Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Thailand Days 6 7 & 8

Day 6 - Wednesday 2 July 2008
Phuket - Karon Beach

We woke to a gorgeous temperate Phuket day. After breakfast, where you go through the charade of ordering and making several selections, and then something totally different arrives (we all got the exact same thing, even though we all made different selections!). LOL, we took a walk down to the beach. It was not looking as pristine as last time, I asked a local about this and she said there had been some stormy weather recently which washed a lot of debris ashore. Still the beach, ocean and view are beautiful. We walked along the shore-line, and I pointed out the hotel I stayed in last time (the Andaman Seaview) to the boys, and we walked into the main Karon Beach town area and did some window shopping and browsing. We eventually bought another deck of Yu-Gi-Oh cards for the boys to play with. We also found a really cute kitten in one of the shops which Griffin cuddled and played with for a while.

We walked some more and then stopped at a hair-dresser and got Griffin's hair cut - by an actual hair dresser. I did not do it myself this time. *bow* After that we walked back to the beach and had our first swim in the sea. The water is probably 28-32 degrees and really lovely, so even I went in and had a good swim around and then lay on the shoreline like a beached whale letting the small waves break over me. I could really feel myself starting to relax!

The boys found a cage (lobster net?) and were playing with that and dragging it around the shallow water. Really having a good time. They were also relaxing and it was lovely to see them playing together and along side with little or no bickering or irritation :)

After our swimming we went back to the hotel to swim in the swimming pool and rest (it's tiring all this relaxing!). We then found a travel agent (they are EVERYWHERE) and booked a trip to Raya Island for the Friday. Then we went for a long walk down the beach front in the other direction all the way to the night market. We browsed around and then decided it was time for dinner. Sadly this part of Thailand is VERY touristy and full of foreigners. So many of the clubs, pubs and eateries are run by foreigners. So the number of Italian, German, Swedish etc restaurants is shocking. They do all serve Thai food too, but it's just not the same as the rustic and authentic road-side Thai places. But those are a fair distance from where we were and not easy to get to at night with the boys. Anyway we walked back to our street and then chose a reasonable looking place and the boys chose pork fried rice and I ordered Pad Thai. It was good, but not as nice as the Bangkok meal. Afterwards a plate of beautifully presented fruit arrived (Litchis, Banana, Naartjie & Pineapple) and then a bowl of chocolate ice-cream served with cream & strawberry syrup for the boys. All this for only 190Bht! Wow. Unfortunately the boys are not the best dinner companions so I got to eat virtually alone, while they sat with eyes glued to the TV. The other thing is that at meal times they kept being 'not hungry', but then at bed time at 11pm or after I get asked if there is anything to snack on. ARGH! So I bought a few Noodle cups to keep on hand - just add boiling water. They are actually pretty tasty.

Day 7 - Thursday 3 July 2008
Phuket - Phuket Town & Aquarium

We decided it was time to get out and about and explore a bit more of Phuket so we caught a local bus from Karon into Phuket Town. Once we arrived a few taxi drivers were on hand to offer their services. One in particular got talking to me, and we negotiated a mutually beneficial deal, he'd drive us around to several places we wanted to go, for a discount price of 200Bht and we'd let him take us to the tourist trap 'Duty Free' and Gem Shops so he could get his fuel stamps (they get rewarded for bringing tourists in) whether the tourists buy anything or not. So we got driven to the Phuket Aquarium (or 'Afarium' as the locals pronounce it) where our driver sat and waited for us for over an hour. It's not as nice as the Cape Town V&A aquarium, or as big, but there are some beautiful and amazing sea creature to see there.

Then our driver, Som Chai, took us to the cashew nut factory, which while interesting is also a rip off and the factory shop is more expensive than buying the same items in the local convenience stores! However there are samples of everything to taste and we virtually ate lunch there trying everything out. I tried a few of the durian fruit products, and one in particular - a thick tube of durian pasty gloop - was very strong and repeated on my for the rest of the day. Bleeeeurgh. The coconut toffees were delicious though. I finally bought some sesame & honey coated cashews and some banana chips. There was also some weird fermented cashew juice, which I thought was awful but the boys drank several glasses of the stuff.

Then we went to the Gem World where after a perfunctory look around were ushered into the complimentary coffee shop with tea, coffee, soft drinks, iced coffee etc on tap. So we got a free refreshment stop again.

Finally and after about 3-4 hours we were dropped off at the markets where we did some browsing. Phuket is much more expensive than Bangkok with all starting prices at least 2-3 times those in Bangkok. The foot massages are 250Bht, which although still reasonable is nearly twice the Bangkok price too. So we decided not to do too much actual shopping, except for getting the boys a katie each.

