Monday, April 15, 2013

'Last' Travel

Each time we go back to the gynea for our monthly visits, we always ask for a new referral letter for that month because we were travelling. As mentioned in my last post, since I wasn't really allowed to travel in the last trimester, Phuket was the last of my sorely missed trips before I deliver in June. Short drives or ferry trips with Julien are also a no go. Safety's first.

This trip to Phuket turned out much better than expected. Always a good surprise when your trip surprises you in the end with a great experience. We had one whole villa to ourselves with our own private pool. We have been to a few villas like this on our trips but I guess this time I also really enjoyed our quality time alone. It gave us the opportunity to really catch up with one another. Lately we were always talking about baby stuff, and work, and finances, it was just nice to talk about anything but. Our days were also filled with organising the baby's room, weekends were for travels to collect baby stuff, apart from work. Hence we gratefully indulged. Even better still when you can hold your conversations in your own pool with an ice cold beer/drink. We could just do this forever.

Since I fell pregnant, we have been getting a lot of privileges. Upon arrival, we were told that we would be upgraded to a bigger double storey Villa, that was closer to the reception office - which we later found out was a lot more convenient too when calling for transport, etc - and even better yet, for the 'inconvenience' caused because we didn't really get the villa we requested for, they offered us a bbq dinner on the house. We decided to have it that same evening. It was great. We spent the whole afternoon after lunch doing absolutely nothing by the pool. Talking, laughing, reading, lazing, sunbathing, swimming.... we were in our swimsuits all day.

Dinner arrived prepared in a huge dim sum basket filled with goodies that evening. There were vegetable kebabs on the first tier, and fresh seafood on the bottom. Too much food actually, with a whole fish wrapped in aluminium, shrimps, squid, and crab for just the two of us. It was a real luxury eating to our hearts content (we didn't finish the vegetable kebabs), and then having a nice dip in the pool after. That was how Day 1 ended.

Next morning, we woke up to the aromatic smell of spices & thought, hmmm, we should go grab some breakfast. Then we realised the aroma was coming from downstairs. Hungry, (amazing right after we had eaten so much the evening before), we went downstairs to be greeted with the wonderful sight of breakfast prepared and served for us. Julien had opted for the European breakfast, while I went for the local breakfast. We wasted no time on getting started with breakfast & had a short dip in our pool before heading out to the beach!!

Service was great! They had given us a mobile with a credit of 50 bhat so we could contact them if we needed anything throughout our stay. There was the buggy service that took us everywhere and back, of course at specific times of the day. We didn't go off the scheduled buggy times as we heard through the grapevines and confirmed by another couple we met on the trip that the place was 'owned' by the local mafia, and that taxi fares were exorbitant! That couple we met on the trip got charged three times the normal rate just from the beach to their villa, which was literally just a 5 min drive. Yikes!

We arrived at the beach, and oh was it just beautiful! Fine white sand, the blue of the sea that merged at some parts to be emerald, we were in paradise!

Wish I had taken a panoramic view of the beach because this just really doesn't do it justice. We found a nice quiet spot with our parasols, and sat there for hours! Typically in Thailand, there were peddlars going up and down the beach selling their wares, and batik fabrics. It was great. You could get yourself some food and drinks without having to get up at all. What I loved about this beach was that there were the locals, I think they were paid to do this, or not, picking up the trash littered by the tourists who were there, and didn't care less about the environment. It was great because plastic bags on a beach are bad news to the marine life in general. It was like they really cared for their beaches and that was awesome to see. Of course we threw our trash in the bins.Why go to a place only to destroy it and never be able to go back again?

There was another scheduled ride to a place of interest with a panoramic view of the islands, and we thought it would be good to go see and make some nice pictures for memories. Upon arrival, at the foot of the hill, there were a line of street vendors selling all sorts of street food! Your nostrils were just greeted by and assortment of fragrances! We weren't hungry since we had eaten by the beach before coming, but there was an ice cream stand which I gave into in the end. Of course coupled with the fact that it was a damn hot day. This vendor served his ice cream, in a fresh coconut that he would prepare for you. And you could top it with any of the toppings he had available, and at any quantity for the same price. There was a huge choice of fruits, jellies, chocolates, nuts, coconut shavings, and the most odd thing to me, RICE. That seemed to be a huge hit with the locals. Rice on ice cream., yup! I settled with an assortment of fruits and jellies, topped with a few nuts. You can't see my toppings in the picture because he'd asked me to select them first before scooping on the ice cream. It was really good still though. Reminded me of ice kachang in Singapore, which was sweet flavoured ice shavings over fruits, and sweet beans, and corn and what not that you could choose, only this is replaced with ice cream, and served in a bowl of coconut with fresh coconut meat. Good stuff!

Anyways, not to deviate, but we arrived at the top of this hill, and the view was absolutely breathtaking. This time, I took a panoramic, but even that didn't do justice to the place! It was absolutely lovely. It was also a spot where you could catch a great sunset. We did just that. Even with a panoramic shot, I was not really able to capture this beautiful sight from a wholesome angle. To the left of this picture, where the coconut trees are, is another Island. What was really interesting about it which I was not able to capture, was that there was a lone island on it's own with no bridge what so ever. The only way you could get to it was by boat. And there was a temple built on this Island.

