We learned quickly that although its easy, and fairly cheap, to travel around this side of the world, those flights generally leave Mumbai between the hours of 10pm and 4am. This causes many challenges with the three of you in bed before 8pm on most nights.
We arrived at the airport 3 hours early and breezed through security. It was easy to see that we are actually getting the hang of navigating through checking bags, customs, and security with the 5 of us. Once through we headed to the lounge.
There are several lounges in the airport, some business class and some paid. We happen to get access to one of the paid lounges through our international credit card membership. This was the second time we’ve visited the lounge, and although nothing like the business class lounges, it has comfortable seating, water, and free wifi. We spent an hour or so in the lounge before heading to the gate.
When we got to the gate there was another flight on the board that was scheduled to leave at exactly the same time as ours. This typically wouldn’t be a problem because the Mumbai airport has an A and B terminal at each gate, but today all the people behind the counter were from another airline. Our flight ended up switching gates and departing over an hour late.
Once on the plane we were pleasantly surprised that the flight was almost empty. This gave you three a chance to lay down and actually get some sleep. The flight was only 5 hours from Mumbai to Kuala Lumpur, and with the serving of dinner in the beginning of the flight, there was really only about 3 hours to get any sleep. Our layover in Kuala Lumpur was short which was very welcome, and the flight to Phuket was only an hour and a half.
Day 1 – Saturday March 17th: Running on 3 hour of sleep.
We arrived at the hotel, The Hilton Arcadia Phuket, around lunch. We had lunch at the hotel, and spent a few hours at the pool. The entire crew was exhausted so we had an early dinner. So early that we had the entire restaurant to ourselves.
Day 2 – Sunday March 18th: Pool Day!
The hotel had 3 pool areas with around 7 pools total. Two of the areas had slides that went from an upper pool to a lower pool. Our only goal for today was to get to know our options.
We started out the day with breakfast at the Italian Restaurant. We were lucky they had apples and peanut butter toast. The best part of breakfast was the pond full of fish. We tried to keep you three under control, but then the waiter tossed a piece of bread in the pond and it was over. The fish obviously were waiting for this and the frenzy began. We spent the next 15 minutes feeding the fish.
We spent the first day at the main pool, so we decided to check out a slightly smaller pool, which also had a slide. In total we spent 5-6 hours at the pool, lunch included. We were able to get a nap, which gave me a chance to work out, and then Johnathon and I went to check out the other pools and how to access the beach.
Day 3 – Monday March 19th: More pool fun, Tennis in Thailand, Kids Paradise, and a Fancy Thai Dinner.
In the end, you three really enjoyed the main pool more, and we tended to agree. The main pool had a small kids pool that was shallow enough for Madelyn to touch and had a small toddler size slide that kept her busy for hours. The morning was spent there, and lunch was again by the pool. Lunch was usually hot dogs, good ones that we couldn’t get in India.
In the afternoon we took the boys to the Kids Club. We would have dropped off Madelyn too, but they had an 4 year old age requirement. This gave us an opportunity to take advantage of the free drink coupons that came with the Luxury Escapes Package.
For dinner we decided to try out the traditional Thai restaurant, and because it looked really fancy we went for dinner at 5pm to make sure we were the only ones there. Dinner for you kids was pasta with tomato sauce, not very Thai, but your mother and I went with the full course Thai Dinner. It was delicious, and unlike anything we’d ever had…in many ways. It was a great experience.
Day 4 – Tuesday March 20th – Phuket Tour Day – Karon Viewpoint, The Big Buddha, Chalong Temple, Cashew Factory, Honey Farm, and Phuket Town Tour.
I’ll say that we are definitely getting the hang of traveling internationally with the five of us, but we still struggle. We knew that we wanted to get out of the hotel while we were in Phuket, so rather than try to do it all on our own we signed up for a half day Phuket tour.
The tour bus picked us up at 6:45am, and it turned out to be only us, which was great. Our tour guide, A, was great and she answered any question we had about the area. Our first stop was the Karon or Kata Viewpoint. One distinctive feature of the location were the hills, but more on that later. The drive from the hotel to the viewpoint was entirely uphill and took around 20 minutes to get there. As you can see from the photos, the view was amazing. It was nice to be able to see more than a few hundred yards without seeing a smoky haze. After about 15 minutes,we picked up some bottled water at the local shop, for around 20% of the price in the hotel, and headed to our next location.
Did I mention that the topology was very, very, very hilly. It again took about 20 minutes to get to The Big Buddha, and you kids were really looking forward to seeing it since we could see the back side of the monument from our hotel floor. On the way up the mountain we saw vendors to bike, ATV, and ride elephants up to the Big Buddha. I would have gotten some photos, but I was car sick.
Once at the Big Buddha we took our time to look around. The statue was amazing, and was actually constructed as a temple too. You can walk through the Big Buddha and pray in a temple room. It was here that we learned Johnathon knew about meditation and watched him follow the lead of several other people praying at the time. It’s these kinds of cultural experience that remind us how blessed we are.
