. We settled down for the night in our bungalow, which was so cute, and slept like babies.
The next morning we crept out through our door and really didn’t know what we were going to encounter. And what did we see? Absolute and perfect paradise! I didn’t really believe that tropical paradises existed until I saw Mai Khao beach… now I do believe in them! It looked like something out of a Robin Crusoe story; long white sweeping beach, not a soul in sight, glorious sunshine, a warm ocean breeze, crystal clean green water that twinkled like glitter in the sunlight, longboats fishing in the distance, crickets singing. It was incredible. So incredible in fact that I think we must have lost our sanity because we actually forgot to take any photos (I’m so sorry), so Tom had to get some off the net. We would really like to go back again before we leave Phuket so I’m sure we will have some photos before too long. So we spent our first day in Thailand sitting in hammocks, nursing our sore throats and runny noses and going for a little dip in the sea to cool off. It was a pretty amazing way to start our time here!
The following day we were off to start our volunteer work. We were told that to get to the office we could either get a taxi, catch the bus or walk down the beach to the airport which should take us about an hour; we figured that it would be quite cool in the early morning before the sun rose properly so we set off down the beach with our flip-flops and a bottle of water in hand
. It was a wonderful walk; the sun was still low so it was really nice and cool, the early morning fishing boats were out, we had the whole beach to ourselves, the sand was soft and the water was lapping at our feet. The morning commute to work is a bit different here than back at home! It actually took us closer to an hour and a half to walk to the office and we figured that we wouldn’t be able to do the walk on the way home because the sun would be too ferocious, so we started trying to figure out how to get the bus back to our accommodation. At the office we were met by our volunteer supervisor, her name is Carly and she is absolutely lovely, and two other volunteers called Carol and Hazel. We spent the rest of the day getting to know each other and discussing how we could best help during our time with the charity. By the end of the day we had a much clearer idea of the kinds of jobs that needed doing and we were feeling really excited and positive about the days and weeks to come. We made plans to visit some of the charity’s projects the following day, including a nursery and learning center in an area of Thailand which was hit hardest by the 2004 tsunami. Even though we had really enjoyed our morning walk along the beach we soon realized that we really needed to be based closer to the office during our volunteer period and so we set out to get ourselves a guesthouse nearby. We ended up getting a really nice place just five minutes down the road and we planned on moving there in a few days time; we were so happy with the way the day was going … until the heavens opened and we got caught in a tropical lightning storm! Knowing that there was no way we would be able to walk back along the beach in this weather, and not having a clue where to catch a bus, we tried to hail a taxi to take us home, however we seemed to be having really bad taxi luck. Most of them drove past us, some of them couldn’t understand English, one guy drove off on us and one guy had just been in an accident. So we ended up trailing our way back to the office to see if we could call a taxi from there. However, our supervisor offered to drive us back herself and we gratefully accepted her kind offer! So although it ended a bit soggy, we had a great first day at our volunteer placement and we are really hopeful about what we can achieve with them during our time here.
So today we flew from Malaysia to Phuket in Thailand. Our flight was delayed for a few hours so we didn't end up getting there until quite late, but luckily we had booked an airport transfer through our accommodation so it didn’t really matter (I know, an airport transfer, posh aren’t we?!). We are doing a few weeks worth of volunteer work while we are here in Phuket, but we haven’t yet agreed what jobs we will be doing so for the time being we have booked ourselves into some accommodation about 15 minutes away from the airport and charity office and we will make further decisions after we we’ve met our supervisor. The accommodation which we are in at the moment is amazing! We are in little beach bungalows on a secluded beach called Mai Khao, which means 'white wood'. When we arrived in the evening we settled down with our first Thai beer and a couple of packs of crisps (steak and gravy flavour anyone?) and had a chat with the British owner of the bungalows. It was really strange arriving in the dark because we really had no idea of what our surroundings actually looked like; we were told that the beach was just a few steps away but the ocean was so silent we didn’t really believe them