Arriving In Phuket
After quite a comfortable boat journey from Koh Phangan, Harmony and I arrived at Phuket's main port. The beauty was overwhelming - the islands out to sea, temples in the mountains and only a few clouds in the sky. Then came the free-for-all and rough and tumble of getting our bags, followed by the madness that is Rassada Harbour.
There was a single crowd of people pushing and shoving one-another, even though we were supposed to queue by a sign according to where we were heading. The idea was that your transport will collect you there but, because things weren't going to plan, the transport operators ran left and right and I don't know how they held it together!
Harmony and I had paid 100 Baht each for a mini bus to take us to our hostel in Phuket Town. Just as we were about to leave the car park, two people jumped in the minibus and demanded to be taken directly to the airport. Our hostel was only 7 minutes away and the airport was a two hour round trip. Everyone in the minibus was taken back at that point, but nothing was said until the driver stopped at the first hostel on the list. The passengers that wanted to get to the airport didn't have time to stop, so they left in panic and frustration, and we all continued on in relief. That is, until another passenger thought that we were at the wrong location wanted the driver to go somewhere else. Fortunately, our hostel was next on the list and we were there in no time. Plus, we got to see Wat Mongkol Nimit on the way, which was truly beautiful!
Where We Stayed
We were staying at Win Backpackers, which we really liked for the price. For only £6 a night, we had a big room, a double bed and an ensuite bathroom. Apart from the noise, we were more than happy. However, this was apparently just an upgrade as they had over booked. The hostel owner seemed to really like us though and gave us a banana each and sometimes a few free slices of mango for breakfast.
What We Ate
For our first dinner in Phuket, we found a nice looking restaurant called Le Cafe. Harmony talked me into getting a Pad Thai, which I didn't think I liked, but it was delicious and only 80 Baht! That said, we couldn't even afford to spend that much each night and desperately had to start budgeting better.
The following morning, we decided to get some fruit from the nearby food market. Here, we bought a few apples for 40 Baht. They were a little squishy, but nice and sweet. As market's go, this wasn't a great one. Perhaps it was more of a night market, as there were lots of stalls, but only a few were open for business. We then headed to a Family Mart down the road for 14 Baht coffees! The Family Mart had hot water, cups and stirrers that were all free to use. They also have a station behind the tills for heating up food, which might be worth noting.
For dinner that evening, we headed back to Family Mart for some cheap alternatives to eating out. A big loaf of bread was 33 Baht, four packets of jam was 20 Baht and bananas were 9 Baht each. We also spent ages looking at different "Pot Noodle" style meals. There were no vegetarian options but, in the end, we just picked out the meat that they came with. As well as the jam sandwiches for breakfast, I even enjoyed the occasional noodle sandwich for dinner, which I like to think I invented!
In regards to snacks, some of our favourites were Dewberry biscuits, Loaded wafers and Chupa Chups lollies. Amazingly, they all cost 5 Baht a pack and crisps can cost as little as 10 Baht a bag! In retrospect, those snacks are probably the reason why we had no money left. It all adds up in no time!
What We Did
We spent a lot of time at Queen Sirikit Public Park, because we could chill on the grass and relax in the sun. It was a really nice place with a children play area and an adult fitness area. However, we did eventually get a bit bored at the park, and that's when we discovered the Old Town. With beautiful architecture, colourful buildings and some big graffiti pieces, it was the best way to walk back from the park.
Graffiti In Phuket
We spent one day in Phuket following a route mapped out by "Jamie's Phuket Blog". The route was perfect, as it wasn't too long and it took us right back round in a circle. There were so many amazing and impressive pieces that I would never be able to pick a favourite. Take Phangnga Road for example - six pieces of street art, all one after the other! I have marked on a map the exact route we took and a few other points of interest in the area.
Khao Rang Hill View Point
Another one of our days in Phuket was spent at Khao Rang. The walk there was easy enough and only took about half an hour. The walk up the mountain was considerably more challenging and took an additional 40 minutes. This includes a few stops on the way up, and a short visit to Wat Khao Rang. We didn’t have the appropriate clothes to explore the inside the temple, but we did see what we needed to from the roadside – the big Buddha, the architectural design and some informative plaques.
When we finally made it to the carpark at the top, we were greeted by a huge monkey - comparable to the size of a dog! More and more monkeys started to reveal themselves along with the surprisingly small crowds of tourists. The mountain top was equipped with everything we could've wanted. There were cafes with expensive coffee, restaurants with appetising food and clean toilets with glass walls. There were also small businesses selling thai style ice lollies, refreshments and food for the monkeys.
Most of the tourists were attracted to an impressive tree with two swings hanging down. Once we had a photo of ourselves on one of the swings, we moved onto the main viewpoint. Past a gazebo style structure, topped with colourful stained glass, was a concrete platform that jutted out from the mountain, offering the perfect perspective of the city below and the ocean in the distance.
After all of the scrimping and saving we had done, we could actually afford to do something a bit more exciting! There was the upside down house and a few museums, but we didn't want to do that... We wanted to go to the beach! Plus, we needed to go to a Thai beach for one last time!
The public bus to Patong Beach was only 30 Baht each and ran from the 7-Eleven on Ranong Street. we weren't surprised by the state of the bus as we had seen lots already. They're basically just converted trucks and with open side panels and no doors, which made the journey nice and breezy. It wasn't too crammed and was mostly just full of retired holiday makers. We all paid the driver when all of the passengers were picked up - easy! It was a nice journey as well, with lots of greenery and palm trees to look at along the way, and of course the ocean!
Patong was surprisingly big and people could get off the bus all over the town. We got off near the Jungceylon shopping centre, where Harmony was happy to be able to have a wee. Seeing as we were treating ourselves, our next stop was Happy End Bar for an 80 Baht beer each. Everywhere and everything else in Patong seemed surprisingly expensive in Patong in all honesty.
The beach was beautiful, with white sand that stretched for miles. The surrounding mountains made it a sort of sheltered cove and it pointed almost perfectly towards the sunset. Other than the speed boats, jet skies and all of the tourists (some golden and some glowing tones of red), the beach was almost completely pristine.
The lack of rocks worried me because I thought I wasn't going to get any interesting photographs. That is, until we explored the left side of the beach and I found a spot that I was really happy with. In fact, I would've loved to be staying nearby so I could return day after day, exploring more and more of the area. First, I came across lots of long tail boats, but moved on because I thought I had enough photos of long tail boats. Then I came to a remarkable collection of rock pools and coral covered rocks. I thought it couldn't get any better until I waded into a river, where I found myself waist deep photographing the reflections in the water. I'm pretty sure that it was a mix of sewage, but it was 100 percent worth it.
After the sun had set, the first thing that we noticed was all of the mosquitos that had come out. Then, Harmony and I both realised that weren't many busses around. We asked someone and, sure enough, the busses had stopped for the night. A taxi was going to cost us 500-600 Baht, but a scooter driver gave us the offer of 400 Baht. Harmony started digging around in her bag for some lose change and then handed over a total of 356 Baht. He took it and proceeded to strap helmets on our head. We both shimmied on the back and, before we knew it, the 40 minute journey had begun. Thankfully, the roads were fairly smooth and free of bumps, but I still held on so hard that I couldn't stretch out my hands afterwards.
Our Last Evening
Before leaving Phuket, we thought we would treat ourselves to a nice dinner and a few drinks. For the drinks, we headed to Quip Bed and Breakfast as they has a rooftop bar! We had to pay a premium, but it was the perfect way to spend our final night in Thailand!