Thailand 2014

June’s Destination this year: Thailand

We booked through the reputable Best At Travel via Mark Fearon ( who is absolutely brilliant) as we decided to do a package for this trip.

June is both low season and rainy season – so we were taking a gamble, However being a June baby and going for my birthday means it was a risk we were going to take!

On Monday 9th june, we departed from London Heathrow on Emirates Flight, EK006 to Dubai on the A380 airbus. Thankful for the quality of the plane and the ICE ( Emirates Interactive Entertainment system) on board, but the staff weren’t particularly hospitable or interactive with us this flight.

Food was Salmon and Risotto – The Salmon was OK, the Risotto? Absolutely awful.

Once at Dubai Airport at 8am on the 10th June, we just had enough time to walk through, grab a coffee and get ready to board EK378 from Dubai to Phuket. This plane was 777 – 300ER airbus. The plane looked and felt Old and our ICE system constantly froze, however the staff on this flight were absolutely fantastic throughout.

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I was amazed to find out a friend of mine had ordered a cake for me on board, which two of the air stewardess’ presented to me, took a photo of us and made us some cocktails. It really made a difference.

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Six hours later, We arrived at Phuket International Airport. We were granted with smiles from everyone ( once through passport control that is – they’re never particularly happy people.. ) and our transfer was there and waiting for our group for 11.

Our hotel was roughly 7 minutes drive from the airport, which after such a long flight was brilliant. Our hotel was Indigo Pearl situated on Nai Yang Beach in the north of the island.

Once in reception we all let out a consecutive Oooooo! which is always gratifying when you’ve spent months picking the “right” hotel. We were immediately met by some incredibly helpful staff who sat us all down on comfy chairs, gave us cold flannels and some iced water. They come to you to check you in, which was relieving, it was probably the most relaxing Check – in I’ve ever experienced.

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Once shown to our rooms, which was a short walk on the ground floor from reception, our bags arrived a few moments later. We had a D-Buk Suite room type which has a large double bed,
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but also the option to have a day bed too.

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Two sinks, a spacious walk – in wardrobe ( which could have benefited from a mirror) and also a lovely black bath.

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My only thing I’d have liked, is if were a floor above with a balcony. Although we had two outdoor spaces, because we were at ground level and there’s a lot of plants / greenery at ground level, we didn’t spend anytime out there at all. The room had Hand Soap, Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash, Slippers and Robes and a complimentary beach bag… What’s lovely is, you could purchase all of these natural products from their shop on – site, I can strongly recommend these!

We decided to go for a walk around the Hotel and quickly realised how big it was, but also the ode to the Mining industry. The detail was phenomenal and truly impressive at times. Its quirky, unique design really was one of it’s strengths.

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The Gym, a short walk through the landscaped gardens, amongst a lizard or two, They have a great air – condition gymnasium with some treadmills, a cross trainer, bikes and a space to do floor work. They also have some tennis courts at the back and some really good changing facilities. They will supply you with towels and water if you don’t have your own.

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Pools, There is a main family pool and then two adult pools. One is substantially more boring than the other. We spent a bit of time at pool 2, which was the adult pool with a swim up bar, who thankfully plays some music. The other pool is incredibly straight and quiet. The family pool could probably benefit from some music also, but sometimes kids or group created a little bit of an atmosphere here to fill the silence.

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Must do: Visit the toilet near Pool 2 – I know it sounds strange but you’ll thank me for the experience!

For eateries, the hotel had:

Tin Mine ( which served daily breakfast, Lunch and dinner) – Do try their official Thai Dessert of Sticky Rice, Coconut Milk and Mango ( considering I don’t like any of those things separately – I absolutely loved this!)
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Tongha Tin Syndicate: A bar with large TVs to watch games and both a pool and snooker table. Here would benefit from much more comfier chairs, because that’s the vibe here. Also different cocktails to Tin Mine would have been better also. It was also very humid in here. Although I loved part of the design on the ceiling was giant fans, they really didn’t offer much on the more humid nights.
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Black Ginger: Fine dining restaurant accessed by boat.
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Rivet Grill: Another restaurant, We didn’t eat here unfortunately.
Re – Bar: A bar above Rivet Grill, which I quite liked the layout of, but again the drinks were exactly the same and this place could have benefited from more upbeat music.
Dirty Monstera: Was closed as it was out of season.
Underground Cafe: Next to the family pool
Cotemar: On the beach, you can buy snacks from this place and they’re roll out some table and chairs on the beach for you.

You can then either walk or catch a buggy to the beach access entrance, which is at the back of the hotel, you cross the road and Voila you’ve arrived. On the beach there’s a good few places to eat or to get a massage, pedicure etc and to buy souvenirs from and also a mini mart. You can eat for substantially less money down here and the food is still brilliant!

