As Katie mentioned before, we wanted to cross over to Thailand from the very south, but sadly it was hugely expensive and too time consuming to do so. We opted for a land crossing close to Bangkok, and to fly from there to meet my sister Rachel in Phuket.
However Myanmar had one last adventure to throw at us before we left. The land crossing was 5 hours by car from Dawei, and we were very impressed when we were picked up by a small car not a van, thinking we had the whole thing to ourselves. Boy, we couldn’t have been more wrong. To cut a long story short: 10 of us were packed into a 5-seater (5 in the trunk), 7 of whom vomited constantly for the duration of the mainly off-road bumpy ride. We’ve come to realise, probably given the lack of cars until 5 years ago, that the Burmese do not travel well in cars.
Anyway, we got to Bangkok 12 hours after leaving Dawei, and were very relieved to arrive at my family friend Delina’s house again, where we treated ourselves to a few slices of pizza and a glass of wine before crashing for the night.
The next morning we headed straight to the airport for our flight to meet Rachel! It’s been 8 months since we saw her last so we had a wonderful reunion at the airport and headed for our Airbnb in the area of Kamala. Rachel and her husband Jon were doing some teaching and performing in China, so with her few free days she came to meet us in Phuket, which is a hell of a lot closer to Hawaii than London is!
We weren’t entirely sure what to expect from Phuket – we heard it was a lot busier, more touristy and much more expensive than the north, so we opted for a quieter area in the hope to avoid some of that. Needless to say, it’s basically unavoidable, but we had a fantastic few days catching up, despite the lack of great food or culture!
We spent our first day on our local beach – Kamala – which was surprisingly empty and with beautiful clear waters, followed by an evening making the most of having a kitchen (which we haven’t had in months). We binged on pasta, which we then actually did for the remaining nights partly because we could, partly because it rained a LOT, and partly because Phuket is a lot more expensive than the rest of Thailand!
The following day we went to explore Phuket town (also Rachel’s first time on a scooter!), which we imagined would have more culture than the beaches, however were left slightly disappointed. There was some great architecture and colourful buildings which we enjoyed whilst strolling around, and also came across a wat, which was closed, but we were left feeling unsure how to fill our time. Our main highlight was the cat cafe we happened upon, although none of the cats were particularly friendly – slight flaw in the business plan there. On our way home we came across Wat Chalong, Phuket’s main wat, which was very beautiful.
That evening we eagerly stopped at the local English cinema to watch a childhood favourite, Beauty and the Beast. True to her style, Rachel sang through most of it!
The next day was spent exploring the north of the island. We headed to the national park, which is home to not only a waterfall but a gibbon rehabilitation centre that we just had to visit. It was quite special – before we saw them, we could hear their call from the parking lot.
We couldn’t get too close to them, as they are all being rehabilitated to live in the wild again, so the centre tries to avoid as much human contact as possible. The monkeys are all in the centre for different reasons, but mainly they were being used as tourist attractions when they were rescued or were mistreated by owners.
We spent a good while just sitting and listening to them all interact with each other – really special.
We also went for a walk through the national park up to a waterfall, which was very pretty but also quite full of tourists so we didn’t spend long there, and retreated to the park’s restaurant for lunch. The rest of the afternoon was spent driving around the north, and walking along the pier. We were so glad to have gone north – it was a more beautiful and authentic side of the island, that’s for sure.
Our final day all together was spent at a beach we had eyed up on our drives around, a small beach called Laem Singh. We had to pay a small entrance fee but the beach was cute and at that stage deserted. We found our little spots, only for it to start raining and pouring, which didn’t stop for the following 3 hours! Good thing we always carry a trusty pack of cards, so we sat and enjoyed the rain whilst drinking cocktails and playing cards!
Finally the sun came out, and we could swim, sunbathe and do puzzles (my new favourite hobby) for a few hours before heading back for a final dinner before Rachel’s flight back home.
Although we didn’t love Phuket, we got the most out of it and we had a wonderful few days together. We’ve been so lucky to share our trip with so much family!
Katie and I spent one more day in Phuket which Katie spent driving around exploring beaches while I spent it doing a refresher scuba dive which was fantastic (and a great early birthday present – thanks Rachel and Cathy!) I’d really forgotten how special diving is!
Bye for now x