Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Phuket in the Monsoon Season

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on September 24, 2010

Hi Everyone,

I know that Phuket is not part of Australia but it’s still part of our holiday trip so here is what we got up to.  Glenn, any questions let me know and I’ll try to answer them.  Found there was enough to do to keep the kids amused but 2 weeks probably a bit long.  Their peak season starts in October and i think the weather would be kinder to you then too.  They have had very un-seasonal late rains in their wet season, lucky us, but we still had a great time and the weather, even if wet, was not cold and miserable:)  Cheers:)

Wade on plane

After some trouble getting a taxi in Darwin to take us to the airport, we decided to drive the car and leave it there for 2 weeks.  Not our favourite option but all we were left with and thought it would be better anyway as our return flight to Darwin had us landing at 2:30am!!!

Our lounge room

Singapore is a huge city built by the sea and all you can see is buildings and skyscrapers but a lot of the streets in the city are lined with huge trees.  It was very clean and quite lovely and we hope to come back another time and spend some more time here! After an early morning wake-up call we were off to the Changi airport to go to Phuket.  I should say that the time difference between Darwin and Singapore is the same as between Darwin and WA (about 1.5 hrs behind). The time difference in Phuket is another hour behind Singapore (Perth) so we were gaining lots of hours.

View from our room

We cleared customs and immigration and it was a nicer and easier experience than Bali.  45 mins later we were at Patong Beach and pulling up to Andaman Beach Suites.

Raining in Phuket

Our room was huge and it was actually a family suite, with separate bedrooms and ensuites for us and the kids and a big lounge/living area. It was very nice and we could see the ocean from our balcony, except when it was raining!

We did find out that they were doing renovations to a lot of the rooms so sitting out by the pool wasn’t always the relaxing and peaceful quiet we had imagined with the sound of grinders and jack hammers going off.  Luckily most of the rooms being done were on the other side of the hotel to where our room so we didn’t hear it from our room. However i had read on a website that this may be going on and when the travel agent checked there was nothing noted under the Hotel….Mmmmmmm…….

Monkey Cave

We spent the first few days taking it easy and getting over the jet-setting and getting into the Thai way of life – that is, the place comes alive at about 4-5pm and the stalls and shops open till about midnight everyday.

Monkeys evverywhere

We did go on a combined tour to do some rafting, elephant trekking and riding ATVs.

First stop was “Monkey Cove” where there were heaps of monkeys, all over the ground and in the “Monkey Cave”.  For a fee you could enter the cave and buy some bananas and then feed the monkeys.  That should read buy some bananas and be grabbed, jumped on and swarmed by the monkeys all wanting the bananas.  One English tourist was covered in them, not biting or anything but all scrambling to get the bananas.  I tend to forget what a non-smoking country Australia is as everywhere we went people were lighting up, even while we were eating. Yukky!

The kids were really disappointed with the ATV as we were promised that the boys would be able to drive one on their own but that wasn’t the case. They had to pair up with Joel and I so not as much fun as they’d imagined but Joel and I enjoyed it.  Some of terrain they took us on was a bit rough but it was great, but I think Wade might have struggled with it.

Joel steering the elephant

The elephant trekking in the jungle was really good.  Joel and Daniel had one elephant and Wade and I were on another.  We were in a group with some guys from Melbourne who were good value!

Not quite sure who's in charge

There is a bit of a track that they follow but our elephant decided he didn’t want to go the same way as the others so we took the ‘path less travelled’.  We had guides sit on the elephants, just behind their heads and they use their feet and a stick to move and steer them.

Boys and elephant

Part way through the trek, the guides got Joel and the other ‘males’ to swap places so they have a go at ‘steering’ the elephant.  It was funny listening to them yelling to the elephants to try to direct them.  They did a good job as some of the areas of the jungle were quite dense and some of the hills were steep, well from the top of an elephant it was!

Half time swim

We stopped for lunch by the river where we would be rafting.  We walked down, boarded the rafts and off we went.  We headed straight for a weir and I thought to myself, surely we are NOT going down that! We got closer and closer and I just thought SHIT we are!