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We had a lovely massage next door to Cotemar on Day one with Ya Ya and her team on the beach. I also had a manicure, pedicure and foot scrub. Great experience and what’s lovely is they speak to you, Thai people are genuinely very friendly and caring, so you’ll only ever feel relaxed and at ease. Mid – way through it begun to downpour, we were all covered with towels and ran down the road to their covered working area to continue which was all part of the experience.

The next day we decided to visit the crazy town of Patong, we got one of the trusty drivers from outside the hotel to take us, the journey was roughly 45 / 50 minutes with traffic.

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You quickly realise why so many travel by motorbikes or scooter / mopeds. The number of those who travel with no helmets or with new born babies held loosely on my lap was shocking… Lol. Once in Patong it was much busier, We left my Dad at Hooters whilst we did some shopping at some stalls across the road for an hour or two and then went to visit the first of many tailors.

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You will not see a shortage of tailors in Thailand, You can actually get shirts made quite well for approx ยฃ35. Just make sure you pick the quality of material you want and check out the workmanship on something they’ve already made. Bear in mind you need to have enough days to come back for fittings and also make sure they take all measurements, including the width of your arms! We aren’t as petite as the Thai Ladies and Gentlemen… well I’m certainly not!

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Patong also has a large shopping Mall, JungCeylon and then there’s the legendary Bangla Road, which is where all the clubs / bars and Ping Pong Shows are… ( yes ping pong shows are not for the faint hearted or easily offended folk), a Tuk Tuk ( taxi) and finally Street Food.

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Street Food is one of the best ways to eat in Thailand, at Night more stalls appear everywhere, Things start from 40 baht ( ยฃ1 = roughly 52 / 54 baht) to give you an idea. You pick what you want and a lot of the time they cook it, stir – fry it or grill it in front of you.

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We also visited Patong for a fine dining experience at what they refer to as “Phuket’s Best Restaurant” . It was called Baan Rim Pa.

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The service was absolutely impeccable and was the presentation of the food. The restaurant is on the side of a cliff overlooking the sea which creates for a lovely atmosphere in the evening combined with their fantastic piano player. I’d have liked to also see it in the day.

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On the day of my birthday, we investigated a number of different beach clubs to go to, Phuket have quite a few, though we chose Nikki Beach Club on Bangtao Beach.

Nikki Beach’s staff were absolutely fantastic. Great place, great management, great DJ and great food.

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Back at the hotel for Father’s Day, we visited Black Ginger. Its a unique experience to go by boat, which was lovely. It was a stunning looking place. Slightly more expensive than the hotel

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The following day in the hotel, We were offered a free neck massage at breakfast, and an offer of a special discount at the Coqooon Spa, which is on – site. Since I was slightly sunburnt, the guy nicely recommended an Aloe Vera Wrap. It was divine!

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We returned to Patong and find Bazaan Food Market which was opposite the Boxing Ring which seems very lively on fight nights.

The next day we visited Chalong Temple and the Big Buddha… You must dress respectively for these places, as they are religious and they do tend to find shoulders and knees offensive. In some establishments they will ask you to remove your shoes. At the entrance of the big buddha, you could leave a small donation and take a sarong, if you came ill – prepared.

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After seeing those sites, some of the group wanted to do Elephant Trekking, but not all. Alot of these places ill – treat these lovely intelligent animals, so try and do your research if you really do plan to trek on them, as an alternative, there are plenty of places just to see elephants being free…

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Following on from that, we went to admire some lovely views, from Viewpoint – Kata / Karon Beach and a couple of other places. They were truly lovely, I only hope my photos do it justice.

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We organised for our group of 11 to take a speedboat from Phuket Royal Marina – to Phi Phi Islands… What was great is, this trip also includes Bamboo Island, Monkey Beach, The Lagoon, Phi Phi Li, Phi Phi Don and Maya Bay…

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Another amazing point: There was free wi – fi almost EVERYWHERE. Whenever we’d rock up to a restaurant or anywhere, one of us would ask for the code and we had it in minutes. I think I saved a fortune on my phone bill for the first time travelling abroad!

One thing people didn’t warn us about: Mosquitos! I got bitten loads, it maybe because our hotel had a huge amount of greenery and swamps on – site why we were bit more often, but do carry some repellent and tiger balm is great to rub on after you’ve been bitten.

Our flight was in the evening once again, we asked for a late check out and extended until 4pm. We then stayed by the pool and used the gymnasium which opens until 8pm to shower and freshen up in. We then chilled out in the air – conditioned library until our transfer arrived.

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Very slow queues once through security at Phuket Airport, they actually take a photo of you leaving… strange!

Flights home were OK, there were a large number of couples in matching outfits at the airport, I’m not sure if anyone else is aware of this fad or whether it was just a huge coincidence!

Stop off in Dubai was for four hours on the way back which is probably too long to spend in an airport. However both Coach and Pandora being in this airport meant it was time well spent, there’s also plenty of eateries here.

We arrived back into Gatwick, bags all arrived with us and an hour later we were home….

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