Our trip to Thailand started off with a four hour plane delay on Christmas Eve (thanks Jetstar) followed by the worst plane trip either of us have ever had. It wasn't the weather conditions, but the people. So many children, and so little parenting. Plus, every second person was sneezing every two minutes and although I'd made us take Echinacea tablets before we left, there's been another outbreak of bird flu and I was feeling covered in germs. Daniel, saying that he won't sleep on the plane, thanks to the annoying people, had a glass of red and was pretty much out for the rest of the flight, killing my ability to go to the bathroom on the 7+ hour flight - although he claims to have not slept much. Yeah, right.
Our itinerary was to go to Bangkok via Singapore. Unfortunately, due to our delay, we got stuck in Singapore. When I say stuck, all was good as they paid for everything and we stayed at the Park Royal on Beach rd which had an awesome buffet included. The bed was great but we probably got 4 or 5 hours sleep before getting up at3.30 am for our flight to Bangkok. We got a glimpse of the awesome Marina Bay Sands resort with its unusual design and swimming pool way up in the sky. I'm in two minds as to if I would ever be able to actually go and swim up there.
Christmas Day 2011. Two countries (Singapore and Thailand), three cities (Singapore, Bangkok and Chiang Mai) in one action packed day. Our hotel Ketawa was a fantastic find. Right near the Ping River. Boutique. Each room has a different theme and colour and they have an aromatherapy blend for each room. We had the Turquoise Room which had a mix of lavender, orange and ginger. Was very quiet but they seemed to be reasonably full. Breakfast was nice, but not huge.
It was perfect weather for walking - ie not too hot. I didn't think I liked markets that much but wow the Chiang Mai night markets were unbelievable! We spent a few hours getting lots of presents, DVDs for ourselves and Daniel even got measured up for a tailor made suit for $100. He managed 36 years without wearing a suit but can't wait to get it now. Daniel is definitely an over exaggerator, but he claims that he had the best burger ever at Duke's. Mine was great - beef, blue cheese and bacon. Awesome cocktail too. It was our first ride in a Tuk Tuk which was pretty cool - and so cheap, we didn't bother bartering.
Daniel didn't even bring a jumper or a long sleeved top. What a loser! In the mornings, and up in the mountains, it was quite cold. He ended up bargaining a nice jacket to wear.
On 26 December 2011 - 8 years after the devastating tsunami, we paused to think about that day which ended so many lives.
I've always wanted to visit an orphanage and do a bit of charity so we paid for a half day at Baan Kingkaew Orphanage. People told me it would be sad to go there: they were right. They were babies to six years' old and adorable. We didn't want to hold them but then one got handed to Daniel and we got into the swing of things. We didn't stay long as it was too hard to watch them all falling over themselves to get your attention. More walking for the rest of the morning, checking out the Warorot market that was fabulous for fruits and flowers, but it was nothing like the Night Markets which we couldn't wait to go to again that night.
That afternoon, we went to Wai Doh Suthep Temple and Meo Village. They were both beautiful places. Unfortunately, we met the most annoying Irish girl in world history. She was waxing lyrical about commercialism, but for god's sake she was on a tour to Chiang Mai's biggest temple, what - did she think she was about to discover a new temple? Our female tour guide was amazing. She's been a tour guide for 17 years. She told us a great story about how an ugly monk who could throw an arrow more than 28kms and fell in love with a beautiful girl in a temple. She didn't know that he could throw that far. He said that if he throws a spear to a town 28kms far away, they'd get married. She didn't want to and was on her period, so she took some blood and wiped it on a hat and gave it to him and he wore it. Then, when he tried to throw the spear, he couldn't do it. So, women aren't allowed in some temples around Chiang Mai because they can lie and say they haven't got their period when they have.
Sometimes, I get a weird reaction to acidic food. It makes my tongue swell. Well, I did that and managed to make myself feel absolutely s***e so it cut our Night Market session too short.
