Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Phuket – Land of Beaches & Islands

Every time as I relive the time spend at Phuket one of the most beautiful city in Thailand, it just lightens my heart with energy & joy. I believe we write our own stories and each time we think we know the end, we don't….I had only my dreams with me, I wasn't sure what the destination is going to be like, still I kept moving as I believe that the journey is the reward!!!

We took a government bus to travel from Bangkok to Phuket which is 12 hours of overnight journey.

Rain welcomed us as we reached Phuket early morning… could it get more beautiful? We shared a taxi with a lovely old French travel freak married couple.  As they shared their travel experience around Africa, India, Europe etc…. that’s when I realized how I would like to grow older with someone -experiencing life on the streets of Europe country side, adventuring in Africa , biking around the coast of Thailand & much more.

A sense of freedom when we hired a bike & reached Patong Beach which was just 10 min away from our Hotel. It started raining as we got into the beach, all you could hear is the sound of the distant waves hitting against the shore. I miss its beauty and serenity.

The bike made me feel like having wings & we drove to Kathu & Karon beach which were close by to Patong Beach. Picture perfect beach scene!!! I haven't been to any beach like these Beaches. The sand was so fine that my feet instantly buried in with each and every step I took towards to shore. The skies were so Smurf it blue and the white sand reflected the sun brightening up the beach.

But somehow I was in love with the Patong Roads rather than the beaches…

Patong’s Bangla Road has a vibrant night life which pulsates away till the wee hours of the morning. The 5 block long strip is packed to the max with bars, clubs, restaurants, and stores where Thai women sit with foreigners drinking beer and playing games. This place pulled a huge crowd just based on the amount of people sitting inside and to those standing outside for a free show.

The competition is so high within these pubs that they really work hard on the ambiance, appearance of the bar girls & the innovation they bring into the free shows. It was FiFa time & we could see street bars around a Poll with a big LCD TV screening the Live match – girls entertaining the guest with strip show & serving drinks. Great businesses model here – very less investment but high level of creativity.

Thailand is well known for its massage and spa services. Even India’s popular Spa “O2 Spa” couldn’t come any closer to the face/foot massage that the Patong street Massage shops offer at the best price.

We landed up at a very popular Super Market and we started shopping. At the end when we looked at our shopping basket, we realized we have picked up drinks, fruits, eatables lasting for a week. Our basket looked like we are getting all set to live in Patong J that’s the miracle this small city had done.

Last day in Patong was our tour to James Bond Island. After making our reservation and paying for a spot on the tour, we were picked up early in the morning from your hotel on the date of your tour and then taken to the departure point for your voyage out into Phang Na Bay. Got on the big boat, as we sailed through enjoyed the many strange, yet beautiful, limestone cliffs jutting up out of the water. There are around 45 such small islands. I had always seen these types of natural ocean formations in the movies and it was incredible to actually get to see them in person.

Sea kayak of the limestone cliffs around 2 beautiful Islands as it kept drizzling through. Thai guys were awesome hosts. They would answer any questions you had in their ‘Thai English’ or playfully joke around with the passengers. Their upbeat personalities really added positively to the trip as well.

If the name isn't enough of a giveaway James Bond Island was one of the key movie locations for the 007 movie, The Man with the Golden Gun. And of course, what happens when a place appears in a blockbuster movie? It becomes a tourist destination!
It’s a place to experience & my words will never be enough to describe it.

We reached the last island, the water was so incredibly clear and green in colour. The surface of the water was so still, so serene just slowly moving between, under, and around the cliffs…. and here one by one from our boat, went for a deep driving into the ocean for a quick swim.

The water drops falling from our hair, the wind smoothing our body & eyes filled with the reflection of beauty … our journey of Phuket ended with a desire to be back again to witness theses kind of miracles nature creates every min.

This one was the much needed break. So friends my only sharing would be – we get so busy in our daily life that we are missing out on so much....Life is short....go ahead and plan one long break – club long weekends, fake a medical leave, do whatever it takes – and slow travel. Go to a place you love, or one you know nothing about. Choose a homestay over a drab hotel room. Plan nothing else. Talk to the locals, be adventurous with your food, spend do-nothing days, and let the road show you a different way of life….like the new life I am encountered with!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A living dream – Visit to Bangkok

The dreams may well be far away, someplace where I have never been before. 
But there is something that tells me from deep down inside me that they are really somewhere. 
I don't know for sure whether to go there or not, but I was told that if I followed my heart I will be there someday…..
thus my visit to the most happening city of Thailand – Bangkok
Astonishing view from the flight as we were touching Bangkok

Airport had some very good Huawei Device Branding – felt very much at home & a place of belonging. After waiting for almost an hour for the visa – we were out of the airport at 3am. Reached our hotel & we hungry souls got our first shock when they charged us 30 Bahts for one glass of hot drinking water.
The day raised, it was the day to visit temples. Temples: Thailand is a country with a long history of Buddhism.

We decided to take the sky train as it was close by to our hotel. While buying the train tickets the expression that I received for the way I spoke English – made me realize that’s not gonna work. Thai peoples are not very well verse with speaking English, so just use key words & kill your grammar during your stay here.
Many grand temples and shrines were built and if there is only one temple you could visit in Bangkok, it would be no other than the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.  Buddha statues are the major highlights in these temples. Each statue brings out a different expression of Lord Buddha majorly “Peace” as that’s what he preached to the whole world.

You can also take a boat ride covering Wat Arun, Wat Pho & Grand Palace.
Bangkok is one of those cities which does not sleep – so our evenings used to be totally fun.

Reached Skybar – one of the very popular Roof top Restaurants:- Standing on the 84th floor open-air revolving restaurant, you really feel like you’re in heaven. Famous for the scene in The Hangover 2, this rooftop bar was probably outstanding before it became famous. After all, it is the world’s highest open-air bar - If you every want to make any of your life’s memorable moment, this is the venue for you.

As the day passed we learnt – Taxies are more affordable, bargain for everything & wherever possible, lychee are something to die for.
They say shop till you drop in Bangkok as the city is all about Designer stores, Malls & Wholesale markets. We spend ample of our time shopping in MBK, Pratunam wholesale market, Chatuchak Weekend Market & the list goes on…..guys – stay far way from entering the Platinum Mall (all the 5 floor are majorly filled with girls stuff)
Night life at Soi Cowboy, Sukhumvit Soi will make your eyes & heart go red. That’s where most of the Bangkok documentary comes from. A city which has 75% population of girls has its own reasons for making prostitution legal.

Well I can’t talk too much good about the food as being a Vegetarian I really had a tough time. But yes – if you are a meat lover you will love the street food more than the five start restaurant food you might have ever tasted in India. Veggies please carry ReadToEat, fruits, dry fruits for your survival.
One place you can’t miss visiting - Jim Thompson House: A living well architectures house of
An absconding America Man which speak about his life with pride. 
Jim who fell in love with Thai culture and devoted himself to reviving the craft of hand weaving of silk.
The Tuk-Tuk moment of truth is negotiating prices with the driver. Management people can get to test their negotiating skills here, but I totally loved the ride, it’s an experience worth having.

The traffic, the markets, the street hawkers, the grime; the food carts, the temples, the madness, the crime… it’s what makes this iconic South-East Asian capital buzz. That’s how the city “Bangkok” kept amazing me every day.
A city that taught me the value of drinking water, improvised my bargaining & negotiating skills, filled my wardrobe with lovely stuff, made me be conformable in your own skin – ความรัก & lots of love :) 

..but wait ..it does not end here…I have more stories to share in my next Phuket Post.