I really don't know how to describe the last few days and do it justice. I am in love with phuket so this blog may be a little longer than usual so get a cup of coffee or tea, relax and hope you enjoy.
As I mentioned in my last blog there was a little hiccup with our accommodation and Daniel had made alternate arrangements along with some promises. Well Daniel is now my new best friend as he has certainly made up for any hiccups in our accommodation as you will read later on in this blog. I am going to break the last few days down into a categories:
when massages only cost $10 per hour you tend to get one every day. Being a little concerned about my back the first two days I asked for delicate massages but today I forgot to mention that and received a traditional Thai massage. I had no idea my feet could touch my bottom when I laid on my stomach, nor did I realize my feet could be manipulated to 180 degrees not to mention my arms can go straight back!! I know this all sounds painful but it really wasn 't and will not deter me from tomorrow mornings after breakfast ritual on the beach.
When in Patong we found places where you put your feet in large fish tanks while hundreds of little fish eat away the dead skin, this pleasure costs $1.50 for 10 minutes. I let Marianne show me how it was done but i decided the $7 hour long foot massage was more my style. Hence no painted toe nails in the fish tank but I did take a picture of my foot massage.
Not only did Daniel (did I mention he is my new best friend) book our free accommodation for later in February he arranged for us to have a 5 hour tour of Phuket island with our own driver in a lovely air conditioned car (no not a limo but dam close and the driver kept jumping out of the car to open the doors for us). I had no idea phuket island (connected to the mainland by two bridges) was so large - 570 square miles 70 percent covered by mountains and numerous incredible beaches. Phuket is Thailand's most southern province.
We drove to old town Phuket and our driver waited while we strolled through a few of the shops. I couldn't resist taking pictures of the electrical wiring. I don't think it would pass our building codes in Canada
We then were taken to the insect and butterfly garden where the staff greeted us with a lovely cold drink before we got to view some interesting native insects that I actually hope we do not see outside of this environment. The butterflies were beautiful and so colorful One landed on my toe and another on Marianne's hand and I was lucky enough to get photos. There was also an interesting silkworm display.
Back to our driver and off to the Buddhist Temple. Most of phuket's population is Thai Buddhist and there are over 40 temples on the island. We visited Wat Chalong Temple which is over a century old and we were lucky to get a photo of a couple who just got married. The temples are truly spectacular and it boggles the mind how these were constructed so long ago. I felt like I was looking at a scene from the movie The King and I (any of you young folk who do not know this movie go rent it).
Our driver them ushered us back into the car and drove up one of the mountains to see The Big Buddha of Phuket. Construction of the big Buddha began about three years ago and it is not yet complete but is open for viewing in the hopes of raising funds to complete. The Big Buddha is located on the top of a mountain overlooking the Andaman Sea and is surrounded by tropical rainforest. It is constructed of white Burmese marble and is 45 meters high and 25 meters wide. When finished it will have cost 30 million baht which is just less than a million of our dollars and all monies for the project have been donated. When driving around the island you can see The Big Buddha for miles.
On the way down the mountain we came across an elephant trekking outfit and our driver asked of we wanted to go for a half hour elephant ride-how could we resist! Those things are bloody big and are not the most comfortable but the young guide made our half hour trek very interesting and enjoyable including selling us two bracelets (supposedly the little charm is made of elephant teeth - what were we to say the elephant is on the edge of the mountain and this kid brings out his wares to sell -- we thought buying the trinket was a better alternative than the elephant making its way down the side of the mountain).
The driver then dropped us off at Patong which is the largest resort area on the island and where the 2004 tsunami did the majority of damage. It is hard to imagine what it must have been like as all the markets, shops and hotels are across the street from the beach. Apparently most everything was damaged or wiped out. You would never know it as the markets and shops are up and running and most hotels have now been rebuilt or renovated. The only thing that seems very suspect is the electrical wiring on the poles??
After some dinner we decided to hit the markets but so did the police and all of a sudden a number of the stalls were closing down - just when my wallet was loosening up! Apparently only the stalls that have knock offs needed to close down - you mean my $5 Ralph Lauren shirt is not real! I did have fun trying on clothes and managed to pick up a couple of cotton items that are more appropriate in this heat rather than Canadian summer clothes. After shopping it was time for a beverage and taxi home for the night we were exhausted.
Today we had our after breakfast massage and then paid $3 each to have our towels laid out on lounge chairs under an umbrella and I went for a swim in the Andaman sea --the water is almost as warm as bath water. For lunch I broke my rule about not eating salad in thailand as I was warned about the quality of the water and washing of fresh vegetables. But I could not resist a squid salad and mango smoothie all for $7 on the beach. Hope I don't pay for this tomorrow ( no problem I have a medicine bag that probably weighs more than all the clothes I brought).
At 4pm this afternoon Daniel arranged for a private Thai cooking class. Since there was only the two of us and the cook already had everything chopped up and ready to go we arrived, cooked and ate all in 45 minutes but left without any recipes -interesting class. We had a prawn soup, curry chicken dish and banana with coconut sauce and sesame seeds. It was all very delicious and I am hoping Marianne remembers all the ingredients.
Well I am off to bed as i must get some sleep before my next massage.