We found an Internet cafe and the boys played quietly for a full hour (wow!!!), while I checked email and posted the first update on my blog. Once the hour was up I asked the cafe owner where the bus stop was and he indicated it was pretty far, and the last bus would be leaving in around 10 minutes. Oops! He suggested we catch some motorbike taxis. So we zoomed across the road negotiated with 2 motorbike taxis. I got the boys onto one and I got on the other and off we went, weaving through the streets of Phuket Town. We soon got separated in the growing rush hour traffic though and I was starting to have visions of not finding them again. Oh crap! I wasn't even that sure how well the 2 drivers knew each other or whether they had any way to get in contact. My driver arrived at the bus. And we sat and waited, and waited, and waited. And sure enough the boys pulled up a few minutes later. Full of smiles. How exciting!

We found our Karon Beach bound bus, got on and waited. Suddenly there was a distinctive DING-DONG. Quinn grinned and said 'There's a 7Eleven! Can I get an ice-cream?!' Sure enough there was a tiny 7Eleven well hidden behind the general pavement mayhem. So off Quinn trotted to get refreshments for the bus ride back.

Once back and rested in Karon we chose another restaurant for dinner. I had Thai Green Chicken Curry and the boys had sweet & sour pork & rice. They were very unimpressed that this restaurant did not give them free ice-cream - the first place obviously knows how to win customers!

Instead we got ice-creams at 7Eleven and then I found a pancake vendor outside and just had to get a banana & chocolate fried pancake. Decadent in the extreme but soooo delicious!!!

At 9pm the boys were in bed and I was feeling decidedly bloated. The boys started calling me 'blobby mommy'. And just really wanted to get out for a bit, so I donned my running shoes and went for a run along the beach front for an hour. I got back feeling much better, and had a good sleep, after watching shockingly bad but mesmerizing TV shows.

Day 8 - Friday 4 July 2008
Phuket - Raya Island

We had to get up early to be ready in time for our Island trip. We were collected at our hotel and taken to the pier to catch our boat to Raya Island. We managed to get seats right in the front of the boat, and it was an exhilarating 45-minute ride flying along over the waves, and passing nearly all the other boats we encountered. We arrived at one of the little Raya Island beaches where we stopped for 30 minutes to swim.
The water was warm, calm and azure blue and full of fish. I found a big dark blue star fish in the shallow waters.

Then it was time to board the boat again and go around to a quieter cove where we donned masks, snorkels and life vests and jumped into the sea to snorkel in the coral with the fish. It was amazing, it was like being in the aquarium. There were loads of breathtakingly beautiful fish swimming all around and I was mesmerized looking at them. So much so that I sort of forgot about the boys for a bit (Ooops. Bad mom!) I suddenly remembered and raced back to the boat and there they were swimming and snorkeling and having a marvelous time. They had also befriended the lady leading the tour and she was chatting to them and playing with them.
Then we all hopped back on the boat for drinks and fruit, and moved around to another cove for some more snorkeling. Here we were allowed to throw bits of the remaining fruit into the water for the fish. The boys had a blast doing this and watching the ensuing feeding frenzies which followed. It was pretty cool being in the water while a piece of fruit was lobbed nearby and seeing dozens and dozens of topical fish teaming around to get a nibble.

All too soon the snorkeling was over and we headed back to the beach area and onto a tractor which took us to the centre of the island for a delicious lunch. Tom Yun soup, Chicken & Cashew Nut, Sweet & Sour Fish, Stir Fried Vegetables & Crispy Coated Chicken & Steamed Rice. It was delicious. This was followed by more succulent and sweet local fruit.

After lunch we had 2 hours free on a private beach to do as we pleased. I napped in the shade of a palm tree while the boys swam and played and looked like they were on the show survivor - digging in the sand, collecting coconuts, trying to catch fish etc. It was really perfect and so relaxing. The weather was great and it was turning out to be a perfect day.

Again too soon it was time to wash off and head back to our boat and zoom back to Phuket mainland. The island trip was wonderful and very worth while.

Once back at our hotel we all had a swim in our hotel pool, and then the boys went off to 7Eleven alone. The nice thing about Thailand is that no one is aggressive or threatening. The roads and traffic can be crazy, but no one curses or is rude and although everyone vies to get in front no one gets annoyed, so if you are ahead right of way is given, there seem to be surprisingly few bumps or scrapes even though people pass within millimeters. Also while stall holders will glad rip you off if you are dumb enough to pay too much, no one will steal from you. So there is no feeling of fearfulness here at all. The boys have been getting quite independent and apart from making sure they check the roads carefully before crossing, and making sure they know where they are going and how to get back, they have been able to go to the shop and back etc a few times on their own now.

After our big lunch we decided not to go out for dinner again, and instead walked down to the night market again. This time I bought several t-shirts etc. Then we walked back had a late night ice-cream (much ice-cream has been consumed) which we ate while walking through the Friday night pub/go-go bar area and then back to our hotel for TV and bed.

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