Whoohoo!

We got right up to it, then the guides pulled us over to the edge of the weir and we got out and climbed down the rocks to then re-board the raft. Whew! The weir wall is concrete with 3 concrete gates in it.  They lift the 3 gates at the same time and flood the river to get us off at a cracking pace, and get us off the rocks.  We went with a group of about 6-7 rafts, each with at least 4-5 people on it and the guides were very funny and friendly. There was lots of pulling up onto big rocks, then splashing the next raft that came along and generally a lot of fun.  We had an ongoing banter with the “Boys from Melbourne” and I think there was a bit of competition to see who could wet who the most! There was much more water than when we rafted in Bali as we paddled all the time in Bali but not so much in Phuket, we just let the current take us.

On the way to the waterfall

Actually we drove in the bus for ages so Joel and I thought we must’ve been further up into Thailand for this trip.  After we had all ‘survived’ the rafting our guides put us in the back of a ute and took us up to a magnificent waterfall and pool area for a swim.

Waterfall after rafting

The boys were trying to climb up the rocks so one of the guides came over and took them over the rocks and up to the top and showed them where it was safe to jump.  They all had a blast.  I was in the water taking photos when I got hammered by the fish.  There are “fish bars” here in Phuket where you put your legs into tanks of these fish and they eat the dry bits of skin off your legs.  Well these fish were the mutant cousins of the ones in the tanks, they were huge and they actually hurt when they were chewing on my legs.  I’d be lining up a photo and then wham – ended up with a lot of blurred photos but luckily managed to get one or two in focus.  Then back to the rafting area to get our things, get into a dry change of clothes for the long bus trip back. Big day but great fun.

Wade and I eating out

We tried to eat at a different place each day to try as many different places and dishes as we could.  They boys were very good and only a few times did they eat burgers and chips, mostly they would give the satays a go or some stir fry.  The food was so yummy………we weren’t disappointed with any of our meals even when we ate some spring rolls, Thai fish cakes and chicken won tons that we got from the Phuket Town Markets.  They were amazing.

Joel and Daniel eating out

There are stalls all along Patong Beach and the next street back Rat-U-Thit but Phuket Town Markets are like a huge area under 1000’s of tarps and there are stalls that sell food, clothes, DVD etc, jewellery, wooden crafts and all sorts of stuff.  They are only open on a Saturday and Sunday nights, usually from 5pm till midnight but so worth a 20min trip to go and see it, and the food…….so yummy and tasty, eve the boys ate it and no Bali belly!:)  Wade and Dan have bought new Sunnies and they are both growing their hair long (much to their Mother’s dislike) -so Wade with his new sunnies now looks like that brat of a kid “Corey ?” who had a party at his house while his parents were away and Daniel looks like Justin Beaver! Hee hee – (he will kill me for this!:)

Junceylon Shopping Centre

We visited the huge shopping centre in Patong Beach called Junceylon Shopping Centre.  It’s got a lot of American and European shops with some smaller stalls in the centre.  It also has a cinema complex with movies in either English or Thai and it also had a ten pin bowling alley as well.  Outside near the eating mall there is a large ship surrounded by fountains, and each night there are 2 light and music shows where the fountains are choreographed with lights to different music.  It was very pretty and gets the crowds to stop and have a look.

Speedboat to Kai Island

We had a complimentary trip to one of the islands, Kai Island.  We’d had a few days of rain and today proved to be the worst of it.  We still went as they rarely cancel the tours and still enjoyed ourselves but I could see how beautiful the place could be in the sunshine!  We travelled by bus to the harbour where we were then taken to the island by speedboat. It was a fast trip and we landed on a beautiful island.

Pina Colada on island

We snorkeled for about an hour and a half and then the boat took us out to a reef to snorkel for about 40 mins.  We were the only European people on the boat, and even on the island there was only one other Aussie family there, the rest of the were all of asian decent.

