Month: April 2014

Phuket Eat and Drinks Diary | Part Six | Final

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Our final day in Phuket was spent cruising the Andaman Sea exploring caves and small islands. We booked a chartered speed boat through a tour company and we were picked up from our resort at 8am and driven to the luxurious Phuket Marina. Once there, we chose our fins and snorkels and boarded the boat for our 8 hour day out on the ocean.

Approximately 50 minutes later, we dropped anchor near Chicken Island, and we were able to snorkel the glorious green sea, chasing colourful fish and coral. It was heaven.

Next stop was a little island called Koh Hong, with stunning white beaches and crystal clear water. A number of traditional Thai fishing boats were beached here and it was charming to say the least. Another swim in the warm lagoons, and then it was off to the main island Krabi for lunch.

 

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Rai Le Beach, located on Krabi Island was idyllic, peaceful and amazing. Sated from an authentic Thai lunch, we took time to explore the island and caves and enjoy the sun. It felt very Leonardo Di Caprio from the movie The Beach. White sands, jungle, cliffs and caves, all at our fingertips. I longed to recapture my youth, pack a back pack, drink a beer, and check into a $5 per night bungalow. But alas…reality struck, and my fantasy was short lived. A middle aged mother, cannot simply check out and stay in Thailand, however strong the desire. So, I did the next best thing. Meditated.

Sitting cross legged, facing the ocean, I faced my palms upward and did a mini nature meditation. People took no notice and I was completely in my own zone. It was pure magic.

 

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After 2 more islands we were done with the tour and headed back to the Marina. What a perfect ending to a fabulous holiday. I strongly suggest if you are travelling to Phuket, you either charter a private speed boat, or join a tour, it is well worth the money and a day you won’t forget in a hurry. Bliss. Capital B.

 

…Sx

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…Sx

Phuket | Eat and Drinks Diary | Part 5

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The biggest factor about a beach island holiday, is that the days begin to merge into a  groundhog type situation. Wake up, eat, reserve favoured pool lounge, walk along the beach, take a dip, read, swim, read, turnover, swim, read, eat, take a walk along the beach, swim…eat…turnover..you get the drift. Great for relaxing and suntanning, not so great to write about..or read about for that matter. So I will make todays short and sweet, because the above..was day 5 day activities.

Dinner was booked at the famous Mama Tri’s Kitchen at the Villa Royale resort.

Villa Royale is a boutique hotel in Phuket situated on a headland overlooking the Andaman Sea and the white sand beach of Kata Noi.

 

 

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Villa Royale is a personal creation of renowned artist and architect Mom Luang Tridhosyuth Devakul, better known simply as Mom Tri, who is a descendant of the King Mongkut Rama IV. Mom Tri opened his private summer home eight years ago to provide guests with a truly royal experience.

Located on Kata Noi Rd, Kata Noi Beach, Mama Tri is a terrace style establishment, complete with acoustic trio, old school charm and a nod to the architecture, similar to that of a Bahama’s style resort. There are 2 menus. One French and one Thai. This seems to be a common to mix of styles in Phuket.

The food was tasty, the Bloody Mary’s were spicy and the wait staff were good. Then, we shopped.

 

 

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We booked a driver and headed to Patong Town Market. The market is approx 150 mtrs from the nightlife and is a bunch of rambling stalls filled with faux everything. Open ’til late, you can stroll around and shop until midnight, then head back to your hotel with bags of goodies.

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Nikes, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton everything, Beats headphones, Dvds, Polo shirts, bikinis, watches, sunglasses, luggage…you name it and it is here. The stall operators are not as aggressive as other Asian countries I have visited and are reasonably priced. I managed to pick up a few pairs of Nike Air Max, and Nike Free for the kids and a pair of Fluro Fluro Neon Pink Nike Air Max for myself. In the light of day, they are super bright. I guess the night lights from Patong Rd dulled the fluro to a gentle glow. But in the daylight…they roar! All for under $50AUD a pair, so if they last only a few months, it’s still a bargain.. The shopping bug cured. Tick. The kids have pressies. Tick.

 

Home to bed after a wonderful day, during a holiday that is on the home stretch.

 

…Sx

Phuket | Eat and Drinks Diary | Part Four

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Day 4 : It is always a tricky decision when planning a holiday. Who can you invite to enjoy your hard earned break with? Who makes the best travelling partners..who can you travel with and not upset the synergy between mates, who will still want to remain friends upon your return back to the real world?

It is actually a tough decision to consider. Trying to manage everyones expectations, luxury level, tours or no tours, night time activity preferences…and most importantly, budget. Obviously if you are a keen night owl, and want to explore all bars and clubs, travelling with couples who prefer in room dining and an early night, may cause some tension. Ditto that if you prefer to lie by a pool / beach all day reading, and your travelling buddies like hiking and day tours. Trust me, choose wisely. You don’t really know someone until the suitcases are packed and you have checked in.

