June 4, 2013
Okay, okay, truth be told, the proper pronunciation of Phuket is poo-ket, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play on the infamous Brooklyn phrase, “Fuggedaboutit,” especially since I live in Brooklyn. But let’s get on with it already…
Miriam and I woke up bright and early in Ayutthaya, ready just in time for our hired car to pick us up. Neil at ElephantStay was awesome enough to arrange the pick-up before we left so that we didn’t have to worry about figuring that out on our own. We waved goodbye to our little bed and breakfast and hopped in the car back to Bangkok, heading directly to the airport. It was time to drown my elephantine sorrows on the beach!
|Entering the BKK|
We were flying Bangkok Airways to Phuket, after I found an amazing deal on vayama.com. I had never heard of this travel site before and was nervous it wasn’t real, since the airfare I got was half of what the other sites were offering for the same flight. But, huzzah! It was real!
Bangkok Airways was a bit of a mess during the check-in process, though. Even though we had already checked-in, we needed to check our bags, and we were directed to a desk with a bit of a line. Once in line we realized we also needed to grab a number, as they were calling people by these numbers (some other foreigners didn’t realize it and stood there wondering why everyone kept skipping them in line). Our number was called, they pulled up our reservation, and then they told us we were at the wrong counter… So off we marched to the other check-in counter, where we checked our bags with no problems.
|Sawasdee ka, Ronald!|
While waiting in the security line we noticed that the skies had opened up and it was ridiculously pouring. We crossed our fingers that it wouldn’t delay our flight, hoping that since they deal with rain on a regular basis it wouldn’t be a problem. We had plenty of time to wander after getting through security so we decided to check out the shops, hoping they had fun souvenir shops, in case we didn’t get all the souvenirs we wanted in Phuket. There weren’t a whole lot of shops in the national terminal—just some of the typical airport stores selling magazines and travel pillows—so we ventured into the food court and grabbed a bite to eat.
Our flight left right on time (yay!) and we settled in for the hour-long trip. And, then, surprise! We discovered that Bangkok Airways serves full meals on all their flights. Even the ones only an hour long… We’d barely been in the air for ten minutes before I was handed a food plate. Since I had eaten breakfast about a half-hour before the flight, I wasn’t exactly hungry. Had I known, I would have waited for my breakfast! Lesson learned.
By the time we touched down in Phuket, we had left the rainy weather behind us and ventured out into beautifully sunny weather. I had made arrangements with our hotel for a shuttle to pick us up because I knew I wouldn’t have any desire to haggle with cab drivers to take us to our hotel. It cost a little more to take the shuttle, but I was worry-free as a result, and I loved that. Our shuttle was ready and waiting for us, cozy and air-conditioned, and off we went on our hour long drive to the hotel.
In doing my research for Phuket, I learned that the time of year we were traveling was the beginning of the rainy/wet season, meaning that the best and most popular beaches on the ocean side would be experiencing monsoon-like winds on a regular basis, making going in the water not always possible. If we were going to the beach, I wanted to get in the water, so I took a look at the beaches on the bay side of the island.
|An open air room off the lobby|
In my quest to find a cheap-yet-nice location, I discovered the Kantary Bay hotel on Cape Panwa. The hotel was very affordable ($50 USD a night) for a decent sized room but was quite a ways from the heart of Phuket. It also didn’t have its own beach. But never fear! By booking a stay at Kantary Bay we were allowed to use all the facilities at their sister (and much more expensive) hotel, Cape Panwa, only a short shuttle ride up a steep hill. This allowed us access to their private beach, swimming pools, restaurants, and water activities.
I decided to book our stay directly through the hotel’s website, which I usually don’t do since most hotels are more expensive through their own websites, but Kantary Bay prices were the same as the travel websites, and they allowed me to arrange all my needs as I made the reservation. We needed a shuttle from and to the airport and would be doing a late checkout— all that I was able to handle through my reservation. And while I was at it, I took the tips left by my fellow travelers on Trip Advisor and requested a sea view room on one of the higher floors. Let me tell you, I love those Trip Advisor travelers.
The tip paid off! We arrived at the hotel and walked up the staircase to a very pretty open-air lobby. We were greeted at the desk, handed wet towels to wipe ourselves down and fruit drinks to sip on while they processed our check-in. As a result of our request, they upgraded us for free to a sea-view, one-bedroom suite on one of the upper floors.
The room and the view were spectacular! We had an eat-in kitchen, large living room, a very large bedroom, and a beautiful balcony that overlooked the sea. On said balcony was a washing machine so we could do our laundry without hand-washing it in a sink for the first time in almost two weeks. We were very excited.
Once we settled in, we changed into our swim suits, located the hotel shuttle bus, and took the 3 minute ride to the Cape Panwa hotel. Cape Panwa was located at the top of a very steep hill and was a very luxurious looking hotel. The large, circular, open-air lobby greeted us when we got off the bus. Access to the rooms was through covered bridges, and private cottages cascaded down the hill to the beach and almost looked like a village in the trees.
|On the shuttle|
|The open air lobby of Cape Panwa Hotel|
In order to get to the beach we had to take a tram down the steep hill. Once there we grabbed towels and ventured to the empty chairs with beach umbrellas and set up shop. It was late in the afternoon, and the tide had gone out, leaving a rocky beach, but it was still absolutely gorgeous. We swam for a little bit, me more than Miriam, as her feet couldn’t handle the rocky bottom, and we took in the sun on our lounge chairs. The beach was almost completely empty, which was glorious.
When the sun was starting to set, we hopped on the shuttle back to Kantary Bay and swam a little in the pool before heading up to our room. There we sat on our balcony and took in the stunning sunset.
|Sunset from our balcony|
|Our private restaurant|
After we cleaned up we decided to grab some dinner at one of the hotel restaurants. Our options that night were Thai and Italian. Both of us were craving something other than Thai, since we’d eaten Thai food for almost every meal since we’d arrived in Thailand, so we went to the Italian restaurant connected to the hotel. It was only around 8pm, but the restaurant was completely empty. We came to find out that most of the people staying in the hotel were long term residents— British retirees who spent weeks to months at Kantary Bay— and they didn’t eat late dinners or they cooked their own meals in their suites. Our pasta dishes weren’t anything to write home about, but they certainly hit the spot.
After dinner we wandered around to some of the shops and the little hotel convenience store before heading up to bed. We had a very early day ahead of us— the tour I had been most looking forward to: Phi Phi Islands! *cue dramatic death music*…