After our big day and a few days' travelling, was time for some pampering. We got picked up and drove about fifteen minutes to the other side of Chiang Mai to a place where most of the spas are located.
Daniel almost fell asleep in the two second milk foot bath when they clean your feet at the start. We had a lovely herbal steam bath in a very small wooden detox box first, followed by a massage and facial. Daniel cracked me up when he claimed later that his masseuse was going 'a bit too close to my shaft' - I loved them massaging my hips and tops of my legs but I loved it even more that he didn't like it. We then ate at the lovely Riverside restaurant before going back to the night market yet again.
Our last full day at Chiang Mai, we did the 13 hour Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle and Long Neck tour. The long neck tribes began wearing the neck rings because it was thought that tigers bite necks and, given women are 'weaker', they started wearing them as protection.
We stopped off first at a hot springs. Yawn - everywhere I go there is one, and I just don't get excited about them. We then went to the famous White Temple in Chiang Rai which has been 14 years in the making and still isn't finished. It was spectacular!! On the inside, where you're not allowed to take photos, the artist is still painting and he has included such characters as Spiderman and Superman, but it is just beautiful and not tacky at all.
Then it was back on the bus for another hour or so (had been two or three hours so far) to reach the Golden Triangle - the points where Thailand, Laos and Burma meet. From there, we took a boat to Laos.
Chiang Rai was built first by King Rai. Chiang means city. Then he started building Chiang Mai. Means new city. Each province is over 1 million people each. Chiang Mai is the second most populated province to Bangkok. We visited Chiang Mai during winter but it isn't rainy season - we didn't see any. It just wasn't particularly hot. Our guide told us that Lao and Thai language very similar. But Burmese language is quite different, so our tour guide normally talks to Burmese in English. The Thai have regional dialects and the one for this area is Lanna. You see that word everywhere -described as Lanna style cooking and decoration, etc.
Thai New Year is mid April but it is the hot season and averages around 40 degrees.
Thailand has no casinos - but Thai like gambling. They go to Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Burma to gamble.
Back in the good old days, as each country has its own currency, they used to trade gold and opium.
These days, if Thai people want to go to Burma or Laos or vice versa, they get a day pass and they can travel 5km in. It costs 500 baht which is quite a bit considering local food is around 40 baht (for a street meal)
We came across some painful Russians - not as bad as the Irish girl (and there were six of them!) but pretty annoying. The bus was 30 minutes late picking us up which was apparently because they were missing. Then, when we got to the Golden Triangle, we all had to pay about $10 to go on a boat over to Laos but they refused and threw up wobbly as they had to wait an hour for us before having lunch. They also would knock stuff off stands at the stores - yes, the adults, and they wouldn't pick it up. They also littered a lot. It is people like that you want to just ship back to their own country to keep causing trouble over there.
We took a boat to the Donesao Island on Laos . There is a huge Buddha statue on the Thai side to pay homage to the Queen's 72nd birthday - she's 79 now. We'be heard a few times about how the Buddha has long ears - i'll probably forget this as soon as I leave, so I'll say it here: the Buddha was born in India, and they like to wear many earrings, so that made them long. But, also, the Buddha is capable of listening more than others so that is why he has long ears.
Paradise Resort and Casino on the edge of the Burmese side is run by a Thai businessman so you can only pay in Thai baht and American dollars, not Burmese currency.
Theres a casino on the Laos side that is run by a Chinese businessman. They built it where it is because it has good Feng Shui - it has a mountain behind it and a river (Mekong) in front of it.
We stopped on Laos for 30 minutes and Daniel sampled a Beerlao (which tasted just like VB) and got to see the many handbags on sale. They tried to talk us into buying whiskey with cobra, scorpion and other things you don't really want to be drinking.
Apparently when you get a new house, motorbike or car, you can take it to a temple to be blessed by a monk. I was wondering what the white fingerprints above the driver's head were...
