Steve's China Blog

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Phuket Trip - 2011

April 5th was the Qing Ming (Tomb Sweeping Day) holiday here in China, and we were on holiday on the 4th and 5th. I decided to take the remainder of the week off too, and go to Phuket Thailand.

A lot of my friends were telling me I shouldn't travel there that week since there were heavy rains and flooding in Thailand, volcanoes erupting in Indonesia, earthquakes in southern China, Burma, and Japan, tsunamis, etc, etc... All sorts of pandemonium everywhere. I don't really care... I was very tired of the chilly damp winter of Chengdu, and wanted to go somewhere nice. Of course, the weather was wonderful the whole week!

Entrance way at the Club Med resort in Phuket, Thailand

I had to work the Saturday before Qing Ming holiday, so I flew to Phuket on Sunday and arrived in the evening. By the time I got to the resort it was pretty late, so after unpacking I got some sleep. On Monday I woke up early, and went around setting up some excursions outside the resort and made an appointment for a message for later in the week. Then I went and shot some archery before lunch time. In the afternoon I relaxed by the pool until dinner time.

Kata Beach

I was pretty lucky as far as the weather went. It was sunny and around 32°C (about 90°F) every day, and we only had a few minutes of rain on Tuesday and Thursday. The week before they had rain 5 days out of 7.

The daily Sun Dance out by the pool

Circus workshop

On Tuesday I went on a trip to visit some temples. There were 6 people in our group... 2 young ladies from Italy, a family from Russia, and myself. We had to drive about an hour to the mainland where the temples were. These temples are referred to as lost temples since they are old temples, but not many people live nearby so they do not have many worshipers visit them. The first place we went to was a temple inside a cave and it was very old.

Entrance to temple cave

A giant reclining Buddha

Some monkeys that live nearby

An old Buddha statue

An ornate Buddha statue

The temples around the outside of the cave had been renovated, and there were a few merchants about selling tourist stuff.

Drum tower

After those temples we visited another temple that had some huge Buddha statues nearby.

Walking up to the Buddhist temple

Elephants and lions!

One statue was sort of Indian in appearance, and one was Chinese in appearance.

Huge Indian-style Buddha statue

Huge Chinese-style Buddhist statue

We then went to visit another group of temples, and one of those was shaped like the king's boat. They had just finished renovating it, and they were still renovating some of the other buildings nearby.

Boat shaped temple

On the inside

After visiting temples all morning we went to a little restaurant that was out on the water for lunch.

Floating restaurant

Restaurant's music system

The lunch was really great! Lemon grass soup, spicy chicken, egg with crab meat, steamed crab, spicy fish, and assorted vegetables.

Can we start yet?

After lunch we headed back to Phuket, and I spent the afternoon at the pool before dinner. After dinner they had a variety show that I watched with some friends. It was pretty silly, and I was glad I didn't get dragged up on stage like some guys did.

On Wednesday I woke up early, had breakfast, went for a nice walk, shot some archery, had lunch, took a short nap, hung out at the pool, had dinner, chatted with friends by the pool in the evening. I didn't stay out too late though, since I had to get up early the next morning.

On Thursday I went to Phang Nga Bay. It was very early in the morning, and we drove up to a marina near the mainland to board our boat called the June Bahtra, which is a Chinese-style junk.

The June Bahtra

There were 9 people total in our group. 2 French couples, a couple from Shanghai, a guy from France, a young lady from Malaysia, and myself. We sailed around the northwest part of the bay, and we got to see a lot of pretty islands.

A fishing boat passes by some islands

Some more pretty islands

If you have ever seen the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun, then you might recognize this bay. The ending of the movie was filmed here.

Khao Phing Kan (aka James Bond island)

Entrance to Scaramanga's lair

At some point we changed boats to one that could go through some caves, and then we went to Panyee Village. This is a small fishing village that is partially on stilts and partially floating, and has been around since around the end of the 18th century. These days they make quite a bit of money from tourists, to supplement what they make from fishing.

A restaurant and some houses on Panyee Village

Fishing boats

After visiting Panyee Village we went back aboard the June Bahtra, and ate lunch there. After lunch we cruised around the bay some more, stopped by a quiet spot for some swimming, and then headed back to the marina in the late afternoon.

Yummy Thai food

Sailing around the bay

I got back to Kata Beach in time to take some pictures of the beautiful sunsets we had every day...

Sunset at Kata Beach

A romantic way to watch the sunset

Friday was spent pretty much like how I had spent Wednesday. They had an acrobatics show on Friday evening that was quite good. After the show they had a little champagne party which was a lot of fun.

Champagne party!

Wana and I

A French/Thai band

Happy (great name for a bartender) pours some beer

Time to dance

Indonesian girls are so pretty

Chinese wallflowers

Yummy snacks

On Saturday morning I skipped archery, and went shopping in the nearby town instead. I bought a bunch of souvenirs for friends. After lunch I took a short nap and then went to the spa and got a traditional Thai message. It was wonderful! I did a little more shopping before dinner. After dinner I spent some time chatting with friends, and then went to bed early. I had to wake up early the next day for my flight back to Chengdu.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Back from Thailand

I got back from Thailand on Sunday. I've been really busy, but I will post about my Thailand trip as soon as I can. In the meantime... try to find this episode of Bizarre Foods:

Bizarre_Foods - Chengdu

One of the things that this show reminded me about was the weekend before I went to Thailand my friend Cindy took me to a little street that has little food stalls that open after 10:00pm. We had various spicy grilled items (such as beef, lamb, sliced potatoes, quail eggs, etc...) and some spicy noodles. It was wonderful!