Friday, July 14, 2006

PEACEFUL PHUKET

This piece on Phuket was published this month in Pilmap magazine. Go out and get yourself a copy if it is available where you are. They most likely edited bits of it to fit in with the magazine's specs. The article below is unabridged and unedited.

PEACEFUL PHUKET

The island of Phuket, Thailand has long been known for its wide expanse of shoreline, variety of watersports and, of course, crazy nightlife. There are seventeen sandy beaches, countless restaurants and a plethora of activities to try. Tourists and locals alike flock to Phuket’s lively beaches and bars. The devastating tsunami that hit the area in 2004 has not seemed to critically affect the flow of travelers. Patong Beach, the area’s most popular beach, is lined with bars that come to life as soon as the sun begins to set.

But if the idea of carousing all night does not appeal to you, there is no need to strike Phuket from your list of places to see. Mai Khao beach, a region of calm and quiet, lies about half an hour away from the busy stretch of Patong. This mostly deserted beach is where sea turtles come to lay their eggs. The 11 kilometer span of golden sand on Mai Khao’s shoreline is met by the clear calm waters of the Andaman Sea. Gone are the sounds of tuk-tuks and all-night parties. Instead, there is only the sound of waves lapping gently on the shore and the wind that softly rustles the treetops.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Pamper Your Senses

Spoil yourselves by checking into the most luxurious resort in the area, the JW Marriot Phuket Resort and Spa. The secluded resort stands alone on the already sheltered Mai Khao beach and is among the best ways to truly enjoy the serenity of the area.

Only minutes away from the airport, the resort boasts 11 hectares devoted to relaxation. Their location puts them right next to the Sirinath Marine National Park, which boasts some of the most diverse marine life in southern Thailand.

The resort itself is a paradise laden with all the trappings of the high-life from the golf carts than transport you from one end of the hotel to the other to high-speed internet that is available in most rooms. A gym, three swimming pools, and a daily schedule of varied fun activities are also open to all guests. Biking trails, jet-skiing and snorkeling can be found nearby. Come sunset, an in-house cultural show is put on in the main lobby.

The Mandara Spa, the resort’s on-site wellness center, offers meditation, yoga, Thai boxing, aerobics and cultural classes as well as the traditional massage therapies and treatments.

Nothing is overlooked during any of the spa’s services from the herbal tea that begins most sessions to the soothing sounds and aromas that permeate the facility. The height of indulgence comes in the form of a variety of half-day spa packages lasting anywhere between 3 to 5 hours. A romantic four hour treatment is also available for starry-eyed couples.

From facials involving ancient Thai recipes to body wraps of freshly picked tropical fruits and honey to Ayurvedic massages, the Wellness Spa has one goal in mind: to give you the most relaxing and stress-free experience of your vacation.

And if you think that spending an hour (or five) at the Mandara spa was blissful, wait til you sample the array of food the resort’s top chefs prepare on a daily basis. A total of seven different restaurants are found within the resort. The Siam Deli is the best place to grab a fresh cup of gourmet coffee and some freshly made sandwiches. Also available are Italian eats at Cucina, Japanese dishes at Kabuki Sushi Bar and, of course, Thai delicacies at the Sala Rim Talay Seafood Market. On Saturday evenings, the ground floor beneath the Marriot Café is transformed into a night market-cum-dinner-buffet. Private beach-side cabanas can also be arranged through the concierge where you and your sweetheart can dine by the beach served by a private staff member.

There are plans to open Thai fine dining restaurant on the beachfront by the first quarter of 2006. Complimenting this is a planned cooking school that will offer short-term classes and private dinners given by prominent chefs.

All your senses are coddled and spoiled. Go ahead and let them, you know you deserve it.

THE OUTER ISLANDS

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The outer lying island chains of Phi Phi, Siliman and Krabi should not be missed. The ever-helpful staff of the JW Marriot Phuket can arrange these trips for you with the press of a button. If you choose to book yourselves somewhere else, there are several other tour operators that can take you on these island boat tours. These all-day tours often include stops at snorkeling sites, lunch, a chatty tour guide and mid-day snacks. All you need to bring are your extra clothes, sunblock and a camera!

Known for its limestone cliff sides, rich snorkeling and white sand beaches, the two major islands of Phi Phi have become the must see spot for visitors. Maya Bay is actually the location for Leonardo Di Caprio’s hit movie “The Beach.”

Other highlights of the trip include a stop at Monkey Bay, ruled supreme by a gang of resident macaque monkeys and then another break at Khai (Egg) Island, where the sheer number of curious tropical fish make you feel like you are inside a natural aquarium.

If snorkelers and beach bums find paradise in Phi Phi, then it is the nine islands that comprise the Similan National park that scuba divers think is dreamland. Unspoiled in spite of its worldwide popularity, these islands contain rich evergreens as well as abundant coral reefs. Trekking is also an option for those who wish to explore the natural flora of these islands.

A much closer but no less beautiful option are the islands that comprise Krabi. About an hour away by speedboat, the picturesque Hong, Twin, Tub and Pho Dan islands are perfect for swimming, snorkeling and scuba-diving as well.

On the larger islands in the chain, like the main island of Phi Phi Don, there are tsunami evacuation route markers. In the midst of sunshine and crystal waters, they serve as grim reminders of the time when this paradise was put in peril.

While the dive sites remain largely intact, it was the villages and businesses that took the brunt of the tidal wave. For the most part, the islands and inhabitants of the Andaman Sea have started recovering from the tsunami’s rampage. Villagers are rebuilding their lives. Businesses on the islands are slowly re-opening as more and more of the affected areas are cleaned up.

The Thai people are a hardy bunch. They were, after all, the only Asian country that repelled all efforts of colonization. Their resilience and perseverance has helped them in their efforts to restore the beauty of these island chains. No matter which of these island groups you choose to visit, you are guaranteed breath-taking views both above and below water.

4 Comments:

Blogger cat-ing-ka said...

i LOOOOVE the shot of your foot with the fishies! :)

7:54 PM  
Blogger cat-ing-ka said...

i LOOOOVE the shot of your foot with the fishies! :)

7:54 PM  
Blogger Jules said...

Fantastic photos, babe!

9:58 AM  
Anonymous LakbayPilipinas.com said...

first of all, I would like to congratulate you on your outstanding blog and photos as well... I happen to publish your surfing article once before and im impressed.... Im inviting you to contribute and join in our "Blog your Travel Contest @ LakbayPilipinas.com/blog

7:39 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home