Having an alarm set for 4 in the morning to run to the airport is never ideal, but waking up two hours earlier to start being repeatedly sick is far worse! Yep that’s right everyone, the inevitable happened. Liam and I got food poisoning, on our transit day from Cambodia back to Thailand no less. Needless to say, it was a long and miserable experience only made better by the fact that at least we were in it together. So by the time we finally made it to Phuket and checked into our hotel, the only sight seeing we did on our first day was the inside of our room. Which thankfully was a very spacious and comfortable place to recover.
The beautiful shoreline of Karon Beach where we were staying!
A long sleep and a few meals consisting of the blandest things we could find had us feeling human enough to venture out across the street and spend the next afternoon at Karon Beach. A stunning stretch of golden sand meeting the gentle turquoise blues of the sea. Paradise. We read, listened to music, floated between the waves and had an amazing day soaking up the sun. We were having maybe too good of a time as by the time we were back to the room we were looking rather well, burnt.
Making the most of the sea before the sun got the best of us!
The weather was clearer than it had been for ages, so we headed back out to catch the sunset over the beach, and it was absolutely sublime. Watching the sun dip beneath the horizon changing the colours reflected in the clouds from orange to pink and purples was perfect. When we finally reached the end of the beach we decided to go play a game of mini golf, but not just any mini golf, Dino mini golf. Being that we were already surrounded by ancient looking plants it made sense for this course to throw in the Jurassic theme and run with it. There was even a man made cave where a very real bat flew out and it totally threw me off my game. Thats right, I’m going to blame the bat for losing the game of mini golf to Liam by 8 points, not the fact that he is the better player…
Liam, the reigning mini golf champion, in his element
Since we had a few days left on the island we decided we might as well go ahead and take the city tour and discover more about the place away from the tourist strip. The brochure sounded super promising: a view point, the Big Buddha, a temple, a cashew nut factory, a bee farm, coffee tasting, and a night market at a great price! Well we soon learned that sometimes things really do sound better than the reality. A quick stop to the view point would have easily been a highlight, but it was unfortunately clouded over when we were there. On the way to the Big Buddha we stopped at the most disappointing stop of all. What was sold as a chance to see an elephant turned out to be a poor young elephant who was kept in a pen far too small for him, separated from his family, being used for a tourist exploit all day, everyday. Most of our group paid the fee to take a picture with this poor animal and it was really heartbreaking to see such a lack of respect for these magnificent creatures. Especially when Northern Thailand does such a wonderful job with elephant conservation work. So, on we went to the Big Buddha, and while its still under construction the vast majority of the Buddha itself is complete. It was quite impressive and also would’ve served as a great viewpoint had the weather cleared up.
Absolutely massive Buddha
Next stop – Wat Kalong. A lovely modern temple comprised of three levels and filled with golden buddhas, colourful murals of Buddha, and intricate pillars. It is definitely a popular temple with the locals as it was still filled with people coming in for prayer, despite the fact that it had just been pouring it down.
What a colourful temple!
A cashew factory was next on the billing and we thought this would be such a cool opportunity to see a huge, fully operational, cashew churning, well… factory. What we got instead was two ladies tucked away in a corner shelling cashews, which was cool to see, but after ten seconds of that we were pushed along to what turned out to just be a store filled with cans of cashews for tourists to buy. The factory itself wasn’t even on site. Brilliant. At this point we were already anticipating the next stop at the Bee Farm to be lacking. It was made better by sampling a spread of honey products and a small bottle of mead that we bought, but otherwise you’d be hard pressed to call this place a farm. Hey ho, the mead was delicious.
Bless this lady for being the only interesting part of this stop
Feeling a bit worn out by the day we were looking forward to the coffee tasting. We accepted that yes, it would probably just be a store that sold coffee but we were ready for it. What we got instead was the furthest thing from a coffee store. We stopped outside of what turned out to be a mega Thai jewels and rare stone store. Armed with nothing more than a slip of paper with “one free coffee” on it we were led down a dark hallway until we emerged onto an enormous room filled with a maze of jewellery display cabinets and sales people scattered throughout. Liam and I put our Tomb Raider, maze solving skills to work, armed with the defence of looking like true backpackers. Surely wearing a bum bag, athletic shorts, and an actual backpack would keep all the sales people away. We might as well have held up a placard that said “strict budget”. Alas, it turned out this was less like Tomb Raider and more like Pac-Man. they were the ghosts and would pursue us at all costs. We finally made an escape and in a tiny corner by the exit was a small coffee cart. We drank our victory coffee and headed back to the van.
We couldn’t take any pictures of the overpriced jewellery, but here’s a picture of the lie we were sold
We took a walk down a very pretty, instagram worthy street of Chinese and Portuguese inspired architecture and learned that these were some of the oldest buildings in Phuket. This brief stop was actually one of our favourites, which says a lot about the tour really. The road eventually led to the Weekend Market where we got a variety of small snacks to eat for dinner and strolled amongst the stalls until it was time to go back.
Phuket’s most charismatic street
Turns out if you’re staying on an island that feels like a bit of a tourist trap, a day trip seeing the city will just be showing you more of that. We learned our lesson and spent our last day in Phuket enjoying what is actually great about this island; the beach and a few cocktails. The sea, laying on soft sand under shady palms trees and the love of my life by side. Now that’s island paradise. And yes, we did put on more sun-cream this time out!
I’ve been Emily Colorado and you can check me out on Instagram