It is true when people say “there is no place like home” because for me there is no better city to live in than Sydney, Australia. Driving over the Sydney Harbour bridge to get home made me so grateful to live in such an amazing country!
When I first arrived in Phuket, Thailand I was completely culturally shocked… even tough I had previously read about conditions and lifestyles of the Thai people – I learnt that to truly absorb their culture you have to actually experience it for yourself. My jaw dropped to the ground when we were driven from the airport to the resort when I saw a scooter with a family of 3 riding on it – a father, a mother and in the mothers arms a newborn child which I doubt was older than 2 months (all without helmets, speeding and overtaking other vehicles).
We stayed at the Movenpick Resort in Karon Beach http://www.phuket.com/moevenpick/ this resort was so beautiful (I would highly recommend!) In Phuket we visited tourist hotspots like The Big Buddha, Temples, The Viewpoint, King Cobra Show, Bangla Road in Patong Beach and saw a Lady-Boy cabaret. On the third day of arrival we drove 2 hours out of Phuket to Phang-Nga to visit the Monkey Cave, go elephant trekking and swim at a waterfall. The Monkey Cave was surrounded by 100’s of monkeys, I have never seen such a thing before in my life, they were in trees, climbing the cliff-face and chasing after the tourists that had bought fruit to feed them (travel tip: DO NOT buy food to feed the monkeys… unless you want to be jumped on, attacked or bit). Elephant trekking was the most amazing thing ever – I love elephants and riding one through the jungle was such an experience!! The elephant handler hopped off animal and asked if “S” and I wanted to get off the seat and ride it bareback – so of course we did. 🙂 After lunch we walked to a waterfall where we swam and soaked up some sun. On the fourth day we did yet another full-day tour, this time of James Bond Island. We took a speedboat out to the island and took photos – many of them pretending to be out of the movie… we couldn’t help ourselves. We then were taken canoeing around the other islands, through caves and into places I can only describe as mini-sanctuaries – the sight was so lovely. The majority of the time was spent eating, drinking, eating, sunbaking, eating, riding in tuk-tuks, and eating. To the say the least I do not want to see rice or Pad Thai for a very long time!
After our 6 days in Phuket we flew to Bangkok and stayed at the Pathumwan Princess Hotel (http://pprincess.com/). Once we stepped off the plane “S” and I simultaneously and unintentionally quoted The Hangover Part 2: “Holla, city of squalla!” The hotel directly links through to market shopping centre: MBK and ate McDonalds – I ordered chicken nuggets, and it actually tastes different! The store was customised so that there was spicy chicken and fish pie on the menu, and even Ronald McDonald was bowing to mimic the Thai greeting.) A tuk-tuk ride through the city to Patpong night markets spent so much time negotiating prices and shopping. We went on one tour over our 3 night stay in Bangkok, and that was to the floating markets, River Kwai and Tiger temple – we got to pat and get photos with baby leopards at Kwai; and both large and baby tigers. On our final night we had dinner at Centara Grand’s Red Sky restaurant which was on the 55th floor of the building. We dinned on the rooftop and viewed the 360 degree views of the city. It was the most beautiful dining experience I have ever had.
Travel tip: watch out for scams at tourist spots like the Royal Grand Palace in Bangkok, pick-pocketers and when negotiating prices you should be able to get at least 50% off of the first price.