We arrived in Phuket last Friday so we’ve almost been here a full week. We’ve spent a few days just lounging around the resort – swimming lots, taking advantage of the free resort activities like water aerobics and salsa classes, and getting massages. It’s been wonderful. Although this is the rainy monsoon season we have been very lucky with the weather and it’s only rained at night with nice, sunny days.
We are staying at a JW Marriott on the very northwest corner of the island. The west coast is unprotected and the seas are rough this time of year, so we haven’t been able to swim in the ocean much here. We did go south to Patong yesterday and there the beach is protected by a large bay and we were able to swim all day and people watch on the crowded beach. We were most entertained watching the parasailers, which launch people from the beach (rather than in the water or boat like it’s done in the US). The boats have a long rope attached to a person (the customer) on the beach, and then a guide (for lack of a better word, although crazy man might be more appropriate) holds on to the ropes of the parachute behind the customer. The boat takes off, the people start running and soon become air bound. The ‘guide/crazy man’ then proceeds to hang on, dangling from the ropes of the chute as the two people get higher and higher over the water, until guide/crazy man pulls himself up and flips over on top of the ropes so that he is essentially sitting in the ropes atop of the customer for the whole flight, until he flips back down and helps with the landing. All this is done without the guide/crazy man being secured in any way to the chute. We were enthralled…we have lots of video of this.
We have also done two day-long boat trips in the bay on the east side of the island. The water in the bay is protected and much more navigable this time of year. The trips were in Phang Nga Bay, an area famous for the over 160 limestone islands jutting out of the water. The first trip was a sea canoe adventure where we got to explore a few of the islands in a guided canoe and also with self-guide paddling ourselves. Many of the islands have caves that can be accessed during low tides, and we were able to go exploring in some of those. Some of the entrances were so little that we had to lay down on our backs in the canoe, and the guide even had to let some air out of the canoe at one point so that we could squeeze through. It was such a fun way to explore the islands.
Some of the islands are hollow essentially, with large holes (called hongs) accessible in the middle. We entered these through the caves and had fun floating and exploring in the center of the islands. We were able to see mangrove forests in the water, trees growing straight out, horizontally from the cliff wall faces, and lots of wildlife including a large python curled up in a tree.
At dusk we watched monkeys clamber onto the beach in search of crabs and oysters, and enjoyed seeing them climb the cliff walls above the water in search of food. We did a cave walk into a hong and got to observe different wildlife at night, and on the walk back through the cave, after sunset, we saw bioluminescent plankton sparkling in the water whenever we moved our hands through it.
The second boat trip was in an old wooden sailboat called a ‘junk’ boat. We were lucky to have a small tour, with only the four of us and two others. We cruised around the islands of Phang Nga, went to James Bond Island (featured in an old James Bond movie that none of us have seen), visited a fishing village built over the water, and did some swimming until large jellyfish scared us back in the boat. The weather was great for both of these adventures and it was so fun to spend some time on the water.