We were excited to have Matt’s parents Mark and Janice plan a trip to catch up with us in Thailand. With 10 days to work with we set about putting an itinerary together, so we could show them some of the places we have enjoyed, along with exploring new places together.
After arriving into Phuket late at night and a 40 minute taxi to the accommodation it was a quick catch up before getting some rest, ready for day 1 of exploring. Our accommodation was somewhere we stayed when in Thailand 3 years ago, run by an English lady it had everything we needed and was in the quieter south eastern side of the island.
We wanted to give Mark and Janice a real feel Thai life and you can’t do that unless you’re on the back of a bike! Here they are setting off on their maiden voyage.
We went up to the Khao Khad viewpoint which gives great 360° views across Cape Panwa, Phuket Town and Chalong Bay. It was a great way to show where we were in relation to main sites.
Their first taste of Thai food in Thailand was at a small streetside shack down the road from our accommodation. Very tasty lunch for a great price with each dish only costing around NZ$2. The only problem was that we ate so much we didn’t feel like much for dinner so opted for drinks on the beach. Not a bad view for Mark and Janice’s first night out in Thailand.
Gotta love the taste of a pina colada when your toes are dug into the sand.
Mark had an appointment to get some dental work done in Phuket Town so while he was in the dentist chair we went off to one of the markets, where Janice quickly picked up the art of bargaining the shopkeepers down on price. After we collected Mark we had a quick look around the Old Town before heading back to base for a well needed dip in the pool.
Our last day in Phuket was quite chocka with activities so we started early, first stop Wat Chalong, the largest Buddhist Temple in Phuket. The temples are beautiful, so colourful and ornate.
From the top of the temple we could see our next stop, the Big Buddha . It’s a bit of a climb on the bike (1st gear required to get us up the hill) but worth it to see the ongoing creation.
Janice also took the opportunity to be blessed by a monk.
After a quick stop to fuel up on a lemon shake we were off to Kata Noi on the western side for an Elephant ride.
We had already done a 15min ride in Chiang Mai but didn’t want to miss out on the fun so we hopped on too. I have to say that Mark and Janice’s elephant was a little more unruly than ours, it was pretty interested in all the greenery within its trunks reach.
Maybe I’m just biased because ours could do tricks.
After that busy morning we thought it’d be good to have a rest at the beach. We went to a quieter one that we’d discovered a couple of days before but unfortunately we (Rach) hadn’t factored in tide times so ended up looking at a lot of sand and not so much water. Never mind it was good to lie on a lounger in the shade of the umbrella for a while, at least we could cool off with a dip at home.
Dinner was at a local seafood restaurant which juts out over the river.
We had cockles, prawns, soft shell crab and this whole fish that Janice chose. Smothered in chillies, believe it or not it wasn’t the hottest dish of the night.
The next morning it was a bit of a trek north to Bang Rong pier where boats depart to our next stop the island of Koh Yao Noi. Because we were taking our bike with us we needed a longtail boat rather than speed boat. Unfortunately in our planning, the schedule was different on the day (who’s running this show?! ) so it was a wait at the pier for a couple of hours before the next longtail. We were kept company by a group of monkeys in the tree above us who enjoyed stealing our water bottles, opening the lids and tipping it up to see if they could get the last dribble out. They didn’t stick around long when a shopkeeper got his slingshot out.
I know Mark, sometimes it’s hard to keep the monkey off your back.
We finally got on board the longtail, along with our bike and the many other miscellaneous items being loaded on.
I’m not saying it was overloaded but the water level wasn’t far from the open windows. It was a nice calm trip to Yao Noi with some great scenery on the way.
No ramps required to get the bike off, just 4 guys with a bit of muscle.
In terms of tourist numbers Koh Yao Noi is relatively undiscovered so it retains its sleepy small town feel. Our bungalows were just across the road from one of the nicest beaches on the island so was great for swimming at high tide.
At low tide the water went out a fair way allowing a good width of sand for walking out to a small island and dodging crabs scurrying along the beach.
Our days here were for sitting back and relaxing. It only takes about half an hour to circumnavigate the island so we had lots of time for reading, swimming, eating/drinking. Have I mentioned we love lemon shakes…
The western coast is more mangroves than beaches but we managed to find a nice spot for a sunset.
We followed up this view by dinner at a popular Italian restaurant. Admittedly the service was slow/non-existent but at least we weren’t hurried through dinner to make room for another group. The yummy breads, pizza, pastas and wine went down a treat.
Filling up Thai style.
After our busy few days in Phuket it was nice to relax and just take in the scenery of the island as well as some local wildlife. The sound they make really sounds like they are calling their name, gec-ko.
Next it was another longtail back to the mainland and the province of Krabi. We had a great view of the limestone karsts en route.
Ah what’s this, a bit of technical photography if I do say so myself.
Unfortunately there wasn’t a direct boat to Ao Nang so instead it was a 40 minute motorbike to reach the seaside tourist town. This time at the pier they had to lift our bike over 2 other boats, the same deal with the man in the wheelchair on our trip.
We were delighted to see the towel elephant’s waiting for us at our accommodation, how cute.
Collectively we’d had a bit of thai food but there’s nothing like cooking it yourself. So the four of us donned aprons for a class at Thai Charm Cook School. Strategically we’d booked an evening class as we figured there’d be a lot of food. We weren’t disappointed each making a soup, salad, stirfry, curry paste and curry as well as banana spring rolls (better than they sound) and to finish mango sticky rice.
Overall I think the hot and sour soup as well as the mango sticky rice were the favourites. I’m sure we can test out our new found skills on friends and family if they’re willing!
The following day we set off early as we wanted to show Mark and Janice the great beaches around Railay and Phra-Nang, so we climbed aboard a longtail for the quick trip from Ao Nang beach.
Once at Railay (after a coffee for energy) we set off in kayaks around the karst cliffs to Phra-Nang.
The water here is about the clearest we’ve seen anywhere and although Janice noticed it was a couple of degrees colder than around Yao Noi, it was a welcome relief from the morning sun. We made use of the longtail restaurants that arrived mid morning. Not many places you can order brunch knee high in seawater and enjoy it on the beautiful beach?
The midday sun is too hot for us to enjoy so we hopped back in the kayaks back to Railay.
This time of day there are so many longtails lined up ready to ferry people from beach to beach.
When we were in Ao Nang previously we found the ‘drink drink’ man, literally a man with cooler boxes on his ute who sets up plastic chairs on the side of the footpath. It doesn’t sound very glamorous but is a great spot to people watch, and meet people from all cultures. Mark and Janice chatted to a Swedish man (yellow shirt) who grows strawberries back home and comes to Thailand during the Swedish winter.
Time went so quick and all of a sudden we were at the last full day of Mark and Janice’s time in Thailand. We visited a great place for lunch that had tables set up under a huge conical bamboo dome. We sampled a few dishes and ended up with the tastiest Penang curry we’ve ever eaten.
We had a drink down by the beach to catch the sunset before dinner, some more shopping and live music.
To end the night we went to the local ladyboy cabaret. One of those things to see once in your life (maybe that’s one too many times, it cannot be un – seen), pretty costumes, ok dancing and some pretty average lip-syncing. Anyway we had a fun night out.
Thanks Mark and Janice for coming to visit , we had a great time showing you the tastes and sights of some of our favourite parts of Thailand.