Saturday, July 21, 2018

Day One in Phuket; Exploring Patong [Thailand] #phuket

Finally came to details of day one for the Phuket trip as it was already more than half a year! I think i really need to cut down on the number of photos i took! Anyway, our plane to the pearl of the south would be departing in Terminal Two of Changi International Airport.

The to-be-completed Jewel - couldn't wait for its grand opening!

Printing the boarding passes and bag tags; nowadays, automation is key to the Singapore's future and in my recent trip to Langkawi, i had the opportunity to check out the almost fully-automated terminal 4 which was an eye opener.

My advice to all air travelers checking in to Changi International Airport; food inside the restricted departure halls is more expensive and not as good as what you can get from the public staff canteens!

While not horrible tasting, the bowl of fishball noodles (cost S$5) from Terminal 2 wasn't worth its contribution to my daily calories. The only saving grace? It had five fishballs.

Picture with my dad - he has never been to a beach vacation and i told him we must try something new and experience a different culture instead of always going to China!

For families with kids. For a person who doesn't have kids, we may feel it's a waste of good space but in the shoes of parents with young kids, it's darn helpful to have the playground where kids can expense their energy (and hopefully sleep like a baby in the flight).

Boarding passes - in the past, people would keep their boarding passes and include them for their scrap-booking. I think it's not as popular these days as the texture was thin and the words have the tendency to fade with time.

Boarding the Tiger Airways plane even though we purchased through Scoot Air; the transitional period given the merger between the two budget airlines.

Up and away!

Anyone can recognize the place? It's the Tanah Merah ferry terminal; the place where Singaporeans go to board the boat if they want to visit Bintan Island. For Batam Island, embarkation would usually be Harbourfront, near Vivo City.

The many cargo ships in Singapore water!

Other pictures taken while in the air, and Alex whose tummy was still hungering for more food despite having toasts in the same food court where i had my fishball noodles.

About to land - maybe because of the cloudy condition, i wasn't as impressed with the view as i was in my first trip to Phuket more than 10 years ago. Back then, i recall seeing beautiful coastline, pretty coastal resorts on hillside etc.

This could be considered as one of those hillside resorts but at that moment, it felt more like an abandoned project that's the destination for supernatural exploration by the youths in the nearby villages / towns.

Propeller plane! I don't think i have ever sat in one before. Maybe i should consider taking FireFly in the future as i understand they are one of the few airlines in the region to fly propeller planes.

Phuket International Airport - third busiest airport in Thailand for passengers, serving 15.1 million passengers in 2016! The other two busier airports were based in Bangkok and i don't think it's hard to guess which one as Singaporeans fly to both of them, depending on which airlines; Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang International Airport.

Couldn't wait to begin my journey in Phuket!

A big welcome sign greeted us; i thought it should be changed to welcome to Phuket rather than to the international airport. It's all about branding although Phuket as a beach destination is world-famous.

I love exploring the retail shops in airports overseas; for one, as a comparison to the prices of products sold in Singapore and two, if they offer things not commonly found in Singapore.

Befitting its status as a beach hub, you can find beachwear and other related accessories in the airport. The above caught my attention as it's the same as the easybreath snorkeling mask i got from decathlon; price has dropped significantly since its launch a few years ago and even in Singapore, you can get one for about S$35.

Long queue to scan our luggage before we can exit the restricted arrival hall.

Useful travel advisory guide for China tourists visiting the southern part of Thailand for the beaches and islands. It's in Chinese and honestly a pretty good guide even for other foreigners. Those who can read Chinese can refer to the guide here.

Car rental companies; i always thought Thailand is right-hand drive and that's an embarrassment given how often i visit Bangkok. It would, however, be suicidal to drive in the capital but for places like Phuket, self driving should be a consideration for me in the future!

Like a star walking down the red carpet; you wouldn't be able to pose and smile for the camera! For us, we were simply looking for a placard or notice with my name on it as i had booked a private airport transfer at just 600 baht!

