March 25, 2008

Thailand Vacation - Phuket

…And then we spent the next five days lounging by the pool and playing on the beach.

We are staying at Laguna Beach Resort, a resort which is on a tranquil 3 km bay on Bangtao Beach in Phuket. Our room overlooks the laguna, where you can take boat rides to other surrounding beaches and resorts. There are numerous pools, and all are steps from a white sandy beach. There is a diving pool, a giant pool with a water slide and waterfalls, a giant hot tub, and a pool with water soccer and basketball nets. The beach is lined with little thatched huts, many of which are bars, as well as casual Thai restaurants where you can enjoy the sun set (and some drinks) as the kids play on the beach. For our dinner most nights, we enjoyed some great Thai food, including fresh seafood, while sitting on the beach. We split our time during the day bouncing between the pools and the beach, making sure to hit the beach at sunset. We snacked on fresh pineapples and mangos during the day, and on grilled corn-on-the-cob on the beach at dusk. Ilena and Mike indulged in one-hour full-body Thai massages (for about $12 each), as well as foot massages, both of which were wonderfully relaxing. Jacob and Lauren both enjoyed the Kids Club activities from time to time, made lots of little friends, and played rugby games at sunset on the beach. Lauren enjoyed feeding bananas to the resort’s two elephants at breakfast time.

This resort is a very family friendly place. It is also nice and small. We have met lots of nice people from all over the place. It’s funny, but “Where are you from?” has become a very complicated question. For instance, we have met Australians and New Yorkers who are living in India, Virginians and Brits who are living in Dubai, New Hampshirites who are living in Singapore, and Israelis who are living in Hong Kong. On the beach, Mike asked a girl with whom Jacob had become fast friends where she was from. She replied “China, India, and New York.” One day Mike was wearing a Maplewood t-shirt, and met a man from England who had lived in the next town. Big world. But small world.

Meeting people who are living in all of these places has been fascinating. From a family we met who are living in Dubai, we learned that roughly 20% of the cranes in the world are in Dubai (they are building the world’s largest building, the world’s largest mall, etc.) and that the population is 85% ex-pat. Through the other families we have met here, we have also learned a little bit about what it’s like to live as an ex-pat in India and Singapore.

One day, we (Mike, Ilena, and Lauren) took a one-hour elephant trek through a nearby rubber plantation. This included walking through rivers and up steep hills, as well as many breaks so the elephants could gorge themselves with grass and leaves. We got to take home a strand of rubber plucked right off of the tree by our elephant driver. Jacob had no interest in joining us (he is afraid of the elephants), so he stayed back with the Kids Club.

One evening, we got a babysitter for the kids and took a taxi into Patong Beach with our new friends from Virgina/Dubai. Patong Beach is the nightlife district where there are many many hotels and restaurants. (Bangtao Beach, where we are staying, is quite secluded and peaceful by comparison.) We had a superb dinner and drinks at a beach-front restaurant, where we got to choose our snapper and squid before they were cooked.

After dinner, we walked around the main drag of Patong, where the streets are lined with shops, massage parlors, and bars. Thailand is well-known for its adult nightlife. We knew we hit that region of Patong Beach when we happened into one area of bars down one street where every bar had its own pole. (No need to elaborate further; Feel free to use your imagination here). We were just passersby, taking it all in, as the many bars tried to lure us in. Spoken Thai (especially by woman) sounds to us very much like a cat purring– sawat dee caaaa (“hello/welcome”). Before hitting the taxi home, we went into a 7-11 for a cold drink and to see how much we were being gouged at our resort. A lot, it turns out! For example, at 7-11, you can get an extra large bottled of water for 12 Baht (about $0.30). Oh, and in Thailand, even Ronald McDonald greets you with a wai:

Overall, this was a fabulous vacation spot to spend five days doing very little!


Pat Carrothers said...

You guys should be travel writers. I am ready to go to Thailand now!
tracy carrothers

jmgesq said...

It's going to take me a while to comment about everything...and you know I have a LOT to say...but for now WOW will just have to do.

Love you guys. I'll try calling this weekend. Sorry we haven't spoken in so long.

jackaw said...

Sometimes -- on very rare occasions -- words fail me. Who was it -- Phil Rizzuto? "HOLY COW!"

David said...

Looks like a great vacation. I like Ilena's face in the picture on the elephant...she looks angry. Sounds like so much fun...

Lee said...

Thanks for blogging about the trip! We loved it and the photos and videos. Glad that you had a nice time. That resort looks really nice!!
Lee and Erin

Gabriel said...

Looks like paradise. You guys are really like an advertisement..I totally want to visit Thailand now. Looks lovely, exotic and fun. Loved the pic of Jacob leaping in the air on his way to plunging into the pool.

Love the cute hat, Ilena!


Lisa said...

Wow Wow Wow...amazing. I cannot wait to go to Thailand!!! I'm so happy you had such a wonderful and exciting trip...what an experience this has been for you guys so far...amazing! Keep up all the exploring and the words of the wise. BE SEE AND DO!

Dwayne and Lisa said...

Hello Kasdan family! It's your Dubai/Virginia friends! Loved spending part of our vacation with guys are the nicest family! An email with a link to our elephant trekking pictures is on its way to you. Loved our night under the lights on Patong Beach and our interesting adventure afterwards...will never forget the things we saw! You've inspired us to start our own blog and we'll keep you posted on that. Keep in touch! You always have a place to stay in Dubai if you ever want to visit!!! Dwayne, Lisa, Kaleigh and Ashlyn.