Sometimes life hands you opportunities. I’m sure everyone has a bucket list, as do we. Italy sits at the top of both of our lists for it’s appeal, culture, food, history, architecture…and we’ll make it there someday. In the meantime, we were presented with a unique chance to visit Southeast Asia. Kara’s dear, sweet friend, Cindy recently got married. Her family lives in Taiwan, and the groom’s family lives in India….so they chose Thailand as sort of a midway between the two, destination wedding.
Yes, you read that right. K & R went to Thailand. Suffice to say, it was a revolutionary experience, replete with all you could imagine. Food, culture, language barriers, wildlife, night life, crazy tuk tuk drivers, history, and so much Buddha. Hopefully you followed along on Instagram as we were enjoying the trip of a lifetime, but if not check out our hashtag #KandRAsianAdventure and follow us @kandradventures and @centrespectre.
Before we get too in-depth, I’ll give you a brief overview of our jam-packed itinerary.
- We flew into Phuket on a Thursday night and spent 4 nights there.
- The wedding was held at the Sri Panwa Hotel on Saturday evening.
- We then traveled to Phi Phi Island and spent two nights there.
- Then to Bangkok for 4 nights
- Finished up with two nights in Siem Reap, Cambodia to explore the Angkor temples.
For the first of many blogs, we’ll start with our time in Phuket (pronounced ‘Poo-kett’). Getting there was a LONG, LONG adventure. Kara is the world traveler with previous trips that include Spain, Germany, & South Africa. But me? The longest flight I’ve ever been on was to Jamaica, and that was a wimpy 3 1/2 hours. Goes without saying, that 24 hours of travel was a whole new world for me. Since we missed the opportunity to get a cheap flight from Knoxville to D.C. that would get us to our departing flight on time….we kicked off our trip with a long drive. Yep, that’s right. We left work early on a Tuesday afternoon, said goodbye to our precious Corgi boys and made the 7-1/2 hour ride to Cindy’s condo in D.C. We arrived LATE, as-in, close to midnight. Cindy & her fiance Arpan had already left for Thailand, but they were sweet enough to leave a bottle of wine out for us. If we didn’t have to be up before the crack of dawn the next day, you can bet we would have cracked it open.
The first flight was the longest clocking in at about 13 hours and put us in Dubai for a 4 hour layover. Yes, I did see Burj Khalifa as we descended. It was super cool. The 2nd flight was considerably shorter at about 7 hours. While flying, we spent a great deal of that time napping and watching movies. We LOVE movies so it was kinda awesome to catch up on current releases. Overall, we blew through a TON. Interstellar, Big Hero 6, The Imitation Game, Birdman, Lucy, The Hundred Foot Journey. Yeah…like I said, we watched a few 🙂 I can’t say enough good things about United Arab Emirates. Overall, every flight with them was pleasant, with the exception of others passengers that had rambunctious kids, but hey…that’s every flight. Naturally, the flights were the largest expense of our trip, so it was nice to be treated well during our time in the air. Also, the scene arriving in the desert of Dubai was a stark contrast to a snow-covered D.C.
We arrived in Phuket late Thursday night. Very late. After gathering our luggage, and heading outside to meet our arranged transport….we were hit with several “firsts”. First language barrier, first “don’t trust anyone” moment, first glimpse of Asian traffic, first car ride from a crazy Thai driver that had us either white knuckling the seat in front of us, or sucking down dramamine.
From our extensive research, our accommodations ended up being a 5 bedroom villa (split between 9 people) on Phuket’s legendary Surin Hill in Surin Beach area. To say that this villa was amazing would be doing the word “amazing” injustice. It was heaven on earth. Here, have some pictures (yes, we’re finally getting those!)
Pick your jaw up off the floor.
That thingy there is called a Sala and we lounged there, a lot. Also, contemplated the meaning of life apparently, judging by the look on my face. (Yes…that shirt does say I’m the Gryffindor Quidditch Captain. Deal with it)
Friday morning we were treated to our first of many amazing Thailand sunrises. All was calm, peaceful, and quiet.
That would be our bedroom (above) and our crazy-huge bathroom (below). If you’re asking yourself “Is that an outdoor thai style bath made of granite?” Yes. Yes it is.
The villa comes with a house manager and maid. Our villa manager’s name was Kae (pronounced “Kay”) and she was the absolute sweetest. AND!!!! the best part, she was a phenomenal cook. Food at the villa was SO easy because we would just talk with her (okay, maybe NOT so easy) about what we wanted for the following day and she would run out to the market and get what was needed. She had a menu with pictures of all the things she could make for us or she would throw out ideas – like insane banana pancakes that we ended up eating almost every morning for breakfast. Everything she made was incredibly delicious.
Also, here’s the website for our villa in case you just can’t contain your glee and need to book a Thailand vacation right this second. Go ahead, I’ll wait…..
We would definitely recommend booking a villa and experiencing the Villa life in Phuket if you are staying with a large group of people and can split the cost of a larger villa. It’s one of the best accommodation experiences we’ve ever had.
Since Surin Beach was walking distance from our villa, you can guess what happened next. Yep, we walked down the hill to check out the beach.
Surin Beach itself was beautiful and the water was JUST right. Yes, that’s me in the water. I cannot resist its call.
At the beach, you’ll find shops, some restaurants, some resorts, and plenty of street food & street vendors that set up in the parking lot on the weekends. And a temple (Wat) because they are everywhere.
The walk back through town itself wasn’t bad at all…
…until you got back to Surin Hill.
Guys…I have no way of describing how steep this hill was. Words cannot do it justice, even pictures don’t accurately capture it. In the 400 meters from the street up to our villa, there is an elevation change of approximately 100 feet. For the sake of simple math: that’s a LOT. There were times we were legitimately afraid those tall shuttle vans were literally going to tip over. But hey, we got our sweat on! Burn those calories!
Friday evening, Cindy’s family was hosting a welcome dinner at their villa….which lucky for us was literally across the cul-de-sac. Their villa also offered an outstanding view:
The welcome dinner was so much fun. There was an insane amount of food prepared. Tons of common Thai dishes and also a hefty amount of Indian vegetarian dishes to make sure both families were fat & happy. It was amazing to see the two cultures come together for one celebration. As some of the few “white people”, we were definitely in the minority. But secretly, we kinda love being out of place. It forces us outside our comfort zone and to adapt quickly. Thankfully, both Indian & Chinese cultures are extremely friendly.Cindy wanted to be respectful and include traditions from both cultures, and for this evening, she included the Hindu traditional gift exchange or “Mangni” in which the bride/groom’s parent’s bestow gifts of clothing or jewelry to the future in-law as a blessing and a symbol of accepting them into the family. Each gift was unique and carried special meaning.
Sadly, we didn’t join the after-party that went down to Patong Beach because we were still jet-lagged. However, the next morning we quickly learned that we were some of the only early risers. So we opted for a morning stroll on the beach before the BIG event later that evening.
We made a conscious effort to snag a bunch of selfies. We’re notoriously bad about not doing that and then we always regret never actually being in any of the pictures.
Next up for Thailand: Cindy’s one of a kind wedding at Sri Panwa Hotel