Next up on our adventure trail was a ride to the south that would take us across the Thepkasattri Bridge (Sarasin is now a walking bridge) to the island of Phuket. This was another beauty of a ride, easily traveled highways where again we saw the mark of progress and tourism dollars being spent to take this portion of roadway to four lanes.
We arrived in the early afternoon and as our maps catching up with our motorbike has gone, had to circle back to find the location of our stay for the next four days at The Nature Resort, set in perfect position to take in the sunsets over Kalim Bay.
Check in was smooth at this 5 star property which we had booked through Chase Travel completely free of charge by using our accumulated points. While we do our best to avoid credit card debt we do highly advise the wise use of points that can be accumulated from every day purchases all year long. The Chase card offer I include here can give me some great referral points, give you a nice bump of points to start with and is one that has totally proven its value , even with annual fee, for the past three travel years for us.
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The room at The Nature was very nice. We’ve had a few discussions lately about the differences of a 3 star property with four or five top notch reviews and a 5 star rated property. Honestly, we can be quite satisfied with a highly reviewed lower star spot, but when it comes right down to it, being able to count on ice cold air, fluffy towels, luxurious bedding and extra square footage, the 5 stars do offer more bang for the buck, and for some, price does not matter. We like a lot of frequency in our stays away and prioritize life’s little moments over accumulation of the almighty dollar and notoriety of never settling for less than the finest. To each their own, alas, for the most part we will stay satisfied with our lower star accommodations.
The room was beautiful in minimalist decor, super clean with king bed and “day bed”. There was mini frig and bar with fair pricing as well as room service at a high price point compared to the plethora of open air dining opportunities in both directions out the door. But again, it took true sweat equity to get to those and with no formal sidewalk area the walking could feel treacherous to many. There were two restaurants as well as specialty buffets on certain nights. We had a nice balcony with table and chairs as well as clothes drying rack. There were nice cotton robes, flip flops and nice cozy beach towels in a mesh beach bag waiting in the closet for our use. There was a great dual head shower but no tub which for me equates to “luxury”. The three pool areas with swim up bars, slides, waterfalls and water guns as well as seperate men’s and women’s saunas were divine and the level of service from all staff we encountered was worthy of the rating. We appreciate the comped stay opportunity our accumulation of points gave us for the four days of being in the Patong area but not having to be in the “thick” of it. We would recommend The Nature (I won’t quite give it a 5 star review.) for those who don’t mind the price point and require the amenities we did not even use. Again, with our need to be somewhat dollar conscious we prefer more experiences over luxury in what we partake of.
Sea N Sun was where we ate late lunch/early dinner on the first evening of our stay at The Nature. Shrimp Scampi, Shrimp Cocktail and a Vegetarian Pizza with Chang Beers were priced just right during happy hour advertised in the board out front. It was nearby, an easy walk and a great place to relax and enjoy the beginning of the sunset over the bay where a large cruise ship was anchored and jet skis darted back and forth. We walked further south as the sun finished setting in the distance past Patong Beach. We did our first survey of Patong nightlife which is fast and furious and filled with tourists taking in all the location has to offer. Honestly, even a walk along the beach is hectic in Patong which we knew from previous visits and the reason we chose to be at a resort just out of the area.
Starting each day by the pool we did due diligence in swimming a few laps and eased our way into exploring the surroundings. Noting beaches that would be less rocky than Kalim which is not advised for swimming and has no sandy area, we headed north for a look at Kamala Beach. This beach has adjacent resorts but definitely is more low key than Patong. The beauty truly does not stop along the shores of the Andaman. We found a spot in the small string of shops that make up the village to drop our laundry to be done for 50 baht a kilo.
Desiring to take in as much of the island as we could we rode for the better part of the day. Throughout the southern part of Thailand we have noted the abundance of mosques and Muslim neighborhoods and found them to be as predominant as Buddhist temples and fully Thai neighborhoods with a small mix of Chinese as well.
We stopped by the hotel briefly to freshen up as we found the entirety of this side of the island to be easily ridden and then headed out for dinner and an evening ride. We had spotted a cliff area above Kamala we had not explored and our curiosity had us head that way as the sun finished setting. I later found the area on the map which is known as Amarin Bay.
