Hey guys, I’ll have a running related post up tomorrow! Till then, here’s a vacation recap :)
This is post 4 in a series on my recent Southeast Asia trip. To read about our last day in Singapore, click here.
Some Travel Notes About Phuket
– Climate: Phuket is an island off the coast of Thailand, and it serves as a popular resort/ beach destination for many countries in the area. The climate is warm all-year round; when we were there in mid-October, the temperatures rose to the mid-80s during the day, and got a little cooler at night. It does have a monsoon season around Sept-Oct, so check the forecasts before you go.
– Language: Because tourism is the greatest source of income and jobs in Thailand, you’ll find that most people can speak at least a little English. The people working at the resorts/ hotels and tourist attractions speak English very well, and we had no problems there. We did find somewhat of a language barrier when we ate at restaurants not catering to tourists or when trying to explain to a tuk tuk driver where we wanted to go, but we managed to communicate by pointing at menus, using hand gestures, or we just ended up taking a little adventure that day :)
– Money: The currency of Thailand is the baht, which equals about three U.S. pennies (~32 baht to a dollar). We took out cash from the ATMs at the airport and ended up paying with mostly cash around town – we used our credit cards for only big purchases, like the hotel or day-long trips.
– Transportation: There are taxis, shuttles, and tuk tuks (motor rickshaws) all around Phuket, so you will not have any trouble getting around. However, most of these vehicles don’t have meters, so be sure to negotiate the price with your driver before you get into the vehicle. You can look up how much your trip should cost online. Tuk tuks are much cheaper than taxis, but they have no seatbelts or air conditioning and are not fully enclosed, so they are potentially less safe. We spent a LOT on transportation during our four days in Phuket!
We slept in on Saturday in Singapore, knowing that our flight wasn’t leaving till noon. After a leisurely last breakfast, we said goodbye to the Fairmont and headed to the airport on the MRT (Singapore metrorail system). To our surprise, the security at the airport was really relaxed – no need to take off our shoes, jackets, liquids out of the bag. I think I could have brought a full water bottle through security with no problem. That’s not to say they didn’t screen our luggage and have us walk through a metal detector, but the process was much faster than what we were used to in the U.S.
When we arrived in Phuket, we had no trouble finding a taxi to take us to the hotel. At this point, it was about 2 PM and I was quite hungry. So imagine my irritation when our taxi driver stopped about 20 minutes into the trip to take us to his boss, who pushed us to book our taxi to the airport with her company! She kept saying that it was a great deal, much cheaper than the hotel’s rate, so we quickly agreed. But when she tried to sell us taxi rides to local attractions, I put my foot down and said we needed to get to the hotel so we could eat. I appreciate that the local economy depends on tourism, but it wasn’t a pleasant feeling to face a pushy and aggressive selling strategy. Especially when hungry.
We arrived at the Le Meridien hotel an hour later, and I immediately felt better when we got into the cool air of the lobby and were handed cool towels and delicious fruit juice!
To our surprise, we were given an upgrade to a suite again! I think it helped that we were traveling off-season, but we were very grateful and appreciative to be given such a nice room. The best feature was the private balcony with huge and comfortable lawn chairs, perfect for reading outside!
We quickly explored the property before heading to the beach to grab some lunch. We were impressed by the huge pool and gym, which offered daily fitness classes! I, however, did not visit the gym once during our stay <== slacker.
We enjoyed a delicious rice and shrimp stir-fry wrapped in an egg wrap, pictured above, and then we headed back to our room to unpack and shower. We also needed to do some laundry at this point, so Mike took a bag of laundry up the street to a launderer (is that what they’re called?). We had done a little research beforehand and found out that it is really cheap to get your laundry done in Thailand – you take it to a launderer (I’m sticking to it now) who will wash, dry and fold the clothes for you and you’re charged by the kilo. All in all, we paid about $5 to get 7 pounds of clothes washed.
After dropping off the laundry, it was time to get ready for Phantasea, a big show/ carnival and a main tourist attraction in the area! We loved the taxi driver that took us there – Mike left his phone in the taxi and was panicking that he lost it, but the taxi driver hurried back to the show and walked around until he found us so he could give the phone back! We were so grateful and Mike was able to enjoy the show without worrying. It was a great reminder to me that while it is natural to feel nervous in a foreign country, and there are people who will take advantage of you if they can, there are still plenty of honest people as well. I’ve found that to be true both at home and abroad.
We walked around the carnival grounds before the show started, and enjoyed the festive atmosphere. My only misgiving was that they have some exotic-looking animals around, and while I’m not opposed to well-designed zoos, I felt uneasy seeing white tigers pace around a marble and glass room that clearly looked nothing like their natural habitat. What do you guys think about this?
Soon, it was time for the show! We headed into the amphitheater and checked our camera and phones as photography was strictly prohibited during the performance. The show had been described as a Thai version of Cirque du Soleil, but I think it was more of a dance/ singing performance with acrobatics and elephant acts thrown in. It was a very entertaining show, and we couldn’t believe how talented the elephants were!
Afterwards, we walked around a little more, took some pictures, and called it a night.