It has been 9 days now that we’ve called this delightful little corner of the world “home”.  I have to confess to having some misgivings regarding Phuket in the weeks leading up to our trip launch and that those didn’t fully abate while we were in Penang.  Jonathan and I had bandied about the idea of moving to Phuket in the early stages of our relationship (affectionally known as “BZ”) but in recent years I’d read how Phuket was becoming overly developed and seedy and it had me concerned, as had my failed attempts to find a house rental close to the beach that was less expensive than our SF mortgage!  Ultimately, however, I felt that J & I just had to visit this tropical island that had played such a part in our early discussion  about living abroad, so we purchased the one-way tickets without a long-term place to stay and booked a few nights at Dewa Resort in Nai Yang Beach. I became nervous about my choice when the passport control agent laughingly told us was the closest resort to the airport, as this conjured up images of SFO’s bleak airport hotels.  Fortunately, my fears were unfounded and the resort was perfect for our needs.  Long story short, it turned out that we could rent a large 1-bedroom suite from a private owner at the resort for the month of November and after a car trip around the island confirmed we preferred the vibe here up north, it was an easy decision. So now we have a lovely little place overlooking the resort pool with a bird’s eye view of the sea through the trees, across the street from a gorgeous and uncrowded beach and are within an easy five-minute walk to “downtown” Nai Yang Beach.

A Few Highlights 
Thai Halloween: As some of you guessed, the Thais don’t celebrate Halloween. Fortunately for us, our newfound traveling family friends, from http://www.edventureproject.com and http://www.worldschooladventures do (in style)!  We carved watermelon and some funky Thai vegetables, bobbed for apples in the pool and cobbled together some entertaining costumes (heavy on the pirate theme, with the exception of Mr Potter).  Definitely a very fun first Halloween outside of America!
  • Moped Adventures: I decided that 10 years was sufficiently long to banish the emotional scars inflicted from riding backseat on J’s moped in Bermuda. That, and the recognition that he values Z’s life more dearly than mine (or, as he explained it, feels more responsible for her–we can take that up another time).  So we rented a moped in town and did it Thai style–3 astride, with Z in the front, Jonathan in the driver’s seat and me holding up the rear (fortunately not having to hang on for dear life this time).  The first afternoon we headed north towards Mai Khao Beach for lunch, which we found almost nonexistent (not the beach, just the lunch in town)–we later learned that there is another part of town that is more developed.  With plans of lunch on hold, we stopped at a wat (temple) down a dirt road and had a lovely little ride through Casaurina-lined streets until we came across a herd of water buffalo and I immediately thought of Pamplona’s bulls. By that time we were shaky with hunger and a bit unsettled about finding ourselves on a busy main road with trucks barreling by at 60 MPH.

Moped outing

  • Bike Hike: Jonathan and I biked (the old-fashioned way) to Nai Thon Beach (the next beach south of us) one afternoon while Z hung out at the kids’ club.  As the extent of my bike riding over the past 5 years has been with Z, it quickly turned into a bike hike when we hit our first big hill at the peak of the day’s heat.  I was pretty convinced I was going to suffer from heat stroke but instead just got prickly rash from excessive sweating.  Lovely.
  • Similan Islands:  Yesterday we ventured further afield as part of a snorkeling trip to the Similan Islands, which comprise a national park of nine islands in the Andaman Sea.  We took a shuttle about an hour north to the mainland to the  Tap Lamu Pier, where it was an hour-long ride via speedboat to the Similan Islands.  Z and I loaded up on Dramamine pre-departure, so didn’t experience any queasiness, unlike one unlucky woman on our boat.   This was Z’s first official snorkeling trip and she was rewarded with a up close encounter with a sea turtle.  First it swam by her, then it touched her and by this evening it had pulled her along for a ride. 🙂  The soft white sand beaches were gorgeous and the islands were dotted with unusual rock formations.  The coral wasn’t in great shape in the areas we swam and snorkeled in, which was a bit depressing, but I read that the National Park service is making attempts to better preserve the environment of a couple of the famous dive sites.  Overall, it was a fantastic day’s outing, with friendly tour operators and a well-organized (if packed) excursion. We learned it’s possible to stay overnight in tents or bungalows on Koh Miang (Island #4) so perhaps next time!
  • Foot reflexology: $10/hour.  Need I say more?
  • Teaching Z to dive under waves.
  • Thai food: Cheap and delicious and even better if experienced when sitting on the beach, listening to the waves crash on shore and watching the sky get peppered with lightening bolts.  Sort of how like all food tastes better when camping.
  • Our first Phuket Indian restaurant: J somehow held out for nearly a week before we sampled the only Indian restaurant in Nai Yang Beach last night. After a very positive experience, I suspect it won’t be our last.
  • Family card games: Taught Z how to play War, but have nicknamed it the Afghanistan War because it wouldn’t end until Daddy got a bit creative in his card playing.

Playing cards

Random Observations 
  • Hordes of Russian tourists.  Menus are in Thai, English and Russian.  Some quick Google research revealed rumors about the Russian mafia controlling parts of Phuket.
  • Russian woman love to emulate Sport-Illustrated type cover shoots for their click-happy boyfriends/husbands by rolling around in the sand where the waves break on shore in skimpy suits in front of crowds of other tourists.  Have witnessed this enough times now to feel comfortable making this sweeping generalization.
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