We hire a scooter from Bamboo Beach Hotel for US $10 per day – we could have got it cheaper in town, but the hotel have been very good letting us leave our surfboard bags here safely while we head off on adventures to Koh Phi Phi and surrounding villages.
Driving on Phuket roads is not as scary as I had thought, although I imagine it would be worse in the high season overflowing with tourists, tuk tuks and such.
The roads are in good condition and well sign posted, they don’t charge for parking and petrol is relatively cheap and easy to find – sold in litre whiskey bottles on the side of the road.
We head south, stopping at the beautiful Kata Beach for a swim in the breakers; a few surfers around although there is not much swell, but apparently this is the place that catches it when it comes. We chat with an Australian couple who are out here to get some dental work done; with the price of the flights, accommodation and surgery it works out a third of the price they were quoted by an Australian dentist. It’s a new and booming industry with a very positive reputation.
More amazing views to be had as we round the last couple of hills with elephant trekking places dotted everywhere before dropping into the fishing town of Rawai. We do a 40-minute elephant trek which I loved; the great lolloping gentle beasts are so big and beautiful; I get to sit on its head in the driver’s seat with its ears flapping gently on my legs, its great wrinkly hairy thick skin quite comfortable to sit on. I make friends with a gorgeous baby elephant, he’s so cute.
We have one of the best dinners of the trip so far at the Rawai Fish Market where we choose our fish from a stall on one side of the road and then take it to be cooked at the restaurant opposite. DD proves invaluable with his knowledge of the best looking and best eating fish; we choose a Spangled Emperor, some green lipped mussels and a handful of cockles which are expertly cooked in fresh Thai herbs that all amounts to less than US $10 each. Delicious!
After a recommendation by another Aussie sailing couple, we head around to Chalong Bay Yacht Club, where we manage to score a spot on a yacht for their weekly race day, perfect timing. They are a classic bunch of ex-pats, tucking in to their first beers of the day when we arrive at 10.30am. There is a bit of wind as the eight boats head towards the start line, a lot of jeering and heckling from different teams, a near collision as we boisterously head off on the starting horn to take a firm lead from the beginning. Around a couple of little islands and back into the bay a couple of hours later, we are the clear winners on ‘Babe’, loads of fun. An amazing lunch follows with lots of friendly banter from the yachties all offering good advice for our upcoming sailing adventure into the pacific.