I think I can officially say that I am absolutely in love with Phuket and I am so grateful that I decided to hop on down to southern Thailand and explore this beautiful place! After a few great days of scuba diving, I had three days to explore and enjoy all that Phuket had to offer! I began on Monday by visiting Tiger Kingdom… one of the coolest experiences of my life! At Tiger Kingdom, you get the opportunity to get up close and personal with the tigers themselves! At the entrance, you chose what tigers you would like to see… of course the more you see, the more you pay… but I decided on the smallest, small, and medium tigers… and what a great decision it was! In each of the different sized cages, you got about fifteen minutes with four tigers per size. You began with the smallest and worked up to the largest. The smallest were about two-and-a-half months old and my goodness, they were adorable! Typically, tigers spend 16-20 hours sleeping per day and I caught these guys during nap time… but that certainly didn’t take away from how adorable they were! I was even able to nap with one of the small ones… I just wanted to pack him up and take him home! After the smallest came the smalls… which weren’t exactly small! These guys were about a year old and more active than the smallest ones. I got to pet and play with these guys and of course, take some photos! They are absolutely magnificent animals with beautiful markings and I was surprised by their calm demeanor. From the research I did prior to visiting Tiger Kingdom, I found out that the facility feeds their tigers A LOT of food so that they are extra happy and sleepy for when visitors come… I guess that is a good thing as we got so up-close and personal with them! Next, it was off to the medium-sized tigers and once again, size is certainly relative as these guys were big! A few were taking naps and one was even laying on his back so I got to give him a good belly rub… I think he enjoyed it! The others were up and ready for some love… which they certainly got! I absolutely loved spending some time with the tigers and I wish I could have stayed there my entire two months… ha! I think for now, I will have to suffice with a stuffed tiger to bring home! I spent the rest of the day exploring the city and walking along Bangla Street, the “go to” street here in Patong. I ended up finding their shopping mall just in time as there was a bit of an afternoon shower that hit. The mall was absolutely gorgeous and the entire bottom floor was filled with handmade crafts and massage shops. Somehow, I ended up being convinced to get a Thai massage… but the $6 massage was so worth it… and a great way to wait out the rain!! Having a massage now in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, I must say that the Thai massages are my favorite… and hopefully a few more occur in the near future! I have really enjoyed the food here in Thailand, especially the curries! My favorite is called Massaman Curry, a coconut based curry that is absolutely delicious. I have had the dish quite a few times in the past few days and each time, I’m blown away with how delicious it is! I might need to find that recipe and take it home!! The next day was a day of relaxation as I spent the day at the beach just across from my hotel! I found a great deal on a hotel room–$10 for a king sized bed, air conditioning, WIFI, fridge, and pretty much anything else you would need–which happens to be literally across the street from a gorgeous beach. Here in this area of Patong, there aren’t any hotels on the actual beach but rather just across the street so I was as close to the beach as I could get… and at a great rate… heck, it’s cheaper than my apartment in Omaha… I might just stay here, ha! Anyways, I rented a beach chair for the day and enjoyed a day in the sun as I spent time listening to music, reading, and playing a few games on my iPad. It was so nice having a day of relaxation… especially after five or so weeks of traveling! Once the sun went down, I enjoyed a movie before calling it a night! Today was absolutely incredible day with a perfect excursion, perfect weather, and perfect new friends to round out a wonderful day! To be honest, I didn’t quite know what this was going to entail but I had seen photos of the Phi Phi Islands and all of the reviews said it was a must so I knew it was on the list of things to do in Phuket! I had actually booked the tour for yesterday but the weather didn’t look very good so I changed the tour to today… which is a good thing as we had beautiful weather for the day! I was picked up from hotel bright and early and headed to the dock which took about an hour… surprisingly, Phuket is far larger than what it seems on a map! I met a wonderful family from Sydney, Australia, a nice gentleman from Turkey, and a few fun individuals from Colorado so I had a few people to spend the day with which was wonderful! When it was time to board the boat, I was right up at the front and ready for an adventure as we were taking a speed boat across the ocean… and an adventure it was! There were quite a few waves so we bounced up and down all the way to the first island on our Phi Phi adventure. The Phi Phi Islands consists of six islands and they’re located about 40 km southeast of Phuket. Our first stop was at Phi Phi Leh, home to Maya Bay which was featured in the movie, “The Beach.” It was absolutely stunning with the turquois-blue water! We got off of the boat and had some time to enjoy although it was quite crowded with tourists… but I was still amazed with how stunning the views were with the limestone karsts jutting out of the sea–I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a place so absolutely beautiful! We continued to the back side of the island and went into Loh Samah Bay… also stunning! We headed back out to the ocean and moved onto Ao Ling or Monkey Bay but unfortunately none of the monkeys were out today. Close by, we stopped for some snorkeling. The water was gorgeous and there were loads of fish. Some people had brought bread and were throwing it into the ocean and literally a hundred or so fish would swim around you to get the bread… it was actually quite overwhelming! We had about 40 minutes to swim and then we were back in the boat and headed to the main island of Koh Phi Phi Don for a buffet lunch! The highlight was a little monkey dressed in overalls which you could take photos with… he was just the cutest little thing!! After lunch, we were back on the boat again and headed to our last stop of the day… and my personal favorite stop–Khai Island. It was picture perfect with white sand beaches, aqua water, and a bright sun. We had about an hour and a half on the beach to relax and enjoy… I decided to take the time to relax in the shade… which was probably a good decision otherwise I’d be looking much more lobster-like right now! Unfortunately, the perfect excursion had come to an end as we traveled back to the mainland of Phuket then back to our hotels. But what a way to end Phuket… I literally can’t put into words how beautiful the Phi Phi Islands were… just take a minute to google it… and I don’t even know if that does it justice! I can’t say enough good things about Phuket–the people were wonderful, the place is gorgeous, and there is so much to do! I’m bummed that I am leaving tomorrow for Bangkok but I know that more adventures await!
All for now and hope all is well,