Phuket Travel Diaries | Phi Phi Islands, Patong Beach dance shows, Old Phuket Town…

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Phuket was a stark change to the organised chaos of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Bangkok, as we were thrown into island life where there was no set schedule to anything and locals worked off their own sense of time.

The first thing I noticed was the heat. Although the temperature was almost the same as the past few cities (around 35˚C) it was an intense, unshaded heat which baked the earth rather than the muggy, humid heat we got in Bangkok/HCMC that felt like we were constantly taking a warm shower. As unpleasant as that sounds it gave us the perfect excuse to go swimming every chance we got.

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We stayed in Old Phuket Town, just a short bus trip away from all the major beaches. Old Phuket Town (pictured above) is quite different from other destinations in Phuket as it is seen as the historical part of the city and showcases colourful colonial architecture from European influence dating back centuries ago.

Walking down these historical main roads was surreal as it felt like we were caught in a time capsule far away from the frenzy of urban streets, riddled with dirt and smog, which we had gotten used to.

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On two of the days we took tours out to explore the Phi Phi islands by speedboat, which was the highlight of my whole Asia trip. My favourite was the Sunrise Tour where we began the day speeding into the sun peeking over the horizon. Stopping off at various beaches and lagoons such as Maya Bay (pictured above) we had breakfast on the beach and were able to snorkel in the warm, pristine blue waters. The day was broken up by a traditional Thai lunch (various curries, stir fried morning glory, spiced meats and battered fish) at a restaurant on one island.

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What was most fascinating was how little the islands had been built up. After the destruction of the boxing day Tsunami in 2004, it was only recently that people have started building on the islands again. This meant that all of the islands were covered in undisturbed, dense jungle.

A final destination of note was Patong Beach. Known for its party scene, it has a main strip of bars and clubs that come alive in the evening. On our first night out we went for dinner at an Italian place that did really authentic cheese covered pizza (not very Thai, but still delicious). After filling ourselves up we popped in and out of a couple of nightclubs which were brimming with good dance music and enthusiastic party-goers. Towards the end of the night we stumbled into a ping pong show which was more shocking than I expected. If you are familiar with ping pong shows you will know what I mean when I say it was definitely an experience I’ll never forget but never attend again.

All in all Phuket was wildly different to any of the other places we had been and we really enjoyed our time immersing ourselves in the island life.

xx

 

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Turquoise blue for the calm, clear Phuket sea

 

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Diaries

I recently travelled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and it was one of the most overwhelmingly chaotic and yet beautiful cities I have ever been to. I was greeted by swarms of motorbikes, locals selling produce, smog, smiling faces and the smell of steamed rice.

Our first stop was the Cu Chi tunnels, a remnant of the Vietnam War used by the Viet Cong to stay out of enemy sight. The tour took us into the tunnels and showed us hideous booby traps used on American soldiers, including hidden pits filled with rust covered spokes. The tunnels themselves were very narrow (about 1m x 1m x 1m), and crawling through them in the darkness was spine tingling…definitely not for someone who is claustrophobic.

Most nights we gorged on Pho (pronounced fur), a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup dish with meats such as beef or chicken. The most authentic Pho we had was from a restaurant called Pho 2000 where we had our meal for AU$4.00 each amongst lots of locals.

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Another must do in the city is to go to a nail salon (if it’s your thing). All the nail treatments are incredibly cheap but very professional. I treated myself to nail art, getting a mini masterpiece of colourful birds and flowers blossoming on each fingernail. In the afternoon we strolled about the main district of the city (District 1) showing off our nails and sampling several cakes with intricate cream icing designs from their amazing bakeries.

On the third day we took a full day tour on the Mekong Delta (a maze of rivers that snake through Vietnam) where we got a taste of local life on various islands on the outskirts of Vietnam, such as Unicorn Island.

The best part was floating along a river between two islands on a Vietnamese long boat. In some places the river was carpeted by green moss, which parted as the boat waded through. Surrounding us were leaves that feathered out from the trees in the silence we could hear water licking the banks and birds chirruping. It was magical.

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For lunch we had buffet of traditional meals such as beef rib Pho, an assortment of fried and steamed fish, spring rolls, steamed veggies and soup, all complimented with big jugs of their cheap Tiger beer. After lunch we entered a different world to the busy Ho Chi Minh City centre, as we explored the island on bicycles and saw locals picking fruits from the trees and collecting honey.

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Ho Chi Minh city was a unique and eye-opening experience and I will come back to explore Hanoi and Ha Long bay. Next stop Thailand!

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