Livin it Up, Phuket Style and The Greatest Day

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

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Livin it Up, Phuket Style (by Joe)

You'll notice that today’s entry covers two days (the 8th and the 9th) as the pace of our vacation has happily slowed to the point that we have little to report. On our first full day in Phuket, we explored our surroundings, and have, quite frankly, been blown away. The pace of life here is languid. We’ve been starting our days sampling (who are we kidding, gorging) on the complimentary buffet breakfast. Some of the highlights are the omelet bar, the fresh juice bar, the sticky rice and mango, and the fruit bar, complete with exotic tropical delights such as jackfruit, lychee, and rambutan (my favorite: it looks like a red spiny sea urchin).

Afterward, we explored our surroundings. The Banyan Tree is one of 5 resorts in the Laguna complex, on Bang Tao beach. Our facility is exclusively made of villas, so it covers a large area along the banks of several lagoons. The rest of the resorts share these waterways and are connected by a boat service. Within the resort, the staff zooms around on buggies (golf carts) and will offer to ferry you to your destination of choice at a moment’s notice. Our pool is sprawling, and various sections are connected by water canals. Among Maribeth’s favorite areas are the in-pool cold-water whirlpool jets and the short but powerful winding rapids area.

Down a stretch from our villa is the Beach. The only (totally minor) disappointment is that the waves churned by offshore storms have been too strong to allow swimming in the Ocean, but this might also be a blessing in disguise: we spend the majority of the afternoon at Bang Tao and essentially had the view to ourselves, save for the occasional horse rider or strolling couple. Good reads (for me, The Economist and for MB, chic-lit book-of-the-moment Watermelon) plus empty beach plus crashing waves equals happiness. There is evidence of life at high season: Now-abandoned beachfront shopping, a few restaurants (minimally staffed), and a massage tent where the staff whiles away the hours gossiping and playing cards. I’m happy we’re here at such a time for the privilege of quiet. The weather so far has been delightful: ranging from 82 to 90 all day, with some cloud cover and the occasional 5-minute shower.

We’ve discovered that the day’s routine involves a series of small gifts, some brought by the morning crew and others by the turndown staff. In the morning, we are given a new set of fresh fruit (so far, something that seemed to be a mix of oranges and limes, sweet tiny bananas, lychee nuts, and a few other indescribable treats), a new oil (lemongrass and orange have been favorites), and a new flavor of incense. In the evening, it’s a gift left on the pillow: sand-filled turtle stuffed animal, aroma-therapy wands, and the like.

The staff is beyond courteous, and we have been greeted by nothing but smiles. The guard staff salutes, which Maribeth inexplicably and reflexively returns, only to laugh about it later. In fact the service is so over the top, it’s actually made us feel awkward, which leads to more awkward moments, as when I tried to (gasp) carry some of our luggage into our room and our bellhop wrestled it from my arms.

At the end of the day, we felt the kind of tiredness that seems impossible when you tally the lack of activity we undertook. It’s the sleepiness that comes from strong sun and ocean air, from lazy swimming, and from allowing oneself to sit still for a moment after moving like crazy. I felt a great contentedness and a thankfulness, for being able to experience this happy place; for the lovely, patient and amazing spouse next to me in bed; and for all of our friends and family who given us so much support and encouragement.

The Greatest Day of the Year (by Maribeth)

As one gets older they usually seem to enjoy their birthday less and less. I suppose 29 isn’t old enough yet because I absolutely love my birthday. It’s like Thanksgiving! I have so much to be thankful for and being here in paradise brings all of the gifts in my life evermore forward. It’s been such a relaxing time for Joe and me. It’s funny what new stories come to the surface when day to day conversation about work and the usual day to day stuff isn’t there. After five years of marriage and eleven years of knowing each other there are still new things and new facets to Joe (more on this in tomorrow’s entry).

My birthday began with a start. I woke up late, fifteen minutes before my spa day was to begin. My toes needed some work after five weeks of hiking and nature so a pedicure was in order. Joe would join me an hour and a half later for a body scrub and massage. He got one too; he didn’t do my treatment…

The Banyan Tree Spa was beyond lovely. It began to rain softly during our massages in another outdoor secluded villa but just as I opened my eyes to try to rouse myself up from ninety minutes of heaven the sun was coming through the trees. We stopped off at the room to grab our day pack and in our mail slot were a birthday card and a note saying that a personally made cake would be ready for me at any point today, just call whenever we wanted it. Score. (Actually, what was amazing, and just a tiny bit creepy, is that neither of us told the Banyan Tree that it was my birthday…) Now if only the Banyan Tree had flown out all of my family and friends the day would be complete! The resort is great, but as Jesus is not the manager (although He might run the orientation…it is pretty fantastic here) it would just be Joe and I celebrating with plenty of nice wishes on Facebook from all parts of my life to make me feel warm and loved.

Not much to report for the rest of the day. We swam in our private pool; we swam in the hotel pool. The nice thing about being at the bottom of the financial totem pole in a hotel like this is that we are surprised by the service, the room, the little gifts at the start of every day and we also realize and appreciate how rare it is that we get to experience things like this. The not so nice thing is that all of the amenities after we got the deal on the room are quite pricey. We certainly paid the most I will ever pay for dishes mostly consisting of rice.

After our pricey dinner we headed back to the room to order our cake. The hostess asked me if I wanted chocolate and after the initial shock wore off that I don’t like chocolate and per normal thinking that chocolate was my only choice, she offered vanilla and mocha. This was at 10:30PM. There was a baker on call to make my cake.

After a phone call to mom and dad so that they could sing the signature Fox birthday song (the technique is a secret and if I told you I would have to kill you) off to bed. What a great day!

Tomorrow: Tropical Excursion
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