A new continent, a new country and a wonderful family holiday. We set off on the long trek to Phuket and the Phi Phi islands in Thailand …. as I’m sure you’ve noted from my previous blogs I travel mostly to African countries to photograph animals and people 🙂 The distance to and from South Africa are really do-able and are mostly fun…..
This was a long haul….but fun too spending quality time with one of my two daughters. Outbound is always more exciting than inbound but we survived the lengthy air travel and long layovers in Dubai….a new world or me!
The onus was on rest and relaxation after a taxing 2018 …. the main photographic tool was the iPhone as it soon became evident with sea, sand, boating and really hot temperatures I was not going to be toting around a camera bag…..
But fun we certainly had….
The hustle and bustle of Phuket was palpable. We arrived on Christmas eve and as it was so late in the evening all the restaurants in our hotel were closed, so we ambled along the street feeling totally safe and comfortable to find a local store that gave us delicious prawns and Pad Thai takeaways to celebrate the incoming of Christmas Day. We sat drinking the local brew, which I hardly ever do as I’m from the Winelands of the Cape, but it was most pleasant in the hot, humid night air in this really strange surrounding …. I will never forget Christmas in Thailand.
We were located close to Patong Beach and travelling and transport was so easy and reasonable…..the famous Tuk Tuk! What fun….all red and the same format but who had the biggest speakers, who had the best disco lights at night and who could make the most noise. I found this little place full of noise, motorbikes by the hundreds, thumping music from the vehicles abounding as well as merchants at the street markets trying to sell their wares. The famous Bangala Road by night was an eye-opener and I certainly found it extremely interesting. Lots of laughter and many, many jokes abounded.
We had Christmas dinner up on the mountainside overlooking Patong beach …. the best Pad Thai and Yon Tom Soup we have ever tasted and each for around R30 per portion….amazing! A memorable evening and very surreal.
We visited the big Buddha in the sky and monastery … it’s enormity was awe-inspiring and totally amazing 🙂 We also visited a local elephant sanctuary where four elephants were re-homed. They had been rescued from the circus. They looked in good health and their minders and carers were doing a great job! We prepared their suntan and insect rub made lovingly of herbs and spices and were allowed to apply it …. they clearly enjoyed it and pranced around! We fed them bananas and sugar cane as they can’t fend for themselves …. I could see the one had been in the circus as he danced and peeled his bananas … I like to believe they are in good hands and will live out the rest of their days in the best place possible for them at this stage of their lives. They seem to understand the Thai language and responded well.
We explored the markets, visited the beaches …. some crowded others deserted and private. I worked out the quiet beaches were the ones that did not have loungers …. guess which one I opted for.
We ate, we drank, we shopped, we basked in the sun and soon it was time to catch the ferry to Phi Phi island to see in the New Year. The trip was approximately 2 hours and very calm waters. We were then ferried in a long tail boat for a quick five minutes to our hotel which was positioned right on the beach front. Here it was complete chill out time of snorkelling, swimming, and soaking up the great hot Asian sun.
The only negative for me was the amount of pollution in the waters…..it became very noticeable as soon as I hit the waters off one of the islands to snorkel. I was astounded and the plastic onshore and in the waters. At times I had to duck past a bit of flotsam. On monkey island a monkey tried to drink out of one of the plastic bottles he found at the water’s edge, he flung it down in anger….anger at no fresh water….anger at humans total disregard for the planet and its shores.
New Year’s eve was on the beach with a line up of fire throwers, local talent and various acts put on to entertain us. Certainly colourful and a very different, but enjoyable experience for me. Thailand certainly delivered an immensely pleasant family holiday.