Thailand: Spring Break

My university in Tokyo has its break between semesters during February and March.  After being in Tokyo for six months, I felt like I was losing some of my original awe for the city.  Additionally, Tokyo winter is very dry and windy.  The perfect combination to convince me to stay in my dorm all day unless I had places I needed to be.  I decided I needed some sun and relaxation from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo life and somehow convinced some friends to come to Phuket, Thailand with me.

We stayed in a hostel right off Patong Beach, an area in Phuket known for it’s outrageous nightlife and not-so-gorgeous beach.  Because we didn’t get to our hostel until 5 am however, we went to Patong Beach for the first day, soaking in the sun and trying Thai food.

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Pineapple fried rice
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Sunset at Patong Beach

To try to get away from the main tourist beach we took day trips to Nai Harn Beach and Freedom Beach.

Nai Harn Beach is about an hour drive from Patong.

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Another sunset but a lot less people

There are tons of fresh fruit stands all over Patong so I brought some fruits to the beach to try that I had never even heard of before.  The first is a mangosteen and the spiky looking one is a rambutan.  The inside of a mangosteen kind of looks like slimy garlic cloves but once I got past the look I thought it tasted so good that I ended up buying a whole kilo of them in the evening.

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Freedom Beach is actually extremely close to Patong, about a ten minute taxi ride.  But because the road to the beach is a ragged dirt road on a steep incline you can be hard pressed to find a taxi driver who’s car can handle the road or is even willing to drive up the hill.  Additionally, once you get dropped at the top of the parking lot, you have to walk back down the other side of the mountain down a steep and slippery dirt path.  It took us about 30 minutes to get down but it was well worth it.

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Maybe halfway down at this point

Because of the exclusivity of this beach, there was much less people and no noisy jet skis and other water sports activities on the beach.  The only noise was the occasional long-tail boat carrying other tourists over from Patong Beach.

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When we were ready to leave we had prepared ourselves to spend about 45 minutes to climb back up the mountain face but after calling about five cab companies, no one was willing or able to pick us up at the top.  We were forced to take a long-tail boat back to Patong Beach, which was about 5 times more expensive than the taxi.  This ended up being a blessing though, great views of the beach from the water, no excruciating hike up the hill, and much quicker and more relaxing.

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My favorite place we visited was definitely Railay Beach.  Before coming to Thailand it was my number one destination for our trip.  When we went to try to book the trip though, we realized it was going to be more expensive than we thought, a 6 hour round trip to and from the island, and we’d only get about 3 and a half hours to hang around there.  We thought we would be there for closer to 6 hours.  The travel agency tried to convince us not to go and told us it wasn’t worth it to go for only one day but we bought our tickets and wokoe up at 7 am to catch a taxi to the ferry port.

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The island we stopped at to catch a boat to Railay

The first thing you notice about Railay is the giant jutting cliffs and rocks near the beach.

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On the map by the beach we saw this island also had a viewpoint and a lagoon.  We weren’t really dressed to do climbing to a viewpoint so we originally planned to go check out the lagoon.  We found the path to the lagoon and it was literally a rope straight up this rock roll.

We decided to go for it.

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Because it was the dry season, the lagoon ended up being pretty lame (didn’t even take a picture).  But the VIEW though.

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Totally worth risking my life twice for this picture.

If I ever came to Thailand again I would definitely stay on this island for a few days.  The beach is gorgeous and there’s different sections that you could spend each day at.

I was getting a little bored in Tokyo and the cold was getting to me.  This trip helped me feel more relaxed than I’ve felt in a long time.  I’m back in Tokyo now, the weather is warming up and it’s about to be cherry blossom season.  My parents and younger brother are arriving in a few hours at the airport and I’m so excited to show them Tokyo and see them for the first time in 6 months.  Too bad they couldn’t bring my dog..

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