After a kinda crap buffet lunch, we then drove on to the Thai Burmese border. We didn't walk across and get our passport stamped as it costs 500baht (50 baht for Thai nationals) and can muck up your Thai tourist visa.
Our final stop of the day was to see the long necks and another tribe who's name I can't remember, but fascinatingly, they are Christians. The Long Neck tribe are originally Burmese, they haven't yet qualified to be Thai Nationals (they only came to Thailand in 1984) so they don't get access to the education that the Thai's have. But from four years old, the girls learn how to make scarves etc to get money for their tribe. There were not many men around - apparently they were at work.
Observations about Chiang Mai:
Even in the markets, they don't really do a big sell on you or half chase you down the street. Well, not many. They don't stare at you either - live and let live. They are very developed, I would say it is as modern as Australia. Even the hill tribes are very modern and equipped with things to maximise the tourism. When I was doing the research, everyone said that most people didn't speak very much English but everyone we came across was brilliant so I have no idea what they meant. Being in construction, Daniel was very interested in the bamboo scaffolding (similar to Bali) and the ridiculously dangerous looking electricity wires which must surely kill people on a daily basis as they are a tangled mess. More than once, I worried about turning on a power point in our room and getting electrocuted as something was happening on the other end of the wire.
The tour guides were all hilarious, great senses of humour. Driving isn't crazy. There's a lot of cars, trucks, Tuk Tuks, motorbikes and scooters on the road and there doesn't appear to be a lot of rules but it all just works. After a few hours, we didn't get scared trying to cross the road and they generally make room for you to go.
If you have dogs and are too poor to feed them, drop them off at a Wat (temple) and the monks will.
If you're in the police force, you have to buy your own uniforms and guns, but they give you hospital cover for you and your family, including parents (they give this to all who work for the government).
We woke up on our last morning in Chiang Mai and Daniel was very keen to move on "it's just shopping, isn't it?" well that's what we did a lot but there's plenty more adventures to be had if we had more time.
Our taxi driver to the airport didn't speak English and we asked for Phuket (ie we're going to the domestic airport) and we obviously didn't say it right as he kept saying 'Poo, poo poo-ket!!'. It kept us laughing all the way to the airport and every time we remembered it on the trip.
Another on-time, hassle-free AirAsia flight took us to Phuket where our driver took us an hour above Phuket to Khao Lak Orchid Resort, where we were staying at the recommendation to Paula who'd stayed there a few years back after the tsunami to attend a wedding there. It is Thai owned and run which is appealing. Apparently 80% of English speaking Thai's in Khao Lak were killed in the tsunami. Horrible.
Daniel and I had a thai set menu on the first night. We ordered curries for our mains and WOW, the hottest thing we've ever eaten - that still had taste because I've eaten some tasteless hot meals before.
There was a Barman who looked about 12, no way would he have been able to serve alcohol in Australia but he did a good job.
to the middle of the night our hotel room door managed to become unlocked even though I'd locked it myself and put a latch on (which, as it turns out, was useless as it didn't do anything!!) So, then i was worried that tsunami ghosts were hanging around!
The first morning in Khao Lak, we were the first on the beach for a beautiful walk. Although it is 'winter', it was a really nice temperature and the water was nice and warm. Daniel regretted not wearing board shorts but he was in the ocean straight after breakfast. Although Bali was pretty flash, he says he's never stayed anywhere as good as this. We took the hotel shuttle (50 baht per person so the equivalent of a myki) to town and explored. Really nice little town. After a few beers/piña coladas, we came back to ask the very unhelpful German tour organiser (most people at the resort were German/Austrian/Swiss/French) at the hotel for help renting a car, but she was no help. Then, it was off for our first drink at a swim up pool bar (ever) and chilling out reading. The pool bar was hilarious - they have two pools. A general one and an adult one, but the swim up bar is with the kids.
