Day 3: Phuket Panwa Canoe Tour
It was our third full day in Phuket when my partner and I awoke excited to go on the Phuket Panwa Canoe tour that goes through PhangNga Bay. After about 40 minutes on a bus we boarded a boat that took us to our first destination – James Bond Island. The weather was humid but cooler than previous days, but by the time we arrived the sun was out and it was hot, with a cool breeze.
There were rows of stands selling (real) pearl jewelry – for the ridiculously cheap price of AU$30-60 – amongst other things. Walking around the island I couldn’t help but feel that the beauty of the view was destroyed by the commercialism that overran the location. The island and the lagoon itself was a beautiful sight, with famous floating island smaller than I expected.
Returning to the boat 30 minutes later a feast awaited us! Fried rice, sweet & sour vegetables, spiced fried chicken, freshly grilled fish with a powerfully punchy mango salsa amongst other things sent me into a glutenous spin. Everything was so delicious!
Following on from lunch it was time to canoe at our next destination Panak Island. The sun had gone but the humidity lingered as we prepared ourselves to board the inflatable canoes. We were provided with waterproof bags which was nice as it kept our belongings free from getting damaged.
The canoes were steered by a staff member, taking us deep into a cave that was peaceful inside. At the end of the cave, a hole was visible the peered into a lagoon. Our guide told us that if it were low tide we could go into it, but unfortunately on this occasion we could not.
When we returned to the boat we were informed that it was a 15 minute wait while we waited for another couple to do the canoe route. The staff informed us that we could go swimming while we waited and that we could even jump off the second floor of the boat if we wanted! We were all unsure if he was being serious as he cheekily hung off the rails. With a quick grin, he pounced and did a backflip off the boat and into the green-blue waters below. Everyone gasped and clapped! There was a short break where people wondered who would be next to be a daredevil and surely one after another a procession of us jumped into the water. Beautiful!
The water was warm and welcoming, deep and unknown. Calm without waves, we frolicked in the water before heading back on the boat.
Back on the boat we were taken to Hong Island, where we would again be canoeing- this time through the diamond caved and into a lagoon with mangroves and animal shaped natural cliffs (notably the piranha fish). It was pouring with rain and we had no choice but to take it in good stead. There was a big monkey waiting on a low hanging mangrove tree branch for tourists with bananas and we saw him jump on board one of the kayaks, take a banana and jump into the water at the lagoon!
The trip ended with the boat taking us to another secluded little beach where we paddled to it by ourselves. The water was salty but warm and so beautiful to play in.
Day 4: Boathouse Cooking Class and June Bahtra Sunset cruise
The next day we headed down to fine dining restaurant Boathouse, which sits right on Kata Beach. It was a small class with two others and had a great time with head chef Brian Burger and his accomplice, Petch. We created an array of Thai dishes throughout the day and had just an amazing day of cooking and laughing. We also learned how to decoratively carve vegetables – a talent I lacked, I learned!
We were stuffed by the end of the class and went onto the shoreline of Kata beach, taking a quick walk to digest our food. We went back to Cape Sienna to get changed for the sunset cruise which took us back to PhangNga, where we were the previous day.
The staff were really friendly and the food was delicious on board. Watching the sunset was romantic and the colours that came out during the transition were a gorgeous combinations of orange, purple and blue.
Day 5: Surin beach and Patong
After a busy few days touring around we decided to relax with a day at Surin beach. What an amazing day it was!! We caught a taxi to the beach late in the morning and grabbed a pair of chairs on the sand for 200 baht (~$4.50 AUD). The weather was beautiful and the sun was shining strong as we frolicked in the beautiful warm sea. The waves were rough enough to have fun in, and we hired a boogie board for a couple of hours (yes, as adults!).
Along the beaches where you relax there is often people walking by selling an array of things – ice creams, scarves, beach dresses and Henna tattoos. I’ve always toyed with the idea of getting a tattoo and my partner and I decided that a temporary tattoo that lasts a couple of weeks would be a fun thing to do. Initially offered to us at 800 baht for one large tattoo, we managed to wrangle him down to 1000 baht (~$34 AUD) for two of them. While we waited for our henna tattoos to dry we sat at a beach side restaurant and enjoyed delicious long neck beers.
After lunch we decided to head back to the hotel as there was a free shuttle bus heading down to Patong. We were dropped off at Jungceylon, the big shopping mall near the infamous Bangla Road. The shopping centre was very westernised and rather boring. On the top floor there was a place called ‘Mario Land’ that allowed you to go play some video games and do funny photo booth photos which was a bit of fun! Just below Jungceylon was a place called Saigon, which sold all sorts of Thai products to take home as gifts. You could barter people down pretty good but you do get hassled a lot. What was ultra cool was a store called Metal Art, where huge sci-fi robots and miniatures made of scrap metal are on display and available for purchase. DEFINITELY worth seeing!
I found Bangla road over hyped and quite frankly, annoying. Every two steps we were getting hassled about buying tickets to a ‘sexy ping pong show’ were the women don’t use paddles. Gross, drunk tourists milled about the bars oggling at dancers on tables wearing revealing clothes. I could only imagine the filth this place attracts during high-season. I was glad I saw it for my own eyes, but even more glad to get out of there!