We arrived in Phuket, Thailand yesterday morning after an uneventful flight. We ended up purchasing two extra tickets for our JetStar Asia flight for an extra 20kg of baggage per seat. Thanks to the extra seats and extra 40kg allowance we were able to get on the flight with no hassle.
We landed at 7:30am and put our bikes together outside the airport. We had quite an audience - every single taxi driver, bus driver, and valet waiting for his passengers was crowded around watching us put the bikes together. It was a funny feeling because in New Zealand there were cycle tourists every where you looked, but it seems that we’re much more of a novelty here in Thailand.
The main tourist resorts and beaches are South of the airport. We weren’t really in the mood to pay high prices to look at fancy hotels we can’t afford, so we decided to cycle north to the less popular beaches. Our map wasn’t too helpful for the Phuket area so we had to ask for directions a lot. This was very entertaining because (not really a surprise) most people don’t speak much English. We’d ride up to people on the sides of the road and announce the name of the place we were trying to get to: “Mai Khao…?” Then people would gesture and we’d try to figure out what they meant, or they’d say “Left, Right, then Right, then Left”, or something really crazy like “One kilometer, U-Turn, then airport, then another U-Turn, then left” I was left wondering if they really knew what a U-Turn was…otherwise weren’t they telling us to go in circles?! We’ve been very impressed with how incredibly friendly and helpful everyone has been so far. As we ride down the road almost everyone looks up to wave and yell “Hello” or “Sa Wat Dee” (hello in Thai). The roads so far have huge nice shoulders for the very popular motor scooters that people ride around. As they pass us on the shoulder the scooter drivers are very polite and friendly, usually even giving us a little beep to warn that they’re going to pass.
At one point we turned down a side road that ran through a tiny little village that was full of young kids hanging around on their bicycles. They were very excited to see us. They all started yelling Hello! hello! hello! and jumped on their bikes to follow us. The road eventually came to a dead end where we stopped to consult our map as a mob of about eight grinning kids surrounded us. I finally tried to ask one of their mothers where we were on the map, but she wasn’t really sure.
Many roads went through groves of coconut palms:
We road in circles for awhile and finally found Mai Khao beach where we stayed in a very adorable, but overpriced, bungalow on the beach.
Road to the bungalows:
We ate lunch and dinner in an open air shelter right on the beach, and we also spent some time reading in the hammocks. The beach wasn’t very good for swimming we were told - it gets deep really close to shore, has huge waves, and a vicious undertow. Yikes. We just stuck our feet in and were shocked at how warm the water was!
Bungalow and bikes:
Hanging out in a hammock:
Water buffalo on the side of the road! This mother didn’t like us at all - she aggressively started us down as we rode by, and was careful to keep herself between us and her baby.
Today we rode 35km north and ended at 11am in the beachside town of Thai Muang. We’re going to have to start really early in the morning here because by 11am it was starting to get too hot to bike. We ate a delicious lunch at a local restaurant where we tested out what happens when you say you like spicy food. Yesterday’s food seemed to be custom made for tourists - very bland. So to avoid that I said “We like spicy food” when we placed the order. The cook was a little nervous and held up 4 chili peppers, saying that’s how many she was going to use in our lunch. We said OK (then looked at each other nervously)! The end results was food that was delicious and definitely edible, but we also had runny noses and sweaty faces the whole time. We learned from the restaurant owner that we just missed the 10 day giant sea turtle festival. Shoot! We are going to check out part of the beach later tonight where sometimes giant turtles can be spied.
Lunch - Red Curry Shrimp: