Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.
|Monday, March 05, 2018 01:29:47|
China, Thailand to Singapore 2018: 8 Phuket, Thailand
Monday, February 26, 2018
We were driven to the airport for the 55 minute flight to Phuket, which took us from the Gulf of Thailand in the Pacific Ocean to the Andaman Sea in the Indian Ocean. The Ko Samui airport was beautiful, most of it is outdoors with roofed walkways and open buildings. There are ponds, gardens with flowers and plants growing everywhere. Transport to the plane was in an open electric coach, much like a large golf cart.
The Bangkok Airways ATR72 was all economy with the tightest seating ever. The plane was full, and there was no hope of getting my legs into my seat. The kind couple in an exit row offered their seats, but that wasn't allowed due to my problem knee. They finally moved a couple from the back of the plane into our seats, then removed the aisle armrest so I could sit with my legs in the aisle. I needed to stand every time a service cart went by, but it did the job.
We were met by what turned out to be the best guide of the trip, nicknamed Gree. The first stop was in historic Phuket City, which was a major trading base for Arabs hundreds of years ago, and one of the first places inhabited by Europeans in Asia. The old buildings are in the Arabic and European style, and there are Buddhist and Chinese temples. About 100,000 Chinese were brought in after tin was discovered to work in the mines. This multicultural mix led to unique, delicious foods which combine Arabic, Chinese, South East Asian and European flavours. We stopped to sample the wonderful flavours at a number of small restaurants. The Chinatown area was still decorated for Chinese New Years.
It was an hour drive to the huge Katathani Phuket Beach Resort near the south tip of the island. The hotel had a screw up and there were no oceanfront rooms available, so we settled for another room for the night. It was late in evening and we were super tired.
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
After putting our valuables in the hotel safe, packing our bags and filling up at the huge breakfast buffet we were driven for 1 1/2 hours to the dock for the John Gray Sea Canoe on the north end of the island. The informative talk was well done and a shop was available to load up on beer and wine before 42 of us boarded the roomy 3 deck high boat.
Our destination was beautiful Phang Nga Bay, where towering limestone islands have been carved into astonishing shapes by wind and ocean. The only thing we have seen like it is in Halong Bay near Hanoi, Vietnam. A good lunch was served before we dropped into the inflatable sea canoes. Marilynn and I had one each plus personal paddlers due to my long legs, but generally there were two people plus a paddler in a canoe. We were paddled into sea caves, carved out of the limestone by the sea over centuries. After visiting a couple of caves, including one with many bats, we had a swim off the boat. Another cave we later paddled into opened into a lagoon inside an island, with high cliffs shooting upwards, then another lagoon entered through another cave on the far side of the first lagoon.
74 year old John Gray, the founder, was on the boat with us. I had a good talk with him, and found we had things in common, including shot knees from rugby days, and having started businesses with no money. He started with $26 and now owns a fleet of four big boats.
As we motored to the final cave, passengers and their paddlers created offerings to the sea god, consisting of banana leaves, bright flowers, incense sticks and candles. A delicious buffet dinner was served as the sun set, then we boarded canoes to paddle about 250 meters (820 ft) into a sea cave, where candles and incense were lit and floated in the sea. It made quite a sight. On the way back to the boat the water in the cave was bright with phosphorescence. It was a very happy group of passengers that arrived back at our starting point to be driven to our hotels. I'd highly recommend this tour as a great value. Back at the hotel we were given keys to our current room and fell into bed, exhausted.
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Once again we packed to be moved to our final room. Gree and our original driver were there early for a tour of the parts of Phuket we had not previously seen, including lookouts, beautiful beaches and a very good lunch at a beach restaurant on the east coast. Gree had rearranged the planned tour to cut down on excessive driving time in the original Khiri proposal – something that our friend Han had pointed out as a flaw in our program as well. Today had more stops with less driving between.
Our final hotel room had a bottle of champagne and a voucher for dinner for two as compensation for their screw up. During a long swim in the crystal clear, warm ocean we noticed a lot of stings by jelly fish. Signs on shore warned that in summer months this can be expected. Marilynn isn't affected by them, but I react badly.
As a jacket for dinner is required on the train, and there wasn't much hope of finding a ready made one my size, we went to a tailor shop across from the hotel where Marilynn selected the material and I negotiated price. The jacket is to be ready Saturday. A delicious three coarse dinner was well serviced at the Hotel's Fisherman's Wharf Restaurant complements of the hotel.
Thursday, March 1, 2018
After breakfast and a fitting at the tailors I retired to the room to catch up on emails and do some writing while Marilynn enjoyed the lawn lounge in front of our patio before going for a swim. I stayed out of the water due to the jellyfish stings that had me scratching for over a week.
I made a foolish decision to get to the road into town by the vertical route, a kilometre closer to our room by foot, but up a very large number of stairs. When we reached the little town of Kata a massage eased the pain and a light lunch at a waterfront restaurant eased the hunger. Dinner was at the very popular Two Chef's restaurant recommended by Gree. We fortunately ate early, as people were waiting 45 minutes for a table within a short time – the restaurant is very popular. A taxi got us back to the hotel.
Friday, March 2, 2018
Slept late again. Marilynn had a swim before we taxied to Kata. The cost to or from any of the neighbouring beach towns is 200 baht (about $US6.50, very expensive for the short distance). Marilynn found the shop where she bought a blouse yesterday that turned out to be too small, so got that exchanged before going for a massage and the same waterside restaurant for a great shrimp cocktail.
A taxi got us to the next beach town where again I had a beer while Marilynn shopped. We stopped to watch people learning to surf on a wave making machine before having a good dinner at a local restaurant, then back to the hotel. My only shopping was at the drug store to get something to take the itch out of my jelly fish stings.
Saturday, March 3, 2018
Another easy beginning, with Marilynn reading on a lawn chair and me on the computer. After another late breakfast we skipped lunch. Marilynn swam until it was time to pick up my sports jacket, which she pronounced very well made. We had a good dinner at a little restaurant across from the hotel then desert at the hotel's Fisherman's Wharf restaurant.
Phuket is quite built up, with half a million people on an island of 528 km2.
Tomorrow we fly to Pattaya.