Since I'm currently working at a university in China, I get the Chinese New Year off! That's SIX WEEKS of holiday time. I'll take it :) Being already in the Eastern hemisphere, and with so much time to kill, my roommate and I decided to take a month and visit some sights in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Enjoy the first installment of that decision involving Phuket, Thailand:
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand, and also the only one to be a district in-and-of itself. Some people hate it, some people love it. Considering we were fleeing some of the coldest weather Dalian has seen in 30 years, we kind of loved it as our first stop.
On the way we met Joe and Nicki in the airport. We played heads up (really fun game/app, look it up!) to help pass the time during our long layover in Guangzhou. They are Canadians who were traveling to Australia. Nicki to spend time with her best friend, and Joe to begin med school. He doesn't know what he wants to specialize in, but he does know not surgery because he likes working with people face to face.
We arrived in Phuket at about 1:00 am, thinking things may be a little dead so late and planning how to get to our hostel if we couldn't find a taxi blahblahblah. We needn't have worried. The airport was packed, and we had to wait in line for about 30 mins to get through having our passports checked. If you're from the states, you DO NOT need a visa if you fly in and are planning on staying less than 30 days (15 days if you come by land). We knew this, but there are some countries that need visas and can get a visa on arrival. Our sleep deprived brains were a little nervous we had misunderstood, and we really ought to have been in the "visa on arrival line." Again, we needn't have worried.
We got a taxi for 800 baht ($22.34) and I don't think we really had a choice in the price. There were only two cab companies operating at 1:00 am. The driver had a really sweet smelling flower hanging from his rear-view mirror that will forever be imprinted on my first impression of Thailand. Not a bad first impression :)
We stayed at Noble House in Patong, a 10 minute walk to the beach. Our main first priority was to soak in as much sun as possible, so you better believe we made that walk to the beach every single day. Patong Beach is large, full of tourists and surrounded by souvenir and tattoo shops. Jet skis and parasailing can be seen or participated in if you like, and there is food of every nationality. We preferred the pad thai and Nutella pancakes from street vendors.
Never feel embarrassed to show some skin here. Bodies of every type and skin of every shade were represented. No one cares about your butt dimples. There's also a really famous walking/bar road in Patong Beach -- Bangla Road. If you're there to party, Bangla Road is your scene.
We met Claudia and Berndt from Berlin on the beach one evening. They are both artists. She does fashion, working with lace in a modern way. He does minimalist interior design, and does a lot with metals. We talked for a long time about their work, and living in Berlin, and the struggle to find the balance as an artist between marketing your work and putting it out there to be copied.
Our third day in Patong we took a day trip with our new friends Jessica and Paul. For 1,000 baht ($27.93) we were picked up at her hostel and transported to Coral Island and Raya Island, not far off the coast of Phuket. Lunch included! It was a fun day, and pretty stunning.
Jessica is from Xi'An in China. She was traveling by herself in Thailand for a few weeks and has a degree in English literature. She is easily lost and loves taking pictures :) Paul is 18 and didn't know a ton of English, but was very sweet and not at all bothered to play cameraman sometimes.
Coral and Raya Islands' Day Trip Photos
I guess some people love Phuket and some people hate it. I definitely don't hate it :)