By now you might be thinking “For the love of Buddha, Shermanos! When is this visa run going to end?”. True, we have been updating you about our activities on our visa run for awhile now and we promise this is the last one. It may seem like we were jam-packed for every day of those 3 weeks but in reality we had a good balance of down time and activity time. Although if we had any more down time one particular Mommy Shermano would have lost her chit. But anyway…
So after our time chillaxin’ at the waterpark, we moved to a small hotel more in the center of Phuket town for our last two nights. We wandered around the town a bit and had dinner at a restaurant down the street that got great reviews from Trip Advisor but not the Shermans. The next day we did the Big Daddy Activity of them all: island hopping.
We love island hopping! We counted up all the times we’ve done it: Bocas del Toro (x3), Isla Iguana, Holbox, and Bacalar. And now Phuket! Unfortunately Phuket had a little less flexibility than the others. In Panama and Mexico we simply chatted with a capitan, arranged on a time and a price and he picked us up the next day and took us wherever our hearts desired. In Phuket you search the internet until you are literally so sick of island pictures, you can’t possibly tell any one experience apart from the next one, you finally pull the trigger and just SIGN UP for something and they pick you up in a van the next day. That works too.
We were picked up at 8 a.m. so you can only imagine how everyone felt about that. The bus took us to the marina, which was almost an hour drive. Once we got there it was like summer camp check-in. There were people EVERYWHERE. Mostly Korean and Chinese tourists. It was loud and there were few seats, long lines for the bathrooms and pretty much total confusion. But we managed to get checked in and given wrist bands and we waited for further instruction. They separated us by language and English speakers were in the minority that day.
The crowds started to clear out as groups met their guide. We learned that our guide was named Zoe (someone in our family perked up at this moment) and she was quite the ham. She was going to take us, and 25 other tourists, on our adventure. I see now that the funnier you are, the better tips you get. Go for it, Zoe. Make my day.
Our day went like this: head out on the boat and pass by a scenic island and take pictures. Then continue to another island where we could get off and walk around. This one was called James Bond Island, where Man With The Golden Gun was filmed (in 1973). Avoid all vendors and try not to get too many tourists in your photo. Then we proceeded to another island where we were met with a bunch of guys in kayaks who would take you around. I love kayaks! Then we headed to a village on the water. This makes up for the one we missed out on in Cambodia. We were herded off the boat to a large restaurant and we had a VERY tasty buffet.
From there the day got a little fuzzy (no, there was no alcohol with lunch!). We might have seen a few more islands from the boat but I can’t remember. Then we went to another island for snorkeling (I love snorkeling!) but the snorkeling was really bad here and the rocky sand bottom was uncomfortable to navigate walking out. It wasn’t our favorite beach, let’s just put it that way. We wrapped up our day and headed back to the marina, and by now it’s after 4 p.m. It was a long day for Sleepy Shermanos and we were all ready for showers, dry clothes, a warm meal and bed. Even the hard hotel bed was welcomed after a day on the boat.
Here are some pictures of our day. Be sure to read the captions for more details – it was a jam-packed day!
Check off the Buddha Box
But wait, we are not done! Due to our extreme
laziness isolation up there at the Grand Expensive Sands West Airport Villa, we had thus far failed to see the giant Buddha in the mountain that Phuket is so well known for. We couldn’t get there in time to see him after the day on the boat so we agreed that as our final hurrah, we would get up early again (gasp!) and see him on the way to the airport in the morning. We arranged for our hotel taxi to be our driver so we minimized any hiccups with transportation. This is not our first rodeo Buddha viewing.
Unfortunately, Phuket weather did not cooperate. This was really one of the first times that weather really and truly got in the way of what we wanted to do. Sometimes weather causes us to alter a few things but this time it really just full-on sucked. As we were driving up and up and up the mountain we noticed more and more streams flowing down – and across – and through – the road. Parts of the road were giving way. I kept telling myself that this is not the first time it rained so there is really no danger, but Dan said that meant it was only a matter of time before the road was simply so weak it was just going to go. Thanks, Hon. Really needed that perspective.
But we make it to the top, we jump out and can barely see big Buddha amid the construction and the clouds. We used the Big Buddha Bathroom, the girls took a picture in the rain, we hopped back in the car and off we went to the airport. Sorry, buddy. It just wasn’t your day. If it had been sunny we would have climbed the steps as high as they would take us and been able to see those gorgeous views of the town and water. But that was sooo not happening. Now when we see pictures of him we can say “We’ve been there! We didn’t see that!’. It happens.
And then we went home. The End. That’s it! That wraps up our visa run! Are you tired just reading about it? Well, you can assume that we have done a whole lot of NUTHIN since we’ve been back in our comfy house in Chiang Mai.
Now what will we do with our time? What’s next, Shermanos? I guess you’ll just have to wait to find out. But here’s a hint: it involves a map with a lot of arrows and a big ocean. Stay tuned for an update!