25 May 2012

Cocktails in coconuts, thunder/lightning skies and tsunami false alarms

The decision to go to Thailand was not my own…

It began one New Years Eve…I was out of town at a festival and on the first checked Facebook, as one does to send the “Happy NYE” message. Instead I found an event invitation to Thailand. Reading on I learnt four of my incredibly drunk friends decided at 6am that morning a holiday was in order and chose Thailand out of the many tourist beach locations around the Pacific.

Many friends “joined” the event thinking it’s a great idea but nothing will really come of it, I was one of them.
Except the idea expanded in July 2011, I was sick in bed checking messages to see the original instigator found a deal him and his partner was going to take. $500 for two at  4* resort in Patong Beach, Phuket for seven nights with bonus additions. This was too good to turn down. In my fuzzy state of mind the credit card came out and I was in!

For me though a holiday to Thailand will be one way. I was already saving to start my OE, destination the motherland England, but what a way to start the big leap across the globe.

The last time I left my homeland New Zealand was in 2001 for a two week exchange to Japan. The only international experience before was for a week family holiday in the Gold Coast, Australia. What these trips have in common is the little input I had in organising tickets, the day to day itinerary and traveling around.

You can say I am a complete travel novice because it’s true. So deciding to join a group that ended up being  four couples for a holiday in Thailand was a little over my head. Luckily a friend decided to be my +1 and to continue on to England too.

Now enter Thailand. Officially the Kingdom of Thailand, formerly known as Siam, is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia. Home to 5.2 million legal and illegal migrants as well as a number of expatriates from developed countries.

To sum up the time spent in Thailand:

T is for Tsunami warning. We arrived on the speedboat to dock after the Phi Phi Island tour, but back out to the deep sea when the warning came. After half an hour or so we went back to shore to climb a STEEP hill to higher ground to wait it out, luckily for us nothing came. Huge thanks to our guide fetching us water and snacks on his scooter. I was strangely calm never panicking, even when one tourist did and started a stampede of people heading up the hill. For one second I thought is there a wave coming already? To then stop and realise the bay was in the other direction and realistically we have at least another couple of hours before a wave reaches Thailand from Sumatra. In the end I had the outmost faith that the locals knew what they were doing and was not afraid.

H is for haggling. Going to the markets was always an ordeal of shop keepers calling out “G’day”. Our reply? We’re not bloody Aussies!

A is for awesome food. In Thailand I wanted to eat only the local food and I did and it was colourful, delicious and sometimes spicy, but not too spicy.

I is for Island. Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand, located in the Andaman Sea of southern Thailand. One of the most popular tourist areas on Phuket is Patong Beach on the central western coast, with a wide and long beach. Most of Phuket's nightlife and its cheap shopping is located in Patong, and the area has become increasingly developed. Patong means "the forest filled with banana leaves" in Thai.

L is for lizards. Lizards in the resort, at the cafes and at the bars!

A (again) is for annoying Songkran. Known as the ‘Water Festival’ by Westerners because people pour water at one another as part of the cleansing ritual to welcome the New Year. Traditionally people gently sprinkled water on one another as a sign of respect, but as the New Year falls during the hottest month in South East Asia, many people end up dousing strangers (yes this happened to us driving pass in a Tuk Tuk!).

N is for new friends. We made friends with a couple from England on the Phi Phi tour and bumped into them at Dino Park, where one friend managed to fail the last hole, a guaranteed hole in one. Not to name names but TROY got a par 4! The ball managed to stop an inch away from the hole.

D is for deserted beaches. Last day was spent walking along Patong beach after the rush of people that consume the beach had departed. The site was calm, peaceful and the storm leaving the island was a beautiful last snapshot.