When we left Malaysia, we headed to Phuket, Thailand. This area of Thailand is a peninsula, well known for its beaches and vacationers. We chose to go here because we were able to find a very affordable Airbnb ($38/night!) within walking distance to the beach. Brennan and I both felt like we needed to stay in one place for awhile and Phuket was a great spot for that.
We arrived into the airport and took a taxi about an hour and a half to our Airbnb. It was dark by the time we arrived, but we checked in with our hosts and headed out to get some dinner. I was nervous about walking-there were no sidewalks to the restaurant. We walked on the shoulder of the road, so cars were zooming by. We easily made it up to the restaurant and ordered. Our food was delicious and so affordable! I shared a picture of the receipt-2 entrees, 2 waters, and a lemonade was 165THB. This was less than $5!
We woke up early the next morning and walked into the town to get coffee. On our way back, I snapped these pictures of the area we stayed-it was an apartment complex that seemed like it was all Airbnbs. It was comfortable, close to town, and worked really well for us. We were even able to see the ocean (barely) from the large balcony attached to the apartment.
Later on, we walked down to the beach and rented umbrellas and chairs. While we were sitting and enjoying the beach, I looked up and saw this person parasailing. The guy standing on the strings is not attached to the harness-he was one of the workers who was helping the person parasailing. It made me so nervous to watch him move around up there!
The beach was wide and had fine sand. It was warm enough to put my feet in the water, but I didn’t do any swimming in the ocean. Brennan did though! He also did a lot of walking on the beach.
At one point before we arrived, we were watching a video and someone mentioned something about Muay Thai (traditional Thai boxing). Brennan looked it up and found a fight for us to attend on Thursday night. We were picked up from our apartment and a driver took us and a bunch of other tourists in a van to the boxing ring. I had no idea what to expect.
We fixed one of our mistakes from Malaysia-we remembered to bring cash! But, we made the same mistake again-we didn’t eat before we went! So, we both had popcorn for dinner. It was so salty and delicious!
The first fight of the night was between 2 boys-they had to have been 12 or 13. It was intense! There were 5 or 6 matches-some were between 2 girls, most were between 2 guys. They were all very tough, but I didn’t love watching them beat each other up. It was definitely a cultural experience and I’m glad we were able to do it once. But I think my first Muay Thai fight night will be my last.
On Friday, we spent most of the day on the beach before going to get dinner at a place near the Airbnb.They asked if we wanted to share the bucket mojito-we said yes and this is what we got! It was gigantic, but surprisingly good.
Our waiter also let us know about a show at a lounge on the beach with fire dancers. It sounded interesting, so we walked down there. We almost missed it-we had misunderstood the time it started/ended. But, we were able to see the end of the show, which was very impressive!
On Saturday, I booked us on a kayaking excursion. We were picked up from our Airbnb and thought we would be in the van for about an hour. There was a lot of language barrier and confusion, as well as a road that wasn’t able to be used because of recent landslides. The ride that should have taken an hour took 2.5 hours. We ended up at the docks late and had to take a small shuttle boat out to the main boat because they had left without us. While we were on the small boat, we got our first views of the water we would be spending the day on!
This part of Phuket is known for “James Bond Island”-a uniquely shaped rock/island that became famous in “The Man With the Golden Gun” in the 1970s. This tour was near that area, but offered kayaking through caves, so I chose it. I’m so glad I did-it was incredible! The water was beautiful and as we pulled up to the tour boat, we were directed to drop off our things and get in the kayaks with our guides. Brennan and I did not have to do any paddling-we had a guide who shuttled us around on our inflatable kayaks. These special kayaks were specifically designed to go through these caves and the guys who row them are experts.
Before we went into the first cave, our guide instructed us to lay down and not touch the shells that made up the ceiling because they were sharp. Our faces were so close to the ceiling a couple of times I had to close my eyes because it freaked me out. We weren't in the cave very long before emerging on the other side to a protected lagoon.
The water in this lagoon was so peaceful and it was amazing to know we were in the middle of this island. These caves and lagoons were found in the 80s, so they are still very natural and beautiful. Additionally, you can only go in and out when the tide is at specific levels, so we were lucky that we made it to the kayaks before the tide changed too much. The unique rock patterns have been formed by the water hitting against the rocks and causing erosion. You can see the water dripping and hitting the rocks and just imagine how different this area looked not too long ago.
It was so interesting to see the trees growing out of the sides of the rocks like this! They were so high up and had huge limbs!
This is the way out of the cave-you can see how small the opening of the passage is here! It was a tight fit!
This was our guide-he was with us all day! He was a pro at paddling us around and even did his best to explain what we were seeing and answer the questions we had.
We were able to go through another small cave where we had to lay down in the kayak. This lagoon was just as pretty as the previous one. You can see people entering the cave in the picture below.
This was called “bat cave”. The guide told us there were lots of bats that lived here-and we saw them! The whole cave smelled musty and gross-I really think it was all the bat poop. I was so worried they were going to wake up with the light shining on them and swarm. Thankfully, they stayed where they were and we continued on through the cave. We had to lay down again to get through this last part of the cave, but the lagoon opened up and we were in a beautiful area to look around.
