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Para Para Paradise

While in Hong Kong on my first contract, we had a few a bit of time off where the show went down for maintenance, called, dark days. The Monday after the show, we headed to the airport really early to the airport, and I was not feeling well, so I ended up falling asleep till it was time to board.

We flew Thai Airways, and I think it was the best airline I have ever flown. The staff were all extremely kind, the food was actually pretty good, and they played some soft relaxing music during boarding. I would highly, highly recommend flying with Thai Airways for your Thai journey. 

We arrived at about 3pm local time, and took the hour long car drive hired by our hotel. We drove past quite a few Thai landmarks like markets, temples, and my personal favorite, an elephant crossing sign. 
We stayed at Honey Resort right between Kata and Karon Beach. We chose to stay closer to Kata and Karon Beach over Patong Beach since Patong is usually more of a party area, which we were not so much in to, so this resort was located in a perfect spot. The hotel was great and our room was beautiful. Our room had a beautiful large door (which we kept open most of the time for a nice breeze) and two french doors for the bathroom. The only difficulty we had while here was the lack of English spoken by some of the hotel staff, but this hotel still comes highly recommended for your Thailand resort paradise. 

The resort was 5 minutes walking distance from Kata Beach (which ended up being our favorite) and about 10 minutes from Karon. 

the walk may not be pretty, but the final destination is!

We went and explored Kata Beach first.

That evening, we went to Karon Beach, but we could not stay in the water long. The tide was coming in, and with it, there were these little baby jelly fish that kept stinging us, making it pretty unbearable. We did however see the sunset and it was so beautiful we made a vow to try and catch the sunset every night (which we ended up doing). 

After we had some dinner at a pizza place nearby, then explored around our little area. By the end of the trip we were convinced our Hotels' street was the best place to be. It was the less busy side of things, but there were two markets we went to for cheap fruit and goodies.

Day two, we started the day with breakfast (fried rice, toast, sausages, lots of fruit and veggies) by the pool at the hotel with all the other guests.We found most of the guests who visit this area were Russian, and a lot of them thought we were Russian too, and they would try to communicate with us in Russian...which we do not speak (yet!). 

After breakfast that morning, we headed across the street to a salon called Happy, Happy  and got Thai Massages for like $8 USD each. A Thai Massage basically consists of this little tiny Thai lady crawling all over you like a monkey digging her elbows into various parts of your body, but it feels incredible! 

After they were done, they gave us these super cute little water juice box things to make sure we rehydrate. 

After massages, we felt ready for our day at the beach. We lathered up in our SPF 50 sunblock (which I recommend bringing in your checked suitcase since it is very expensive to buy in Thailand, and most SPF's don't go over 20) and walked over to Kata Beach. When you are on vacation at a tropical destination, you always see people drinking out of coconuts. I really hate coconut, but I tried the coconut shake anyways trying really hard to get myself to like it. Needless to say, I did not like it and it was heartbreaking, but I got my tropical "I am drinking out of a coconut" picture anyways.

 There were a lot of street vendors selling food by the beach, so we decided to have lunch there. I had sweet and sour chicken for the first time in Asia! Mike got a Mango smoothie, which was very much like the fresh fruit all blended up. For a little treat, we got a nutella and strawberry (which was really strawberry jam) and nutella and banana crepes. They were so delicious and hit the spot.

We spent a little time at the hotel pool (mostly so I could use wifi to do homework), and  rinsed off before changing taking off to Karon Beach once again for the sunset.
Everywhere you walk in Thailand, there is about 4-5 salons next to one another with Thai fish spas. These fish eat the dead skin off your feet, which mostly just tickles because little fish are swimming in and out of your toes. This was such a fun, cheap thing to do in Thailand though, and I will 100% be doing it again when I go back. 

While in Thailand, you of course have to have Pad Thai. Our Pad Thai came wrapped in a banana lead, but do not eat this dish if you are allergic to nuts because there is a very strong peanut flavor to it. 

