I’ve just got back to my room after chatting to a couple of the others from the group and they seem nice people so far but there are still a few more people to meet tomorrow morning. There was a bit of an issue tonight, however, as the person that was due to share the room with me was put off by the smell of smoke that was lingering around so didn’t want to stay there. I had noticed the smell when I checked in but due to having a long day, and all the issues I had with the travel company before my trip, I just wanted to sleep and didn’t bother kicking up a fuss.
The day started off a little quieter, however. I decided to have a long lay in to adjust to the timezone before booking a taxi through my hotel to take me to the Big Buddha statue near Karon. This was the best way to visit and only cost 1200 Baht for a return trip including waiting time – this was less than the price I paid for a one-way trip from the airport to the hotel.
The journey there took about half an hour and went through a couple of towns and residential areas before making its way up the hill past some cafes, a quad bike tour place and an elephant riding experience to the car park at the statue. The Big Buddha is a large marble Buddha built on the hill overlooking Karon that has been built completely from donations. It still has a long way to go but once finished should be a very impressive site with very impressive views.
I spent some time taking photos overlooking the sea and Phuket town before making my way into the complex itself. The first place you will visit on a trip to the Big Buddha is the entrance hall which is full of souvenir sellers, donation boxes and information about the site. Some of the information is in English but the majority is in Thai so I skipped past this and went straight through to the steps up to the statue.
If you decide to visit the Big Buddha there are a few things you will need to know. Firstly you are not allowed to wear shorts and will be asked to cover up, secondly that it will be very warm as there isn’t much shade, thirdly that to get to the site you need to walk up a lot of steps and lastly that it’s likely to be very windy so be prepared. However the views from the top were incredible.
The site is actually made up of two Buddhas – the main marble one and a smaller bronze one. After taking photos of both statues I spent some time wandering around the site enjoying the views and looking at the other displays which included gold statues, a prayer room, a gong and a bell. There is also the opportunity to buy prayer bells of various sizes which you can either take back with you or hang in the trees – many people buy two and do both which is evident by the loud sound of bells that you can hear when there is a gust of wind.
Not many people at the site will speak English so I’d recommend you learn a few words in Thai before visiting this or any other site in Thailand. Even if you just learn hello and thank you it will be greatly appreciated by the locals. This was evident when I bought one of the prayer bells – the family ahead of me asked lots of questions in English and when they said thank you the person selling them just handed them the bell and turned away. However I said thank you in Thai and she said you’re welcome in the traditional Thai manner of putting hands together and nodding. It doesn’t hurt to learn a few words and the locals will like that you have made the effort.
After purchasing the bell and a few other souvenirs I made my way back to the taxi. We stopped off at a viewpoint overlooking Karon on the way before making our way back to town. I got dropped at town so I could buy some flip flops (thongs for any Aussies that read this) and grabbed some lunch before making my way back to the hotel to change before going to the beach. I’m not much of a tourist beach person as I mentioned in my blog yesterday but I decided that I wanted to spend at least some time on the beach in Phuket to relax, read and watch the sunset.
As mentioned earlier the beach is lined with several rows of sun loungers which you can rent for 200 Baht (less than 1 dollar) for the entire day. Just sit down on one and eventually somebody will find you and ask for the money (before issuing a receipt to prove you have paid). They will also bring you drinks and snacks from one of the small places that are dotted up and down the beach. I ordered a sprite before slapping on the sun cream and heading into the water.
I spent maybe an hour or so in the water. It was clear, calm and very warm but I’m not sure if it was over salty or if there were things living in it as I felt itchy after I had been in there a while. Although this didn’t detract from the relaxing nature of just laying in the water and watching the world go by. It was quite busy on the beach and there were other swimmers, paragliders and jetskis going up and down the water. There aren’t many fish in the area so I didn’t bother bringing my snorkelling equipment and after relaxing for a while I got out and read my book while waiting for the sunset. The sunset was really beautiful but as I was on my own I decided not to bring my camera. I don’t think this will matter as I’m sure I’ll see some perfect sunsets while in Myanmar.
I headed back to my hotel to change before grabbing some dinner in town. I decided on a Thai restaurant on the beach which served cocktails and it was really nice but overpriced compared to other places in the area. Although at $15 including drinks I can’t really complain!
So I’m now back in my room after running into a couple of the group downstairs while clearing up the issue with my room mate and the smell in the room. Now that I think about it I woke up this morning with a headache so I wonder if that was something to do with the smell of smoke. The guy I was due to share with was given a different room for the night and it smelt a lot fresher than mine but I can’t complain as I’ll have the room to myself again tonight.