Last April 21-23, we planned a P&G reunion as a celebration of Drew’s and my 30th year of existence. The others, unfortunately, could not make it, what with schedule and budget and fear-of-tsunami constraints, so it turned out to be just the three of us, in the end.
About that tsunami… we almost didn’t push through because of earthquake rumors and in fact, we didn’t get any sleep the night before our trip because we were up all night having the to-go-or-not-to-go discussion.
Right from the start, my decision was final; I wasn’t about to ruin my long-awaited, painstakingly planned and already-paid-for vacation, and luckily Drew was on the same footing as me and this conviction of ours convinced Kes that it was worth coming as well. We agreed, however, that we needed to be extra careful by keeping our ears peeled for sounds of earthquake evacuation alarms and quickly running like mad for the hills if we did so.
This was going to be our most nerve-racking vacation yet, but it was better than not going at all. I was sure that I would beat myself over the head if I didn’t go and nothing bad happened. I am a firm believer that it’s better to regret the things you did than those you did not do.
We had gotten packages that we found on Groupon months before the trip, and the package already included roundtrip airfare from Singapore to Phuket via Tiger Airways (hand-carry luggage only), twin-share rooms in Hotel Ibis, Patong (a prime Phuket location), 2-way airport transfers, and a half-day Phuket tour. The groupons cost S$199 per pax and on top of that, we each had to top up an additional S$141 for airport taxes and S$40 for the flight schedules we chose.
I initially had a high-blood-pressure moment in trying to redeem our vouchers thanks to the agency’s less than competent staff, but in the end, I guess it was worth it, thanks to the wonderful hotel and half-day tour that we got from the deal.
The next day, we dragged our sleepless selves to the airport in a cab early in the morning and after checking in, we fell asleep in the waiting lounge while waiting for our flight to be called, then continued in the plane. We had a hassle-free walk through immigrations and upon getting outside the airport, we found our airport transfer van waiting for us.
Apparently this was the same company who would give us our free half-day tour because they asked when we wanted to schedule it, then proceeded to sell us other tour packages. We had actually discussed the night before that as part of our being careful, we would forego the Phi Phi island trip, which was admittedly the more fun yet more dangerous one.
But that morning, the sun was shining so brightly and the locals we interviewed about the rumored tremors all assured us that it was nothing, so that Drew and I felt safe, so safe that while Kes was in the toilet and we were left to our own devices, we happily agreed to getting Phi Phi tour packages from the nice tour guide man.
When Kes came back, we informed her about our decision. She was fine with it except for one thing – “You didn’t even try to haggle down the price?!?” she cried, aghast. “Err, sorry Kes, but we’re both really terrible at this,” we apologized sheepishly. “We’re not businessmen like you.”
I think we ended up paying 1800 baht each for the tour, though I can’t be too sure by now. The Phi Phi islands, you see, was where Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie The Beach was filmed, and it is so beautiful that it was simply a must-visit, even though this was where the famous tsunami had also happened some years ago.
It took an hour to get to our hotel and we got there it was raining. It wasn’t so bad, though, because we had agreed to spend a few hours in bed catching up on sleep anyway, and this was perfect bed weather.
We walked into the hotel lobby and asked for rooms with a connecting door. They said they had them but they wouldn’t be available for like an hour, so we parked ourselves in the lobby and surfed the internet for a while, which was a good thing, because there was no wifi in the bedrooms.
The moment our rooms were available, we excitedly went in and fell in love with them. Kes and I shared one bedroom while Drew was next door, but it was like being in one suite because of the connecting door which we kept open. We took showers, curled up under the sheets, and set our alarms to wake us about 4 hours later.
|At Hotel Ibis, Patong Beach, Phuket|
We had a blissful sleep and had to fight to drag ourselves out of bed as it was still raining when we woke up. Or tummies were growling, though, so we got dressed and walked the entire length of Patong beach to look for a place to eat.
We found a nice little cafe by the roadside and had some pad thai, rice and tom yum. We thought it strange that the tom yum was not red in color. Still, everything was very delicious, as only authentic Thai food can be.
|Our first delicious authentic Thai meal|
Turns out Kes had been in Phuket last December with her family and hubby, so she remembered that there was a giant mall somewhere nearby called Jungceylon. We asked for directions and walked over there, and she was right, it was gigantic! We walked around and did a bit of shopping and sight-seeing.
|At the Jungceylon Mall|
Then I really wanted to have a massage because isn’t that what Thailand is known for? So we searched for a massage place and got intrigued by this place named “Onbeach Relax Massage” on the side of the road (we do like our roadside places, don’t we).
So we walked inside and inquired and found out their thai massages were worth 250 baht (or was it 350? Somewhere thereabouts). So we walked in and the first thing they did was give us foot baths before leading us into a small room where customers were separated by curtains.
We were asked to change into silk robes before laying facedown on a mattress on the ground. What followed next was an hour of pure, unadulterated bliss. The massage was so delicious that we kept on going on and on about it hours later, saying that we wanted seconds.
|A most delicious Thai massage experience.
So good, we wanted seconds!
We decided that we were not that hungry for dinner so we just bought some Subway sandwiches on the way home and turned in early for the night as we had a long day planned for tomorrow.
Continued on… Phi Phi Islands