A bit wet

The Aussies were the ones with no life jackets on! Hee hee. It was amazing!  They have shark nets set up, not that you can see them, so you can snorkel around the fish and not become someone else’s meal! They make everyone wear life jackets on the boat but all the Asians wore them just snorkelling off the beach.  When we went out to the reef, most of them came out there as well, only as they called us back in, some of them had drifted off too far and couldn’t swim back to the boat ‘cos they couldn’t swim (WTF!)

Lots of fish

So one of the crew and Joel brought them back into the boat by hanging on to their life jackets and swimming them back in.  Joel certainly had his workout for the day! Back to the island we sped to a yummy buffet lunch and I had another cocktail (as you do).  I’m pretty sure the next 2 hours are supposed to be spent in the deck chairs down on the beach but it was pouring by now so we stayed under cover until it was time to return, except for Wade, who played out in the sand and rain – God love him!.  Even though it wasn’t that cold I think we all ended up with a bit of a cold just from being so wet for so long.  Wade wanted to sit out in the front of the boat on the way back in the rain so Joel joined him to make sure he didn’t fall out.  All-in-all it was a great day but would have been fantastic with some sun.

Pick the Aussies

Raindrops keep falling on my head......

We also visited Phuket’s first and only Water park, sort of like a smaller waterbom park that is in Bali.  It is part of a resort that is being built in the northern part of Phuket but one of the guys there told us that as of January 2011, if you don’t stay at the Resort then you won’t be able to get in anymore.  Such a shame as it was good fun and it should be available to all the public. We had a blast anyway and hope they change their minds and keep it open to the public.  They have the Boomerang ride and one called the Superbowl and both were great fun.  With the Superbowl you come out of the tunnel into a big bowl, do a few laps then go down the “rabbit hole” and out to the pool below.  Going down backwards was interesting!! They had a lazy river so you can grab a tube and float around and relax too.  We had the sun for most of the day and it only rained on our way home in the car.

Joel going down the rabbit hole

Wade on Superbowl

Boys doing it tough

Splash Park

Daniel and Joel on lazy river

We left Phuket early on Monday morning and had an 8 hr stopover in Singapore before we could fly home.  By the time we cleared customs and immigration we found we could book our luggage in early but only between 1:45 and 3pm so we did that and then decided to explore the airport as there wasn’t enough time to really do any sight-seeing away from the airport.

Ready, set, go

We had been told to pack our bathers as not many people know that there is a swimming pool on the roof of Changi airport!  However, we managed to fill in the next few hours quite easily.  There are 3 terminals at the airport so we explored each of them in turn.  We had lunch at Pizza Hut but there are heaps of places to choose from. The kids found a Time-zone (Asian equivalent) and Joel and I veged out by a fountain while they gamed on.  There was a kids playground just outside the Timezone as well, but for little kids.  They also have a huge stainless steel slide in there as well and the kids had a few goes on it as well (all for free I might add).  We headed over to Terminal 3 and they have a whole area set up with some remote-controlled cars and 4 Need for Speed consoles, with seats, pedals and steering wheels.  All for free as well!

Go man go!

We all had a go on the cars and then headed off to book through customs and immigration again and found a nice quiet spot near an internet cafe where the kids surfed/gamed, Joel had a nap and I charged up all our iPods, phones and DSis and played with my iPhone:).  They actually have these amazing small lockers (like a postal box), with keys, that you can plug your phone into, close and lock the door and go off to shop, eat, etc while your phone charges up – all for nix! There are a few ideas here that Australian airports could really adopt!

Wade on slide at airport

Free Phone Charging

After a bit of turbulence we landed in Darwin about 2:45AM and got all the bags, went to the car only to find we had a flat battery! OMG – after talking to a few security guards (who had no idea!) I found a lovely gentleman who found some jumper leads for us so we could start the car from the second battery.  There wasn’t even enough charge in the battery to open the rear of the car, which is where our jumper leads were.  We headed back to the caravan to catch a few zzzzzs before moving the caravan onto a powered site.

Till next time

Ciao`

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