Hip Island (Phuket)

It was supposed to be a toss between Bali, Kota Kinabalu and Langkawi, but eventually last minute arrangements 48 hours before the trip were made for Phuket instead, as I contacted the various parties directly rather than risk repeating the debacle less than a year ago at the same destination. It can be a major headache when planning such last minute trips but I kind of get a kick out of defying the odds, especially after countless travel agencies kept offering me high rates for mediocre hotels.

Everybody had 5 days to spare and it was basically set for 2 nights each at 2 different hotels respectively, just for a change of surroundings. Surprisingly, Silkair’s seats were cheaper compared to Air Asia and Tiger Airways, although it meant us having to take evening flights. That explains our evening rendezvous with some surprised Thai Muslims in Phuket as we went on a food hunt immediately upon arrival at Phuket International Airport. Thanks to Kanidaj, a private driver, whom I decided to engage instead of our previous driver from Nuch & Mai Travel Service, mainly because he’s a Muslim which presented a great solution to our Halal food search in Phuket. I didn’t fancy having to return to Patong every time we wanted to eat. That place is one freaking farang nest and lined with too many go-go bars.

Our booked accommodations were in Kamala and Karon for those 4 nights and on hindsight, it would have been a better idea to just stay put in the first place, for it has totally changed our mindsets about future travel accommodations. The second place, Woraburi Resort & Spa, looked like crap compared to what we experienced earlier. I don’t even think the 5-star hotels around Phuket offer such exclusivity. Their service was impeccable, to the point of specially catering Halal breakfast for us instead of their usual fare and brought in and served in our villa by their staff at our desired timing. Not a single form of discrimination detected, unlike in some hotels where the farangs are still considered superior to Asians. A private 4-bedroom villa with your own pool with polite and competent staff at your disposal … what more can one ask for? Add to that massages, pedicures and manicures for the women inside the villa, while the rest just lazed around. It’s because of this single resort that Fadelinah and I have decided to make Phuket a must destination among those for our annual holidays.

As with most family holidays, shopping is a necessary item in the itinerary and we had a lot of that, although the second and fourth days were reserved specially for relaxing by the pool and sea respectively. The fact that we had full access to the pool 24 hours a day without having to share with other guests meant even late night dips lasting way past midnight. Whereas for beaches, Karon still remains our favourite, wide enough with powdery white sand and emerald green sea and not swarmed by the farangs as much as the rest of the beaches in Phuket. This time around, we came at the correct season, it was sunny and windy most of the time.

Jungceylon, Pornthip Seastore, Central Festival, Tesco Lotus and Phuket Pearl Factory were among the places we parted with our money at, especially the women folks. I did not buy anything back for myself from this particular trip. My little Tour de Kamala on a gearless bicycle through the beaches and villages around the resort, and the great food we had at various places in Phuket were good enough gifts for me. Contrary to popular beliefs, we did find a Halal restaurant in Karon that serves really delicious Thai food despite its Indian food label. Top marks also goes to Latif whose 6-months old restaurant in Phuket Town will definitely be one of the best Halal places to eat in Phuket in no time to come. Actually, I don’t think any food can be prepared wrongly by any Thais, as proven by the only bad Thai food we had throughout the trip, at a roadside eatery prepared by a non-local.

On our last day in Phuket, Kanidaj brought us to attractions en route to the airport, including a view point offering great landscapes of the old Phuket town and nearby islands. The old town reminds me of Malacca as it’s predominantly Chinese with some buildings dating more than 200 years old. It was a bit sombre though when we brought to Nai Harn beach, the only one to be surrounded by casuarina trees instead of the usual palm trees, and saw what remained of a few hotels abandoned after the tsunami in 2004. Basically a peaceful fishing village occupied by mainly Muslims and popular with those who set up tents during the weekends. We had thought all along that Phuket was made up of 30% Muslims, but as Kanidaj rectified us it’s at 50% and growing. The only areas that lack Muslim residents are Kata and Karon.

It was with much sadness and dread that we reached the airport for our flight back and as I paid Kanidaj for his excellent services, I told him that we’ll see him again next year. Especially now that Ooyah has taken very well to air travel again, unlike our last return trip from Vietnam. Insya Allah.

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~ by blackcadillac73 on December 27, 2008.

4 Responses to “Hip Island (Phuket)”

  1. Happy New Year LamRi
    See you in 2009 in the blogging world – in MY 2009. We still have more than an hour to go!

  2. Happy New Year to you and your family too. πŸ™‚

  3. hi,
    im intereste4d in atrip to phuket. could you kindly share with me which is the initial hotel with the private pool tat cater halal food for you as described in your entry above. anyway, is there anyway which we could contact and hire the services of the friendly muslim guide too πŸ™‚

  4. hi, do you have the contacts for the driver @ phuket?

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