As soon as we arrived at our hotel in Phuket we were thrown into the lap of luxury. The villa was beautiful, spacious and had it’s own pool.
View from our villa
I was a little disappointed as everything around us including the little market near the hotel seemed like it was geared for tourists and I wanted to see the real Thailand. So despite it being between 38-39 degrees most days (which we were told was rather unusual), we ventured out and explored the island of Phuket.
It was interesting to see how the local people got on with life. We visited a night market. On the way we noticed how different it was here compared to city life. Most homes and shops were low rise buildings, some with only tin roofs and wooden poles holding them up. As we dodged the mopeds and tuk tuks we finally arrived at the most enjoyable part of the trip – mingling with the locals at the market.
The beaches were sandy, although not very welcoming in the daytime heat. We had to wait until sunset to really enjoy it. All beaches in the country, we were told, are open to the public and by law cannot be owned privately by individuals or hotels.
Some of the temples we visited were amazing. They were run by monks and in each we saw plenty of stray dogs relaxing in the shade of trees. We were told that these dogs were fed by the monks. Buddhism is the prominent religion in Phuket.
We then went to visit the big Buddha. The windy road led us to one of the highest peaks in Phuket, on top of which sat one of the largest and most magnificent Buddhas I have ever seen, all made in white marble. We were awestruck and amazed at how they could have built it at such a height.
The Big Buddha Blessings from a monk
We had booked for two activities on one of the days. And there was no getting out of them having two boys who were determined to do it all. One of them was the ATV (Quad bike) trek and the other was an elephant ride.
Despite it being extremely hot we thoroughly enjoyed the ATV part of the excursion. We had to drive through rough, dry terrain and take sharp corners to suddenly climb up steep paths with branches on either side. Pressing the breaks at the right moment was crucial, as was maneuvering the very bulky vehicle in the right direction when the need arose.
The second part to the excursion was not as enjoyable. As soon as I sat on the elephant with my son, I knew that it was the wrong thing to do. Resting my slippers on the back of this majestic animal seemed disrespectful and I felt uneasy throughout the half an hour ride. The mahout was the most insensitive man I have met. He had a big stick with a metal hook at the end and he did not think twice about using it on the elephant to make it go faster whilst going down a tricky steep and rocky slope. I was so tempted to hit him with my umbrella (the cruel mahout) to give him a taste of his own medicine. The elephants ear was torn to shreds and I could not bear the cruelty that man was inflicting on such a splendid animal. It is one activity I will not be doing again unless it involves taking care of the animal and in an organisation that cares about it.
The Elephant ride
Animals are used in Phuket to attract tourists in many forms. For example, on our way to the big Buddha we saw many men with monkeys that had been tied up with ropes. The sticks in the mens hands were there obviously to get the tricks out of the animals to amuse the tourists who would pay money for the show.
What we prefered is the little baby elephantthat came to thebreakfast area every morning and we went down to feed it bananas. It looked well taken care of.
The well looked after baby elephant
All in all, a wonderful trip in a warm and friendly country although I would choose a cooler month to visit next time round.