Our official start to Phuket!

Rubber trees! We used to see a lot of them when we stayed in the village and even though i can't recognize them, i do remember the cups hooked onto the trees to collect the sap.

Views along the way. By the way, our designated driver is a lady and i believe she must have been taken aback to see all guys and no gal in our group.

It's already more than 30 minutes since we departed from Phuket International Airport and we were only halfway through; boredom set in for the three of us...

Steep road - the hilly terrain would increase the risk for accident if i self drive; hence, maybe i should take back my word about driving in Phuket the next time i visit.

Finally - the famous (or some said infamous) patong area! How do i know i have arrived in Patong? Just look out for the tallest building in Phuket; Patong Tower Apartment! p.s. you can actually book the apartment for your stay; click here.

Iconic swimming dolphins fountain at the roundabout. Two things to note when you drive past it; one, you would be in the busy and touristy Patong section and two, be prepared for slow traffic.

Typical road view in Patong.

After almost 70 minutes in the car, the vehicle finally turned into a familiar road; familiar because i have been using google map street view to plan my itinerary and i know our hotel for the next few days, Swissotel Resort (Patong Beach), is just down the road. 

Click here for my review of the hotel.

Hitting the road after a short rest in the 4-star resort; one thing i hate when i am overseas is to coop myself up in the hotel when we should be exploring!

While touristy, Patong area does offer products on wheels for the locals working in the tourism belt; prices might be steeper than usual but wouldn't be at the level paid by tourists in a normal, non-air-conditioned eatery.

Stepped on Patong beach, which was filled with so many people, for the first time in my life! If you ask me, i don't know what's the hooha about this beach; it wasn't exceptionally pretty but i guess being near to the many resorts / hotels / inns in Patong plays a huge part in its popularity.

Another typical view from the beach towards the hill - frankly, nothing architecturally amazing and if some of you remember, Patong was also badly damaged in the boxing day tsunami in 2004 and the buildings near the beach might be standardized to speed up the rebuilding progress.

Publicity van for thai boxing championship - such stunt would likely result in fines in Singapore given the safety implication and noise pollution!

Many tour counters along the way and i was in a fix as i didn't know which to choose! What if i pay too much for a lousy tour? What if it's too cheap and we would be sitting in a leaking / overcrowded boat? So many things to consider. :(

Early dinner at Ruen Thai Restaurant; on TripAdvisor, it's ranked 50 out of 569 restaurants in Patong! For more pictures and review, check out my post here.

Another street hawker - i didn't dare to try in case my tummy couldn't stomach the bacteria in a foreign country. The worst thing to happen when one is overseas is when one gets sick!

Mini statues in various yoga forms.

Antique shop with sales of about 25-40% discount. Well, i am no collector and don't have the cash for it too! Prefer to spend my money on food.

Scenes along the way; the Starbucks in Phuket was so empty and that's a huge contrast from Singapore where you can hardly find a seat.

Coming close to the Patong Tower Apartment!

Liquor on the go for those hard up for a drink! Seriously, i didn't check out the price even though i should as drinking in Singapore is extremely bad for the wallet!

More random photos!

Regretted not paying for the above activity and get to fire a 'real' gun (rate was 100 baht for 15 piston shot / 200 baht for 50 rifle shots)! Most Singaporean men who went through national service might have had the opportunity to fire a real gun / rifle but my vocation was a dental assistant and the one thing i can fire then was the water jet to rinse the patient's mouth.

Seahorse sculptures.

Sunset at Patong Beach; pity that patience is never much of my family's core values and we definitely can't endure the mindless waiting for another 30 minutes or so.

Bangla Street which was still accessible to vehicles - the road would only be closed at about 6.00 pm and while it appeared like a normal street no different from the others in Phuket; the atmosphere was electrifying at night! There's also an open-air street food 'hawker centre'  along the street which targeted more the tourists than locals. For Bangla street in the daytime, click here.

