Friday, 10 April 2015

Terrific Thailand 2015 - Days 1 & 2

Hello dear readers!  I have been a bit quiet lately because my lovely man and I have been jet setting.....to Phuket in Thailand, yet again.  We have been back in Australia for a couple of weeks and I have been madly trying to get into some sort of routine at home. We had a fantastic holiday, just the two of us, our kids stayed at my mum's place while we escaped reality for a while. I went crazy with my camera, taking close to 1000 shots!  I have been planning to write about our adventure since we got back and now will make a start. This could take a while, as I plan to work through my photos one by one and select some that I like to help me document our travels. So, sit back and join me now as I begin this blog series, 'Terrific Thailand 2015' and walk you through days 1 and 2.
When we arrived in Phuket, the first thing that hit us was the climate.  The weather in Phuket is one of two things, hot or very hot, especially at this time of year.  The days usually reached around 37 degrees, dropping only to 24 degrees at night.  That was it, the same each and every day, with plenty of sunshine.  I remember feeling so relieved to reach our hotel after an 8 hour flight from Melbourne. We arrived at night and in the morning, I went for a walk around the hotel.  Here is a nice view from near our room of the pool area.  It was always a joy to have a swim in the afternoons in the cool pool.
One of the very special things that fascinates me about Thailand is how 'quirky' it is.  I guess this is the best way to describe what I mean.  It is unusual, interesting and very different from home. Here is a classic example.  This is some sort of artistic creation that caught my eye in the hotel, an old TV, set up as a fish tank with an elephant's head on top of it.  I liked this, it was fun and gave me a giggle.
In the lobby of our hotel, I found this shelf that had some model cars on it and this very funky orange TV.  This television actually worked and the hotel staff used to watch it at night. I appreciated the effort that had been put into making this hotel a little bit different, a bit creative and it was a nice, comfortable place to stay.
Here we have a view of the street immediately outside our hotel on Nanai Road.  It was a narrow road with no footpath.  You could walk along it, carefully at the side of the road and try your best to dodge the many scooters that would zip along it. Yes, we were thrilled to be back in Thailand, a place that had captured our hearts and spirit 18 months earlier on our first visit.  It was hot, it was busy, it was zany, it was exciting, it was quirky, it was everything we remembered it to be and it was sure going to be one amazing adventure yet again.
Our first night out also happened to be my husband's birthday.  We had planned it that way and headed straight to his favourite place to eat and drink in Phuket, Nicky's Handlebar Hotel.  This is an amazing place to start a great night out.  It is a hugely successful business in Phuket, popular with many tourists, that has a motor bike theme. Throughout the place, it is jam packed with motor bikes and all sorts of memorabilia.  It always has great music and you can always get a good drink there. There are no hustlers to bother you, you can relax and enjoy the atmosphere.  Here I am in front of the bar that lights up at night.
The food in Thailand is just amazing, I will tell you more about that later.  David always likes to order the mixed grill at Nicky's, which is a very Western meal that he enjoys and I went straight for the Tom Yum, my all time favourite Thai soup.  We were so happy to spend David's birthday in such a great location.
Here is the happy couple.  You can see many bikes in the background.  Along this wall and in rooms out the back, there must be at least 150 motor bikes, many of them Harleys. They are all in beautiful condition and can be hired to take out for the day.  We enjoyed a good meal and several drinks together on this night at Nicky's.  David had a special birthday this year and we celebrated in fine form, adjusting to the heat and taking in all the sights and sounds of this magic place.
Last time we visited Phuket, we stayed outside of town, further down the coast along the beach.  This time, we wanted to have a different experience, so stayed right in Patong. Our hotel room was a suite that had a separate lounge room and kitchen.  Here you can see my little 'Phuket kitchen' that was very basic, but could still be used to do some cooking.  I wanted to take advantage of this, so we managed to do a bit of grocery shopping with the locals and I prepared some meals here. That in itself was a great experience. I bought myself a wok, frying pan and saucepan and cooked our breakfast each day and made some noodle/vegetable creations for me.
