Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Oct.31-Nov 6 Week in Paradise

We finally made it to the west coast of Thailand, the coast that has made Thailand famous for vacationers seeking the perfect white sandy beaches & crystal clear waters. The Andaman Sea and many islands & coastal stretches here more than deliver. Now this is what I was looking for and why Thailand was at the top of my list of countries to visit in our world tour. So here is a run down of our week in paradise, feel free to feel jealous, but remember you are all living vicariously through us, so also find satisfaction in the great time we've had on your behalf!
Day one (Halloween): OK, so we couldn't care less that it was Halloween because we had just arrived to Phuket Island and we needed the day to explore. We rented motor bikes and toured the top beaches on the island (to decide which one we would move to the next day) and to learn about the many activities within reach of Phuket. We settled on Karon beach and found a nice room with a balcony overlooking the beach & the Andaman Sea. For 800 baht a night (less than $30) I'm not sure that we'll be able to leave! We spent our last night in Phuket town in our hostel room watching The Beach on our in room TV/DVD (not too much roughing it going on here!). If you haven't seen it (which we hadn't) it provides a fairly real view into the backpacker world in Thailand and features some of the most beautiful beaches. The "Beach" in the story was filmed on an island less than 2 hours east of Phuket, we hope to visit it.

Day two: I re-entered the underwater world with a refresher dive course (it has been nearly 10 years since I was certified) and got Andrew's feet wet. The warm crystal clear waters and spectacular sea life that make Thailand's west coast one of the top 10 dive spots in the world was enough to convince us that we would be doing some more diving here. To celebrate our terrific day we wandered up the beach to a spectacular restaurant where we dined on fresh seafood while the waves crashed on the rocks below. Tasty and affordable too, my crab meal was only 150 bat (about $5).

Day 3: We decided to slow the pace a bit and eased into the day with a continental brunch on our balcony. We made it down to the beach by 1:00 p.m. where I rented a boogie board & took on some serious swells. After catching a couple of big waves that carried me half way up the beach, nearly to the feet of the sunbathing vacationers looking on, I gained the surfer mentality, obsessed with catching the perfect wave. After a couple of good tosses, I took a break to enjoy a pomello fruit (local to Thailand, similar to a grapefruit but less messy & tastier-, maybe I'll import some seeds to North America). Andrew & I played some paddle ball as the tide came in around our ankles, signaling time to move on to the evening destination: a health resort in the south of the island where Sundays offer fresh fruit shakes and bevvies in the beach-front lounge with a live jazz band in one corner and trickling fountain in the other. This was one beach front locale where we opted not to sit beach front. In addition to the excellent live jazz we enjoyed the beverages (my new fav is gin & tonic which I drink only for the malaria-preventing benefits ;) and because wine is hard to find & very $$) and some terrific international cuisine. We were excited to see tortilla chips & salsa on the menu and some of the best baby back ribs I've ever tasted (I didn't say we were there for the health bit!). All this complete with potatoes (you can appreciate how happy Andrew was) and fresh garden salad with real homemade dressing (I think you understand what foods are hard to come by out here now). A perfect Sunday evening, save for the absence of the family from the hood of course (we missed you all!).

Day 4: Wow, is it only day four!? We woke early to travel northwest to a string of islands called the Similans in a national park only open 6 months of the year in order to protect the sea life & reefs. We spent the day jetting from one island to the next & snorkeling the crystal clear waters. We decided on snorkeling as Andrew won't have his certificate done until Thursday (day 6) and we couldn't pass up a visit to this national treasure. The sea life, beautiful beaches & interesting rock formations on some of the islands can be seen in our pictures.

Day 5: Andrew spent the day in class for his dive certificate while I spent the day doing what any girl would free of men- I went shopping and to the spa! If you have never tried Thai message, you are missing an experience!

Day 6: Another day out on (and in) the beautiful waters of the Andaman sea. We completed 3 more dives today so Andrew is now a certified open water diver. The dives were amazing: first dive to a sunken ferry where big schools of fish swam around us, second dive onto a colourful reef and the third dive along the rock face of an island jutting out of the sea. So many fish to look at! 3 dives in a day is a lot and made us quite tired. We look forward to doing some more diving in Malaysia after receiving some advice from our instructor Johann.

Day 7: La Gohn (Goodbye) Phuket, I will miss you! Today we will travel north & to Krabi, a beachside town on the mainland. Our time in Thailand is nearly up.