That first morning in the apartment was great. I made a cup of coffee with the stove, found a comfortable seat on the couch, and got online. The sun shone on the Andaman Sea as I fed the colorful fish on the balcony, a flurry of hellos splashing up from the dark water of their planter home. This all became my morning routine for the next week. Sometimes, you can arrive home in a place you’ve never been before.
We had come to Phuket, Thailand because it was popular for Southeast Asia travelers. It is a mountainous, jungle-covered island in the southwest part of the country. Several top-notch beaches dot its coasts, and Patong Beach is a party hotspot. A few bays south of Patong is Karon Beach. We chose to visit Karon both to escape the crowds and because it was supposed to have the best waves on the island.
Though the finishes and furnishings were surprisingly nice for our notions of the area, our home was nothing special in terms of apartments. Walk through the galley kitchen to the living room, two bedrooms and two bathrooms off to the side, and a balcony beyond. It was, however, a welcome change to the hotels we had been in for nearly a month.
Kathryn and I were particularly excited to have a comfortable living room where we could write. At the time, we were two months behind on our trip reports and hoped to be writing about our time with Tessa and Kyle before we departed their company. (We are now nearly three months behind…but making good progress!) Tessa and Kyle would arrive later that night, so we got some groceries and settled in for our relaxing and productive day.
Two beaches, Karon and Kata, were closest. You could walk directly to either, or make a loop out of it to visit both. I got restless in the afternoon and headed for Karon, the northernmost of the two. The beach was wide, long, lined with trees, and filled with white sand. The water was turquoise, with some small waves breaking on the beach. This was beautiful, peaceful, and much different from Bali’s Kuta beach!
I made my way south to Kata after pricing some surfboard rentals. The road turned left, and an offshoot continued straight to the sand. Another serene bay filled my view – large rocks to the right, smooth sand in a semicircle and perfectly flat water. Perfectly. Flat. This wasn’t the surfing hotspot we had imagined! The surf stand worker assured me it would be better at high tide. I was hopeful but doubtful.
The building was high on a hill, and the apartment was on the fifth or sixth floor. Our view was great, and the rooftop pool afforded an even more impressive panorama. I was the only person up there as the sun began to set. I tried several angles and waited about 30 minutes. Clouds covered much of the sky and it was tough to tell if they would block the light or provide plenty of canvas for the sun’s painting. The colors remained muted and grey, so I returned downstairs.
“Wow!” I exclaimed to Kathryn. She joined me at the sliding glass door. The clouds had not blocked the light – the sky was ablaze! We grabbed the cameras and headed to the roof to soak it in. Our eager texts to Tessa and Kyle proclaimed the excellent sunsets of our new home, anxious to experience one together the next day. This was a wonderful welcome to Thailand!
Once all four of us were together, we set off in hopes of more surfing. It was a hot and sunny day. By the time we arrived at the second beach, nearly an hour after we started, we were all ready to cool down in the water. It was high tide, but still, neither beach had anything to surf! We got in the water and accepted the fact there would be no waves here. The water was surprisingly warm, like a bath. It did not cool us down, and it was clear this would not be the week we envisioned. Once we got over our disappointment, we realized we could body surf the shore break in one spot. It was great fun even if we did end up completely sand-covered.
Still sweating, we made our way home. Our host had pointed out a restaurant at the bottom of our hill when we arrived, and we stopped there for lunch. It was full of the lunch rush of locals and tourists alike. This was what I had been looking forward to – a delicious Thai restaurant with Thai prices – each of our generous dishes were only 50 cents! By our third or fourth time there, the familiar cashier offered several complimentary items to us.
A Big Buddha sat atop one of the hills near our apartment. On our last full day, we began the climb after breakfast. Kyle explained early on that he had thought we were joking about walking to it. The path took us past rubber tree farms and elephant stands. Along the last stretch on the main road up the hill we were passed by scooter after scooter, car after car, bus after bus. Some of these attractions are relics from centuries ago. We all took guesses at when the statue was built, and the winner was the lowest guess – the entire compound had been started in 2004 and was not even completed!
Monkeys, crowds, and a construction site greeted us. We made our way through the maze of shops and unfinished projects to the top. This was indeed a Big Buddha, imposing white against the blue sky. The view was nice, and we wondered if we could see Phi Phi Island, our next destination, before returning down the hill.
The waves never came for surfing. Tessa and Kyle walked to Patong and reported it wasn’t very busy at all. So, both of our reasons for choosing Karon ended up being not entirely accurate for the week we were there. Our time in Phuket wasn’t exactly what we had in mind when we booked it, but it was a great break from the tourist schedule of short stays and always feeling the need to do something. And boy was that noodle shop good!
Check out our video for more scenes from the trip!
© Cheers Life Partners 2017