Although we were very happy to stay and eat at the bar, we ventured out to Hill Tribes on the main street, a restaurant killing it in terms of reviews on Trip Advisor. The owners and chef are from Chiang Mai, so we felt we were in keeping with our northern theme. The waiter looked and spoke like a Thai version of my old flatmate, Ray, and was very helpful in ordering and recommending dishes. Once again, Daniel declared it the best meal ever. 'Ray' even took photos of frogs with our camera. And set the sizzling plate of our veges and seafood on fire so much I think he burnt his hand.
Daniel said he could easily come back to Khao Lak Orchid. I think that was partly because he loved the omelettes they made each morning. On the last day of 2011, he managed to put away two omelettes, pancakes, two croissants and tonnes of bacon in one breakfast sitting.
I was feeling hot and tired - and so was he, plus very full. So we were debating what to do, when we decided to rent some bikes. They cost around $1.70 per day each. Daniel had been wanting to go down to the next town and do a surfing lesson. We thought it was going to be a nice little ride - but it turned out to be over an hour in the heat. We were about to turn down a dirt road that eventually led to the beach when we saw a heard of elephants with people on them - we were right near the elephant safari park. Not wanting to scare them, we waited until they passed, while watching a monkey on a lead, which was quite sad.
A very bumpy 2-3km ride brought us to a gorgeous surf beach decked out with a cool bar, Memories, that supplied great drinks (lemon and coconut shakes were my favourites) and tunes by Maxi Priest, Shaggy, UB40 etc. we chilled for a few hours watching this Canadian girl give a couple a surf lesson. Once it was over, Daniel booked in for the day after. The way back was a bloody nightmare - we were sick of riding on the dirt road and highway, even though the highway has a bike lane - so we decided to walk the bikes down the beach. Well, it was a lot further than it looks and in the middle of the day, the sun is cranking (still only around 31 degrees each day, but hot enough to not want to spend over an hour pushing a bike down the beach.). We spent the whole time dodging hundreds of sand crabs that were scattered around the beach in and out of their holes. By the time we got back, we were almost crying but the pool revived us!
The resort puts on a compulsory New Year's Eve gala dinner that was part of our package which was helpful as we didn't need to move from our resort. A buffet dinner (nice but not that nice, even with the BBQ king prawns), some Thai dancers, drag queens (from the renowned Moo Moo's club in Khao Lak) lighting and letting out beautiful lanterns on the beach and other competitions. Was a very beautiful and chilled new year. The event wasn't fluidly organised, but the skipping through songs to find the right one and the restarting of the songs to get it right was quite endearing. The lowlight of the evening was the resort giving everyone fireworks and them all just letting them off around each other. Felt like I was getting bombed. I love fireworks, but drunk people letting off their own fireworks isn't my idea of a good time.
Despite only having three (cocktail) drinks, I woke up feeling pretty seedy on new years day. Daniel was ok and decided to hire a scooter for $10 a day and went off exploring for three hours while I slept. What he didn't tell me, until after i'd spent a day on it, was that he skidded on the scooter the day before and ended up down a cliff!
We decided to watch DVDs that afternoon but later we realised that 27 Hours DVD wasn't in the cover. Daniel almost volunteered that we may have lost it when I went back, but he got a dirty look from me and shut up fast. A lazy day, didn't even get in the pool and had a nice dinner at the resort. Was mildly raining which was good that it wasn't the night before.
The next day, we woke up to light rain and a forecast that the next few days were going to be the same. Not ideal for a holiday but what can you do, we did expect some. We decided to ignore the rain and hopped on our scooter and went to Pakarang beach so Daniel could (finally) have his first surf lesson. He'd been talking it up a lot, which made me kind of think he was going to suck at it. I went for a walk up the beach and when I got back, he was up on the board - I couldn't believe it!!! Apparently the instructor told him to try a few on his knees first and after that, he was up on the first try. I was kinda annoyed as I'd hoped he wouldn't be as good as he thought he'd be. I managed to get my first sun burn of the trip on the one day with no sun. Nice necklace mark too. Luckily, we don't mind watching DVDs as we had plenty of opportunity to. Felt a bit guilty that we might not have used the pool as much as we should have while we were here but what can we do?
