Travel Journal: Phuket, The Elephant in the Room.

Travelling in winter can be hectic with all the overcoats packing and layered clothes. Far east is a blessing to those who wish to travel to a beach and summery destination during winter. And Thailand is one of the top options for a vacation between November and February (The monsoon season starts in March and ends in October). Our trip was by end of October and luckily the weather behaved well. It never rained during our stay in Phuket (4 nights) but it did rain when we left to Bangkok which wasn’t an issue since we spent all our time in malls.
Flight: Direct Gulf Air flight from Bahrain to Bangkok. Duration was around 7 hours. It was published in local newspapers a couple of months ago that GA will cancel this flight among others. But if you happen to book on it in the near future make sure to travel on Business Class as the Economy Class can be described as a jungle. Kids crying, people kicking seats and knocking on toilet doors, and damaged seats! It was a horrible experience.We spent a couple of hours at Bankgok Airport, which was huge and a bit tiring since we had to pick up our luggage, go to the 4th floor and check-in all over again at Thai Air counter. It was a subsidiary airline called Thai Smile. The cutest part of it is was when it played pop music during/after landing and all passengers started singing along. The colors were fresh, the snacks were good, the staff were friendly and the aircraft was very clean and not so tight.

Landing on Pucket was one of the most beautiful landings i’ve ever experienced. Fluffy clouds, rocks and mini islands spreading in the blue sea. Take off was also beautiful when we left to Bangkok as the sun was setting.

Phuket Airport was a typical island airport. Small and cozy with massage chairs that came handy after 5 days of touring the island.


Hotel:

Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort (Karon Beach) was a perfect choice as it owned a private beach and it was 10 minutes away from Patong Beach and all the restaurants and shops around it. It was a family hotel which was good as we were 3 girls and all we had in mind was to relax on the beach.

I wasn’t very happy with the service. I found the staff a bit confused, not so helpful/friendly, and they didn’t understand English very well which was disappointing for a 5 stars hotel with guests from all around the world.

The variety of restaurants inside the hotel was interesting and made dining convenient for us. The rooms were spacious enough with a lovely balcony. Ours was overlooking the huge beautiful pool which was a great morning view with all the tropical palm trees surrounding it. It was the biggest pool i’ve ever seen or more like different connected pools that were suitable for chilling and swimming, for kids and adults. Swimming in it was very refreshing.

The beach was very clean and the water wasn’t too cold or hot either. It was perfect for swimming or just dipping especially with the beautiful greenery surrounding it. And thank god the waves weren’t crazy at that time.

What made this hotel interesting is the little elephant that was roaming around the hotel everyday. I was laying on the beach one afternoon with my coconut drink reading a book when i suddenly saw an elephant walking between all the beach chairs. I freaked out because the chapter i was reading was called “The Elephant in the Room”!!

One more interesting thing is that the reception was outdoors. Something different!

Activities:

1) Beach/pool: The main and most relaxing activity in Phuket is to lay on the beach with a book and swim every other while. I found that more interesting than everything else we did. We started our day early (by 7am). And after breakfast we headed directly to the beach which was quiet and only got crowded by 11am. Nothing was more refreshing than a swim in the pool after spending long hours under the heating sun.

2) Walking around Patong Road: Patong Road is very lively and full of sea food restaurants and souvenir shops. It’s fun to walk there at night, discover the island products (t-shirts, accessories etc) and have dinner in one of the local restaurants afterwards. JungCelyon is a nice mall with good cafes, shops and restaurants that is worth a visit.

3) FantaSea: FantaSea is a lovely Thai show that demonstrates the Thai culture in a beautiful way. I won’t ruin it by saying more details. The theatre is located in a park and the tour includes two hours in the park plus dinner in a Thai restaurant inside the park. We didn’t include dinner in our tour but we went for the park option which was a bad decision as there wasn’t anything interesting to see. My tip is to go for the show only.

4) James Bond Island Tour: We didn’t have enough time to cover more than one island tour and we had to choose between James Bond Island Tour and Phi Phi Island Tour. We decided to go for James Bond as the canoeing looked more interesting than snorkeling in Phi Phi Island. We were a group of 14 people on a speed boat with 2 tour guides. We cruised through beautiful scenery and stopped by incredible islands. James Bond Island was only a small part of the tour and the other stops were much more fun. Canoeing between different caves was the best experience in the trip. Walking inside a dark cave with torches while bending not to hit our heads was another unforgettable experience. The tide was low so we were walking through water that reached up to our knees at some point. Visiting a floating muslim village was a bit sad as the people were extremely poor. But the lunch we had there was extremely delicious.

Food:

After completing the Thai Mission (visiting every Thai restaurant in Bahrain) i was very excited about finally having Thai food in Thailand. It wasn’t as good as i expected. It was different. Or maybe we just didn’t have enough time to cover many restaurants and try different kinds of dishes. Also, i didn’t have any beef or chicken there which makes it unfair to judge a cuisine by having sea food only.

1) The Coffee Club: My favourite discovery in this trip. I tried it first in the airport and fell in love with their soft chocolate chip muffin. It was out of this world. We went again for coffee in Phuket and another time for breakfast. A must try.

2) Savoy: A famous sea food restaurant in Patong. You select your order from a fresh selection of sea food which gets cooked the way you want it. It’s absolutely delicious. The atmosphere is amazing too. A full house with a band playing all kind of music.

3) Le Siam: It was a Thai restaurant located in JungCeylon Mall. From the outside it looked very tempting. But almost all their dishes contained pork which made it very hard to select something with no chicken or beef too. We ended up with few dishes which weren’t very good.

Hotel Restaurants (Le Meridien):

1) Beach BBQ: A serving station overlooking the beach. You pick a bawl of noodles or rice and add your choice of raw chicken or shrimps etc plus vegetables and sauces then you give it to the cook to stir fry it. The beauty of it is that you’re creating your own dish. I definitely loved my dish!

2) La Fiamma: Another serving station overlooking the beach that serves delicious pizza. There was a weird shiny lizard roaming around but no one dared touching it. Luckily it didn’t ruin our apetite.

3) Pakarang Restaurant: Theme nights and different cuisines every night. The Italian night was too good to be true. Breakfast is served there but it gets too crowded.

4) Le Cafe Fleuri: The breakfast buffet is also served here and it’s a better option than Pakarang although it serves the same food. It’s more quiet and less crowded.

5) Tonson Bar: In between the pools. Lovely atmosphere and good international food.

Duration of stay:

4 nights were barely enough to enjoy the beach or cover all the activities. I think that a total of 6 nights would be good enough to enjoy the island in every way.

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