Spring R&R 2011 – Thailand – Phuket

Eleanor, me, and Lucas beside a MASSIVE plant at Orchidacea Resort in Thailand
Eleanor, me, and Lucas beside a MASSIVE plant at Orchidacea Resort in Thailand

The Bangkok airport gave us more opportunities to marvel at how enough tourism and industry could spur a culture into constructing a massive, clean and efficient airport, to my eyes, of western renown. Or perhaps we’re just now achieving that which the far east has already? In any case, we had a couple of hours before our flight to Phuket, allowing us to transit (Jean saved our butts from exiting the airport through normal immigration control and steered us towards transit immigration), hold up the small ones for inspection during customs, and take several people mover walkways (“stay to the the right and between mama and dada, kids!”) to the lounge across from the gate. We again had some wifi access (“We need to scan your boarding pass to give you a code, sir”) and chowed down on Burger King (“that code didn’t work? Here’s another sir”), making me remember why I don’t do fast food, that rock in my belly there long after I’d devoured it. I realized I still didn’t have have a confirmation on airport pickup from our Phuket Hotel, so I again used the contact form on their website, as well as emailing them directly with my flight time and number. They responded in short order, letting me know they had not a clue who I was and would I please divulge more details. I responded with Jean’s name and that we were leaving momentarily and would see them in Phuket. We were off the dole, and had to pull up roots and move on to the gate and depart. Another hour and a bit, another styrofoam self-assembly helicopter toy, another white bread sandwich meal, and we landed in Phuket. We found our baggage at the international baggage claim and exited the airport, safe from the downpour that was the typhoon currently dumping rain on Phuket, but our driver was nowhere to be found. Given, we were about an hour late due to the weather, but still, not anything. We eventually settled on a taxi, which took us the hour drive to Orchidacea Resort, down on Kata beach. I called the hotel from the cabbie’s phone on the way just to be sure we were ok to check in, and we were.

Eleanor is jaunty at Kata Beach in Phuket, Thailand
Eleanor is jaunty at Kata Beach in Phuket, Thailand

On arriving, we could see Kata was a sleepy little beach town, but could command high prices for the location. The rain hadn’t slowed, and we ran in to the main reception area underneath umbrellas and checked in. The kids had been talking about going to the bathroom the entire way, so we danced about nervously as the hotelier told us about the amenities. We hopped in a covered pickup truck with the luggage and drove up a short ways to the building where we were located. Far away from a view, the family room we’d secured was situated on the back of the first floor of one of the remote buildings, far away from the high rolling honey mooners commanding the choice suites. Covering our heads from the rain (thanks, me, for insisting on bringing rain jackets to keep warm on the plane!), we jogged over a small bridge under which a torrent rushed, normally a small trickle Im sure, the gargantuan leafy plants shedding their drops onto us from above, making us feel proportionate to insects in this jungle. Geckos skittered from the light as we walked down the covered exterior hallway and entered our room, luggage in tow with the bellboy. We were greeted to a tiny suite with adjoining bedroom (not much like the photo online), but with adequate bed space for all, probably the most important thing. No dressers, only shelves. No bath, only a shower, but with a wall-mounted bottle opener (engraved “BOTTLE OPENER”) next to the sink, quite important;) Phuket is definitely a party town. Frogs and insects sang the song of their night exploits. The typhoon blew and spat and we bedded down.

Kids and me at Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand
Kids and me at Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand

Morning brought overcast skies and spitting rain, as we meandered to breakfast. The most meager thus far, but still decent, we enjoyed bacon, “Phuket noodles” and chocolate crunchy cereal. I ventured out to a 7-eleven for an Internet SIM (btw if you have jail broken your iPhone, or just have tethering on there naturally and can share out your wifi connection, this is the way to rock it) for our Internet needs; the hotel had wifi but at $5/hr or $9/day, it would be pricey compared to the $2.50 SIM(which ended up lasting about 36-48 hours for our collective hive mind of devices). I also found a coffee shop with wifi and grabbed a mocha, but the wifi was abysmal and I had to bail shortly. We had great success activating the SIM( “???????? ????????????????????? Happy internet ????????????????!”) and have been using that for our Internet access for iPads.
In the afternoon we walked to Kata BBQ for lunch and had the first of many amazing thai meals. We had an amazing view of the windswept beach, and were so inclined to go swimming afterwards, despite the threat of rain. After getting changed, we headed back beachside, finding the landscape slick with precipitation and ourselves pelted once on the shore. Undaunted, the kids and I ran into the surf for much galavanting while Jean held it together on the sand.

Lucas enjoys the waves at Kata Beach
Lucas enjoys the waves at Kata Beach

The kids and I managed a good 45 minutes in the rainy surf until Eleanor turned purple and we had to drag her from the waves. A warm shower and a nap later, we were ready for dinner, yet another excellent example of a thai feast at somewhere between Kathmandu and US prices.
The rain abated over the next couple days, giving us moments of bright filtered sunlight in the overcast skies, each day getting hotter and more deserving of the photographs we’ve all seen of pristine Thai beaches. We coincidentally met up with our friend, Tim, also from KTM, there on holiday, and had dinner together one evening at Kata City Center followed by Tim and I going out for an evening of drinking afterwards.

Ed, Coconut drink making my Thai Beach Experience® complete
Ed, Coconut drink making my Thai Beach Experience® complete

Our Thai beach trip culminated in the last day over which a glorious sun rose and painted the sky with an infinite palette of colors, and through which salty sea breezes blew. How I do love Thai food. We made a day of it, renting a pair of beach chairs nestled underneath an umbrella on the southern side of Kata. The prior day we’d actually gotten a bit much sun, so were slathering on the sun block and asking the kids to stay out of the sun for a while. Jean and I enjoyed spring rolls while the kids devoured chicken nuggets (!) and fries in the shade of our umbrella, whiling away the hour of most direct sunlight in the middle of the day.
This day, as on previous, I was able to play with the kids in the waves, taking Eleanor and Merrill in each hand to jump them above the waves, and in turn make them “flying fish”, skimming them along the surface of the water to crest above the waves, and teaching Lucas how to body surf and enjoy the push and pull of the waves. I absolutely LOVE the beach.
A full day of fun and sun behind us, we went back to the hotel and showered, being gentle with our singed backs and legs. Fully recovered, we went back oceanside for a nice Thai dinner (“pizza, kids?”) where I enjoyed Prawns with Panang Curry (“thai spicy, please!”). We got another nice walk in the surf in before retiring back to our hotel.
In the morning, we rushed around like mad to pack and hopped to it at the breakfast buffet before getting our ride to BANGKOK!

Sunset at Kata Beach, idea was Jean's
Sunset at Kata Beach, idea was Jean's