On the other side we found a stand that was collecting donations to support the construction. One option that caught our eye was putting our name on a gold colored leaf. When we were there the metal pieces had to number in the thousands and were hung all around the temple on trees, wires, buildings, etc…
The next stop was Chalong Temple which was a combination of several buildings. We got the chance to walk through 2 of the maybe 4 or 5 buildings. The Temples were filled with Buddhas and had areas for people to pray. If you three remember anything of this visit it’s likely going to be the fireworks that they were letting off the entire time we were there. I never did get a good answer to why, but they were letting off firecrackers inside what looked like a clay or smoke oven.
The next two stops were the Cashew Factory and Honey Farms. They were interesting, but not the high points of the tour. The Cashew Factory was informative and had a lady there shelling cashews with a machine that looked like it was designed in the 1930s. They also had a wide variety of flavored or seasoned cashews for purchase. The Honey Farm was disappointing because it was a sales pitch on the wonder drug that is honey. Did you know honey cures cancer, diabetes, acne, and a dozen more I can’t remember…
The last stop on our tour was a walking tour of Phuket Town. We decided that the chaos of you three was going to be to much for us to actually ‘see’ anything, so we opted for a driving tour. It would have been very interesting to walk around and see the local shops, but with the hills and winding roads we were all about done. Before we headed back to the hotel we stopped by a local diamond exchange. Lucky for me we only walked out with three colorful elephants and a Strawberry Smoothie.
Day 5 – Wednesday March 21st: Lazy Pool Day, More Tennis, and Room Service.
We strategically planned rest days between our outings so today we did our usual activities of pool, naps, workout, Kids Club, Lounge, and dinner.
Day 6 – Thursday March 22nd: Green Elephant Sanctuary Park
We spent a good amount of time deciding on the tour the day before. We struggle with the excitement of heading out on our own versus the standard package with the typical visits that so many other people see and do when they travel. I’m sure as we get more travel under our belt we’ll start to change that.
When we thought of the second outing we decided to stay away from the tours and do something different. Elephants are a large part of the Thai culture and although we saw many different opportunities to go ride some, we found a new location that opened only two months prior to our visit. The Green Elephant Sanctuary Park was a place that rescued elephants from trekking and working in the jungles and provided a nice environment for their recovery.
When we arrived, the place looked rather new, and the staff was very friendly. We even found a little puppy on staff that played with the boys. It was a very young puppy so when he started to gnaw on Christopher’s fingers the fun was over. Van after van continued to arrive and there were probably 2-3 dozen people there by the time we began.
We proceeded to walk over to the elephants, where they had 4 elephants out waiting for breakfast. Three had been there for the entire two months and the fourth had just joined them. With just arriving the newest one didn’t partake in the bathing.
After a short time you boys jumped right in, feeding the elephants bananas and sugar cane. Madelyn on the other hand was timid and decided to cling to mom for the duration of their breakfast.
After we had the chance to get them their breakfast and snap a few photos the elephants followed us into a mud pond where we proceeded to rub mud on them…and a little on each other. It was a very interesting experience, and again you boys jumped right in.
After the mud pond we moved over to the fresh water pond where the staff gave us buckets to wash the mud off the elephants. Honestly i’m not sure why they had this step, because after the fresh water pond was a rainfall shower for the group. It was a metal frame structure that had PVC pipes running across the roof that dropped water down to wash off the remainder of the mud.
After getting everyone clean we went back to the shelter, dried off, changed clothes, and had an amazing Thai lunch. Which most of you didn’t eat. But it was really good.
After returning back to the hotel we had another run at the pool before naps, kids club, lounge, and dinner. What can I say, we’re predictable. Oh, I guess we had gelato today…that was new.
Day 7 – Friday March 23rd: Beach, Pool, Dinner at Sunset
For our last full day in Phuket we decided not to do anything outside the hotel, and just relax. Lucky for us the beach was just across the street, so after breakfast we headed there for a couple of hours. The water was considerably warmer than the water in Australia, and even though it was still salty you all jumped right in.
After a few hours we started to worry about the sun, it just seemed hotter than we were used to, so we headed back to the hotel pool. After the pool we dropped the boys off at Kids Zone and started to search around for some souvenirs. Surprisingly the hotel had several souvenir shops, including a Persian Rug store. Only $10,000 for a 5′ x 3′ rug…we moved to the next store and found some great stuff, including a the purse you see below.
After souvenir shopping, and our daily trip to the lounge, we picked up the boys and headed to the Ocean Beach Club to have dinner overlooking the ocean at sunset. It was the perfect end to a perfect week.
Day 8 – Saturday March 24th: Time to head back home
Our flight left around 10am so we packed up, grabbed breakfast, and hopped in a taxi back to the airport. At the airport we met up with some friends who were also in Phuket, and passed the time playing on the Kid Zone equipment at the airport. Ok, it was one piece of equipment…and so small we walked by it without noticing.
With each trip we get the hang of traveling with you three a little more. This trip was amazing and exactly what we needed to break the day to day in a busy city. Great memories.
Mom and Dad