 

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So having determined over the years that my brother and wife are the perfect combo for us, we rarely lock horns on any of the planning and details. My brother organizes everything, researches countries, resorts and restaurants for hours and experiences mild anxiety if he thinks we aren’t having an optimal time. We say yes to all suggestions, and he always knocks it out of the park.

After 4 amazing nights at The Surin resort, it was with some melancholy that we checked out and headed to resort number 2 on the other side of the island.

The Shore Katathani, is located approx 20 minutes South of Patong Beach. This resort boasts an excellent location on Kata Noi Beach, with villas perched high on a steep hillside, and amazing views over the beach. Upon check in the resort staff were very welcoming, presenting us with fresh flower garlands and a buggy ride up the practically vertical lanes to our 2 bedroom villa.

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The villa is stunning. Open plan living, a private infinity edge pool, the sunken sun lounge deck and a view from the master bathroom that ensures you shower leisurely. This resort has exceptional reviews and is beautifully designed. Once again retaining characteristics conducive to the environment. Online, The Shore rates way higher than the previous resort, Surin and is significantly more expensive. However…it doesn’t have a private beach like Surin, and the difference is glaringly obvious. My tip when booking a resort in Phuket…Private beaches are a must. Enough said.

 

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Dinner was booked at the iconic Boathouse Bar and Grill in Kata Bay. A romantic terrace style restaurant overlooking the beach, with cuisine that is Mediterranean  French and authentic Thai. So another good mix. A very spacious and open area, recently renovated, but not in competition with the beach outside. A delightful sea breeze, enjoyable food..the Massaman Curry was sublime… and more wine..a pleasant start to the evening.

 

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Gatsby said, “you can’t repeat the past”…but in an attempt to prove him wrong, we headed back to Patong Rd to recreate the crazy from a few nights ago. We headed to a night club called Seduction. It was very cool. A mix of young Europeans, Aussies and all in between..The music was awesome, such good beats that I danced solo, in sandals and a shift dress, with my new best friends.

We may have proved Gatsby wrong….I think…I can’t quite remember.

 

…Sx

Phuket | Eat and Drinks Diary | Part Three

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Day 3: Getting around the island of Phuket offers many choices. The Luxury and Safest option is hiring a driver and having him on call for your stay. This will cost you anywhere from $5000- $7000Baht per day (approx $200- $400AUD) It is expensive and I’m not convinced worth the bucks. The only time I book a private car when I travel, is usually from the airport to the resort upon arrival. It is the easiest and safest way to get to your hotel, with no fuss and enables you to get your bearings. Once settled the options are numerous. Taxis are cheap, clean and well priced, usually costing approx $10- $20 AUD depending on distance. Next mode of transport is the traditional Tuk Tuk, a cross between a motorbike and cart, its quick, cheap and a bit of fun for short distance travel.

 

 

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My man is an avid motorbike rider, so he always hires a bike during our stay on this sort of holidays. He then zips around the island exploring and it keeps him active. He can only lie in the sun for short periods of time until he gets antsy. The cost per day is on average $20 AUD plus petrol, so if you can ride a motorbike this is a cheap way of getting around. The roads are good here, well maintained and not as crazy as Bali, so it feels relatively safe. We went for a quick cruise around the neighbouring beaches, and found some perfect viewing points high on the cliffs, overlooking the shoreline. Im not such a relaxed passenger perched on a bike, so the trips are usually slow and short. Then its back to the sun lounge for me.

 

 

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Today at the Surin, I opted to mix up the view slightly and lay on the big sun bed at the pool, overlooking the glorious beach and treated myself to an authentic Pad Thai for lunch. Then it was time for a late afternoon beach massage before we headed out of the resort for dinner.

Tonight we were booked in at Breeze, an upmarket French restaurant located 25 minutes from our resort in Cape Yamu.

 

 

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This is restaurant comes with an exceptional view, and I recommend you get there early to watch the sunset. It is built into a steep incline overlooking Cape Yamu and off into the distant, the shimmering lights of Phuket town. The restaurant offers an inventive twist on modern French cuisine, using local and imported produce, plus the menu changes every 3 days. I started with the St Phillipe Cheese plate, including apricot chutney and salted walnuts. The. Best. Cheese. Ever. For main I had fresh ribbon pasta with chilli prawns and a parmesan and white wine sauce. Fresh and delicious.

 

 

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Once again an abundance of martinis, great food choices and a pleasant dining experience. The only let down was the service. It seemed the left hand wasn’t always sure what the right hand was doing, but overall the food and ambience outweighed the confusing wait staff. We called it a night relatively early and as a torrential rain storm blew in, we jumped back in the car and headed home. Day 3 done and done.

