Accommodation: JW Marriot
It’s been a while since I uploaded the first instalment of this blog post, which you can read here. In this instalment, I travel to Phuket which is a southern province of Thailand, famed for its beaches.
DISCLAIMER – This blog post is going to be a little different to what I’ve posted in the past, in that it’s not at all cheap and cheerful. While it is possible to visit Thailand on a budget, I travelled with ‘Patch Adams’ (who you may remember from my Iceland post) and both of our families, hence why the hotels etc. were a lot fancier than usual. Hopefully, the actual content of the trip will still remain relevant for those of you wishing to travel on a smaller budget.
Usually, I’m not the biggest fan of a beach holiday. I’m scared of the sea, I hate fish and I already have brown skin so I don’t need to tan. I’m also too fidgety to lie on a recliner all day! However, I just about managed to tolerate it for PARADISE.
Phuket must be one of the most beautiful places in the world. It has white sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise water, exotic wildlife and the friendliest people. It was as close to heaven on earth as I can imagine.
JW Marriot is a very fancy hotel, and the resort was built to maximise the natural beauty of the surroundings while emphasising the comfort of its guests. We spent most of the first day, hanging out in the resort and eating at the Siam Deli.
The next day we decided to head down to the beach. We had a great morning frolicking in the water, climbing through tree roots and lying in hammocks. We then made our way back to the resort and spent some time enjoying food and drinks at the bar near the infinity pool built in the central courtyard.
We had been hearing a lot about a very special show in Phuket called Fantasea, and decided to book some tickets for that evening’s performance. The ticket included minibus ‘pick up and drop off’ from the hotel and the journey was about an hour’s drive each way.
Fantasea is set up like a theme park, but I can’t really see why anyone would go there for any reason other than the show.
You are led into the incredibly constructed Elephant Palace where the show takes place.Here we were greeted by 3 tiny tiger cubs wearing little mittens, one of whom I was allowed to bottle feed and have a photo with!
The show combined stories from Thai culture with music, magic, acrobatics, dance, flying, lasers, animals and stage fights. It was one of the most spectacular theatrical experiences and I would give anything to be able to watch it again!
I believe that this show is the closest state of confusion, amazement and hysteria you can experience without dropping a tab of acid. At one point, the lights go off for a millisecond and there are 10 dancing elephants behind you. You look up and there are acrobats spinning on wires above your head. Baby tigers, cattle, chicken, dogs, goats and more elephants run across the stage. Elephants are made to appear and disappear right before your very eyes, and Thai dancers spirit across the floor like fairies.
Your phones are confiscated before you go in, which is great in a way because you’re not at all distracted, but also terrible because it is hard to explain what you have witnessed once it’s over. If you want to have a sneak peek of the staging, you can check out their website here.
Our tickets also included dinner in Fantasea’s buffet restaurant, which was in a very nice location, but nothing particularly memorable food wise.
On our penultimate day in Phuket, we decided to take a day trip to the Phi Phi islands. This tour involved taking a boat out to the various islands and beaches, as well as stopping along the way for snorkelling.
The sea around these islands is immaculate and unspoiled. The boat crew gave us pieces of bread to drop into the water, which attracted an array of hungry rainbow coloured fish. The rocks were covered in small monkeys, one of whom decided to jump onto our boat and wreak havoc with the passengers.
Now if you’re the kind of person who gets sea sick, you may want to invest a wrist band or some medication because my face was pretty much green for the entire journey. As I said before, I don’t enjoy swimming (private school traumas), being in the sea or being in close proximity to fish. I clearly hadn’t intended on going snorkelling so hadn’t brought any swimming paraphernalia with me. In fact, I wasn’t even sure whether I could swim properly.
But sometimes, when the seasickness is high and the struggle is real you start feeling desperate. I started to think “I need to get off this god damn boat”. So without further ado, I grabbed a life jacket and leapt off the back of the boat fully clothed, with one piece of advice ringing in my ears as I jumped … “WATCH OUT FOR THE PROPELLER!”
It’s cool guys, I didn’t get sliced and diced. Instead, I floated in crystal blue ecstasy. Not a single fish approached me and my nausea slowly melted away. With my brother swimming close by, I felt brave enough to remove the life jacket and guess what? I CAN SWIM! Patch Adams quickly followed suit and jumped into the water wearing a choker necklace and a maxi skirt, because at that point in time we couldn’t have cared less about swimming norms.
On our final day in Phuket, we decided to go elephant trekking. Animals are big industry in Thailand and therefore, lots of companies offer elephant safari services to tourists. However, I personally would not have been able to gain enjoyment from elephant safari unless I was sure that the animals were being well treated while they worked. The hotel recommended Kok Chang Elephant safari to us in terms of a good experience, as well as ethical treatment of the elephants.
Kok Chang is highly rated by Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor, and you can check out their website here. Of course, the ethical argument regarding elephant safari is vast and so I would encourage you to do your own research into the area if you are concerned.
The trek itself was a breathtaking but hair raising experience, as I felt like I was going to slip off the elephant’s back at any second! You are perfectly safe at all times however, and the elephants are obviously well balanced enough to easily climb the rocky and muddy terrain up to the high view point. The guides hop off the elephants at this point, and one of them took my iPhone away from me to take some incredible photos. The trek lasts for about 45 minutes and at the end you are able to feed bananas to one of the smaller elephants. I would thoroughly recommend this trekking experience to anyone interested.
Thanks for reading,