Toys from "Frozen" and "Minions".

Jungceylon - largest shopping centre in Phuket! For a shopping freak, i would definitely put it in as part of my itinerary although nothing much interest me except for only the Big C Extra Hypermarket! Want to know what's there? Click here.

Street was already dark when we exited Jungceylon.

SB Plaza - there were a lot of shopping in Phuket but please be mindful that things sold are comparable in variety to Bangkok (maybe more beach stuff in Phuket) with higher pricing. Work harder on your bargaining skill!

Hello Dental Clinic - i assumed dental treatment would be much cheaper in Thailand but a check on the facebook page said otherwise... a normal scaling and polishing would be about 1,500 baht (roughly S$62).

Open-air live band with seafood BBQ buffet at 499 baht per person which would include prawn, squid, mussel, clams, crabs etc! Not a bad deal, if you ask me.

Cooking school - learning to cook Thai food seems to be popular with tourists although i am never keen to spend a few hours of my previous overseas time on an activity that i would not likely be able to replicate back home. Okay, never say never. 

More random stuff.

Tuk tuk in Phuket; a mini-pickup version that was louder, more colourful and brighter than its counterparts in Bangkok

Fruit stalls were common along the streets; in addition to my concerns on hygiene and freshness, the pricing of fruits was similar or, at times, more expensive than our little red dot.

Hard Rock Cafe ahead of us! We didn't patronize it despite it being situated just beside Swissotel Resort (Patong Beach)

Patong OTOP shopping paradise - quite a nice place to shop that's near our hotel; the OTOP refers to One Tambon (mean sub-district and not tampon) One Product. You would be guaranteed of a more detailed post in time to come. 

Hooters - another well established restaurant brand in close proximity to Swissotel Resort (Patong Beach) that i didn't bother paying a visit. 

Decided to sign up for our tour package (for next day) with the friendly staff At Akarin Tour; located less than a hundred meters from our hotel! For more directions, click here

VIP Massage was just next to At Akarin Tour and how could i resist having massages in Thailand?! I wouldn't and happily took up the 1-hour traditional Thai massage at 300 baht; Dad and Alex opted for a foot massage instead.

Price list as above.

I think i was the only person on the second level where the Thai massages typically take place with drawn curtains and the masseur wasn't too bad. My mind would have been relaxed but sadly, it was scarred when a masseur asked if i would like special services. =_=. That's a dampener; so much so that i didn't patronize any massage parlor in my next few days in Phuket

Life goes on and we proceeded two doors away to purchase the much needed mineral water as i don't like boiling water from the tap, cheap yogurt drink and some tibits. 

Pharmacies are everywhere in Phuket and they are a great source for cheap and good medication! Things you paid for in Singapore could well cost a fraction in Thailand.

Dad wanted to rest early whereas Alex and I, both night-owls, took to the streets again. Our intention was to make a full loop from Swissotel Resort (Patong Beach) to Jungceylon shopping centre and then follows by Bangla Street.

A definitive eye-opener no doubt and you may click here for details of Bangla Street at night! It's nothing like the daytime and i can fully understand why it is also known as the street of vices. 


Detailed Postings for the Day
  1. Private Car Transfer from Phuket Airport to Patong Beach
  2. 4-Star Swissotel Resort (Patong Beach)
  3. Patong Beach
  4. Ruen Thai Restaurant near Patong Beach
  5. Jungceylon; Largest Shopping Mall in Phuket
  6. The Famous / Infamous Soi Bangla - Before The Sun Sets
  7. Bangla Street at Night - Happening, Lively, Vibrant
  8. Open Air Street Food 'Hawker Centre' along Bangla Road
  9. At Akarin Tour - Our Preferred Agent near Swissotel Resort

Click here for my 5 days 

1 comment:

  1. Tuk Tuks are modified four-wheeled mini truck, usually painted in bright red or yellow,


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