We left Hong Kong fat and happy, bid farewell to my relatives and headed for the hot and sunny island of Phuket in Thailand. We were looking forward to hitting the beach again after the crazy, fast-paced city life of Hong Kong.
We arrived in Phuket in the early hours of the morning, and had to get a taxi for around an hour to get from the airport to Kata beach where we were staying. We didn’t really expect the bar in the hostel to still be open but it was thankfully, that meant a quick check in and some much needed sleep! We spent a week in Phuket in total which for us was probably enough, it’s very much a tourist island and also known to be the most expensive place in Thailand.
The past couple or years saw a surge of Russian tourists into Phuket which explained why we saw so many Russian restaurants and signs in Cyrillic. It’s very much a place you go to sit on the beach all day and then party at night, there’s nothing in the way of true Thai culture here – and unfortunately that also meant that standards for Thai food really varied from genuine, delicious fare to bland, tasteless slop they think tourists might like. We pretty much knew from the outset what we were getting ourselves into and enjoyed our holiday within a holiday! There were only a smidgen of backpacker hostels on the island, as hotel complexes tended to make up most of the available accommodation and we stayed at a very fun little place called Rick ‘N Roll. We also hired a scooter to get us around to see as much of the island as possible (when we aren’t lying on the beach soaking in some sun), always a convenient and cheap way to get about!
We then took the massively overcrowded ferry from Phuket to Koh Lanta, a cluster of smaller islands just south of Phuket to spend Christmas. It was funny to find out that the Swedish population vastly outnumbered the Thai population on the island we were on (Koh Lanta Yai). A lot of Swedish expats lived there and there was also two Swedish schools. The neighbouring island Kata Noi was where all the real locals live, a quick 5 minute ferry ride connected the two islands. We again hired a scooter to explore the island. This time Neil gave me lessons on how to drive the scooter, surprisingly easy since it was just a ‘twist and go’ jobby but apparently I’m still not quite good enough to ride on the main roads!
Since it was Christmas and all, we decided to treat ourselves and book some decent accommodation for once! We booked into the lovely Chaba Bungalows on Klong Dao beach and very much enjoyed the more laid back atmosphere there in comparison to the busy beaches on Phuket. Klong Dao stretched for 3km of golden sands and crystal clear waters, it was never crowded – just tranquil and relaxing with fantastic sunsets. In the evenings there were enough bars and restaurants to keep us occupied. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we went for delicious Thai meals and chugged back a few (expensive but necessary) Weston ciders supplied by the local Irish pub! Our Christmas presents to each other were to take our PADI Open Water courses and learn to dive! Which we’ll explain in our next post!