Sunday, September 16, 2012

phuket: half day of island hopping

weekend can be so short for a holiday in the island of phuket. when in fact, there are a lot of things that may go in your agenda that would require more days. may it be lounging on the sun bed for most of the days, partying like crazy through the night, going to nature trips while riding on the mighty elephants and the list goes on. without the feeling of regret and bitterness, our weekend in phuket was a welcome breather nonetheless.

Khai Nok island, Phuket, Thailand
Khai Nok island, Phuket

after going through phuket's immigration check, eva and i eagerly made our exit out from the terminal building and briefly stopped on our tracks to pick a handful of phuket brochures, disregarding the profusion of ads which made those leaflets free in the first place. oh, there were also amiable thai ladies offering sim cards which one can conveniently use while in phuket. as for us, we relied on our network's roaming service and besides, a weekend duration does not call for its necessity.

along with other group of vacationers, we settled comfortably inside a van which was also known as a mini-bus service in phuket. at that time, we had no idea what could fill our 2 days. i made no definite plans prior on our trip and i wanted it to be carefree and with an "anything goes" attitude setting the pace.

a travel agency where we had an obvious mandatory stop didn't even bother to sway us with activities after we told the guy that we would only be there for the weekend.

the commute to the beach area from the airport took about an hour and a half so we got plenty of time in our hands to "brainstorm" what we could possibly do. skimming through the brochures, i found an island hopping which only takes half of the day. it fitted just perfectly!

phuket island hopping brochure
Front and Back pages of the Island Hopping on Khai Islands

phuket island hopping itinerary
Half Day Island Hopping Itinerary

we booked our island hopping excursion at our hotel and we scheduled it the following day. since it was the off peak season, the woman in charge slashed off the quoted price, 1,200THB  by 300THB. incredibly, things were falling in its place!

phuket island hopping port
Jump off port for the Island Hopping

a van came to our hotel to pick us up at 7:30 in the morning but it wasn't entirely for ourselves because the driver picked up a thai couple in another hotel in kata beach and a japanese family of four from karon beach completed our eager pack.

the drive to the port took an hour and i entertained myself catching a few words in the conversations by the japanese family with two highly energetic boys while eva snoozed off throughout the journey. i wasn't eavesdropping though because i didn't understand them completely anyway. all i knew that they were comparing prices in phuket to another place which could be their home country and the "okaasan" constantly pointing a phuket map of where we were at currently.

upon our arrival at the small port, we found ourselves in a tourist-packed departure area waiting for the start on their island hopping. some island hopping tours would include the famous ko phi phi island but we begrudgingly opted it out because our flight was later that night. :-/ 

Khai Nai Island, Phuket
Khai Nai island, Phuket

our pack was joined by a chinese family, a chinese group of friends, two chinese couples, and a korean family. after a brief orientation by our guide named sam (just sam because his full name we would likely forget), all of us settled in a trusty speed boat.

we firstly landed on khai nai island where we got to feed schools of fishes in knee-deep waters! i brought with me a peanut butter sandwich which i intently made for breakfast the day before but the food in phuket made me shrugged it off.

bread is used to lure the fishes. we got the fishes' special attention because ours was flavored with peanut butter. hehe i even got a kiss on my cheek by a fish! lol

khai nai island
The Japenese kids in my backdrop

sam gave us an hour to frolic in khai nai island. however, we stopped feeding the fishes with my sandwich for we still had to save a part for other fish feeding activities that morning and we just spent the remaining time by taking photos, some narcissistic ones and some not.

Snorkeling in the middle of the sea

our next stop was at the middle of the sea. that part of the andaman sea is rich with marine resources, with colorful corals teeming with life.

strangely for an island girl that i am, i don't know how to swim because when the depth is way above me, my legs refuse to kick for me to stay afloat. with life vests however, i don't mind jumping into the sea even with a depth of several feet.

the current was not that strong so i managed to go back to the boat on my own. although a crazy idea bothered me for awhile and that was the thought of my life vest being loosened. i'm just overly paranoid like that.

we were there for 30 minutes and it was good that i took a dip for a few minutes. a swaying stationary boat is not good for those not used in the sea. several tourists in our group were already throwing up and the boat crew came prepared and sam was distributing small black plastic bags. i was also nauseous but not to that extent and i only had to close my eyes to get me through the ordeal.

khai nok island phuket
Colorful umbrellas in Khai Nok island

our last stop was the khai nok island. it was nearing noontime that the direct heat of the sun made us tad lethargic. also to fend off the nausea, i had to stay put on the chair for a few minutes.

i couldn't imagine what the high season would mean in phuket. there were already a lot of people in the island while several touring boats taking turns to dock. to avoid the crowd, we decided to skip the snorkeling part.

we relaxed a bit while having our bread and slices of watermelon, handed out by sam. the food was part of the island hopping tour and it also included carbonated drinks.

a few minutes before we left the island, we swam for awhile in the part of the island where there were only a few tourists who were just taking photos. with sam's holler, we scurried back to our boat, awfully sun kissed but happier!

khai nok island phuket
Leaving the Khai Nok island

it was unbelievable that we only had our island hopping for half of the day. hopping on the khai islands is i think suited only in that duration because the sun can be really harsh at noontime. a chinese woman in our boat even had her skin frighteningly burnt and her skin was already peeling off. :-/ sun screen spray or lotion shouldn't be disregarded.

anyway, i have no idea why the colorful beach umbrellas evoke a pleasant feeling in me. most of them were already even old with rust stains. they just look lovely against the white sands.

in the khai islands, two chairs with umbrellas cost 150THB.

when we arrived back at the port, we came upon a table with our photos in frames. photos of us were taken per group before we started the island hopping. they wisely thought ahead that they made us two photo frames! it was pretty. although it came with a price of 160THB per frame.

our companions in the van regrouped and our driver swiftly started the engine so that we could then be on our way. i thought the japanese kids' energy would lower down but it was the opposite. they were even more ecstatic talking to each other. their "otousan" reprimanded them knowing that the rest of us were trying to doze off because of exhaustion -- but it fell into deaf ears. i didn't know what came over me that i started a short conversation with their "okaasan".

me: tsukaremasendeshita ne.
okaasan: hai. (awkwardly smiling and uttered an apology)

one of the boys talked to his mother asking if i were japanese then i filled him in that i was not. his mother explained to him that i only knew some words. she again made another apology and i aptly replied, "daijoubu desu."

strangely, the kids stopped talking after that.

i had to close my eyes because i was afraid to carry on the conversation knowing my japanese language skill was long locked up away. :D

yes, things can be as memorable sans the excessive planning.


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