Mike + Kate headed for the Thai islands after their nuptials and found a bit of paradise at Zeavola on Ko Phi Phi Don where the Andaman Sea and the Strait of Malacca merge alongside the Malay peninsula! Then, after a week of relaxation and fun in the sun, we met up with them at the Chedi on the island of Phuket. The plan was to get some fun elephant trekking action and a variety of shots to capture a glimpse of what their experience in the southeast Asian region was like. After the first set of flights that found us in tomorrow at day’s end, we checked into the Thong Ta in Bangkok just long enough to catch a few winks and then shoot down to Phuket on another much quicker flight. We spotted Mike and Kate down the longest flight of teakwood steps we’d ever seen right after we finished checking in! It was pleasantly warm, not overbearingly hot and sticky as we’d been expecting, and it was fantastic in the breeze on Pansea Beach. We dropped off our few bags (we carried on all of our luggage-a tribute to our ability to pack light:) and met up with the Timlins for a nice meal at the resort and then hopped aboard a shuttle to Siam Safari‘s Chalong highlands camp to experience some real-life elephants and do some trekking! No sooner did we arrive than it began to sprinkle a bit of rain. Then it came harder. Then harder yet as we witnessed Hutchu paint, kick a soccer ball and generally amaze us with his younger sidekick. Then we saw firsthand the appetite of an elephant. There wasn’t enough watermelon to satisfy these gentle giants! Siam Safari is one of very few camps that cultivate an environment that nurtures the endangered species in efforts to increase the population. A 45 minute trek up and down the dirt mountain paths aback an elephant in the rain is an experience we don’t anticipate matching any time soon! We saw a massive spider dangling aside the path and channels cut through the mountain soil by the running rainwater. At the crest of the mountain the view was remarkable! When we made our way back down to return to the Chedi, our guide pointed out to us that we could see the Big Buddha monument atop the mountain. Amazing. We regrouped and made the trip to Patong Beach a couple of hours later to see the local flavor and get some dinner. Another interesting experience yielded wet feet for Mike-he seemed to find every muddy pothole just when he looked up to walk further- a $6 pair of shades, and a few other unique moments… 😉 After making a lengthy path, we decided to try the White Box restaurant that we had passed along the way. It was aptly named! The food was good, and the conversation fun! A super Thai night:)
The following morning we left the Chedi early and headed to the marina for the chartered speedboat tour, of Simba Sea Trips, to the Phi Phi islands! The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio was shot at Ko Phi Phi Leh’s Maya Beach. The trip was a bit choppy as we headed out, and the swells only got more dramatic as the day progressed, which forced Mike and Kate to make the trek to Maya Beach by swimming to a network of ropes, climbing steps across the steep limestone hills, traversing a scattering of sharp pumice-like rocks, and walking a half mile across the island as James led the way. Totally worth the effort, though! Anyway, I’ve skipped ahead-we left the Chedi early so that we might arrive to Ko Phi Phi Le (not Ko Phi Phi Leh) before the large tours did. This was fantastic planning on Mike and Kate’s part as it gave opportunity to have the intimate bay all to themselves. They did some bow-jumping, jackknifing and some enjoyable easy swimming (and I totally joined them!) in the super-salty sea water before we headed to a small section of beach nearby for a snack of fruit provided by Jenny and her crew. The tours arrived about that time and after a break we cruised alongside monkey island looking to spot the monkeys, but to no avail-more on this later… We visited Maya Beach next passing the Viking Caves where swallows’ nest built from their saliva are harvested and sold to Chinese buyers who make birds’ nest soup from them. They are named the Viking Caves because of the Viking-like ships painted on the walls. After enjoying the waves at Maya Beach for a while, Mike, Kate, James and I journeyed back across the island and out the ropes, in anticipation of snorkeling time! I’d never snorkeled before. I think I ingested a full gallon of seawater before hopping out to regroup! While getting out I lost the snorkel tube, but luckily James is an experienced diver and he recovered it without too much trouble:) I got a few pointers and hopped back in, and the view was unbelievable! The colors! The massive schools! I think I could have spent the rest of the day enjoying all there was to see in the world beneath the surface! Mike and Kate pointed out all kinds of stuff I wasn’t even noticing-they were like pros! Fantastico! I don’t think any of the three of us really were ready to go, but we jetted over to Bamboo Island to enjoy a great lunch and lay around a bit. Then it was re-boarding for the trip back to Phuket to stay ahead of the increasing swells. It took longer to get back and the ride was much bumpier, but very fun. Full of splashes, laughs, wind and sun! Fantastic doesn’t do any sort of justice to the Phi Phi island experience! When we returned, Janie and I took a stroll up the hill, then down the hill, then down the street where we found some unique gifts and then met some very nice local people who chatted a bit with us for a project we’re working on. Mike and Kate had finished up with a bit of internet time and invited us down to get a look at their view from Hut/Room 307. It was to die for. Really, when we retire, that is the view to have!
It all happened very quickly and we loved every second! If there were one thing to change it would be that we would plan to allow for much more time on the ground, experiencing the Thai people! Very kind:)
Dear Mike and Kate,
Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your life-changing few weeks! We’ve loved getting to know you and think of you as friends by now as well! May you be showered with more good things than you can even prepare yourselves for and may all of your time be spent enjoying life together!
laughing in the face of danger! …or swimming lol
i was against this!!!!!!!!!