Wednesday, August 8, 2012

R&R in Phuket, Thailand

Hanging out in the treetops looking over Phuket and Luang Pu Supa Temple


We just returned from a 4-day weekend in Phuket. (It's pronounced "poo-KET" in case if you're wondering.) I've decided that Phuket is like the Cancun of Asia. If you are so inclined, you can just spend your time kicking back on the beach and at the hotel. Of all the places I've been to in Asia, it also has the most white people — mostly vacationers from Australia or New Zealand judging by the accents. As far as I could tell, we were the only Americans around. Although, people never assume that I'm American, so who am I to make assumptions?

I'm normally rather Type A when planning a vacation. Phuket was different. Perhaps it's because we've been doing so much traveling that dedicating tons of time to prepping each trip is no longer feasible. This is the most unstructured we've ever been.

Perhaps it's because of my kids' overwhelmingly negative attitude towards this trip. After spending 6 weeks of intense fun in Texas, they just wanted to stay home in Penang. At random moments, they would come up to me and remark, "I don't want to go to Thailand."

Perhaps it was because of my hectic schedule. In the week leading up to our trip, I attended a baby shower, became better acquainted with a new expat family, hung out poolside at the Hard Rock Hotel, and hit Ladies Night at a nearby bar. Hmmm, as I reread this list, I realize that I'm probably not getting many sympathy votes.

So, the extent of my trip planning involved asking a friend to email me her notes from their Phuket visit. The day before, I asked my oldest kid to look at a few of the excursions online. On the way to the airport, I started emailing a snorkeling company to set up something for the next day. This is sooooo last minute for me.

When we got to the airport, the kids were a little surprised at how small the plane was. We sat right in front of the propellers, and talking produced that same strange, vibrating sound effect as when you speak into a fan. It was a quick, 75-minute flight with apple pie as one of the offered snacks.

Wait a minute! You want us to get on that?


Looking out the window somewhere over the Andaman Sea


Our hotel, the Katathani Phuket Beach Resort on Kata Noi beach, turned out to be just what we needed. For our last few trips, the kids have been begging to have more down time at hotels. With numerous pools, beach access, and a Kids Club, this definitely fit their requirements. They even had a chance to check out a DVD from the front desk to watch in their room. Judging by the number of toddlers and babies running around, this was a very kid-friendly resort.


Coconut Concoction



I left swimming with the kids to hubby while I relaxed with a good book and a huge fruity cocktail. I had them all to myself for 6 weeks. He can take a few hours in the pool.













Petanque is part of Thailand's French influence.



We had time for a game of outdoor chess and tried Petanque for the first time.
















The beach had fine sand and huge waves. We were there during low season when monsoons really kick up the surf and ocean swimming is discouraged. In the high season extending from November to April, the water is supposedly quite still and clear.


Kata Noi beach during Monsoon Season (May to October)



Food at the hotel was quite good. My kids always adore a good breakfast buffet, especially if bacon is offered.


International breakfast of Bretzel (pretzel roll), Eggs Benedict, bacon, French toast, and Pad Thai


An attentive waiter at the Seafood and BBQ dinner buffet noticed that my son had put raw rock lobster on his plate, whisked it away, and showed him where to find the grilled lobster. This is the second place we've been to that displays uncooked seafood on the buffet. (I'm not referring to sushi.) That practice mystifies me.

The poolside Fisherman's Wharf restaurant had a Pirates Night, but the theme only extended to two Captain Jack Sparrow-type cutouts at the entrance and the loose, red velvet vests the waitresses wore. Perhaps it was too much to expect that they would talk like a pirate all night? At least the food was delicious which is what really matters.

What happens when you pair tableside flambe with high winds?

We didn't spend all our time at the hotel, though. One day was spent snorkeling and another morning was spent at an aerial ropes course. At one point, the vehicle traffic back to the resort was blocked by downed power lines. As we went around it on foot, I took my kids hands and warned them not to touch the wires lying on the ground. Visiting scenic Phi Phi island is one of the most highly recommended activities near Phuket, but the high seas and my tendency towards seasickness nixed that plan for us. This gives me an excuse to return when the seas are calmer.

On our ride back to the airport, hubby and I commented that we didn't really do anything stereotypically Thai on the trip. But the kids actually had fun, despite their low expectations, and we got to spend time relaxing together as a family. Hubby turned to the kids and told them, "Everyone should visit Bangkok at least once. It has great temples and ruins. I've already done it twice — once when I was your age and once with your mom. You kids will have to wait until you're grownups to do it because we're not taking you." How's that for encouraging a lifetime of travel?




