Phuket, Thailand – 01/17
Our plane landed in Phuket in the morning and we were greeted by a tropical heat in this southern Thai city. Our taxi took us on a scenic drive passing by mini-forests, rustic countryside homes, and coastal views on the way to our hostel, located in a sleepy seaside town called Karon with a mix of locals and tourists. We checked in and enjoyed some Chang beers in the patio before heading out to explore the town a bit.
Instead of sidewalks, there was just enough space between the shops and the curvy roads for people to walk in a single file. Cars and scooters whizzed by dangerously close but everyone seemed unfazed. After a mile or so, we arrived at Karon Beach and wasted no time getting into a beach day kind of mood. The area wasn’t crowded at all so we spent the time napping in the sand, floating in the ocean, and enjoying the nice weather out.
We had such a relaxing time at the beach, and after quite a few hours, we grabbed a late lunch at a beach-side food shack, looking out at the amazing scenery in between bites of Thai curry. On our walk back to our hostel, I noticed the surroundings a bit more and liked the laid-back vibe of the area. Stores lined the streets in a colorful array of signage and merchandise. Scooters zipped by carrying shirtless tourists and suntanned locals. This was a beach town to the max, and everyone seemed to be chilling in one way or another. Even the dogs were mellow, napping wherever their hearts desired. Phuket is such a nice place.
In keeping with the overall relaxed vibe of the town, we had another Thai massage session after our meal, capping off our second full day in Thailand.
Phi Phi Islands, Thailand – 01/18
Our second day in Phuket was filled with adventures as we spent the entire afternoon touring Phi Phi Islands and other beaches and islands in that area. From riding speedboats to snorkeling next to schools of fish to feeding wild monkeys, our trip further southeast of Phuket was super fun and memorable.
We were greeted near the docking area by friendly hosts and a delicious Thai lunch. Jay, Soham, and I basically picnicked next to the water as the workers gave us our itinerary for the afternoon. After the meal we met with our group and our guide, the aptly-named Mr. Beach. The sun shining brightly overhead, we took a speedboat to the islands, arriving at Phi Phi in record time to check out the giant rocky islands rising out of the beautiful turquoise water.
The islands were a sight to behold, filled with greenery seemingly growing out of the rocks. Other boats accompanied us at the various stops (Maya Bay, Lho Samah Bay, Pileh Cove), and it was fun spotting all the different styles of boats, from modern-day speedboats similar to ours to old-school single propeller longboats. We passed by Viking Cave on Phi Phi Leh, which looked like a pirate hideout cut out of the rocks. Mr. Beach told us that the place was currently closed off to the public but contained cave paintings.
Next to another island, we spent almost an hour snorkeling in the shallower areas next to coral reefs and local fish, taking turns floating banana peels to attract brightly-colored tropical fish and diving a bit deeper to explore the various sea animals that lived closer to the reefs and rocks. I felt like we were exploring another world – the blue-green tint added to the mysteriousness of the underwater world as we floated by pretty big clams, sea urchins, and fish of all shapes and colors.
It felt like only ten minutes had passed before our guide called us back to the ship. We continued our trip, making a stop at a small beach on another island to spend an hour or so sunbathing on the soft sand, listening to Bob Marley, and chatting about random things. Another stop brought us to Monkey Beach, where groups of wild monkeys lived on trees growing next to the cliffs. We threw bits of bananas and watched as the monkeys tried catching them. One of the older monkeys fearlessly jumped onto our boat and proceeded to help himself to a bunch of bananas that one of our group members was holding.
Our final stop was at another beach on Bamboo Island, a smaller island that had camping options. Jay, Soham, and I enjoyed some Chang beer while exploring the far side of the island, running into a large building that was probably destroyed by a heavy storm and a giant gazebo that appeared to be tilted sideways and sinking into the sand.
I walked around the ruins of the building and we sat for a bit under the gazebo, looking out at the calm waves and ocean stretching as far as the eye could see. Before long we headed back to our speedboat, catching the sunset as we sailed back north to our starting point.
And that marked the end of our fun day exploring Phi Phi Islands and all the other mini-islands in the area. I left wishing I could’ve explored each area more, but I was happy to have had the chance to witness such a beautiful part of nature. Thailand was turning out to be even better than I’d expected!