We've found great weather, golf, food and friends

Trip Start Nov 21, 2005
Trip End Apr 30, 2006

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hi there! Grab a coffee (or any other favourite beverage), sit back and relax and we'll update you on our activities over the last month. Gosh - we can't believe a whole month has gone by already!!!
1. Tsunami Ceremonies
In our last message we didn't mention anything about the Tsunami ceremonies that took place in Thailand. We did not attend a formal ceremony as the only one in the area was up in Patong Beach but there was a lot of coverage in all the local papers. In our area of Karon Beach there is not much evidence of damage done by the Tsunami as the beach is a fairly steep beach and didn't sustain a lot of damage. There is a lot of restoration and rebuilding happening further north however in the areas that were harder hit - Kamala Beach, Surin and the beaches north of them. They are shallower beaches and were in more of a directional path of the waves. On Dec. 26, while sitting outside on our patio at night, we noticed a lot of lights floating high in the air and wondered what they were. We found out the next day that hundreds of floating candles had been released into the sky as a tribute to the Tsunami victims. It was an amazing sight.

1. Change of hotels - Pacific Club Resort - Room 103 www.Pacific-Club-Phuket.com
One of the main things that we did was change hotels. We spent quite a bit of time looking at all the hotels, resorts, houses to rent, guest houses, etc in a number of areas along the west coast. While we found some very nice houses to rent at very reasonable rates they were generally north of Patong in Kamala or Surin. Whenever we drove around looking at places we kept coming back to Karon Beach and thinking that is really is the best beach and decided we wanted to stay in the area. One of the places in Karon that we looked at was a place that we had researched on the internet prior to coming here. David had liked the look of the layout of the rooms/suites and it seemed to have a reasonable price for a long stay. So we drove up to see it. It's up the hill a short way from the beach but it offers such wonderful accommodation that we decided to book in there for the remainder of our stay - starting Jan. 10. We have a mini suite with a nice leather couch in the sitting area, a glass topped table and four chairs in the separate kitchen area and a large patio with table and two chairs and a chaise lounge. After spending over a month and a half in a basic one room hotel unit this is pure luxury. There is a roof top pool with fantastic view and a gym/exercise room downstairs. We need the exercise room as the restaurant has some of the best food we've tasted in our whole time here. We met the new food & beverage manager, Bob, the first day we arrived and he is unbelievable. He has only been at the hotel about a month but he has many years experience having his own restaurants in the U.S. Everything we've tasted has been exceptional and he just says that whatever we feel like he can prepare for us. The restaurant is open air and also has a garden area where we eat almost every meal. It's almost like having our own private villa! Check it out on their website.

2. Beach Days - We spent a number of days on the beach at the beginning of the month. We moved spots from the middle of the beach to the north end of the beach. It was a little quieter up at the end and our beach chairs only cost 100 baht for the both of us rather than 200 baht in the middle of the beach. There is also a great little restaurant right on the beach. We would spend a few hours sunning and going in and out of the water (spending at least 1/2 hour doing our water exercises) and then wander over in our bathing suits to this little restaurant at the end of the beach and have a great Thai stir fry prawn dish for lunch for less than three dollars. (We haven't spent as many days at the beach since moving to the Pacific Club as the pool area is so nice that we haven't bothered going back down to the beach.)

3. New Year's fireworks - Being the real partiers that we are we were in bed about 10:30 p.m. on New Year's eve. Sleep was short lived though as we were woken up by what sounded like a war zone outside our patio. Fireworks!!!! On New Year's many of the hotels hold huge fireworks displays and we ended up standing outside on our deck looking up into the sky at three different displays going on all around us - it was spectacular! We were right underneath them as they were raining down all around us. There were some fireworks that we had never seen before and some that made sizzling noises that we had never experienced with fireworks before. It was a fun way to officially welcome in the New Year!

4. Shopping like locals - One of the most interesting places that we have experienced to shop is a place called "Super Cheap". We were told about it by a fellow we met in the main shopping mall called Central Festival. The Central Festival is like a typical shopping mall in any city - Pacific Centre, Park Royal, Eaton Centre, etc. It has a modern department store as well as three levels of shops. Even has an Office Depot! Anyway, Super Cheap is like an ancient version of a WallMart. It is a huge area where if you are not careful you can almost get lost. And it has everything from appliance to clothing to food. When we were looking around the food section - other than the potatoes, onions and carrots - we couldn't identify most vegetables. When it came to the huge section where all the fish, dried fish and fish oils were sold our noses could not take any more and we had to rush out of that area and into the dry goods section. It was a great experience though and we bought some toiletries, a set of five knives and a cheese cutting board all for under $20.
As we were leaving Super Cheap there was a Korean restaurant right next door. It was a buffet style where you pick your food and then take it to your table to cook on a table top cooker. Again - we couldn't identify a lot of the food but David did stop and drool at the huge table of prawns. Have a look at some of the pictures.

5. Golfing - We have finally started to get in a fair amount of golf. It took our friend, John Tobin, arriving from Vancouver on Jan. 13 to bring a real change of weather (it's been perfect since he's been here!) and to get us motivated. We've been to driving range a few times with John and played seven games of golf - three 18 hole games at two different 18 hole courses, Loch Palm and Phuket Country Club and a number of nine hole rounds at the Phuket 9 hole course (sometimes playing it twice to play 18 holes). It actually is a tougher course than the 18 hole course as there is water that comes into play on six out of nine holes and is a real hazard. Thank heavens used golf balls here are cheap (a fellow we played with yesterday bought 6 for 50 baht = less than $1.50). You can take a cart on the 9 hole course which can be a lifesaver when it's hot and humid but you can only walk on the 18 hole course. We are getting used to golfing with a caddy and you start realizing which caddies are the most helpful. You can ask for a specific caddy which we will start doing soon as we've found a couple who were especially helpful. As to our handicaps coming down - well, stay tuned - we have more work to do. Suffice to say we are having fun.

6. People we've met - We have met a number of great people both working here or here like us as tourists. Being the small world that it is started chatting with a fellow and his wife at a restaurant (as we admired the shirt that he was wearing) and they ended up being from Ladysmith, BC. Yesterday we golfed with a young couple from Vancouver who we met at the Pacific Club - Rowena and Clarke. They are on the second half of their trip around the world and will be back in Vancouver in March. With John here and then our friend Scott Woods coming here from Jan. 20 - Feb. 14 were are not feeling lonely or homesick at all. We keep saying how great it would be next year if we come back here and can plan for more of our friends to come. We keep thinking of everyone and saying how much they would enjoy being here.

Well, that's the update for now. Going to sign off this written portion and start downloading some pictures which hopefully will tell more of the story.

Thinking of you all.

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