The next day, the rain had stopped thank goodness. After the usual morning pig out (best omelette and bacon at this place), we went for a very long walk on the beach in the sun. Daniel tried to swim back in the ocean for the last few hundred metres but it was pretty exhausting. Was quite humid so we jumped straight into the pool and then went to get a massage in the gardens of our resort (I got a coconut oil one and Daniel had his first Thai one which he loved). We then rode the scooter into the city and had a browse and a beautiful lunch (Daniel is now used to spicy curry so he really loves them). We were wondering why there wasn't any DVDs for sale in all of the street stalls. Turns out that they must be more heavily policed here because this young girl took us out the back into a locked shed where there was the equivalent of a whole little dvd store out there. We got a few but there wasn't many on our list there.
It was raining quite a bit but by the time we left it was steaming and sunny, so a good time to ride back and hop in the pool. We were sick of eating at the resort so we got the shuttle into the city and go to Fizz restaurant which had the most amazing lime, mint and honey shake.
The next day was our last full day in Khao Lak. It wasn't sunny, but it wasn't raining either and it was still warm. We walked all the way to the surf beach so that Daniel could have another surf, and I got in my daily exercise requirement. It was quite a long way and back. The surf wasn't as good as two days before and Daniel was using a harder board, but he still stood up and still had fun. That afternoon, it was time for another $10 massage and (finally!!) a pedicure as well - i'd been getting around with the worst nails in Thailand. We both ended up with shocking sunburn - loved it because apparently D thought he "doesn't burn".
Speaking of my big tough boyfriend, the next day he encountered some car sickness on the 1.5 hour journey from Khao Lak to Patong (Phuket).
We were meant to stay in Ao Nang (krabi) but there'd been rain so we decided we'd base in Phuket, do some shopping and day trips. One of the first things I'd noticed about Patong is the security guards. On corners. Hadn't really noticed any the whole time we'd been here. The weather was good too. Patong was chaotic like Bali.
We arrived at our hotel - Nipa, which we'd chosen because it was near the big shopping centre Jungcelon, and close to Bangla road without being on it. We knew it wasn't going to be as good a resort as Khao Lak Orchid, but the room they have us - nice, overlooking the pool, was very shabby and had a strange musty dirty smell. At the pool, they have a BBQ and music, so we would have heard that a lot. We didn't like it so requested a move to one with no view but at least was clean, less shabby and private. Daniel was interested in buying a wetsuit so we hopped right into a (overpriced as it was a private car booked by the resort, too hot as he had the air conditioner set to 28 degrees, and too loud Thai music) taxi and made our way to Chalong to see Dock Town. He got measured up right there and his custom made wetsuit was about 20% of the price in Australia.
We discovered Tuk Tuks in Phuket are different to Chiang Mai - we liked the Chiang Mai ones better, they were like mini cars. The ones in Phuket were like mini vans with covered seats in the back.
We spent the evening on the beach and looking at the bars around it. Mad. Like the Gold Coast on steroids. No one was trying to sell you anything except go go shows (ie ping pong shows). We enquired about DVDs and once again were taken out the back to a locked shed with great air conditioning and DVDs. We bought 70 discs for $100. Tested a lot of them so we think they work. Went down Bangla Rd which is one of the most well known, was quite cool with the bars. Daniel ended the night with his worst meal here - lobster and steak. Both were quite uncooked. They had the best coconut shakes there though so I didn't complain. I had some luck shopping too - until now I'd only got presents. Some of the Tuk Tuk owners deck their machines out with lights and stereos. Quite the experience.
Thailand, like Bali, reminds me of South America in one big way: the sewers! Stunk! But it gives me fond memories.