I couldn't get close enough to have a nice shot armed with only my camera phone. But this was simply amazing. Where we were, we could actually do a short 5 min track down the hill to a spot just opposite this mysterious island, and take some good pictures. I really wanted to, but I wasn't allowed because I was too pregnant and "safety's first". Pfffffttt... I do regret not having done it, but I guess I could always come back after with our daughter and take that picture next time.

When the landscape is this picturesque, it's easy to make nice photos without really being a pro. Here were some of my favourites.

 Compliments from Julien

 The evening sun that casts the sky a vibrant shade of orangy pink

A few more glimpses

And then it was gone.

It makes you really happy just appreciating the majesty of it all. We went back to our villa, and as usual did our usual swim in the pool before having dinner served right at our doorstep! Day 2, and we had forgotten we had another complimentary dinner. We were happy to eat our local dinner in, since we were pretty exhausted from the events of the day itself.

Next day we were starting to get used to the pampering. We came down to a different spread of full American breakfast this time with bacon and eggs, not complaining. It's still a luxry to have someone cook for you. Just as good but filled with a lot of fat that didn't sit very well in Julien's tummy. Fortunately, he got better quite fast. We wanted to do something cultural that day! Too much lazing by the pool and beach we felt. Ha! Us telling ourselves that. It sounds ridiculous!

Truth be told, apart from the beaches, there was really nothing much exciting. Unless you really are someone who likes temples, and what not. We love the beaches more, and personally for me, waterfalls. I spent a big part of my childhood travelling to waterfalls in Malaysia and swimming in them. So anything with water is good with me. We had planned out an itinerary of visiting a the oldest temple in the area, Wat Chalong, and then up to a waterfall, and on the way back to our villa, to explore another beach along the way. As there was going to be a lot of travelling, we rented a car.

Wat Chalong covered a huge surface area. There were different temples everywhere but they were all Wat Chalong. Here's what I mean.

 An awesome view from the tallest part of the temple, although I don't know if this statue belongs to the temple or another.

 The locals here buy gold leaf and place them on the statue

We took a lunch break after visiting the temple. And stopped by this street restaurant along the way because I was craving from bbq chicken. Again I wish I could have showed you a picture of how the place looked. it was really bare but not dirty or shabby. There was a bbq pit set up in front of the shack, by the road where cars drove past, with an assortment of freshly bbq-ed meat over the rack. Behind the pit was just a wide space of concrete flooring where tables and chairs were laid out. and at the back, a small open kitchen with a small make shift wok stove, and a rack of bottled drinks. Very simple, but clean and well kept, and oh boy, the food that came out from it!

This was just a bowl of beef noodle soup, only packed with a lot of flavour, that is disctinctively Thailand. Love it. With a side of bbq chicken -  divine. All this enjoyed with fresh made ice tea. We didn't have a stomach upset at all considering this was authentic street food. We know because it wasn't the touristic street prices we paid.

After filling out stomachs we were set for the waterfalls. I was really looking forward to it because it's always nice to relive something in your childhood. Plus, the last time we really enjoyed ourselves at the waterfalls in Langkawi, Malaysia, I was really wanting another experience like that. This was already against Julien's wishes due to my pregnancy. As with all waterfalls, there has to be a hike up to it. And the higher you go, the fresher the water. We went anyway. So we arrived and started to hike up. Our agreement was, the lower tier the better, as long as the water looked ok. We reached the first tier, and the water looked stale. So okay, I was still motivated to go up to the second tier. We went up some more, and it was worse. There was no water. One more I said. I hear water, and I was determined to find it, crossing my fingers that the third tier would be the tier. Reached it, and there was a shallow pool of water that reached up to our ankles with a slight trickle by the side. I think it wasn't the right season. By then, I had broken my  "lower the better" by two tiers, and Julien was too much of a feast for mosquitoes to let me go one more tier up. We climbed back down disappointingly, and headed to the beach. I was pretty happy that at least I got to hike a little even if we didn't get to see the waterfalls. So that's why there were no picures either. We didn't take any.

The other beach we explored was nice, but realised that it was a lot smaller than the beach we had at our villa, and not as nice. We had one of the best beaches in the area! But we were also too tired from the day to beach hop. After a few more hours, we headed back to our villa, where we managed to catch our own personal sunset by the pool, for a good end to Day 3.

We tried to make the most of our last day knowing our holiday was coming to an end. Woke up really early to have breakfast. We requested for breakfast to be prepared earlier that day so we could head to the beach right after that since we still had the car. Spent a few more hours there relishing the sun, sand, and waves, before heading back to our villa for a last dip in our favourite pool. We hadn't thought about lunch but by then we had so much food leftover from the bbq night on the first evening that I used all the leftovers to make us fried rice for lunch, which amazingly was pretty good. We didn't buy any condiments since our meals were all included so thank goodness I found a bottle of soya sauce. Else it would be plain rice we would've eaten.

A really nice family vacation location that I would recommend and definitely come back again.

1 comment:

micheltdt said...

Hello Ting, we were missing your stories on your blog, so it is very nice to see you back on it! Very well written, superb pictures, and valuable comments. I wish we were there, especially in Thailand... And above all, I tell you that if you wish to change job, you can start a career of gastronomic critic. With love from Mum and Dad.