Where in the world?
Thailand is a Southeast Asian country. It’s known for tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins, and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha.Wikipedia
The capital city of Thailand is Bankok.
The official language is Thai but languages spoken in the country include Isan, Kam Mueang, and Pak Tai.
Their currency is Thai Baht. R1000 will get you about 2303 Thai Baht.
On my way
My Thailand Adventure took place in June 2018. I basically left the bitterly cold Cape for a 10-day summer break in hot and humid Thailand. I was beyond excited for this holiday as I had never spent more than 24 hours in Asia.
We flew with Qatar Airlines from Cape Town to Johannesburg to Phuket. Phew! What a journey. At some point, I said, “I’m not even in Thailand yet but I feel like I’ve been through so much already!”. Haha!
Our first stop was the 4* Apsara Beachfront Resort and Villa in Khao Lak and we were to spend 4 nights here. What a beautiful place! It’s a series of villages in the Phang Nga Province in Thailand. The area and facilities were beautiful. The rooms were so spacious. I really loved the beach vibe. This place felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. It was secluded, minimal noise, clean, spacious, and because we were there during low season, the pools were empty and we sometimes had them to ourselves!
Walking outside the resort area is like walking next to a forest except for that right next the trees are sandy shores and the beach! All along the road outside we passed other interesting resorts, motorbike hire shops, and many many many tsunami and earthquake warning signs. We walked about 10-15 minutes just to find an ATM, which was an adventure all on its own.
James Bond Island
We decided to book a tour from our place in Khao Lak as we were closer to the starting point of the tour there than we would be if we started in Phuket. It was called the James Bond Island Tour but it was so much more than that.
We were picked up at around 7am in the morning to get our tour day started. We were on many boat rides on this day and I lost count. I just remember moving from a big boat to a smaller boat and to an even small boat and then back on to a big boat.
The journey to James Bond Island was surreal. We were on the ocean looking at these massive rock towers. They are actually giant limestone tower karsts. The boat took us all around the islands of Khao Phing Kan and we got quite close at times. Sometimes it didn’t even seem real. Almost as if the islands were photoshopped.
One particular islet of 20 metres tall, is nicknamed James Bond Island because it was featured in the 1974 James Bond movie The Man With the Golden Gun. Its actual name is Ko Tapu.
Following this, we got into a kayak for a tour of one of the caves. Luckily it was low tide when we went. When the tide is high, there is limited space in the cave and your head might hit the stalactites! Around the cave, bushes, cliffs, and rocks, the water is so calm you almost forget that you are on the ocean.
With no life jacket 🙂
Floating Village of Koh Panyi
One of the most unique places I’ve ever been to is the floating village of Koh Panyi. It is a predominantly Muslim, fishing village with a restaurant, markets, homes, a school, a mosque, and believe it or not, a soccer pitch. We got to walk all around this village and at times I forgot I was on the ocean. Every now and then we would turn the corner and there would be some water to remind us like “hey, this is all floating on the ocean!”.
The restaurant was right up against one of the island rocks. What a view! The homes are chained to concrete structures under the ocean, and that’s how they stay afloat. The move with the tides. After exploring here, we had a nice lunch before leaving on the boat again to visit a temple. This temple was inside a cave!
Outside the temple, there were a hundred monkeys running and jumping around. People around the area take advantage of this and sell bananas to tourists to give to the monkeys. Some of them were cute and some looked rather aggressive.
We an amazing time in Khao Lak we were sad to say goodbye but excited to see what Phuket had to offer.
After quite a long time on the road, we arrived in the packed and congested city of Phuket, to 4 nights at the 3* Deevana Patong Resort & Spa. Khao Lak had been so calm and postcard beautiful that Phuket came as a small shock to us. The resort was fuller and the rooms were smaller. This wasn’t a bad thing, we were grateful to experience a different side of Thailand.
Unfortunately, at this time the monsoon was getting very close to the islands and that meant that island tours were closed for the week. They would never risk going out to sea with a monsoon on the horizon. So instead of booking island tours, we tried to make the most of our time by exploring the city, walking on the beach, visiting the mall, having cocktails by the pools, and eating a lot of Thai food!
- At the soccer pitch on the floating village, the ball sometimes goes into the ocean and the kids jump in the get it back.
- They have a school in the floating village and teachers arrive from the main islands via boat and leave again in the evening.
- The school only goes up to a certain grade so students go to school on the main island via a boat.
- In the pool at Apsara, I watched a monsoon pass in the distance on the horizon. It looked scary and eventually reached us.
- In the pool at Deevana, I looked around and it started getting darker and windier… 5 minutes later a monsoon was upon us. The monsoon literally kicked me out of the pool and then I took forever to find my room because I was alone in a monsoon!
- We had a driver in Phuket who took us to all these random places where they make silk items, jewellery, souvenirs, etc. Turned out to be more like mini shopping malls but at least we saw more of the city.
- Outside the
temple, a monkey jumped on my back because it thought my pack of wipes was food!
Would I go back?
Yes. Thailand is a beautiful place and I’m grateful that I got to visit. If I ever go back I want to do more island tours and stay somewhere similar to Khao Lak. 🙂
How about you?
Is there a place in Asia that you would love to visit? Tell me about it in the comments 🙂