A Travellerspoint blog

Phuket

10 days in a rainy paradise.

rain 84 °F

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The final destination on our month long escape to Asia was Phuket. We met up with some of Dan’s family there for a few days and then had the villa to ourselves for a whole week. Phuket is a little island in Thailand that has a big reputation. The southern beaches and towns are party towns. We stayed north of the hustle and bustle but did venture into town a few times to go shopping and because we got bored at the villa during the downpours. Phuket has some of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches. I am concerned for Thailand if this is actually true. The beaches had lots of flotsam and jetsam on them. Not my idea of beautiful. The resorts do clean up their portion of the beach, but you have to wade through trash to get to the 100-yard wide clean portion. If what I witnessed in Thailand is any indication of the trash floating around in our oceans, then we have royally messed up the seas. We could actually see the plastic in the surf and waves as they crashed on shore. It is heartbreaking because that stuff kills sea animals and sea birds.
We stayed in Dan’s cousin’s villa, which was what saved our week. It is a beautiful 7-bedroom complex complete with a maid and a chef. I did not have to lift a finger all week. Each meal consisted of 4 to 5 courses and she never repeated a dish. I wanted to take her home with me. The villa has its own infinity pool and we got to use it for a few days before the torrential downpour started.

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We did venture out from the villa a few times. We went to a few shopping centers to walk around (they were covered so the rain didn’t matter). The Jungceylon mall has a floor devoted to bowling, movies, an indoor shooting range, and a 4D movie experience. We saw Spiderman and shot some M 16 air rifles. It was a fun way to spend a rainy night. And I totally out-shot Dan! Woo hoo!

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One afternoon, we went sightseeing even though it was drizzling. Our driver took us to the southern part of the island to see the Big Buddha. It is a huge, white marble Buddha on top of a mountain. On the way up the mountain, we saw several elephants. Nothing quite like making a turn and seeing elephants crossing. They were carrying tourists on a jungle walk.

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We tried to schedule boat tours to Phang Nga Bay and the Phi Phi Islands, but they kept getting cancelled due to the weather. I finally decided to just hire a driver and make the 1.5 hour drive north to see the Phang Nga Bay and it turned out to be a lovely day. The sky was clear and blue and we were able to take a long boat out to see the limestone islands and cliffs.

James Bond Island

James Bond Island

One of the James Bond movies, The Man with the Golden Gun, had a scene shot in Phang Nga and we went to “James Bond Beach”. It was totally overrun with shopping stalls and tourists, but with the right angle, my pictures look like it was just Dan and I. Trickery!

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On the way back from Phang Nga, we stopped by the monkey temple (not its real name, but what our driver called it). The temple is inside of a huge cave and hundreds of monkeys happen to live on the mountain above the cave. They love bananas and are not afraid of humans. One bigger monkey walked right up to me and started tugging on my shorts to get my attention. I have to be honest; it creeped me out a bit! He left a perfect little muddy monkey paw print on my shorts.
After 10 days relaxing on Phuket, our trip came to an end. We packed up and headed to the airport to start our 20 + hours of travel back to San Francisco.

Posted by SusanConradWang 12.07.2012 01:59 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand phuket Comments (0)

Flight of the Gibbons Zip Lining

Whereupon I face my fear of heights and fail miserably.

semi-overcast 82 °F

Zip Lining

Zip Lining


I have no idea why I got it into my head that I HAD to do this. I was obsessed with the idea of zipping through the jungle and seeing gibbons. Dan had more sense and had to be talked into going. I worked on him for days until he finally relented. Yay! I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Not one bit. I suppose if it had just been zip lining, the day would have been awesome. It was more than just zip lining. There were bridges that were just like in every jungle movie you’ve ever seen. You know the type-- rickety, wide gaps, fatal drop between the gaps, looks like half the boards need replaced, swings as you move. They had several of those.

Rickety Bridge

Rickety Bridge

The experience also involved something called the “Spiderman Jump”. Basically, they move the cable from the front of your gear, where you can safely hold onto it, and move it to a hook on the back of your harness. At that point you are to take a running leap off of the 120ft high platform and jump onto a net across the jungle on another platform that is slightly lower than the platform on which you are now trembling and praying to god. Why did I want to do this again? Dan went first. He ran and leaped with a triumphant cry. Showoff. My turn. I look at the guide, Cash, and whisper “I can’t do this. I really, really can’t do this”. He asks if I want a push. Jerk. I muster any little bit of courage that I have left at this point and with a whimper, fall off the edge and make the slowest descent toward the net EVER. But I did it. It wasn’t pretty.

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At the end of the experience, we went to the main post and looked at the pictures that they had taken as we went through the course. I didn’t realize that they had been taking pictures. Dan looks positively radiant and happy in every single picture. Showoff. I look deathly pale and scared out of my wits in every single picture. Figures.

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Posted by SusanConradWang 09.07.2012 04:48 Archived in Thailand Tagged chiang_mia zip_lining Comments (0)

Cooking Class at The Thai Farm Cooking School

Making authentic Thai dishes in 90 degree heat in an open kitchen.

sunny 90 °F

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Dan and I extended our stay in Chiang Mai by two nights so that we could take fuller advantage of the activities offered. We decided to take a cooking class and learn how to make some authentic Thai dishes. We signed up for The Thai Farm Cooking School, an organic farm located in the sticks of Chiang Mai. A red truck/shared taxi picked us up early in the morning. In the back of the truck were the other 6 cooking school students.: 2 girls from Reno, a mother and daughter from Hong Kong, and 2 men from Amsterdam.

Cooking Instructor in the market

Cooking Instructor in the market

Touring the farm

Touring the farm

Our first stop on the trip to the farm was the local market to pick up our ingredients. We didn’t actually do any of the shopping, We marked the dishes that we wished to learn how to prepare and the instructor handed the sheets to a man as she led us deep into the market to talk about essential ingredients. It was hard keeping up with our instructor, as she was about 3 feet tall and FAST. She taught us about different types of rice, sugars, curries, and oils. She also showed us oyster sauce and fish sauce. Thais use a lot of oyster sauce and fish sauce.

Fish on a stick

Fish on a stick

Insects in the market

Insects in the market

After showing us the essential ingredients, we were given some free time to roam. We quickly found some pretty unusual items- insects. Fried water bugs, silk worms, bamboo worms, crickets, and what looked to be cockroaches. No thank you! We also saw whole-fish-on-a-stick. While some foods did look tasty, there was no way I was risking an upset stomach over any of the foods I saw.

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We arrived at the farm after an hour’s drive through the countryside. Along the way we saw many villages, water buffalo, and other livestock. Thailand is crawling with animals. The farm has three impressive structures outfitted with classroom kitchens. WE toured the farm first. All of the produce ingredients are from the farm. We saw mangoes, dragon fruit, lemongrass, basil, bergamot, and many other veggies I’ve since forgotten. Next, we started prepping and cooking.

Grinding ingredients to make curry paste

Grinding ingredients to make curry paste

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Collectively, Dan and I made 9 different dishes: green curry, red curry, Pad Thai, coconut soup, mango sticky rice, coconut-banana dessert, a wide noodle dish, basil chicken, and sweet and sour chicken. It was a hot and sticky day, but we had fun laughing with the other students and learning just how easy it can be to make the dishes.

Posted by SusanConradWang 09.07.2012 04:44 Archived in Thailand Tagged cooking chiang_mai Comments (0)

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