Another awesome treat we found in Thailand that you can't find in Hong Kong was Mountain Dew! I know it sounds lame, but we got a big bottle every night because after 6 months of not having it, it was like heaven.

After dinner we went to another market and I got two pair of swimsuits for a little under $20 USD. We headed to bed early that day since I was not feeling so great, and we had to get up early to elephant trekking the next day! 

Kok Chang Elephant Camp sent a car to pick us up after breakfast. The twenty minute car ride drove us right past the Kata look out point, and the view was incredible. Once we actually arrived on the property three giant, beautiful elephants were standing face to face with us immediately. They are actually really intelligent, amazing creatures.

Our guide directed us up the stairs behind the elephants where we stood on a platform and removed our shoes. Without much direction of how to actually mount the creature, we sort of awkwardly climbed into the little bench placed on the elephants back. The ride itself was very wobbly and unsteady feeling, climbing up and down steep terrain, but the feel of the elephant skin and the experience itself was incredible. 

After the ride came my favorite part, feeding the elephants. We paid 50 baht ($1.50 USD) for a large basket of bananas and had the elephants eat directly out of the palm of our hand. 

Feeding the elephants was my favorite part of the entire trip. When we got back, we ventured out to find lunch. We ate at one of our favorite places called Aurora  and the set off to be beach bums as usual the rest of the day. Mike had yet another coconut shake and I had an ice cream bar, which was so needed because it was incredibly hot. That evening, we watched the sun set at Kata beach. 
There were also a lot of local families at this time of night at the beach. They had some precious children who were all running up and down along the water. It was so incredibly peaceful and I still enjoy thinking back on this moment.

 Those boats in the water are called long tail boats. They are iconic when it comes to Thailand, very colorful, and expensive means for tourists to travel. 

For dinner that night, we wandered a bit down the street, only to end up back near our hotel again on Kata Road(told you, best street in town). The place was called The Balcony and they had a wonderful live performer singing who caught our attention. I also was a total fan because I finally found a fruit shake I liked; strawberry! Mike also raved about his watermelon shake for days.

After dinner we found some souvenirs for our families, then returned to our favorite spa, Happy Happy.We had some pretty bad sunburn at this point so Mike got an aloe vera massage while I got a mani pedi for like $20 USD.  The next day was our last full day in Phuket. We booked a tour of Phi Phi Island through Mr. Not Phuket agency online. 

The day began rather early, with our shuttle pick up from the hotel at 8am. We then drove around for about an hour and a half picking up other guests, and getting to the marina destination. The tour itself was with Sea Star Agency. While sitting around waiting for the other guests to arrive, we made a friend with the Bulgarian man next to us, named Martin. We ended up making quite a few friends on our actual tour because we were with the same 20 people on a very small speedboat for over 7 hours. The first stop of the day was the small beach of Maya Bay where the movie "The Beach" with Leonardo Dicaprio was filmed.Don't get me wrong, the beach itself was beautiful, however, 3/4 of the coast was covered in boats and the rest of the 1/4 was layers upon layers of people. Standing anywhere there was always someone touching you.I was not super fond of this stop in the tour.

Our next few "stops" were more of just the speed boat gradually driving by. First we "drove past" Paradise Bay (where one of the Jurassic Park movies was filmed).

The next drive by was Viking Cave, which was also pretty cool. Next was monkey beach. The other seven tour boats at this stop all were able to get off their boat and crowd around the two monkeys on the beach, while the guides threw bananas at them. Our boat however was told to stay on board in order to avoid crowding the monkeys, causing them to become agitated. 
After the monkeys were fed, we figured it was our turn. We headed to Phi Phi Don to have lunch under this non-ventilated shelter crowded in with a lot of other tourists. Up to this point, I was really not feeling this tour, and did not enjoy it. If we had finished the tour here, I would have said never to do it, however, the tour went on, and so did we. 