 

…Sx

 

Phuket | Eat and Drinks Diary | Part Two

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Day Two – Another beautiful day in this slice of paradise. We woke early and I headed to the gym in an attempt to keep the holiday cocktails and food at bay…Nice try but hey, a girls gotta try. After a quick run in the air-conditioned health club, I ventured upstairs to indulge in another full gourmet breakfast. And then it was time to lie in the sun and relax. Once the beach activities hut opened, we grabbed 4 Stand Up Paddle boards and paddled around our very sheltered bay. The Surin has the most peaceful stretch of private beach, with the water so warm and clear, it is a joy to float around in it. A massage, a book and a watermelon juice was the most activity one can muster, until the sun starts to set and we change gears.

 

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We jumped in a taxi and headed into the busier side of town, towards Patong Rd, for dinner. My brother, who really should be a travel concierge, had booked us in at the number one Thai Restaurant on the island. Baan Rim Pa. Located on Prabarmee Rd, Patong, about 20 minutes from Surin Beach. Situated above the waves on a cliff or rocky shoreline, and nestled in amongst what seemed like a jungle, it overlooks the bay and the lights of Patong.

 

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Very old school, with dark mahogany timber ceilings, low lit tables and a dark teak timber and bronze bar, reminiscence of a Raffles in Singapore kind of feel. It is an experience. Plus the highlight, not often seen much these days, the Grand piano, complete with pianist and stools.. and ashtrays. Like I said..Very old school.

After sampling what seemed like every fruit based martini that ever existed, we were ushered to our semi private table, set out from the main restaurant, and over looking the shore below. Complete with a fire works display, it was a perfect start to the evening.

 

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The food was exceptional. The star dish was the crispy fried noodles which came in sphere like shapes, and chilli chicken. Quite possibly the best meal I’ve had in a long while.

As soon as dinner was over, we jumped in a Tuk Tuk and headed into the infamous Patong Rd to experience what Thailand is renound for. It was an eye opener. A place where misfits can roam without judgement, beautiful Thai women who were once men, and exotic shows that make you think you need to get out more!

 

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I am not going into any more detail. You get the drift. It is an experience. A fun, 1 hour of crazy and then its time to get the hell out. We stayed 2….enough said.

 

…Sx

Phuket | Eat and Drinks Diary | Part One

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I am very fortunate that my significant other and I enjoy travelling with my brother and his wife. We annually try to get away on an adults only vacation, usually somewhere hot and beachy, and just relax. And this year is no different.

 

 

We decided to try Phuket and originally booked for a week in May…and then realised it was Phukets wettest month, so just as quickly rebooked the flights and moved it forward to April..Phukets hottest month…and with it coincidently being my birthday in April, decided to celebrate in style.

 

 

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Jetstar had some great deals going so we booked business class tickets and hunted around to find a resort away from the hustle and bustle of Patong Rd, but close enough should we decide to venture in for some interesting nightlife.

 

The Surin Luxury Beach Resort, is a member of Design Hotels and recognized worldwide as an independant boutique hotel group. The Surin, formally known as Chedi, is a 5 star sophisticated resort designed by Paris based designer Ed Tuttle. And the attention to detail certainly shows. A modern take on quaint beachside cottages, with amenities galore, a clean white beach and palm trees on mass. It is simply paradise.

 

 

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The hotel lobby and restaurant is set high above the beach and cut into the surrounding hills, so be prepared to walk up lots of steep steps..however the view from the top is breathtaking and that is the reward. Lots of local natural products have been applied to the design fit out. Timbers, granites and white washed thatched roof tiles are keeping the local feel alive.

 

 

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We arrived late at night and checked into our beach side cottage and fell into an exhausted sleep with the sound of the waves crashing outside. A peaceful start to this island break.

Day One – Breakfast is served high up the restaurant and the food choices available did not disappoint. A range of western style offerings, plus a full asian breakfast, a chef for fresh egg dishes and pancakes and waffles, all hot off the grill. After brekky we decided to explore the resort. A complete hi tech gym, a beach bar, a beach restaurant, plus all of the water sport amenities available, free of charge. So we headed straight to the beach for a morning swim in the turquoise warm water and spent the majority of the day shuffling back and forth from sun lounge to ocean. There are beautiful Thai ladies offering massages and foot scrubs etc, so I took advantage of lying in the sun and enjoying the peaceful surroundings whilst having the best foot massage Ive had in ages. Tough day.

 

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My brother and his wife arrived late in the day and we took advantage of the beach bar for a pre dinner birthday drink and then it was off to the Catch Beach Club at the neighbouring beach.

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An upmarket A-la-Carte venue, with a Eurasian style menu, it is hip, cool and very now. A DJ spins modern beats, the clientele is very European, Led lights softly light up feature fire pits, the staff are all dressed in crisp white and blue uniforms…Its a bit Mykonos, a hint California, on a little beach in Thailand. Not a typically authentic Asian start to the holiday, but we still managed to eat too much, drink way too much and all in all have wonderful first night in Phuket.

Plus it was my birthday. Bonus.

 

…Sx