After devouring everything edible on the streets of Bangkok, Nikhil & I were headed to PhiPhi Islands via Phuket. I was satisfied and pleased that I had enjoyed Bangkok despite it being a commercial city. The street food, the clothes’ flea market, the promiscuous by-lanes of Phatpong and the unpretentious, curt Thai people were all new discoveries for me. That is all that mattered: to discover!
We quickly booked the day tour for PhiPhi at the airport while we waited for our flight to Phuket. After having watched The Beach, the wanderer in me wanted to go discover an island of my own with only a cryptic map for company. On a rainy Bombay night, a slightly-buzzed Nikhil & I had watched the movie for the first time together and thereafter everything changed. We became travel partners and eventually life partners. Hence PhiPhi is and will always be special.
The drive from the Phuket airport to the hotel was through sparsely populated areas. Unlike Bangkok, this island had called it a day as early as 8PM. We drove through spotless roads without the sea for company. According to the Lonely Planet, “Phuket doesn’t feel like an island at all. It’s so huge (the biggest in Thailand) that you rarely get the sense that you’re surrounded by water, which is probably the reason why the ‘Koh’ (meaning ‘island’) was dropped.” And yes unlike the outskirts, life in the interiors of Phuket is very much alive till the wee hours of the morning.
We spent the first day in Phuket roaming around like beach bums, discovering whatever came our way. Here is a list of things you could do depending on your travel affinities:
The laid back traveler – To you, Jesse Pinkman would have said, “Yo. Head straight to the beach, bitch.” Go plunge into the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea, sun bathe on the white beaches and gorge on the numerous food shacks that necklace the Phuket beaches. The only flip side is the numerous street vendors who will come up to you to sell fruits, souvenirs and clothes. Some of them will oversell and some will go away leaving you with a smile and a Namaste.
The nature lover – Thailand is gifted with amazing natural habitats on both land and water. You could take a half day tour on the back of an elephant and canoe on water. Thailand has an abundance of elephant imagery. Real elephants in jungles, elephant souvenir, elephant t-shirts. I picked up really comfortable Thai silk boxers with tiny elephants printed on it. I ignore the fact that it has a pee hole. 🙂
The mermaid – You MUST do the day tour to the PhiPhi Islands where you won’t have to go really deep to spot its colorful marine life. Apart from snorkeling, Phuket is one of the best scuba diving sites in the world. Make sure you have 3-4 days allotted just for scuba diving and also money to do these courses – the basic courses begin from 3000 Bh. Please note scuba diving is not as simple as dive-and-spot-Nemo. To ensure safety, most good scuba diving schools require you to be PADI certified or ask you to first do the basic course which includes one dive in a pool followed by an open sea dive.
The Need-for-Speed traveler – Thai roads are spotless and disciplined. People do not honk and mostly follow traffic rules. Hiring a bike and a scooty is as easy as spotting an elephant, which in Thailand, is very easy! So hop on and cruise on the winding roads of Phuket. It costs just 150 Bh a day minus fuel costs, and is well worth it!
The night club hopper – Phuket has numerous night clubs (including Hard Rock Cafe, none of which we visited 😉 But they are not hard to find. The most amazing were these road side open bars with nice rock and roll music playing.
Well I am for sure hooked and am coming back for scuba diving and Thai boxing when I have an abundance of both money and time! 🙂