names I couldn’t pronounce.
Just a mere 6 hour plane ride from Abu Dhabi International, we were transported to the tropical paradise which is Phuket. Lush rolling hills covered in green and surrounded by ocean was a welcoming sight from the arid desert of Abu Dhabi. The airport itself was easy to navigate for the massive amount of tourists flowing onto the island. A short stop at customs and we are ushered to a taxi booth where you provide the name of your hotel and prepay for a fare (500-600 Thai baht = approximately 13 Euro), to your intended destination. My first surprise was when the driver hopped into the right side of the cab and continued to drive on the left as they would in the UK.
Just as the sun set, clouds began to roll in and the promise of rain seemed eminent when we arrived at Sala Resort and Spa in Mai Khao. The front area of the hotel was nothing short of breath taking. The stone path leading to the reception area was surrounded by reflecting water and encompassed by trees, plants and orchids, as if you were walking straight into the jungle. The hotel staff greeted us with traditional Thai flower garlands and refreshing ginger lemon grass beverages while we were being checked in. At this point I was in absolute awe, I had never felt this pampered in a foreign country before, therefore my expectations had certainly been set for the remainder of the trip.
The first morning we had pre booked a speed boat tour through Rak Talay Travel of the Similan Islands; a National Park consisting of 8 islands located closer to mainland Thailand than they are to Phuket itself. Though our mini bus transport was rather long and we were an hour behind schedule, I enjoyed the scenery along the way none the less. Once on the boat we sped into open waters where the cloud cover was actually welcomed and in approximately 45 minutes we arrived at the first and largest island. The moment the islands came into view as if by some sort of magic the sun appeared and the turquoise blue waters of Thailand only seen in photos materialized before my eyes. Countless other speedboats offloaded the tourists that sprinkled the shore, many more than I had expected. We were given an hour on the island to swim, sunbathe and venture up barefoot to a rock formed viewpoint overlooking the beach below.
In the blink of an eye we were back on the boat, stopping briefly at two other islands to snorkel and swim in deep crystal clear water. At the final island we were provided a Thai style buffet (included in the tour) which we happily ate in the shade of the massive trees. As the tour reached its end we reluctantly left the islands behind us, parting from this slice of heaven and headed into a late afternoon rainstorm. That night at our hotel we enjoyed a Thai food tasting event where I feasted on endless tropical fruit and Thai desserts. One of the desserts I particularly enjoyed was ‘Khanom Sod Sai’” – a sweetened coconut pudding made with coconut milk, stuffed with dark coconut residue, wrapped in a banana leaf. I will officially be dreaming of this for years to come.
Our second day we booked a tour later in the day so that we could explore the hotel and use their beach front and pool side amenities. We were recommended the Siam Safari Nature Tours, a well-known elephant safari / cultural tour in the south of Phuket, below the Big Buddha. Another hour long ride to the bottom of the island was again a small price to pay for the treat that was in store. Upon arrival, each tour group is presented with an adorable complementary tote bag. The tour itself consisted of multiple demonstrations, from the process of making coconut milk, oil and residue, how rice is farmed and separated for consumption, tasting delicious Thai tea and coffee (made with sweetened condensed milk), a brief cooking class to learn and sample traditional Thai curries, tapping gum trees and finally meeting the most anticipated inhabitants, the elephants.
Each of the 18 elephants were accompanied by a ‘mahout’ or trainer who guides you and their large counterpart on a 30 minute trail through the jungle. Our elephant “Boso” was quite graceful except for her constant need to itch herself on giant boulders, tossing us about like ragdolls! Afterwards we were able to take photos and feed our ever ravenous new friends, and then fed ourselves at yet another Thai buffet (again included in the tour). Torrential rains accompanied us on our journey back to the resort, amplifying the amount of motor bikes and scooters taking refuge in small shops along the road. I was repeatedly grateful for the rain’s willingness to hold off until the evening, I can’t imagine that trekking on elephants in the rain is as enjoyable!
Our last day was spent at the beach and pool. In anticipation for our evening flight, the hotel was more than happy to accommodate a late check out, secure our luggage and provide us full access to their spa to shower and freshen up before we left. Our last treat were whole coconuts sold by a small vendor outside of the resort, enjoyed in the sand while revisiting the utter awesomeness we had just experienced over the past three days. My original pondering of Pad Thai (just as good as you would imagine), Thai massages (minus the idea of happy endings) and Thai elephants (giant itchy mammals who love swallowing melons whole) had been wholeheartedly answered, the only question remaining was…when was I coming back??
- Siam Safari Tours: http://www.siamsafari.com/tours
- Similan Tours – http://www.phukettoursdirect.com/similan-islands-tours
- Sala Resort: http://www.salaresorts.com/phuket/default-en.