The food was delicious, but I was really ready to be in the water at this point because it was incredibly hot. I am really bummed we didn't get any pictures of us snorkeling, but let me tell you, it was awesome. The snorkeling was the reason we decided to go on the tour in the first place, and finally at this point in the day I was enjoying myself. We first snorkeled jumping off the boat a bit away from Phi Phi Lay. We saw sea urchins, clown fish, sea cucumber, some beautiful coral, and other really cool fish. We left this location and went to Bamboo Island, where we snorkeled again. This time we saw some baby swordfish and more beautiful fish. Finally we came to our last stop, which was the tours' private island. The location was beautiful, and we climbed up this giant rock to get an even better view.

We finally were carted back to the Sea Star holding area, then back into a van toward our hotel around 4:30pm. 
All in all, I am not a huge fan of big tourist groups, and this tour was no exception. I am not a big fan of being told when and where we are to be at all times, but I was glad we were able to see Phi Phi Island, and this tour did a great job (at the end) making sure we had enough time to snorkel and dive. 

We wanted to watch the sunset at Karon that night, but we did not make it home in time. We did however see it set in the van over Karon Beach on the way home. 
Once we got home and jumped in the pool we did head toward Karon anyways to find some dinner. We decided we had to take a Tuk Tuk ride somewhere just to say we had been in one. Tuk Tuks are these little cabs that overcharge tourists but have crazy flashy lights and super loud techno music and are really rather quite fun.

Whilst looking around we found a little fruit stand that was selling shakes and decided to test it out. Mike ordered a dragon fruit shake and I got an apple shake. The stand was extremely busy with tourists attempting to speak to these little Thai ladies who were trying to keep up, and I think among the chaos our shake flavors were forgotten. The result ended up being both of us with the same flavor, and neither really sure what it was. Some sort of mango or papaya, maybe?  While we sipped on our mystery fruit shakes, we noticed flying lanterns (Rapunzel style) floating over our heads.

We followed them back to Karon beach, where we paid $3 USD to light and set one off ourselves. Let me warn you now, if you choose to do this, have your camera ready to go and know exactly how you want to take the picture because it gets a little crazy during the actual process. 

Bye lantern!
We decided to treat ourselves with something we had been talking about all week, Swensons ice cream and holy cow, it did not disappoint...

Our last night in Thailand, the market nearby our hotel mysteriously returned from its three day hiatus so we went and checked it out again. I got some new sunglasses since mine broke early on during our Phi Phi Island adventure and Mike got a very popular souvenir, the Thailand lantern. We got take out at The Outdoor restaurant downstairs where I sat and listened to more live music while eating my sweet n sour ribs (amazingly good). We were planning to see the sun rise on our last day, but we decided against it when the alarm went off at 5am. Instead we woke up leisurely and headed to Kata for the last time. We made some little fishy friends and fed them our leftover bread.
 We then said goodbye to the beach...

Mike and I talked about when we were both little kids we tried to dig a hole to China so we thought it might work the other way around; dig a hole from China to America. Ailey? Etta? Are you there??

Finally we headed back to the hotel and packed up our room. After applying the last batch of aloe vera to our freshly pinked skin we headed back to the airport. The airport was a mess, but we had some Burger King (also rare in HK, so had to!) and checked in for our flight.

While waiting to go through customs, we had the pleasure of figuring out what it would take to go through the "VIP Line", and luckily the solution was rather simple; paying the guard about 100 Baht per person. This outraged me and of course we did not pay off the official but wow, it was like something straight out of a movie. Finally on board the plane, we headed home to Hong Kong where my final 10 page paper for my college writing class was waiting to be written.

 I think its safe to say I was a little tired and slap happy on the plane....
Thailand was amazing, and I 250% plan on returning to this tropical paradise.

In other big Hong Kong news, Ivenise and I got our Hong Kong residency cards today! Yay!

Guess I can't leave now, right? (;

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1 comment

Liz said...

I love reading all your journeys cass! You are blessed with so many amazing opportunities being over there!! Enjoy every minute!!!

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