We walked everywhere on our holiday and must have covered many kilometres in total. We found a way to walk along the back streets to get into the main part of town and took this route each day. Along the way, I took great interest in the many 'shrines' and buildings we saw.  In Phuket, there are many of these special and sacred ornamental shrines that are very important to the Thai people.  I will show you more examples of these later.
You see many of these types of stands selling fuel.  It is always in bottles like this that the locals use to fill their scooters, which is the main form of transportation.  It is not expensive, compared to prices we pay in Australia and I have always found these little fuel stands to be so unusual and different from the Western petrol stations that we have at home.
Here is another example of a monumental 'shrine' that we used to walk past each day on our back street journey into town.  They are always very ornate, full of colour and vitality.  There is always food and drink left here at these sacred places for the spirits that visit them.  I find them all very beautiful and am in awe at how spiritual the Thai people are.  I always treated these places with respect and admired them.
So on this day, being very excited that I had my own 'Phuket kitchen', we visited the local fresh fruit and vegetable market.  I wanted to shop with the locals and try my hand at buying real fresh fruit and vegetables, Thai style.  My plan was then to cook it in my kitchen.  I love vegetables and cooking and even on holidays, I was keen to try this for something different, for another experience.
I was in heaven.  The quality and freshness of the local produce was amazing.  I didn't barter much at this market and paid the prices that were given to me as it was so very inexpensive.  I'm sure the stall holders saw me coming and added a bit on top of the price, but I didn't mind, I was in Thailand, shopping with the local people, buying local produce, using a different currency and trying my best to make good choices.  It was great fun and I loved this.
There was an enormous array of fruit as you can see here.  It was fresh and looked so tempting.  It was a busy market, selling lots of good, healthy food.
Here is what I brought home that day from the market, plenty of Asian greens, a pineapple and mango.  It was all crisp and tasty, the fruit was unbelievably sweet.  I had loads of fun cooking this and enjoying the tastes and textures.
I'm not sure what this building is, but it is just outside the market and I had to take a photo of it as we walked back to the hotel.  The colours and detail of this building were so vibrant and a classic example of how the Thai people value beauty in their design.
Walking back to the hotel along the back streets, gave us a chance to admire some of the houses in Phuket.  You don't see anything like this at home and the buildings were usually brightly painted in bold colours, always with a few scooters parked out the front.  Here in this picture is an example of quite a large home by Phuket standards, many people lived in apartments.
I enjoyed looking at how people lived here in Phuket and liked the look of this home. Again, it was nothing like my neighbourhood, no front garden and not a lot of space, but very charming just the same.
Our hotel was at the end of this street at the top of the hill.  We would walk along this road many times, often carrying our shopping.  It was always so very hot and by the time we got back to the hotel, we would be completely wet from perspiration, from top to bottom.  David would cool down with the air conditioning and I would jump straight into the pool.  It was always fascinating to see the world from this perspective, with so many unusual and foreign aspects to it.  Everything about Phuket was so special, the food, the people, the shops, the climate, the sun, the architecture, the culture.......I loved every minute of it.
So it's the end of our second day and we are pretty happy.  Here I am 'all dressed up for dinner' LOL, standard Phuket attire, summer dress and thongs!  I'm pretty pleased with myself at this point, so happy that it is very hot at night.  We would sit on this balcony and have a couple of drinks and then go for a walk and find somewhere to have dinner. There was always something happening, somewhere to go as everything stays open late. It was wild, it was hot, it was noisy, there was always plenty of hustle and bustle as soon as you set foot outside the hotel.  Yes, it was terrific Thailand and we were in our element.

Join me again soon for the next chapter of 'Terrific Thailand 2015' when I will take you to some of Phuket's most beautiful locations :) xxx