Daniel chose the resort here and he did well (apart from the stinky room and the leaky shower in the new room - which we then discovered was our fault because of the way we were tilting the shower head!!plus, the lift would kind of eat you) as it was close to everything but not in a manic area.
On our first full day in Patong, we went straight to the beach. We were wondering how it seems most countries put banana lounges and umbrellas up and sell drinks and Australian beaches don't?
Patong beach was the perfect combination of busy and peaceful. Lots of jet skis, parasailing, long boats etc. Some of the European women were sun baking and walking around topless - the guide books ask you not to do this but it's hardly the place for westerners to be told off really. We then hired a car for five hours to see some of the sites and do the fitting of daniel's wet suit. Our taxi driver was the son of the guy who we negotiated the deal from. Five minutes into it, he stopped and picked up 'a guide who speaks really good English' (aka his girlfriend). Anyway, she helped us find things better - I don't think we would have made it to the dive shop without her because we had to direct them to it. For some quirky reason, a shortish trip somewhere costs the same price as hiring a car for five hours. Weird.
My my, they whipped up Daniel's wetsuit in a very short amount of time!! The shop - Dock Town was run by a very cool Thai girl called Bow who spoke perfect english. Daniel tried it on when they'd just cut it out of a custom made pattern and it was only lightly glued - he popped out of it. Very much reminded me of the Incredible Hulk.
We went and saw the Big Buddha that began construction in 2007. It was quite impressive - equally as big as Christ the Redeemer in Brazil. The complex is relying on tourist donations to continue to build many statues. The more money they get, the more statues they build. We loved it but Daniel was even more impressed with the monkeys that were loitering, getting food out of the bins and drinking out of coke cans etc.
Next stop was the Chalong temple (or should I say temples as there are about five). What can I say, it was beautiful. Inside one of the temples, tourists can buy some paper that you stick on a statue of a monk and, when you spray water on it.
We went to Phuket town for lunch and a look, apparently very cheap shopping and good food, but not much else. We ended up on a dodgy road and I was wondering where it was going to lead - but all good it was going to Phuket Bay. It was a very quiet restaurant overlooking the bay, with crab farmers working in front. Their specialty was letting you choose your own seafood and they cook it. But we decided to go chicken with curry paste (Daniel's - beautiful) and sizzling beef (mine - horrible, couldn't chew the beef). Then when I saw the seafood I was very jealous.
While we were waiting for the wet suit to be finished (on Thai time - we were told 2pm and it was finished after 4pm), we had a drink at a bar called Per's Place which was owned by a Swede (Per) who has been in Thailand for 22 years and runs motorbike trips to Khao Sok for two and three nights staying on the floating town. He was a cool dude, telling us about all the Australians he knows who live in Thailand. He was here for the tsunami and apparently his bar was ok. It hit at 9.30am which he said was a godsend because a lot of his friends and the locals (and himself) were asleep when it hit, or they may have been in the water. He got woken up by some of his staff who asked him to come and get them from Rawai. He had 18 staff and when he arrived (he went the back streets so not the beach), all 18 of them were hanging on to their suitcases looking terrified and he still hadn't seen the carnage. They spent the night at the Big Buddha but went back home the next day. Three days later, he went up to Khao Lak where he said it was a terrible scene. Bodies of people were piled up against the road and you couldn't tell if they were Thai or foreigner - they were just black and swollen from the water. He said some of his biker friends still have nightmares about it and we could just imagine. But, as a lot of the resorts are hotel chains and are the town's livelihood, they were quickly rebuilt and family members quickly filled the roles of the people who had died. Sad, but such is life.
That night we decided to try the #2 restaurant in Patong on Trip Advisor - the Roma da Mauro. Italian.
I can't believe I've got this far down the page without saying how much I loved the fruit shakes in Thailand. They mix the fruit of your choice with ice and it is so refreshing. Why don't we do that in oz?
