Friday, October 8, 2010

Postcards from Phuket (Part 1)

They say we must visit a new place at least once a year to stay in high spirits and keep the soul energised. I can say, this visit to Thailand did that, and more.

My new passport only arrived the week before we left and our unconfirmed e-tickets only hit my inbox a few days before our departure. So the hotel was only booked a couple of nights before we left. But like magic, everything came together and Sandra and I were off to Phuket with our bikes.

Although we only decided on our Phuket Training Camp a couple of weeks before, we did a fair bit of research and talked to a few people who had just returned from the holiday island. We got a good idea of what to expect in terms of good food, cheap massages and cocktails and mad traffic, however we found no information on road cycling. Only a friend at work encouraged me to take the bikes because "the island was hilly, the roads were good and everyone stayed in bed until 10 AM".

James was right and Sandra was also right by booking a hotel 12 km south of the main tourist centre, Patong, where most of the tourists stay and party (we were told).

The M.T. Villa Royale was located on a small headland in between Kata and Kata Noi beaches, on the Andaman Sea. It used to be the residence of a well known Thai architect named Mom Tri, who turned his villa into a luxury hotel with a superb restaurant and selected a terrific group of people to run it. I can only describe our time at the V.R. as a warm royal experience.

We always loved the Thai cuisine and the food served at VR was really something. But we did wander around (by foot and by bike) and experienced some really exotic, delicious and inexpensive foods as well. One of our favourites being at On The Rocks, located at the other end of Kata Noi beach, where we got to taste simply prepared and deliciously fresh seafood and vegetables. Seriously, I could eat there everyday.

The surf was at our footsteps, literally. If we had travelled to this island for the surf - and there were people surfing everyday - we would've been able to check the conditions from our balcony and get to the surf in less than five minutes. But we were very happy swimming and snorkeling in the Andaman Sea instead.

And the cycling? Well, riding a road bike on the island was remarkable. Firstly, the roads are really good, mostly smooth hotmix type, the exceptions being the steep, sometimes very steep, old roads that haven't been resurfaced in many years. I didn't mind those either.

All the rides were terrific experiences, taking us to beautiful and exotic locations, some slightly off the main tourist scene. And believe it or not, I felt safe even riding on the busy roads as I found road users skilled and considerated, as Sandra noted on her blog.

But there is so much of Phuket, it would take one hundred blog posts just trying to describe all the experiences we had on this Land of Smiles.

I am posting a few photos here but have hundreds more for later.


Dee said...

Sold! It looks fantastic. We have holidayed very little in this part of the world. As you and Sandra know, there is an imperative to return to the "old country". I think in the next few years we will travel more to new places, and this looks like a winner!

Groover said...

Oh, I miss the food...

AMR said...

Hello Dee,
The returning home thing is a difficult one, and when it is so far away...
We are hooked, already talking about the next one!!

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