Big Pimpin in Phuket

Trip Start Jul 03, 2009
Trip End Aug 16, 2009

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday morning arrived, and it was time to leave the Crowne Royal (Plaza), but not before one last meal in the city. (We had originally had aims to see one more temple, but Bev had kept us going pretty late J). As seems fitting for our final meal, we provided a good bit of entertainment to our fellow diners and wait staff. The meal was hot pot—which we've eaten before and so thought wouldn’t be that much of a leap—but we were a scene. For those of you unfamiliar with hot pot, the meal is centered on a boiling ring of broth, heated in the middle by red-hot charcoal. Into this broth, you add any number of ingredients. Ours included rice noodles; thin-sliced lamb, beef, and chicken (more on this in a second); huge rubbery black mushrooms; watery tofu; and a bevy of green veggies. Early in the meal, Maribeth managed to cover her fingers and chopsticks in slick oil, which left her slipping and sliding her way through the whole meal, dropping ingredients either just short of the pot, or her mouth, or both. I, on the other hand, got a bit overzealous adding ingredients to the pot, and had to be given a spoon to rescue my meal. We never did manage to figure out the best way to include our greens, so those sat largely untouched, as did the pile of cold tripe (save for a few bites taken before realizing what it was.) We did manage to get over our hang-ups about dunking raw chicken in the broth, and what it would leave behind on our chopsticks, and haven’t been worse for the wear yet. In the end, I think we should have probably paid for the tablecloth, as we got more broth, sesame sauce, and bits of tofu there than in our hungry bellies.

Our journey to Phuket Thailand consisted of two flights. Our first, a 4-hour flight to Bangkok, was on the lovely Sri Lankan Airlines, and we whole-heartedly enjoyed our in-flight options (for MB, a selection of comedies including Arrested Development, and for Joe, Star Trek). Bangkok’s airport also gave us the opportunity to stock up on English magazines, though at prices that would have paid for whole subscriptions. It was a bit lacking on food options, and we were stuck with a difficult choice between Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts…ugh! Our second flight, just a one-hour jog to Phuket Island, was on Thai Airways, and we were thankful the ride was so short. We were seated in an exit row, with the bulkhead managing to take up a quarter of my seat. Across, and facing us was the flight attendant’s seat (which was so close he could have, and maybe did, give Maribeth a lap dance on landing.) One more thing: I’m not normally one to notice, much less criticize airplane décor, but the inside of this jet was so decked out in bright gold, red, and purple that I thought we were riding on the inside of a Jolly Rancher bag.

We quickly learned that Thai driving standards are roughly similar to those of China’s, as our cabby, who definitely smelled of alcohol, screamed through the streets of our tropical island. What made it even more fun is that in Thailand they follow the British in driving on the "wrong" side of the street, so everything feels a bit more perilous.

So, we’re a bit beaten down as we arrive at the Banyan Tree. It’s 1:30 in the morning. We’ve been on 2 flights, and travelled for 10 hours to get here. We were in for a treat. Let me first appease the Midwesterner in myself and say that we got a very reasonable rate for our hotel, having booked in monsoon season, and several weeks in advance, and selected the lowest class of lodging available. Upon arriving at the main reception, which is a series of open-air rooms connected by walkways crossing over pools of water, we were greeted with cold sweet ginger tea and ice-cold towels, as well as the best news of the night: free upgrade.

We’re now living large in our own villa. That’s right, this stand-alone cottage is pretty much the size of our apartment and comes with a sitting area connected to our bedroom, his and hers sinks and closets, a rainfall shower, an outdoor soaking tub, and a backyard complete with our own 9*15 pool and covered pagoda. You could have knocked me over with a feather. So, here we are: secluded villa, private pool, and middle of the night. The perfect recipe for skinny dipping. That is, until the handyman lets himself in to fix one broken light our attendant had noticed during his tour of the room. Fortunately, standing on the edge of the pool, I wasn’t yet au natural, but you better believe that exhibitionist Maribeth was. In the end, he got a little something, and we got our light, so maybe you can call it even (although MB would have to make that call). We certainly all got a good laugh.

Tomorrow and the day after: Doing Nothing and Loving It.
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