Wednesday, February 3, 2010

World Traveler Part 12: Phuket - pronounced with a "poo" or a "fuh" - still not my favorite place.

When last we spoke, I shared a story with a high-alcohol content and hijinks.

But let's get serious. That was one, blurry night. We were in the islands for 3 nights. I needed to find some things to do that did not involve being packed on a beach in a rented chair with thousands of other tourists.

So here's what we came up with:

Charter a boat and get the hell out of dodge - there are hundreds (thousands?) of tiny islands and not so tiny islands popping up everywhere you look. You can rent boats at almost every beach and dock - so negotiate a price and hop in.

Go see some elephants - you can ride an elephant, feed an elephant, see a baby elephant, learn about elephants, and help pay for the care of elephants - animals of surprising grace and dignity that left me completely enamored. It turns out, I am totally into elephants.

And I wouldn't be ME if I didn;t mention food....Eat someplace very local and vaguely scary - as you walk down the street in Thailand there will be many options for restaurants, carts, and vendors. Sometimes seating and shade are provided. Sometimes, not. But if you spot a crowd of locals enjoying a meal, stop and grab a seat and dig in. Even if you just ate. The food will cost you less then $5, and the memories are, truly, priceless. Just don't forget to wipe your plate and silverware with toilet paper, for the love of all that is good and right in the world.

Some islands that are worth checking out?
Koh Lanta
Koh Kradan
Koh Pha-Ngan
Koh Yao
Koh Muk
Koh Kut

If you find yourself on Phuket, and are just as horrified as I was......there are quick options I wish I had known about. Drive South, my friend, past Karon and Kata, to a stretch of sleepy beach that will be a nice alternative to the crowds. OR you can head to the Northwest corner of the area, and enjoy the beaches in that area - specifically Bang Thao or Surin.

And you don't have to fly through Phuket necessarily. You can also fly through Krabi - something I would recommend heartily.

The very best thing we did during our time in Phuket was drive into the middle of nowhere, get on a boat heading out to sea, and dock at a floating restaurant, where the fish was literally pulled out of the ocean and prepared for us right then and there. Kachang Floating Restaurant is one of several options off the east coast of Phuket - and it was truly amazing. It may have been the most memorable part of what was truly an incredible 2 week vacation.

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