As we travel around the world for the perfect beach holiday, Phuket alone can brag of over 30 gorgeous beaches along it’s coasts. The beaches are unique – each different in topography, development, scenery , color of the waters and also texture of the sands. Patong beach is the most developed (and most crowded) while Karon and Kata are the cleaner and quieter ones. Our choice of stay was Karon (Kata is very near) because Patong sounded so much like Goa in the peak months.
We boarded the AirAsia flight from Kolkata to Bangkok (around 2.5 hrs) in the night (2:00 IST).We were surrounded by honeymoon couples who cuddled and romanced non-chalantly. They were blissfully unaware of my mother’s gaze and amusement at the girls’ attire of shiny pink sneakers, armful of red bangles, denim shorts and a very prominent streak of vermilion on the forehead. Most of them were headed for Pattaya from Bangkok while some boarded the same flight as ours to Phuket. It took around an hour. As we tracked down the Phuket airport, we had this stunning aerial view of the island.
The weather in Phuket was similar to that of Kolkata-hot and humid. Our driver greeted us shyly and we started for our Hotel at Karon.
At 3 km stretch, Karon is the second largest tourist beach in Phuket. It is located on the West coast and a good 20 kms away from the city. Hotel cabs will charge around 1000 THB and yellow taxis will be cheaper at 650 THB.
The 2 hour long journey to the hotel was like gliding around greenery and sandy beaches and small hills. Coming from a noisy metro city, Phuket seemed like a fairyland.
We checked into our hotel Best Western Resort Ocean Resort and were served complimentary orange juice. I don’t know whether it was our excitement or exhaustion but it tasted really good. We had lunch in this lovely restaurant called On The Rocks.
It has a great location and it almost felt like having lunch sitting on the rocks along the Karon beach. Mom and Dad tried to find something close to Dal Roti on the menu but finally gave up with a look of ‘Yeah we are cool with anything’. We tried a few Thai dishes after carefully going through the ingredients.
After a pleasant lunch we enjoyed a stroll along the beach – it was not very crowded, the sand felt soft in our feet. There were plenty of activities like parasailing, jet-skiing and wind surfing. It looked like a very family friendly beach.
This beach side gym was something very novel. Tourists and locals can have a quick workout while enjoying the view. It was fun and free :P.
Most of the beach road was lined by hotels, small guesthouses, Thai restaurants, steakhouses and stalls that sell almost everything. Just like the Indian panipuri stalls, there were stalls for barbecued baby octopus, crabs, squid, lobsters, oysters and small sea fish. They seemed tempting but I was afraid I might be allergic to some. There were stalls that put up a wide display of exotic fruits and vegetables. We tried a few, they had a rich natural flavor.
You would frequently come across stalls selling colorful bikinis and sarongs. They were cheap and very stylish. Me and Debs grabbed some pretty sarongs at 150 THB. You can easily bargain here. You don’t need to be an expert (you already are if you are Indian). Also there were many spa and massage parlors offering a decent variety of services (but more expensive than in Bangkok). You might like to read our experience of a hilarious thai spa. This is among the top things to do when you are in Phuket.
At one corner of the road, we found a young girl carrying a Marmoset on her shoulder and charging 100 THB for a few photos. We could clearly see how scared that little guy was, being passed around for photographs. Animal exploitation is rampant in most parts of Thailand and tourists are still ignorant of how they are encouraging it for some ‘cute’ photos.
We kept on strolling around till the smell of food took us over and we felt an overwhelming urge of having a quick bite. We were standing in front of a restaurant undecided where to eat, when suddenly a lean, grey haired guy comes up and inquires – “Aap log India se ho?“ (Are you guys from India?). After a brief moment of surprise, we beamed at each other and answered him in a perfectly synchronized nod –“Haaan!” (Yesss).
He must have guessed it from Mom’s attire or must have noticed how much we were discussing to decide upon food. He seemed ecstatic to have met us and turned out to be extremely ummmm…conversational; kept on shooting questions at us and blabbing about himself without giving us any chance to get involved. Nonetheless, this might be the natural reaction when you get to speak in your mother tongue after a long time. We were surprised to know someone from as far and different a place like Kashmir had come and settled here for business. He invited us to his restaurant and we happily obliged. We enjoyed the food as much as his numerous travel stories.
He kept us so engrossed that neither did we note the name of his restaurant nor did we take a picture with him (something that I always do as memories of such intriguing encounters are priceless) 🙁
I had such a pleasant day with my family at Karon Beach. Last time we had a family vacation was when I was in school. Then, Santy went to USA for higher studies and I used to stay in the hostel. We had never spent so much time together since then. I realized my parents have got older, it was me and Santy taking care of things and not Dad this time. Santy and I have stopped fighting like cat and dog, and we seldom pull each other’s hairs now. But we still argue a lot and Mom still comes to the rescue. This trip was like revisiting all my childhood memories of my first trip to Puri (A popular beach destination on the shore of Bay of Bengal, in the state of Odisha).
I couldn’t help sharing some old pics (oh those days!)