Monday, December 19, 2011

Thailand Trip - Part 4

The last stop on our two-week journey was a little tropical paradise called Phuket - one of Thailand's islands. I had heard mixed reviews on this island in the past, but it really exceeded our expectations when we visited. The day we flew in to Phuket, I wanted to turn around and go back to beautiful Chiang Mai, because the weather was not nice at all! We flew in on a rainy, overcast, windy and not-so-warm day, and I was worried that this portion of our trip would be ruined. However, the rain subsided near the end of the day, and the following morning, it was a miraculous turn-around, and we had the most perfect weather you could imagine! We were really blessed with great weather this whole trip!

Phuket is a tiny island a little further south in Thailand, and it is one of a bunch of islands in the area. The hotel we stayed at was a cute little boutique hotel down south in Kata Beach called Sawasdee Village Resort & Spa. Even with the rainy weather as we arrived, it was obvious how beautiful the resort was. Tucked away and basically hidden from the street-front, the hotel was a maze of twisting pathways throughout what felt like a secret garden! We each had a room on the ground floor - hence the name "village" - there really wasn't one big building or anything like that. Although I enjoyed the actual rooms a little more at our Chiang Mai resort, the Sawasdee Village grounds and pool were gorgeous! There were plants, candles, swings everywhere! You really felt like you were in a garden! The pool was very pretty as well with a swim-up bar for drinks and food - I think this was my first hotel I've ever stayed at with a swim-up pool bar - I remember wanting to go to a hotel with a pool bar so bad even when I was just a kid! - so I was pretty excited:)

Entrance to the Sawasdee Village

Our room - huge bed with a mosquito net

Pathway that leads to the spa and restaurant - reminds me so much of being in a garden with all the plants, ponds, swings, stepping stones...

Pool Bar in the fancy Villa area of the resort

Our first full day in Phuket, we wanted to take the opportunity to go diving - I started off a little nervous, because I have only been diving in Okinawa.  However, the weather was amazing, the water was gorgeous and calm, and the dive company we went with was extremely professional, and I quickly began to enjoy the day.  We took a very nice dive boat out from Phuket to two islands to the South called Racha Noi and Racha Yai.  Although the trip was almost two hours just to get to the first island, it really didn't feel like that long of a ride.  The boat was decently large, and we had a lot of space to move around and a great view from the deck.  They also served us breakfast, lunch, dinner, and fresh pineapple and watermelon as a snack - all was delicious!  At this point in the trip, I had begun to develop a small sinus cold, and it actually felt really good to go out and get some fresh air on the boat while enjoying fresh fruit.  And being in salt water actually did wonders for me as well!  

View from up top on our dive boat

The water was bright turquoise and crystal clear at the same time

Below deck, our dive gear was loaded on and off, set up, taken apart, etc. by deck hands that did everything for us pretty much - it was a pretty relaxing day of diving!

Our first dive spot - Racha Noi Banana Bay

OMG this water looked fake!

LOVE it!

Here are a bunch of shots from our 3 dives of the day - we did two at Racha Noi and one last dive at Racha Yai:

Love the markings on this guy

Me, checking out some coral

Moray Eel


So many tiny fish!

Neon blue Crown of Thorns

Blue Spotted Sting Ray

Matt with some large concrete cubes they sunk to grow the reef

This was the Lion Fish hangout

They were some big Lion Fish!

Check out a few of our video clips from the dives - this one is us in a large school of Baby Barracuda:

Our second dive was a Drift Dive with a very strong current that just took us with it - you can see in this video clip how quickly we are moving through the water without even swimming!

More fish, shrimp, etc...

One of my favorites - a Cuttlefish we found - these are so cool, and they camouflage themselves!  You can see at the end when Matt moves in closer to it that it changes colors:

Incredible sunset on our way back to the port

For the rest of our time in Phuket, Matt and I just decided to relax around the island - here's us lounging at the pool and having some smoothies at the swim-up bar:

The most delicious coconut smoothie EVER

Kata Beach right near our hotel - paradise!!

In the afternoon, we went with our friends, Lyndsey and Andrez, up a mountain to see the Big Buddha that overlooks Phuket.  Instead of taking a taxi, the guys decided to drive us up on our rented scooters, which was interesting because of the curvy and steep ride up there!

Up at the top

Really amazing views down into the jungle and mountains of Phuket

On our ride back down, the sun began to set, and this was our view of the Big Buddha

Last night in Phuket - dinner with Lyndsey & Andrez

We had such an amazing trip!

Thanks for following along as I recapped our whole Vietnam and Thailand trip with you all - we are so thankful for these opportunities and the memories we've created!


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