Elephants and Caves

Trip Start May 10, 2012
Trip End Dec 03, 2012

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 14: After finally arriving in Phuket at around 5.30pm we caught a shuttle bus into town which we thought would take 30mins or so from the airport.  2 and a half hours later we finally arrived at what we thought was going to be our normal 3 star hotel but turned out to be a pretty decent resort which was definitely one of the best we have stayed in.  Not too bad for $A45 a night for two people.  Since we arrived pretty late we decided to just order some room service and watch some TV.

Day 15: Today we booked some tours to do while in Phuket, we booked an elephant ride package which was one of the main things Emma wanted to do at least once in Asia and a tour to Phang Nga Bay.  We had a swim in the resorts pool while we waited for our elephant tour and had a few beers by the pool.  We caught the shuttle bus along with two other couples and first headed to the elephants, when we pulled up you could see Emma's smile get bigger and bigger and then she did one of those high pitched shrieks she does when she gets excited, I too was excited but not as much as Emma.

We got on the back of the elephant with a pretty crazy driver, he didn't speak much English, just a whole bunch of arm movements and single word sentences about losing control of the elephant, nearly crashing and saying the the elephant was trying to fly by making it go towards the cliff.  After being in the chair for about 30mins and numerous photos, the driver jumped off the elephant and said one of us could sit on the elephants head and try to ride it, before he even finished talking Emma was out of her seat and on its head.  The driver took plenty of photos for us while we were on it ourselves, and even some disturbing photos of the elephants genitalia.  I then had a ride at the front of the elephant with more photos taken and then we rotated once more, it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip so far.  We then bought an elephant bracelet from the driver (made out of the baby elephants teeth when they fall out) and a photo with the money going towards helping the elephants.

We then went for a tuk tuk ride up to the big Buddha which sits on top of one of the highest peaks in Phuket, and this thing is huge and completely made out of marble, its not quite finished yet so there was still scaffolding around it but it still looked amazing. 

That night we took a shuttle bus into Patong to have dinner and do a bit of shopping, there was really no difference with the shopping between KL and Patong and I don't think there would be much difference to Bangkok either but we will see when we get there (I guess I don't see the difference because I get pretty bored quickly when shopping).

Day 16:  Today we had another tour booked to see Phang Nga Bay.  The worst part about this tour was the 3 hours it took to get there.  When we finally arrived at our first stop which was at the Suwankhua Temple (Monkey Cave) we were able to have 45mins of sightseeing.  Inside the cave was a big lying down Buddha along with a pretty nice limestone cave, although small was still really beautiful.  The other thing to mention about this stop was the presence of 50 or so monkeys running around trying to get food off all the tourists who pulled up, one of the monkeys even tried to steal some corn on the cob that a little boy was eating but his dad scared the monkey off when it went to grab the corn.

The next stop on the tour was to ????? where we went for a guided tour through a limestone cave, we weren't allowed to take any photos inside the cave which was a little disappointing but we were able to buy one that they took for us at the entrance to the cave.  The tour began with a canoe ride into the cave for the deeper sections of the river, we then transferred over to a bamboo raft for the next section which was a little bit narrower and shallower and then we proceeded on foot after that.  In all we traveled about 800m inside of the cave, we got to see heaps of stalagmites and stalactites as well as limestone waterfalls and other rock formations (which the guide told us a lot of them looked like different animals or people which I could hardly recognize), we even got to touch some, supposedly, lucky water dripping from one of the stalagmites.

We then stopped at a local town were a traditional lunch of Thai food was put on for us, the meal was really nice and there was plenty for the whole tour group.

The final stop of the tour was to Phang Nga Bay in a long tail boat to visit Ko Tapu which was made famous in the James Bond movie 'The Man with the Golden Gun'.  I have never seen the movie but the place itself, along with the trip over, was amazing, it could have been even more spectacular if it wasn't over cast and raining but was still worth the trip.  On the way back from Ko Tapu we stopped off at a tiny fishing village called Panyee, there wasn't much to do here except take a walk around for 30mins and we didn't get to see much except for stalls selling cheap necklaces and souvenirs (was expecting something a bit more traditional, not a touristy place).  Emma did however get to hold a monkey which was pretty much thrown onto her shoulder when we came around the corner, it was only A$3.30 for a photo so it wasn't too bad.

After the boat trip back we headed back to our hotel and then went out to dinner at one of the restaurants close to the hotel.

Day 17:  Today we planned to take a snorkeling tour out to Ko Phi Phi island but as the weather was really bad and we were forced to cancel it, and we are now catching up on things that we have put off for a while and waiting for the weather to get a bit better before we decide on what to do next.

Well we found something to occupy ourselves with today and it was in the form of drinking. So we took a taxi into Patong and did a little looking around the shops which started to drive me angry (which is hard to do) because of all the people asking you to buy their stuff and all you want to do is look around, so we got out of that area as fast as we could and found some where to have lunch and a drink (which I really needed by then). We stopped at a place called Shooters which had A$3 600ml beers which pleased both of us so we spent the afternoon there, after 6 or so of these each we decided to go for a walk and came to an Aussie bar playing the AFL so decided to watch the game, had a few more beers and chatted with other Aussies.

We then got some dinner afterwards and then go out to see the Asian nightlife for the first time. We got caught at this one bar after one of the bartenders challenged us to a game of Connect 4 and if we won she would buy both of us a shot and if she won we had to buy her one. Long story short, she beat us and with my ego down a bit I was determined to beat her, after four more losses we finally won one, and now that I was feeling a bit more confident I foolishly asked if she had any other games. She pulled out a game called Jackpot which involves rolling two dice and getting the numbers 1 to 9 (on one or two dice) until you don't get one of the remaining numbers to appear, as this was more luck we both won one game each which I was happy with. After a very enjoyable first night out proper in Asia I am keen to do it again, just not the night before we travel 6 hours in a taxi and a bus to our next city.
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