As we came out of the cave, there was a monkey hunting for crabs right by the entrance! Our guide paddled us over so we could watch her eat. One of the guides later told us this monkey was pregnant. I was really glad we got to see her, after not seeing any of the monkeys at Batu Cave in Malaysia. She was a bonus for us!
We got back on the tour boat and traveled over into the national park of this area of Thailand. Here there were more beautiful rocks, soaring landscapes, and lots of clear water. Our guide took us out and showed us around for awhile before giving us some free time to paddle on our own while he went back to the boat. At that point, we realized how good he was at his job! He made all of our trips seem very easy and we had a bit of trouble navigating. But, we made it back onto the tour boat when our free time was over and the boat was still in one piece and floating. I’ll call that a success!
They told us this was “heart cove” because the trees were shaped like a heart-do you see it?
This isn’t James Bond island, but it looks very similar. This one has no big tour groups (other than ours), so it was nice to have peaceful water and a relaxed environment.
Before sunset, we had a chance to paddle on our own! Brennan is a good captain.
After our time exploring on our own in the kayak, we got back on board the tour boat and began constructing these flower and candle wreaths. They are traditionally made in Thailand once a year for a special ceremony called “Loi Kratong”. They are a way of saying thank you to the nature and water gods that the Thai people believe in. Our guide helped me make our wreath while Brennan documented the process and sunset. Making the wreath felt a little bit like doing a craft with a kindergartener, except I was the kindergartener. I would “help” and then the guide would redo it and make it actually work for the wreath. Ours was beautiful, but there were so many variations! Some of the guides were really into making special designs with birds on swings made out of flowers. It was very cool to watch them create these from natural materials.
Posing with our finished product! He should get most of the credit; I should get a participation award. But it was very fun and a unique experience!
After eating dinner on the tour boat, we went out on the canoe into a cave area and our guide lit the candles. We were able to float the wreath in the water. Traditionally, the wreaths float away (or down a river in Bangkok), but we collected ours after letting it float for awhile. It was a little heartbreaking to see the guides throw these in the trash after the ceremony.
Before we went back to the boat, but after we blew out the candles, we were able to see bioluminescent plankton in the water. Brennan had surprised me with a trip to the east coast of Florida in 2019 for us to see the bioluminescent plankton there and it has been a goal to see it again since then. This was even better than our trip in Florida! The plankton respond and light up when they are disturbed, so if you splash at all, they light up. They were so bright and it was fun to play with the water and make it light up. It’s impossible to get a good picture, so we didn’t even try. But, it was a highlight of an already incredible day out on the water! If you’re ever in Phuket, I would highly recommend doing this tour. We enjoyed it so much.
On Sunday, I went to get a famous Thai massage! It was intense-I was a little sore afterward! But, it was also very relaxing. Massages in Thailand are so affordable. I did the 1.5 hour coconut oil massage and it cost less than $25! You can see the price list here.
I like these pictures because you can see the inside of a “taxi”-really more of a open air truck/jeep. You can also see the street-this is very much the typical look of this part of Phuket. Lots of street shops, motorbikes, and people walking around. It started to feel like our neighborhood after a few days here.
We got into a nice routine. We’d walk to this tiny shop called “The Sandwich Box” and get the best egg sandwich and lattes. We would both work on our laptops for a while before heading back to the apartment to drop our things off, change into swimsuits, and head to the beach until sunset. Then we would find somewhere in town to go for dinner and to walk around. We spent most of the week like this and it was amazing.
Unfortunately, our amazing routine came to a screeching halt in the middle of the night when I woke up with food poisoning. I was incredibly sick for about 48 hours-I didn’t really leave the bed and hardly moved. Finally on the second day of my sickness, I turned a corner and felt like I could eat something. I ordered some rice and Gatorade on UberEats and this is what my rice came in. I was just thankful to feel well enough to sit up and try to eat something!
We left Phuket and flew to Bangkok on Wednesday, October 26. I was feeling much better, but still very weak since I hadn’t eaten much for the last 2 days. We made it to Bangkok easily and got settled in our hotel.
The next day, I was still not feeling awesome, so we mostly hung out at the hotel. Thankfully, it was an amazing hotel with a beautiful room and pool, so it was easy to enjoy spending time there.
That evening, we made our way up to the top floor to get snacks and drinks. Looking out over the city was amazing-it felt like it went on forever! It was also fun to watch the bartenders work. They had a lot of flair while making each drink.
We were in Bangkok for 3 more days, but have no pictures to show because Brennan took a turn being sick. I have not ever seen him as ill as he was over these few days. We aren’t sure if we both had food poisoning or if we had some version of a stomach bug, but either way, it was not fun. We wanted this to be our redemption trip to Bangkok because when we went on our honeymoon, we mostly hung out at our hotel because Brennan had injured his foot and I was not feeling great. Unfortunately, this trip was closer to that than what we had envisioned. Maybe at some point we’ll go to Bangkok and actually see more of the city than the inside of hotels and malls!
Despite our trip ending on our a bit of a bummer, we really enjoyed our time in Thailand. The Thai people are so friendly, welcoming, and generous. We both love the beach and spending time in a beach town where we could walk around, explore and have a routine was very good for us. I think the highlight was our day trip with the kayaks, but the whole trip was great. I hope we are able to go back again at some point.
We're Brennan & Megan
Since June 2022, we have been traveling to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.