Postcard from Thailand

Stephanie McAuliffe Thailand

Starting off in Phuket, home to many high-end seaside resorts, spas and restaurants. Phuket city, the capital has old shop houses and busy markets. Patong, the main resort town has many nightclubs and bars.

Karon beach, where we based ourselves for the next 4 nights, it is where many restaurants and bars are located and also lots of shopping. You will soon find out after a couple of hours walking round, each shop stocks very similar items but its all about how good your bahtering  is. Karen market temples on Tuesday night is worth a look but good luck remembering which entrance you came in and I’m pretty sure you will go past the same shop many times. Staying at Centara Karon Resort was great for its location. A large resort with 3 towers and swimming pool. It is a family resort but couples are definitely welcomed. I would recommend the Terrace wing for couples and Lagoon wing for the families as the kids swimming pool surrounds that lagoonb wing.

While in Phuket we took a gamble and used a local driver who took us around Phuket visiting Karon, Kata, Patong, Big Budha, and Old Phuket. What an experience. I would highly recommend a private tour, it was around 1600 Baht for 6 hours. It’s the local information that I loved. Instead of driving up to the Big Budha we instead went by quadbike.

We spent time looking round Old Phuket town and finding wee quirky lane ways to go down which had many markets. This is where your Bahtering skills come in handy. Lunch was at a local restaurant and this was just the first of many delicious meals in Thailand. A walk through the 150 metres long and narrow alley of Vanich Walking street in Phuket town is a must. It connects the now-famous Thalong road to Dibuk road and is good if it starts raining.

Another recommendation would be 3D Trickery Museum a great afternoon was spent here.

You can buy all the fake branded clothing and merchandise at OTOP, the Bangla Road (in Patong ) area or Banzaan market behind Jungceylon. If you are looking for the real thing, best to try Jungcelyon or the Central Mall.

Next day was spent at Phi Phi island. We were transferred by an air conditioned vehicle to Phuket Boat Lagoon Marina before taking a speedboat to enjoy sightseeing around the island and swim inside the famous lagoon Pileh, Viking Cave and Monkey beach. We arrived at Monkey Island late morning. We were not allowed to go on shore as a couple of weeks ago a couple of monkeys thought humans were food, I was still able to view the monkeys. Lunch was at the hotel on Phi Phi Island a lovely buffet meal.

Out last day in Phuket was left for us to visit more of the Karon beach area which is where we found Karon Plaza and small market which opens around midday.  We also ventured to Patong. It wasn’t before long we were wanting to head back to Karon as it was extremely busy. Balanga road in Patong closes at 6pm to car traffic and this is when the bars come to life.

An early morning transfer the next day had us at Elephant Hills around midday. This is what I had been looking forward to most about our Thailand holiday.

After lunch we relaxed on a jungle river canoe trip down Sok River. The best thing about it was that we did not have to paddle ourselves. We drifted along the jungle river passing limestone mountains and cliffs covered with exotic tropical vegetation. 

The ride took us to the Elephant Park where we washed, fed and touched the elephants and learnt about the life of Thai elephants. This was a once in a life time experience. We prepared their daily meals including their dietary supplements that help with their digestion and their overall well-being. We watched the Elephants bath themselves. I was getting concerned that we needed to get in the water with them after seeing them dispose of their food. Instead we cleaned and washed them with coconut husks on dry land. This was the highlight of my trip to Thailand. Seeing the elephants being able to wander around freely and enjoy their day was just amazing.

That evening we were served a gorgeous buffet meal with some entertainment from the local school.

Next day we woke up to the sounds of nature and birds and our fans buzzing away (you will get use to that noise while you are in Thailand). Today we explored Cheow-Lan-Lake by long tail boat. The man-made lake is surrounded by limestone mountains and cliffs covered in tropical rainforest that rise up from the shore of the lake and disappear somewhere in the distance. I would compare this scenery to Halong Bay in Vietnam. We enjoyed a spectacular scenery from the boat ride to the luxury tents where you can stay for the night. Instead we spent the day here canoeing and swimming until the fish thought my feet were food … I took a seat on dry land for the afternoon.

Day 3 at Elephant Hills was spent exploring the jungle by foot. It was no army survival exercise, rather an excellent opportunity to explore the ecology of one of the world’s oldest rainforests, see a great variety of exotic plants, tropical hardwood trees with huge roots, orchids, palms, ferns, bamboos. . .  the variety is huge. Birds such as the hornbill live high up above.

Sadly around 1pm it was time to leave Elephant Hills. All good things come to an end but luckily this unique experience will remain in our memories for the rest of our lives!! It truly is an experience you do not want to miss. 

The rest of our time was spent in Koh Samui, it is quite different to Phuket not as many as shops and markets. It’s a place to relax on the beach or by the pool. We were located on the beach at Baan Samui Resort, a great location. I would recommend if you are coming to Koh Samui definitely go for beachfront accommodation. At night all the resorts set up amazing dining experiences on the beach with fire shows.
We did explore Koh Samui, visiting the Big Buddha and Ladd Koh Viewpoint for a panoramic view of the famous Chaweng beach. We continued on to the strange natural formations of Grand Ma & Grand Pa Rocks fashioned by the elements into massive sculptures creating a lot of humorous interest from tourists. We stopped at Na Mung 1 waterfall and were impressed with the wide 18 metre drop cascading to a natural pool below. We had time to stop at Nathan Town, the capital of Koh Samui, a place where the pier is if you are taking a boat to the mainland.

Chaweng beach is the biggest tourist spot on the island, wait till the evening to go out to the main street as it comes alive at night. A great English pub is ‘The Dukes’ has a great selection of western and Thai food. On Wednesday night the Central Festival has some markets in their car park which is worth a look. Be careful with the ‘Chaweng walking street’ as its advertised as food and markets but in the quieter season they only have the food market there.

It came to the end of Thailand holiday and would highly recommend it.