Related Posts
Snorkeling at Thailand's Racha Yai Island
Caught in the Act! My Husband and Girls in Bikinis
Flying through the Trees at Phuket Tree Adventure


This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox and Photo Friday on Delicious Baby. Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.




26 comments:

  1. I have been wondering how to pronounce that, because if you pronounce it using English phonetics, well, it just sounds obscene.:)

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    1. I thought I should definitely clarify the pronunciation.

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  2. It's been many years since we were in poo-KET but I think your comparison to Cancun is a good one. Enjoyed your story and photos.

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    1. Tourism definitely seems to be the primary industry in both Phuket and Cancun.

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  3. Love the first and last pictures! What a great weekend getaway for your family. The images I usually see of Phuket are of people dancing on the beach and more party goers. It's wonderful to see it's also an awesome family-friendly place. I love that you can go to Thailand on such a short flight for the weekend.

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    1. Hubby gave me a new camera for my birthday, and this was my first time to try it out. I think Patong which is the next big beach north of our resort is the party beach. One reason why I left the trip so unstructured is because Phuket is so close to us. I can probably easily go there again to try other activities.

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  4. I was in Phuket with my mum and my daughter a long time ago. It was a party-place then as well, but also had secluded small beaches that were absurdly pretty. Then there were monkeys and elephants - a fun and interesting place for kids.

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    1. I saw elephants but absolutely no monkeys. I was expecting at least some monkeys in the wild. We were far from the party crowd. I think a Disney hotel is the only place where I've seen more families.

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  5. It's good to hear that Phuket is great for kids as I also thought it was a party town! The sunset looks beautiful.

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    1. Lots of my friends had already taken their families to Phuket, so I knew what areas to avoid with the young ones. We found plenty for us to do.

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  6. I really love it that you travel as a family. Your kids sound great too, and I'm sure they have a lot of stories to tell their friends back home :)

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    1. I don't have anyone to watch my kids at home, so I pretty much have to bring them along. I'm hoping to inspire them to keep traveling when they become adults.

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  7. Enjoyed reading about your adventure! That breakfast sure looked awesome. I love how they covered a couple different types of cuisine!

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    1. I didn't even show the yummy noodle soup they had. My stomach was too full to try it!

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  8. What a great little getaway for you and your family. Love the photos too.
    Thailand's on my list for next year, will definitely add Phuket. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

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    1. Phuket was wonderful. Although, I think next time I'll go during high season (Nov-April) when access to Phi Phi Islands, James Bond Island and the caves is easier.

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  9. Glad you got some kid free time at the pool. It really is lovely isn't it! And nice to hear the kids weren't tortured the entire time you made them sit in the pool and on the beach ;-)

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    1. My poor, poor kids. I'm always dragging them off on vacation. They have such a hard life. At least, that's how they seem to view it.;-)

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  10. I have not been to Thailand but it looks like you and your family enjoyed a relaxing and fun vacation!

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  11. I'm an overscheduler too, and my kids can get pretty pooped out on trips. I do try to plan down time, especially if there's a beach nearby. Would love to visit Thailand sometime.

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  12. Beautiful pictures! And now are the kids longing to visit the temples and ruins, or are they satisfied with waiting until they're grown up? My daughter was definitely born with wanderlust and asks to go on a trip any time we're home more than 3 weeks.

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  13. Wow! Look at that view in the first picture...lovely!

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  14. I travel to Thailand regularly, and have always managed not to include Phuket in my travel plans. It looks like you had a good time and the beaches look nice. Maybe I'll plan a few days there this winter. As far as Phi Phi goes...I was there before the Tsunami, and yes a beautiful island. I also visited after the Tsunami and was very disappointed. Ugly hotels were thrown up and when you approach the island it really does look awful. On a positive note, the beach at the back of the island is as beautiful as ever :)

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  15. I've never been to Cancun or Phuket, but Cancun of Thailand sounds exactly like what I've read elsewhere :) Just more fun! Would love to visit either sometime. That last picture is gorgeous!

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  16. Awesome pics! Phuket seems to be very interesting place for having fun.
    Thanks for sharing about it.

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  17. Beautiful pictures and very useful information. I was searching looking for the same information now I got it. Thank you so much.

    Accommodation in Phuket

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