Land of Ice Mountains

So this is our last day on the island of Phuket. Where have two weeks gone, and so fast? An amazing trip, amazing people, strange sights and sounds and smells, Crazy but organised chaotic driving and a full-on sensory overload.  Tomorrow we will be heading to the airport and on our way back to beautiful Wellington. Before we leave though I have two little stories to share.

I have just returned from a trip to fill our rental car with petrol. Along the way, I was stopped by a Thai Army and Police checkpoint. I must admit I was a little nervous however as I pulled up the soldier saw my Avis sticker on the front of the windscreen, smiled and waved his finger. This is so not what I had read before coming here however I was very pleased indeed. I drove on rather happily.

Arriving at the petrol station, the young man who served me, put in my petrol, asked me where I came from. I said New Zealand and was about to start explaining the islands off the coast of Australia when his eyes lit up and said ‘oh you have the ice mountains!’  I smiled and said yes, yes we do at which point he said ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Well, I must admit it makes a change not to have the All Blacks shoved in my face once again, so I proudly said ‘yes, Lord of the Rings’ he was so excited it was cool moment indeed.

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On another level, this trip has been rather poignant for me. Every day we have traveled we have had no choice but to drive past local rubber plantations. Tall, straight trees planted in rows, giving dark covered shade, with small gathering bowls hanging off the side of each tree.  Every day as I looked into those plantations I could not help but think of my Father. At the age of 18, he fought in the Malayan Emergency, a little-known police action to stop the communist Chinese coming down and taking over Malaya. It was in a rubber plantation; I guess very similar to the ones I have seen that he was ambushed and shot in the leg from ricochet shrapnel that killed the young soldier walking in front of him.

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As I looked into those plantations, I could not help but think what that would have been like, miles from home, in the heat of the jungle. Sadly, in some areas of the planet, we have come no further but looking through the local plantations I can see the traffic and the everyday life of Thailand. A fantastic place, warm, friendly and full of the hustle and bustle. It has been great meeting you, and I hope we meet again someday.

Kitchen World Heaven

You can’t travel without doing some shopping and you can’t come to Phuket without visiting two key places, The Outlet Mall and if you are into cooking, The Sandangrom Kitchen outlet centre.

Sandra spotted this on our way to the old town of Phuket and so we decided to pay a visit later in the week. This place is amazing, like a high street store on steroids, it has everything for the kitchen, and the prices have to be seen to be believed. Before we go into that though a little bit about the ‘Outlet Centre’ on the 402 heading south. What a place and what a bargain centre. All the large brands are there and the prices are more than 50% lower than high street if not even more.

If you are planning a visit to Phuket this place must go on your list. Ok so I walked away with new Converse limited edition sneakers, new shirts and  a new Thule Backpack ( my old one started to give in the stitching on the way to PH on the plane, that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it 🙂 Sandra grabbed shoes and stuff for the Grandchildren, this place was so good we went back twice in a week. We spent enough to get a very special deal on another suitcase to bring it all home in 🙂 but in saying we spent enough, all up it was very very little indeed. Phuket really is a cheap place to shop.

The next stop kitchen land. This place is amazing, there is not a lot I can say really other than the vastness is quite mind blowing. We could not help ourselves really and we went a little wild however when you can buy prep bowls for $1 NZ that would be $5 back home you can’t really be blamed, and so the list goes on.

Heading back north again I just had to snap the following photos. The scooters and traffic are full on however there are lots of mopeds with sidecars. These have everything in them from people to animals, vast amounts of shopping and in this case entire cooking facilities. Truly a mobile kitchen.  Thailand ingenuity!

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Nai Yang Beach

Nai Yang Beach is a special place about 5 minutes drive from where we are staying. You arrive down a thin road to a beachfront that is deep and long with national forest to the right and the small township to the left. I say Nai Yang is a special place not because of its gorgeous beach that is 27 miles long, or its fabulous people full of smiles and cheer, or the views and the sun. It is special because still standing in the middle of the main street is a building totally destroyed by the Tsunami in 2014.

Phuket is rebuilding and in places like Patong Beach, one of the worst-hit areas, there is little evidence any longer of the destruction played out on that fateful day. In Nai Yang however, tucked back from the beach is a resort that is yet to be taken down some 12 years later and as you look up you can certainly get an understanding of the severe power of the waves on that day.

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The story changes once you hit the beach. Today it is a tranquil, beauty spot, not so crowded as some of the other beaches down the coast and certainly nowhere near as busy as Patong. Sandra and I walked the shoreline, our feet in the warm water. So hot it was like a bathtub lapping at the coast. The tourist boats and fishing boats floated on the glass surface while families swam. Their unique local design, high bows and long outboard motors, and colours galore.

Heading back as the sun rose and the heat climbed once again it was time for a customary foot massage. Fantastically relaxing to the point where I generally fall asleep and snore loudly, to the amusement of all around me. By the time our legs were suitably wobbly and well pampered, it was lunch time. Sitting in a beach front restaurant the menu was very similar to all the others. However, this time the Pad Thai came encased in an egg basket. The description in the menu meant it had to be tried and so I ordered and was not let down at all. It was delicious. As our lunch came to an end we could hear the pool calling us and a lazy afternoon ahead. We will certainly head back to Nai Yang before we leave this amazing island if only for the sleep-inducing massage and the bathwater beach.