Phuket with kids: Our first 24 hours
Hey friends! Today is our first full day on the island of Phuket in Thailand. We flew from Chiang Mai yesterday with Smile Air; it took 2 hours and then we got a Grab taxi for the hour-long drive to our hotel.
We had palaver at the airport trying to get our cab- we love the Grab app as we always get a better price than with taxis off the street, so logged onto the airport Wifi after checking out the prices from the nearby cab offices. However there is apparently a ‘system of organisation’ that means that only drivers from those offices can drive anywhere on airport ground.
Eventually after agreeing with the Grab driver that we would call him Uncle Sooki and back him up if he told the guys running the rank that he was a family friend (Thailand never fails to throw a curve ball), we got our minibus (£10 cheaper than at the rank, woo!).
It became obvious quickly on the drive that Phuket is very developed and very set up for tourists. There are lots of westernised cafes selling burgers and chips, tons of massage parlours and huge billboards advertising elephant shows and waterparks. There are signs everywhere for scuba diving and day trips to nearby islands, including the one that Leonardo di Caprio filmed the movie The Beach on (Patrick and I visited back in 2009). It is SUPER expensive- the usual rice and vegetables that I’ve been living on is between double and triple the price of what it was in Chiang Mai, and as yet every cafe I’ve asked in thinks I’m saying ‘Thai food’ when I say ‘tofu’, and they point on their menus at chicken fried rice and egg Pad Thai. #veganfail.
We got to our hotel yesterday, which is undoubtedly the nicest place we have stayed in during our full time travel adventures over the last six months. We are budget travellers and generally stay in basic (let me repeat- BASIC) guesthouses. More often than not our running water is cold only, and several times throughout our travels we’ve had no water supply at all, so when we get somewhere like our current place with a FRIDGE and KETTLE and CLEAN SWIMMING POOL, we do a little happy dance.
Phuket is going to take a bit of getting used to- the streets around our hotel could really be in any beach town in Europe, with the same old shops and cafes. Even for holidays back home we wouldn’t choose to come to a set-up resorty area as we like peace and quiet and lots of nature, and individual shops with their own character. Still we have also learned to give places a chance and we are hopeful that we are going to have a fab two weeks here. There is a park down the road and a Tesco, so what more could we want, really?
From a gut feeling I think Phuket is the kind of place that is good for people who want package-style holidays; if you want everything very conveniently on your doorstep and are willing to pay premium prices for arranged boat trips and western food and familiarity, I think you’d have a great time in Phuket. It’s not our style but it is interesting to see what other people travel for and what interests different people.
The main reason for being in Phuket for the next couple of weeks is to meet friends who are setting off on their own year-long travel adventures. They are landing in Phuket tomorrow to see us and we are SO EXCITED WE MIGHT DO A LITTLE PEE ON THE FLOOR. Well, Esmae and I might anyway (the son of the family and her have been inseparable since they were 3).
The beaches nearby sound great so we are hoping to get our snorkels out and do some flailing about in masks. We have also found a cat cafe – a CAT CAFE, with smoothies and cats!- nearby and Esmae is a cat lover through and through, so at some point we will definitely check that out.
In other news, I made this Day in the Life video of our travel day from Chiang Mai to Phuket yesterday which includes a tour of our Phuket hotel room and Elfie being a VERY cheeky monkey!. Check it out friends and please SUBSCRIBE!
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