thailand is like new orleans; its hot and no one really speaks english. add to that there are less rules and everything is half the price and you now have the lay of the land…
we found out the burma group had rented a villa with a pool in phuket, @ bangtao beach, for nye, so naturally we invited ourselves to tag along. online this was a pretty swanky spot but in reality it was more like a strip of low rent single family homes with a shared baby pool. our “villa” was supposed to sleep some 12 folks comfortably, but the house only had 4 tiny bedrooms and 3 equally small bathrooms…2 of which had hoses above the toilets as “showers”. when brought to the owner’s attention that there wasn’t going to be enough room he was quick to offer “as many rollaway beds as we could fit in the place”. shortly after check-in the water stopped working, as did our patience, so we decided to get sauced up and figure out an alternative. while i was looking at a few nearby AirBNB options the katie’s, very kindly, booked rooms on points in a nearby hotel that rhymes with “tanyan bree” and invited us to make a run for it with them in the AM. i know this sounds a little shallow coming from out of our yangon slums experience, but there was no way we could sleep more than 5 people in this place and whatever..its our adventure we’ll play it how we want.
*a quick note that this isn’t the norm for thailand, or phuket in particular, and plese don’t let this one experience give you a poor opinion of the people or area. last year we stayed roughly 200 yards from the previously mentioned villa and had an incredible experience. so much so that im only posting pics of me creeping in on last years spot…
next day, NYE, we woke up early to sneak into our new accommodations for some much needed R&R (see pool side with drinks) before getting ready for the night. one of katie’s friends and her brother/travel companion met up with us and we all went to dinner at this ridiculous restaurant, Baan Suan Layan, with some crazy cat and nautical themes and yes it was awesome. we headed to Nikki Beach Club after for their western-style NYE party – mostly meaning dbags in ridiculous outfits, $200 bottle service, an obnoxious dj and excessive drinking – which was great fun. after midnight we all lit lanterns and i decided 2015 was going to be the year that i stopped stressing out about all the little things and we all adopted the new motto #letgoletgod (i’m traveling with a bunch of girls). the next morning we met the baby elephant “Lucky” they brought to our lobby every morning then had a top notch greasy breakfast, rode bicycles, went for drinks at Nok & Jo’s and massages. later that night we went to a suprerb thai dinner at Baan Rim Pa in patong beach before taking in some local theater and ended the evening with beers at molly malone’s – so far 2015 does not suck!
our last day in phuket we said goodbye to the katie’s over another awesome breakfast and jumped a cab to krabi/ao nang beach/phi phi islands to start a solid blues session. we wouldn’t recommend krabi and not because there’s anything exceptionally wrong with it, but just head straight for ao nang beach, railay beach or the phi phi islands. first thing we did was set-up a day trip to the phi phi islands then we spent the next 2 days sleeping off NYE, doing laundry, eating local fare and bouncing around on a newly rented scooter. our last full day we went out for said day tour which was $20 pax and included lunch. also somewhat typical of international travel, we were the only americans on our tour with a few canadian’s and an even mix of asians and europeans of some origin. surprisingly though, we were only two of a few folks who actually knew how to swim…not even kidding. we hit all the hot spots; viking cave, monkey beach, bamboo island and the most famous of all where they filmed the movie “the beach”, maya bay. maya bay is very over crowded and borderline depressing. boats galore, people littering and putting out smokes on the beach – see video below. very sad.
the next day we took a late regional flight to bangkok and holy-moly bangkok is awesome. the hate/love for this place is so real. on arrival we met some canadians and their 3yr old in the taxi line and ended up riding a regional train together into the city bc the route was much cheaper and way more interesting but not the route i would recommend if you land late at night, unless you’re traveling on a budget. anyway, the train didn’t as much stop as it just slowed down and opened the door and it’s also one of the filthiest forms of public transportation ive ever been on to date. the canadian’s kid starred in a few photo session and had her blond curls pet by no less than a dozen locals. it was late so we checked in at dream hotel, would recommend, ate dinner nearby and went to bed. our 2nd day in bangkok, high off our newly adopted 2015 motto of #LETGOLETGOD, we took a boat taxi north up the river and got off at the last stop with plans to walk back thru the city and just see what happens along the way – maybe the palace? possibly some pagodas and temples? shopping? whatever? we weren’t 10 min off the boat before what we refer to as “the scam” started and we fell hook line and sinker and didn’t realize it until after we had dinner with the canadians later that night. i’d tell the whole story but we found multiple sources of the tailor scam after doing some research and all were pretty much word-for-word what happened to us. below is our cliff notes version… yes, we felt like idiots but before you read, our version or the blog link, know that the quality of the products sold/received is actually solid. all in all our feelings have forever been hurt and #letgoletgod is now something more like #nevertrustastranger.
- a local tour guide on way back to the office on his lunch break offers some advice not found in the guide books and casually mentions a good tailor…all includes advice for only using the yellow tuk-tuks bc they’re on flat rates
- perfectly timed tuk-tuk arrives magically and prices match along with knowledge of said non-touristy temples
- at the 3rd temple, the lucky buddha, we met a real estate investor who had just come from tailor confirming their authenticity and products
- last stop, pearl fashion
our 3rd day in bangkok we bounced around the city with nothing close to an agenda – some shopping, some sightseeing, lots of eating – ended the day at a muay thai boxing fight at Ratchadamnoen Stadium (also known as Rajadamnern) which was a super cool experience. our 4th day we drove out to damnoen saduak to the floating markets and to one of the more humane tiger zoo’s to play with a 7 mo old tiger face-to-face and his aunt and uncles behind safe cages. went for our first fitting at Peal Fashion then found the best foot massage in the entire world at ChaCha Massage (seriously, the best ever). we went to a quasi-famous street market for dinner, Soi 38, then hung out on a strip club street, Soi Cowboy, to people watch. we took the redeye out on our 5th day so we had most the day to kill which included more street food, a pokemon festival, a final fitting and another massage at ChaCha.
bangkok is awesome and we’d highly recommend. street food is cheap-cheap, very delicious and safe – it’s literally all we ate post dinner with the canadians. breakfast, lunch and dinner probably cost a total of $20USD (all 3 meals) and included omelets every morning, usually skewers of some sort for lunch and noodles/rice/chicken of some variety at night. this price generally includes booze. that said, do not come in hot on a “the world is kind” mentality. like traveling to any major city, whether domestic or abroad, you need to keep your head on a swivel, do your research ahead of time and on the fly and, most importantly, use common sense. if it seems too good to be true than it probably is.