Flying low over the Andaman Sea, the small plane from Bangkok to Phuket makes a grand entry over frothy waves kissing the beach bordered with emerald green vegetation. Our honeymoon trip in the month of January starts off with a pleasant arrival onto the Thai island.
The route from the airport to the beach resort is a long one. The ride is smooth and winds its way up hills, through towns, along highways and beside beaches. It is dark by the time the hired car stops at the entrance to the Thavorn Beach Village and Spa resort. The lobby is filled with welcoming ambient light and the staff is eager to please its two new customers. They join their palms in traditional Thai greeting – in a ‘namaste’ gesture with head bowed and say “Sawasdee”. The guests are garlanded with a ring of lovely white flowers, an orchid in the middle and handed refreshing welcome drinks as check-in formalities are taken care of.
The resort is beautifully landscaped, with gardens full of exotic flowers, statues of Thai mythological characters, stone decorations and a big swimming pool with cascading waterfalls stretching all around resort buildings. There are 4-5 different restaurants serving various cuisines along with a live band at night and a spa. The beach bungalows boast of sand and water right in their back-yard. Their windows open out from the semi-circular beach to a splendid view of the sea. A moonlit walk on the path that runs along the beach, aglow with soft-lit lanterns and accompanying rhythmic sounds of rolling waves is utterly romantic!
After spending a relaxing first-day at the resort lounging on the beach and the swimming pool, day 2 involves an island-hopping trip around Phuket. The speedboat carrying about 25 eager tourists roars over choppy waters and blasting winds leaving a foam-filled tail in its wake. The chirpy guide points out places of interest and keeps cracking lame (but still funny!) jokes.
Huge green rocks jutting out of the water remind one of the floating mountains from the movie ‘Avatar’. Sunlit sea water of a sky blue or an emerald green color sparkles and lends a surreal feel to the whole place. The boat takes an hour long pause near some of the rocks and snorkeling gear is handed out along with life-jackets. What an amazing experience it is! Marveling at underwater life deep down and swimming with tiny colorful fishes – hundreds of flashes of yellow, blue, green, red, orange as they briskly swim away …
On Monkey island, where the boat stops, the monkeys are lured closer with bananas and even made to guzzle soft drinks while people surround them and click photos like paparazzi jostling to get shots of celebrities. Next comes Maya beach at Koh Phi Phi Leh island where everyone is duly informed of its connection to Hollywood – ‘The Beach‘ starring Leonardo DiCaprio having been filmed there. The beach is endowed with soft white sand and lovely blue waters. The day draws to a close while relaxing on one of the numerous beaches.
Day 3 is devoted to Patong town near the resort which offers bustling throngs of people (a majority of them tourists), an array of shopping options, roadside Thai massages and a mind-boggling variety of restaurants. It also possesses a crowded, busy beach dotted with multicolored beach umbrellas, vendors selling refreshments, tanning tourists roasting in the sun and waters dotted with speedboats, swimmers as well as para-sailors hovering above. Land, water and air – everything is occupied!
At night, the town comes alive, throbbing with active night-life. There is barely enough space to move on the side-walk. Hubby scurries about with his camera clicking non-stop (as he generally did all the time throughout the trip) and we both savor the fresh fruits, roasted corn and delicious crepes (chocolate, Nutella, strawberry, banana etc) on roadside stalls while taking in all the sights, sounds and smells.
Short on time, but high on enthusiasm, with only a day to spare in Bangkok, we decide to visit at least one of its famous landmarks – the temple housing the reclining Buddha statue. It is truly a breathtaking work of art and a beautiful idol of worship. And so is the temple itself as well as other shrines within its compound walls. Orange-robed monks meditate inside while the sloping rooftops glisten like gold in the setting sun.
The day is drawing to a close but there is still time to kill. The cab driver showing the city suggests the ‘lady boy cabaret’. We are already familiar with the lady boys, having seen them around in Phuket and playing guessing games trying to figure out which ‘lady’ was actually a ‘boy’. (The hubby was really good at this!) However, the cabaret turns out to be an experience like no other. The transvestite performers put on a colorful show, resplendent in their sparkling costumes and stage make-up. It is virtually impossible to doubt that they were born of the male gender. After the performance, though, a large number of them line the exit, egging audiences to pose with them for photographs for a fee and their true male voice booms out in stark, shocking contrast.
It is soon time to go (albeit against one’s wishes!) and leave behind the lovely country, its hospitable people and the fantastic time spent there as newly-weds.