Phuket and Pattaya, Thailand
After 2 weeks of visiting everything we could in Bangkok, Thailand, Siem Reap, Cambodia, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, it was time to relax. We reserved the last 2 weeks of our trip to Southeast Asia for lounging in the sun, sleeping, and relaxing, although our restlessness still got us to stray from the schedule at times. So, we spent one week in Phuket and one in Pattaya, Thailand.
Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand and our accommodation was right in the main town – Phuket. We were rather far from the beaches, but we rode a bus every day to the one called Patong. The ride took between 30-60 minutes, depending on how many stops the bus would make. The busses were open, and you would hop on from the back and then sit on one of the benches on the sides. You could also take a taxi to the beach, but we never thought it was worth it. The bus tickets were really cheap and we weren’t in any hurry.
As we’ve heard of the beauty of the Thai islands we wanted to go on a boat ride and see them or at least some of them and so our hotel receptionist arranged for a car to take us to the port one morning, where we embarked on what must have been one of the longest days in my life. Unfortunately, the sea was particularly tormented that day, with high waves that the big motorboat was riding and breaking with its bow, then proceeding to drop on its hull with a bang that threatened to break it in two.
Before leaving, all passengers were offered sea-sickness pills, which I dutifully took. However, after roughly 15 minutes at sea, I proceeded to give up on what seemed to be my meals for the past week. Which started a mass throw-up among passengers of the boat. Suffice it to say, it was 4 pm when I got off the boat, scared even to hop into the van that would take us to the hotel, as the land was still moving underneath my feet.
Nevertheless, the islands were indeed beautiful. We saw Phi Phi Islands and we accosted on Maya Bay, which was filled with boats and many many tourists taking photos. We also saw an island full of monkeys that were hanging from the rocks. I’m not sure about the name for that one, though. Anyway, definitely go on a boat tour of the islands, but make sure you find a day with a calmer sea.
After such a bumpy ride, all other days in Phuket were spent at the beach, and on the very last day, we climbed to the top of the hill at the foot of which our hotel was situated, to enjoy a panoramic view and some more quality time with a bunch of monkeys.
In Phuket, at a local, modest restaurant we also discovered Tom Yum, the traditional Thai soup made with shrimp that has a spicy-sour taste to it. If you ever order one, make sure you ask first about the “spicy” part, so your mouth doesn’t catch fire.
On the second to last day in Phuket, we decided to hit the cinema. We passed a shopping mall every day on our way to the beach and we figured it might have a cinema. At the time, Star Wars: The Last Jedi had just premiered and we couldn’t wait to see it. Luckily, they were running a subtitled version, besides the dubbed one, so we got our tickets and enjoyed the movie, but not before standing and listening to the Thai hymn just before the movie started. It was an interesting experience.
On Christmas Eve, we arrived in Pattaya – a sea resort located about 2 hours from Bangkok – and we spent Christmas day at the beach. Although at its heart, both literally and figuratively, a very touristic place, Pattaya was much like an oasis to us. Our accommodation was very far from the city centre and about 2 minutes walk from Jomtien Beach where we went almost every day. As opposed to Patong Beach in Phuket, which was rather wide, the one in Pattaya was quite a thin strip of sand along the road. However, it was also much emptier – at least the part where we went – with just a few people here and there.
One day, we decided to visit the 3D art museum, called “Art in Paradise”. We spent a few hours there, taking pictures with all the exhibits, as you could get a very interactive experience. There are several of these museums around the world, but this was the first I visited and I was pleasantly surprised to have so much fun.
We also took in a bit of the very crowded city centre with its shopping malls. In one of the shopping malls, at the food court, we discovered a very cheap (compared to Romania prices) sushi place, where you could mix and match all types of sushi, getting 10 pieces for something like 24 baht (i might be mistaken about the price and I’m sure it has changed in the last 3 years, but the point is, it was cheap).
In terms of food, we also took advantage of the Jomtien Night Market, located roughly 2 km away from our hotel, where we walked (or took a tuk-tuk/bus) every night for delicious fresh fish and seafood, as well as fresh fruit. We also bought some souvenirs there, as it was a mixed market.
Speaking of souvenirs, on December 30th we took a bus back to Bangkok, to the biggest market there – Chatuchak Weekend Market. This is a massive market where you can find clothes, decorative objects, art, food…anything and everything. The prices are generally good, so it’s a good place to stock up on souvenirs, memorabilia or simply to wander around in awe.
For the night between years, we bought some drinks at the supermarket, got our beach rug, and headed to the beach, where people (mostly locals) were lighting floating lanterns, so by 12 am the night sky was full of them. It was a quiet, warm, peaceful New Year night – also our last in Thailand, as on January 1st, 2018, we flew back home and our one month trip ended.