I must say, 2014 is becoming one of the nicest years for me, in terms of travel. It’s only the middle of the year and already I’ve been to so many places. For the last 5 days, I was in Phuket, Thailand. I’d been to Thailand before; 10 years ago my friend and I went to Bangkok. But we did nothing but shop all day (#NotComplaining). Well, we visited some temples and saw some elephants, too, but this was the first time that I got to go to the beach in this country. And I must say, their beaches are spectacular. 🙂
I haven’t changed my opinion of Thailand, which I formed when I first went there. To me, it’s like the “What if” country of the Philippines. Alternate history. As in, what if we weren’t colonized by Spain/America and happened to be ruled by a monarch? I think we would be just like Thailand. Or at least be very similar to it. The weather in our countries are more or less the same; the landscape, the mountains, the beaches are also very similar; we even sort of look alike with our black hair, not exactly chinky eyes and brown skin. But our religions are very different, our languages don’t have anything in common (we don’t even use the same alphabet!), and there are no elephants in the Philippines. Hence, our cultures are very different, and our food, too.
I must say that I enjoyed eating seafood in Phuket, even though I’m used to eating seafood here in my home country. I think that’s one example of what I’ve been talking about–the basic ingredient is the same, like shrimp for example, but it’s cooked very differently. Here, cooking shrimp in garlic, butter and chili is the norm. At the restaurants over there, they paired garlic with pepper and butter’s not automatically included. I guess that’s not a big difference, really, but I think you get what I mean.
Anyway, regarding the beaches that we went to, and we went to several areas (Patong beach, Kata beach, Karon beach, Phi Phi Islands), I would say that it felt like exploring some of the best of the Philippine islands, except that they were all within a few minutes (except for the Phi Phi Islands, which were a grueling hour of a boat ride away) of each other. But each area reminded me of another beach I’d been to in the Philippines. Patong beach was like stations 2&3 of Boracay, Kata beach was sort of like Bohol, and the Phi Phi Islands looked and felt so much like Coron, Palawan that I was only able to tell that I was in a different country because the people around me were speaking another language. And we were in a speedboat instead of an outrigger boat, which I have to say is one of the differences between the two countries that I’m not so crazy about. Speedboats just make you so much sicker than outrigger boats do, and for someone who suffers from motion sickness as badly as I do, this is a really important detail.
Since we went there during rainy season, the waves were strong, the wind was strong and there were times when it rained, so unfortunately we didn’t see the islands, or experience the boat ride under the best of circumstances, but I still had a good time because we still saw a lot of nice places and it was only raining half the time anyway.
The hotels we stayed at were also all pretty great in their own ways. We stayed at The Royal Paradise Hotel & Spa, Kata Beach Resort & Spa and Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort. If I find some free time, I’ll probably write a more detailed comparison of these three hotels, but for now this shortcut version will have to do: The Royal Paradise Hotel & Spa is like a city hotel but quite old but it’s the cheapest, Kata Beach Resort & Spa is where you can get the most-Phuket experience (I’ll explain this in more detail, too), but their service could be better, and Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort is the place for the ultimate beach getaway, except that it’s so ultimate you’ll feel a bit removed from civilization (this isn’t always a good thing).
I really did enjoy my 5 days in Phuket and perhaps if/when I write the other entry about the hotels I’ll talk more about our itinerary (that we only made when we were already there), but for now, these pictures will have to do.