Daniel has always been jumpy to any loud noise but this trip has delivered some hilarity. Thais seem to love firecrackers and we were walking down a lane way in Patong and a massive firecracker went off, and I admit it did sound like a bomb. He jumped a mile. And, earlier, there were two men holding very large lizards, which scared him (but I patted it). Later, the same thing happened but there were also lady boys dressed in full cabaret finery trying to entice you to take a photo with them (for $1). He saw the lizard at the last minute and jumped and then jumped into one of the lady boys and had a second shock.
After dinner, we decided to finally go to an ago-go parlour. It was free entry if you buy one drink (at at least five times the price of anywhere else). Daniel had wanted to see a ping pong show. Well, we were quite bored. There were about five strippers dressed as naughty school girls. And then two who did the act - smoking "down there", using birds, turtles, fish, a bottle and ping pong balls. not that exciting really. The funniest part was a drunk guy dancing around thinking he was hot.
We wanted to see the Phi Phi and surrounding islands, but didn't want to be on a boat with hundreds of people. So, we did a half day 'deluxe' speed boat tour. The only benefit was that we got on and off the boat quicker but we encountered ridiculous crowds wherever we went. We got picked up on time but spent a lot of time waiting around the dock before going on the boat. Apparently (if you believe it, I have no reason not to), the boat was only two days old. It did look new. We spent the day island hopping with a fairly good group of Australians, Spaniards, English and Americans. Daniel was the adventurous one and went out snorkelling three times, but I stayed in the boat and just chilled out. Our drama of the day was when the boat became tangled somehow with another one with the ropes on Phi Phi Don. Thought we were going to have an issue but all was ok in the end. Daniel thought that the snorkelling was good but it is better on the Great Barrier reef.
For our last night in the middle of Patong, we wanted some good Thai so we went to a place opposite the beach Sea to Sea/Banana (we're not sure). The minute we sat down, the heavens opened - with no signs at all. Luckily they had their roof up and we stayed dry. It was expensive compared to our other meals but worth it. Daniel had his new usual - Massaman curry. And I had the Pad Thai - my first of the trip (Daniel only had one too). The portion sizes of the meals in Thailand were small so we were ordering entrees but these were huge! We chose it as it had a live band of old Thai rockers.
Ironically, we chose Nipa Resort in Patong as it had a nice pool but we were on the go all the time and didn't get to use it!
The final day of our stay in Patong and Phuket was very warm and we went out for a bit of a final walk around before going to Jungcelon shopping centre and got extraction facials for $18 each followed by a feast of sushi and drinks for $18.
The last night in Phuket we stayed at an airport resort as we were flying out at 8am so had to leave at 5am.
The resort was called Airport Resort. It was such an easy name, we thought we couldn't go wrong. But, after our taxi driver left, we got told that no, this was the Airport Resort and Spa! Well, so much difference! Luckily, they're the same owner so they dropped us at the other one which was right by the beach!! A beautiful little beach too, peaceful compared to Patong. We really wanted a last $11 massage so we went to one that was in a coveted but open shop on the beach. I laughed so much because Daniel got an older woman who was talking his ear off (and he's not one to talk to strangers ). They both weren't the best massages we had on our trip but they were quite nice. We had a nice dinner from a cafe with some very friendly cafe staff who I loved as they were trying so hard and then went down to the beach for one last sunset picture. Stumbled across an Indian who'd studied in Brisbane and was living in Darwin, but was travelling to Bali, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh and then Chennai for his brother's wedding. Ah, travelling makes anyone tell you their life story.
Thailand definitely won me over in the end. It was far more civilised and modernised than I thought. Yes, people try to sell you stuff and sex is fairly plentiful but it is also very discreet. Will we come back again? Not sure as there's so much of the world to see but never say never. Daniel says he won't come back - and the next trip he wants to go to an English speaking country (we only had a few problems but this was after he'd just had one) and if he wants a cheap, indulgent holiday he prefers Bali as you can get cheaper/better rooms with pools and it is closer to home. We'll see.