Saturday, January 29, 2005

Pearces in Thailand

(Note: we went in November 2004, just about a month before the Tsunami hit the Phuket area in December)

We have always done car trips on holidays with the kids, and now that they are teenagers they are rebelling. They didn’t like our suggestion of going to Thailand this year and were even less thrilled with our idea of driving around the country in a rental car. In the end, a compromise of sorts was reached – we went to Thailand but didn’t rent a car - in fact, it seems we used every other type of transportation imaginable other than a car.

We flew overnight from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok, and then a few hours later were on another flight south to the island of Phuket. At the airport we were met by a minivan and driven an hour to the south end of the island. From there we took a 20 minute speedboat ride to Coral Island, a lovely island surrounded by a coral reef which was terrific for snorkeling.

We stayed in a bungalow on the beach, and spent four relaxing days swimming, snorkeling, eating and napping. Bob and Eric took a diving course and got their certification while Emily and I were more content to sunbathe and shop at the little souvenir shops up and down the beach.

It’s an interesting island – during the day there’s a lot of activity (boating, parasailing, banana boat rides etc) because people come over on day trips, but by late afternoon they’re all gone and the small resort is the only place to stay on the island so you really get a sense of being away from it all.
The lifestyle is relaxed and the people are so friendly. Big decisions included whether to swim in the ocean or the pool. The setting was lush, on the edge of a forest-covered hillside. There were beautiful tropical flowers growing all over the resort. There was a big water-filled urn outside each bungalow, with a hibiscus flower floating in it and a ladle to rinse the sand off your feet when you came in from the beach.

After getting totally relaxed we then flew back to Bangkok for a few days. It was an interesting place, tons of traffic, but we hired little tuc tucs to get around the city. That was fun but we found we had to be firm with the drivers otherwise they’d hijack us to different ‘tourist shops’ where they would get gas coupons if we ended up buying something.

There’s a lot to see and never enough time, but we did try to have a variety of experiences including shopping in the street markets and visiting the Grand Palace/temples. We took a river boat ride and saw the lifestyles of people who live along the rivers throughout the city. They use the rivers like roadways and we saw boats going dock-to-dock selling food. We got caught in a typical torrential downpour on the way back, the river got quite rough and the little canopy over the boat didn't do much to protect us from the gusts of rain coming at us from the side...made me wonder if perhaps the teenagers were thinking a rental car wouldn't be such a bad idea after all !

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