It was beautiful but as dark fully set in we were unsure where the winding road was leading us and as we climbed further up we decided it best to retrace our path and get back to civilization. Well, what we did not anticipate was the crazy big beautiful snake we came upon on our way back down the mountain side! What a beauty it was stretched nearly the full width of the two lane paved road, he must have been absorbing the last of the day’s heat before it escaped from the cement. I have never raised my feet so high off the pegs of a bike! There was barely any room for us to swerve around it. He must have approached 12 to 15 foot in length and he wasn’t skinny either! (I’ve done some research online and still am unsure of what type this big guy was! Eek!) Thank goodness my driver is an attentive rider and we keep our speeds safe because it would have not boded well to hit this snake. While I wish I had taken a picture I must say our hearts were racing too fast, we simply hightailed it out of there to be sure we were safe! We got quite a good laugh out of ourselves once we were back in the well lit streets of civilization!
We decided to drop off the bike and found a fish market style street side place for clams, pad Thai and morning glory. Very tasty and super reasonable but as is many times the case in this country I have no idea what the name of the place was.
Every day of our stay we have been blessed with sunshine skies and with the ease of the motorbike we decided to head south along the coast to take in the beaches of Karon, Kata and Rawai where we have stayed in previous years and to contemplate our direction when we were done with our stay at The Nature. We really enjoy snorkeling and wanted to try a spot in the area called Ya Nui Beach. We took a break by walking along the pier at Rawai and consulted our maps app on the phone to get our bearings to find the snorkeling spot.
Arriving, we decided we needed a bite to eat before expending our energy and took advantage of one of the little street side spots available right across the road from the beach parking area. We relaxed and gazed across the waters soaking in the relaxation these views offer and then made our way to the beach, snorkels in hand.
There is scuba gear for rent at 150 baht for the day but we do carry our own when we know this exercise is part of the goal for a routine in these extended stays. There are also canoes for rent at 150 baht per hour. The beach was not crowded at all and has a prominent rocky point but with sandy access areas for entering the water. The exploring here was great. We saw a large variety of fish including several large schools of Gar who seemed to glide slowly with us. The water temperature is divine throughout this area. We explored the full circumference of the prominent rocked area, took a break and went out again to the other edge of the small bay. The area was clean and there was plenty of aquatic life to feast our eyes on. This spot at this point in the trip moved to the top of the “best of” in Thailand for us. We highly recommend the area even if all you want is quiet time on a nice small stretch of beach away from the larger crowds of the main beaches in Phuket. Quite exhausted we made our way back to the hotel and simply made a lite dinner from a couple of stalls at an open air market open only in the evenings which was right next door.
The final night in Patong we reserved for one of the biggest reasons we wanted to revisit the city, dining at Sam’s Steak and Grill at the Holiday Inn. We first experienced this location a couple years ago on our honeymoon and have included it on our list of all time favorite dining experiences since. We arrived a few minutes ahead of our reservation and were seated promptly and recognized by two of the wait staff. The male laughed with my honey over recognizing one another. The service was once again extraordinary. The staff at Sam’s leaves no base uncovered. They offer the correct balance between attentiveness and unobtrusiveness. The plate presentations are perfectly balanced in color and every bite of food we’ve tried is prepared to perfection. The ambiance is perfect for a special evening out on the town in Phuket. Table side preparations are an old school standard still practiced here and are an art firm in themselves. We were satisfied with every aspect of the experience and highly recommend Sam’s.
We did head over to the “main attraction” of nightlife in Patong on Bangla Road after dinner. We stopped for a drink at one of the girly bars but honestly the “hustle” is just not worth the people watching that can be experienced here but as the saying goes, when in Rome…you at least need to check it out!
Chatting over this evening, we made our decision to head to the southern tip of the island where snorkeling off the beach has the easiest access. We went back to our room to search out our next place to stay. Watch for a post soon about spending the start to March by enjoying the sun and the sea in the village of Rawai, Phuket. #cometravelwithme
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