Thursday, July 21, 2011

Now in Phuket

It has only been 3 days since I came back from an off-site trip to Pattaya and a side trip to Bangkok then I flew off again back to Thailand just this Monday, this time en route to Phuket for another off-site for another group I am participating on. I took Philippine Airlines flight en route to Bangkok and from there had a scheduled connecting flight to Phuket. Phuket is an island located south of Bangkok (around 430+ miles apart).
Before leaving for Phuket, I had to clear immigration and customs and had to transfer on the domestic side of the terminal for my flight. I chanced upon a food stall on the way and bought pad thai for lunch.
My connecting flight was serviced by Thai Airways, my first time to take a flight from the carrier.
en route to Phuket
In-flight, we were served a box and when I opened it, I was surprised to see a sandwich, juice and some sweets. I'm not used to airlines serving meals anymore on a domestic flight as Philippine Airlines just serve a few crackers and peanuts to its passengers, but this is a sure welcome for me!
The flight took just over an hour and arrived around 3:35PM (local time) in Phuket International Airport.
I took a taxi from the airport to the hotel (fixed at THB500, around 30 minutes drive) although I thought someone was going to pick me up at the airport. Was informed though when I checked in that someone was waiting for me and they were surprised to see me there. At any rate, it was just a small mishap so no biggie.
We stayed at Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa for this trip, located at Mai Khao beach (as there are other beach areas around Phuket).
As soon as I arrived and approaching the front desk, I was given a welcome drink, a delightful treat for a hot sunny day.
hotel entrance and drop off point
centerpiece couch at the hotel lobby
The room booked for me was shared with an office colleague who got in the hotel a couple of hours ahead of me (taking a different flight). It was a Deluxe 2 Double Bed Room. The room rate was just THB2948.61++ inclusive already of breakfast and internet. The room was 46sqm in size, more than enough for us as it featured a sofa, a working table, and coffee countertop.
It seems to become more common among hotels today that bathrooms are separated from the bedroom by clear glass (with privacy curtains), which actually add to the effect that the room is so spacious.
The room has its own balcony too. Spacious enough just to chill out and relax during dull times.
The room is overlooking a man-made lagoon. The place is so quiet and serene that I hate the fact we were there for business!
It was late afternoon when I decided to come down and explore the place. The sun is about to come down adding a more laid-back ambience to the resort.
Ah. What a nice way to spend the day. As there were no agenda aside from dinner get-together in Takieng restaurant located also at the hotel, the rest of day was free time for us, and what else is a better way to cap it off but with a Thai Massage scheduled for our group in Quan Spa. Blissful indeed!
Tuesday. Nothing special after breakfast as the day was scheduled for half day sessions and half day planning. The breakfast itself was special though. Served in Loca Vore, each breakfast day was a delight for me for they serve ample variety of food items as well as fresh juices which I enjoyed a lot. I know it's a bad combination but I had coconuts and freshly squeezed orange juice.
I presented to the group in the morning but wasn't feeling already at that time. I started to had fever later on and then felt some stomach aches a few hours after so I just stayed in the room for the rest of the day sleeping. Hope it wasn't because of the coconut and orange juice during breakfast! For dinner, I just ordered burger served with fries and coconut juice from the room service menu.
Wednesday morning, I felt a lot better. I took some medicines and my headache is gone. Perhaps another reason was that it was a free day for me too as the groups are participating in workshops and meetings that I am not part of. Literally I don't have anything to do. Luckily I hooked up with some officemates who had the same dilemma and decided to head to town for some sightseeing and shopping.
Before we left the hotel though and after breakfast, I just roamed around the vicinity of the hotel. Turns out it is a massive property. There were villas and other facilities I haven't seen before. Also, it is a perfect time to get some exercise, relax and breathe fresh air as the place is not too chaotic.
The pool area is so inviting. No one was swimming at that time and I wasn't wearing swim clothes so I had to give it a pass.
Then I went to the beach side to check-out the scene. Apparently the beach is not for swimming or they discourage guest from doing so due to the current at that time.
I was a bit disappointed by the beach area though. I mean, yes it was beautiful but I expected more as I was in Phuket. I mean, come on, is this what people are raving about? I'm sure I've seen a lot of beach resorts in the Philippines better than this, and looks like Pattaya beach where I've been last week is better. I was informed that I should have experienced the other islands for me to appreciate the beauty of Phuket.
There was another pool near the beach area, this time with some people frolicking around. It was inviting, yes, but I have to leave sooner for we are heading downtown.
Our group rented a car to get into Phuket town. I am with girls but unfortunately I cannot offer to drive as I am used to left-hand driving and cars passing at the other side of the road. Good thing one of us is from Malaysia and she has no issue driving here. Armed with a sketchy map, we braved through the roads going downtown following the map and some road signs.
rented car
Our first stop of the day is at the Premium Outlet Phuket. There were a few good brands although I find some of the items being sold although discounted were still a bit expensive. I ended up buying just a few stuff for myself and my family back home.
some shops at the outlet
For lunch, we headed to Central Festival Phuket. I just realized when I was writing this blog that the mall adjacent to our hotel last week was also called CentralFestival. The food court is located at the third floor.
There was a variety of choices for food and in the end, I just got tom yum noodles and hainanese chicken for lunch.
After lunch, we finally headed off for the old Phuket town. We got a bit lost and got in circles as there were a lot of one-way streets.
Following the map, we got to Phuket Shopping Centre. Turns out there is not a lot of things being sold there and only a few shops were open.
Disappointed, we headed back to the car and roamed around the area, until we find this street with charming old shop houses. We decided to park and walk from there.
We passed by a coffee shop named Bo(ok)hemian Arthouse and decided to pause and sip some coffee. The place is quite queer as it had some art displays (mostly being sold) as well as souvenirs for sale. We didn't think at first it was a coffee shop until we saw the menu.


inside the coffee house
a wooden art display
A few minutes of preparation then we got our coffee. I had a caramel macchiato and it was a good beverage to sip as it was very hot at that time.
Phuket Old Town map
We followed the map and continued our walking until we reach the nearby temple (Wat Mongkol Nimit).
Unfortunately the temple was close at that time and we were not able to enter. However, the intricate design of the structure, even from outside, is a sight to see.
The rest of the day was uneventful. We just had dinner cocktails at the hotel while others went to town that night. I chose to stay at the hotel to take a rest for the next day (today) we will be flying out.
Today was also uneventful, spent mostly for travel, as I breezed through the airport from Phuket to Bangkok, taking Thai Aiways flight. Again I connected in Bangkok for my flight back to Manila
Was delightful to be served with a box again on the flight and wonder what's in store inside as I open the box.
There were a few pastries and sweets, as well as juice served this morning in the domestic flight. Again, I cannot complain as I actually like having even light snacks as this (unlike the usual crackers and peanuts I get).
From Bangkok, I again took another Philippine Airlines flight to Manila and I'm currently waiting for boarding time as of writing this post.
Overall, the trip was good and despite getting sick (and wasting time) for a day, I still managed to get up and continue the exploration the day after. I think the problem was that I over expected what to see in Phuket (as it was over hyped everywhere), and perhaps, probably if I'll be back, I'd make sure to take a visit to the outlying islands the next time to experience the full beauty of Phuket.

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