This morning was another early morning - we had to be up before 6am to grab a quick breakfast from the buffet (oh, how we are going to miss all the free food and perks at this hotel!). We quickly checked out at the front desk, and then caught a taxi waiting out front by 6:30. We made it to the Changi International Airport within about 20 minutes (cost us about $32 total), and proceeded to their Budget Terminal (which is WAY not as nice as the rest of their airport) to wait in line to check in our bags with all the other economy passengers. :) This was all quite uneventful, and we were taking off on-time at about 8am. The flight was quite boring (not even any complimentary food or drink service for this 1 1/2 hour flight - even US domestic flights will at least give you a small beverage!). But somehow we were lucky enough that our seats happened to be in the exit aisle, so we actually had quite a bit of leg room!
Upon landing in Phuket Thailand (which, by the way, is an AWESOME landing - you come in right over the beach!), we headed through immigration, and found a money changer to turn our US dollars into Thai Baht (about 30 baht to $1). Then we caught a cab to take us to our hotel/resort (Derren had read that you have to walk by all the guys trying to sell you cabs when you come out of immigration, and you have to walk out of the airport and down the street to the right, to find the best deals in cabs. Only Derren...)
This cab cost us 350 baht ($12) for about a 10-15 minute CRAZY drive to the hotel. The roads were very skinny, and the people drive absolutely insanely. Oh, and there are people riding in the backs of cars, four-five people per scooter, etc. CRAZY I tell you!
So we got to our beautiful hotel resort, the JW Marriott Phuket Resort (a 5 star resort!) and were immediately impressed with the beauty of the hotel! And we were even greeted with a welcome drink of cranberry juice! Here are pictures of us when we first arrived in the lobby of the resort, and with our welcome drinks!
And obviously again, this hotel is not costing us anything to stay here - although we are not going to get anywhere near the AMAZING perks that we got at the Holiday Inn in Singapore. And this resort is pretty isolated, which means you are pretty much stuck at the resort, and eating their food (which is NOT to our cheap standards!) :)
Since we had arrived in Phuket so early in the morning, our room wasn't quite ready for us to check in, so we did a little bit of exploring around the huge resort, and were immediately drawn to the absolutely BEAUTIFUL beach. It is just breathtaking. And the water is so clear!
After we wandered around for a while, and found all the neat stuff that the resort has to offer, we were finally able to check into our absolutely amazing room. Check out these pictures - I only wish they did this place justice!
You can check on a map exactly where we are in the world:
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By this time it had been many hours since we'd eaten our breakfast in Singapore, so we decided that it was time for lunch! We took the hotel's free shuttle to a shopping center a couple of minutes away (this resort is located next to about three other resorts on this beach in Phuket, and otherwise there is no real cities at all nearby, so this little shopping is completely meant for all the tourists in the resorts). We went into a small market in this shopping center, looking for some snacks since we knew that the food in the resort would be so pricey. Derren got some instant noodle (only about $1 each), and I got some dried fruit and sesame peanuts. There wasn't really anything to eat in this shopping center that wasn't totally touristy, and of course we wanted to get cheap local food, so...of course we turn to Derren to know exactly what to do and where to go. He had read about a local restaurant called Kin Dee on trip advisor, so after asking a few local people at the shopping center, we hit the road by foot. It was sweltering outside, and we were walking on roads that are ABSOLUTELY NOT pedestrian friendly, but it was all in the name of delicious food. This is a picture I took while we were walking along the road (mind you, there were no sidewalks, and scooters coming onto the shoulder - just absolute insanity).
I was worried that we would find a shack where I would end up eating white rice for lunch because they wouldn't have anything vegetarian. But what we ended up finding in the middle of freaking NOWHERE was this really cute little restaurant with a great menu and delicious Thai food (and MUCH cheaper than anything the resort had to offer!) Also, there was a great view of a pond-type thing, which you can see in these pictures.
We were so sweaty and parched by this time, after walking for about 20-25 minutes to get to this place. So we started with a large bottle of a Thai beer - Chang (this large bottle cost about $5). So refreshing in the heat!
Derren of course had curry - he chose to have chicken "Phuket" curry, which was extremely spicy (obviously!!!):
So all of this delicious authentic Thai food for only about $17. Yum!!! Then we made the sweltering walk back towards the hotel. We stopped at another market farther from the hotel, and at this one, Derren bought three large bottles of three different Thai beers so that we wouldn't have to buy any alcohol from the hotel. Each of these large bottles was only about 50 baht (aka, about $1.50). So cheap! And I had a tiny little thing of ice cream that was 13 baht (less than 50 cents!) When we got back to our hotel room, we decided to use the fitness facility at the resort because we both felt that after all the eating, it was probably overdue! :) After our workout, we headed back to our room to change into our bathing suits, and found this delicious plate of cold fruit waiting for us (the weird looking one is dragonfruit).
We then headed down to the beach just in time for the daily elephant bath in the ocean. We got to watch this really fun elephant cool off in the water with his owner.
Then we just swam in the ocean for a while (which is a new one for me - I usually don't like ocean swimming because its so cold and there is fish and seaweed and sharks, etc.) But this water was so warm and so clear - it felt so nice!
After some salt-water swimming, we then went and enjoyed two of the three pools. I told Derren that it was like a MUST that we order fruity icy cocktails while sitting next to the pools. So here you go - a strawberry margarita and a lychee freeze!
After some time reading and just hanging out, the weather started to get really ugly and the sky was getting very dark. We just kept waiting for the rain to start, but it was taking its sweet time despite lots of thunder and lightning out over the water. While we were just hanging out we got to experience scuba diving in the pool - it was neat to try the breathing apparatus and have a tank on your back and try to swim. Finally after some more pool lounging, we made our way back to the hotel room to try to figure out how to order take-out from the same place we ate for lunch - they have free delivery!!! (aka, that long sweltering dangerous walk wasn't necessary. But it was worth it!) After some serious issues with using the phone and internet, etc. we finally got our order placed and have now been waiting for more than an hour for some dinner...getting so hungry!!! I will post tomorrow what we ended up eating, but for now I'm going to sign off and hope that my dinner arrives soon! Oh, and we did get that monsoon rain - it is crazy being in that kind of downpour - pretty amazing!
We are looking forward to another relaxing day at this beautiful resort in Thailand tomorrow!
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Ashley & Derren