At 11pm on Friday 11th April, three smelly, unkempt teenagers with backpacks and a guitar pulled up to the 5* JW Marriot Resort in Phuket, Thailand. They were greeted by several beautiful female employees who gave them ice-cold drinks and flower necklaces, before checking them in and escorting them (with the porter in tow) to their two-bed, two-bath luxury apartment.
Now you may be wondering if this was my imagination going into overdrive, or if I had been smoking something funky. But no, this actually happened, and it is all, with tremendous thanks, due to the generosity of Caroline and Chris Wilkinson.
So after 18 hours travelling through the rest of Northern Malaysia, and much of the southern tip of Thailand, we suddenly felt as if we'd had a pint of pure caffeine injected into our bloodstreams. This place, particularly after our usual standard of accomodation, was absolutely incredible. Infinity pools, elephants on the beach, trendy bars, 5 restaurants, our own Queen or King size beds, chilling on white sandy beaches with palm trees, cooking our own meals Thai-style in our own kitchen and power showers! All in all we had a fantastic time just relaxing, hitting the gym, smoking a bit of sheesha and drinking Singha beers to relax.
During our weeks' stay it happened to be Thai New Year, which the locals celebrate with public waterfights. These were pretty good fun, especially as you could soak an employee in completely good humour.
3 days into our stay we went deep sea fishing, trawling the ocean about 90mins off the coast. This was good fun and a new experience for me and Ian. We took our large Tuna fish home and BBQ'd it at a staff party we were invited to at about midnight.
Leaving Phuket was quite sad, we'd met some pretty cool people (who we're still in contact with) and had an excellent time.
We were thrown back into the traveller's lifestyle with an exceptionally stuffy, cramped 5 hour minibus ride to Surat Thani, on the East Coast of Thailand, and then 11 hours overnight on a very uncomfortable cargo boat all the way to the island of Koh Phangan, where we would stay for 5 days.