Sunday, September 18, 2011

Landing in Phuket !

Phuket airport is quite small though it's an international one ! They provide on-arrival visas to Indians . Each visa costs 1000 Thai bhat and all you need is a passport size photograph .
As we exited from the airport one guy came to us and said "Sir,Taxi ?" . We nodded yes and he lead us to one of the travels booths and handed us a pamphlet ! "visit to phi phi islands ! Only 2800 tb per person ! We pick u up at the hotel and drop u back. We also provide lunch " he declared . Puzzled my husband queried "we need a taxi now to go to our hotel!"
"u book this for your family sir and it comes with a free ride to your hotel now " he declared with the best salesman-smile he could muster . We did not want to book anything hastily without inquiring first . "No, we want just a taxi to the hotel " ."That would be 1800 tb sir! please come this way" he said and started walking ahead ! We had not had enough time to do any sort of research about Phuket before leaving but I did remember reading on some website that a trip from the airport to the area we were heading to cost around 600 to 800 tb . I quickly conveyed that to my hubby ! He gestured to our salesman to hold on and went in to inquire at the pre-paid taxi booth ! He came back with a prepaid ticket for 750/- . Our friend was about to charge us more than double of that !
We had booked at the 'karon beach resort ' for our stay . Patong is the most developed beaches at Phuket followed by Karon ! Our resort was located on the latter and was recommended by quite a few on travelocity for a family holiday . These beaches are located next to each other and it takes an hour to reach either from the airport !
Considering the prices in other parts of south east Asia for that distance 750 is a very reasonable price .
We reached our resort at around 10 pm and checked in . The moment we entered our room we were convinced that we had made a good choice . The resort almost literally stood on the beach and we had a magnificent view . It was dark but we could see the ocean in the dim lights of the hotel that cast their glow on the shore . There was a nice breeze and we could hear the waves lashing against the shore . There was a beautiful balcony . Perfect for long conversations extending onto the wee hours of the night . Kuttu was also extremely excited .
Room service closed at 10.30 . We were pretty hungry by then . But there are adjoining restaurants and departmental stores that stay open till almost and sometimes beyond midnight. We got some bread and instant noodles that was more than enough to satisfy our tummies .

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

From an IPhone on the iPhone !!

Whoa ! Just discovered this iPhone app that helps to blog ! This is great !

When my husband offered to get me an iPhone for my birthday I was initially not very interested ! I did not have a very good idea about iPhone apps I must admit . I just thought of it as a fancy phone that was sought after with craze by teenagers and gadget-ohlics !

I also thought that I would not be using 3G or wifi much ! "I am really not fascinated by that" I declared to my husband;"to me it's enough if I can talk & SMS and maybe a good camera would be good " . But somehow my husband thought that it is a good gift for me! The moment we landed in the shop I got pretty excited though ! Who is not by owning something fancy !

I had this manager who kept pulling my legs that I was the only one in the team who did not own a phone that was smart ! He had left my company by the time I got this one . My very first message was to him 'hi ! Now my phone is also as smart as yours :) ' !

After that I slowly started exploring the world of iPhone apps and the features of my iPhone 4 ! 'hey I can do this ! I can do that ' i would brag to my husband !
Now I kind of got an idea why all those individuals on the local trains were so glued to this rectangular thing !
'these people are so addicted! It would affect their finger bones and muscles and also their eyes' I used to comment ! Now I am also a part of that group I was commenting about!
There is something for everyone in there !
'hope u don't get addicted to angry birds ' was the response from my friends ! I am a human being and one of the unwritten rules of mankind is to try out the things u have been warned about ! I immediately decided to explore what angry birds was and luckily have not got addicted to it so far !
I also found a way to keep my toddler seated at a place ! All i had to do was play some of his favorite videos either from you tube or from those that I have stored !
Even now as I type this i am checking the expected arrival of buses and planning my journey !
I have got into the habit of periodically checking the top free apps and installing a few of them to explore ! And I have started observing the Ads about the Apps . I have not installed any paid apps so far though ! The unpaid ones are quite sufficient to keep me occupied .
I am sure that by now we would have some analytical questionnaires out there with the title 'tell me what apps you have and i will tell u your personality ' !
Suddenly this phone seems to have toppled all the earlier top selling mobiles from their positions .
As i sign off on this post I get reminded of the statement from the clown at mc Donalds -- 'I am loving it '

Sunday, September 4, 2011

On our way to our vacation!! A tensed Start!!!

Vacation – One of my favorite words and something that I have been nagging my poor hubby about for quite some time. The last one we had was to Penang in Malaysia in the second trimester of my pregnancy. Now my little one is a few months away from his third birthday and a vacation was long overdue. Somehow we could not plan one earlier due to some reason or the other.

This time we had a long weekend and so we decided to go somewhere, any good place where we could get tickets to. We decided upon the Phuket one of South East Asia’s most preferred tourist destinations. This post is not about my trip. Its just about making it to that trip.

Well, our flight was at 6:30 on Fri evening. I had to go to work and my husband was working from home that day. Somehow the days you have to leave on vacation would be the busiest at work. Mine was no exception. To add to it I ended up late at work and also missed an important last-minute meeting as I had not checked my mails or messages. So it was work, work and more work. My husband had warned me to somehow be back at home at 3:30. I had a critical meeting at 3! What was I supposed to do! Somehow I wrapped up the meeting fast, caught the next available cab and rushed home. I checked my wallet and I had some change which would not be enough for a bus ride back home leave alone a cab one! I called up my husband and asked him to wait for me in the lobby with some cash.

After all this when we entered home together it was almost 3:45. That is when my husband’s colleagues decided on a conference call at 4 and called him up. He did not attend it ofcourse but the explanations ate up some of our time.

In our hurry we forgot to dial a cab and went down to the street , the way we always did if our destination was somewhere local. Most cabs that went by had ‘HIRED’ in red displayed on top. At last , one came with a green ‘TAXI’ sign. That sped past without stopping. We realized that was an old couple on a drive, using a taxi for personal use and had forgotten to switch off the sign. We waited for some more time.

Then another cab came in the opposite direction. It also sped past without stopping. “Damn!! It’s that same old couple! Guess they are trying to figure out their way” my husband exclaimed with exasperation.

Finally one cab guy stopped. When I peered in to tell him Airport I noticed he had a squint in his eye and his expression reminded me of the aliens from ‘Men in Black’. That did not matter then anyways. We waited for him to open the trunk. A whole minute sped by and no reaction! I went back in front to check and our man was slowly counting some change. Twenty, Forty!!! Finally got him to open the trunk, put our luggage in and started on our way to the airport.

I guess this person had a fear of speed whatever phobia that’s called. The road ahead was pretty empty and other cars were way ahead but he drove as slow as he could. After some time ‘Heavy Traffic ahead’ board came looming into our vision and then he could not go faster even if he wanted to.
The road to the airport is a highway and has boards displaying the distance to the airport. At 5:15 we were at 23 and a ½. I decided not to get obsessed with those boards and instructed myself to check again at 5: 20. I listened to myself but at5:20 the board said 22 & a ½ which was not of much solace to me. Soon the traffic cleared and we came to the taxi drop off point at around 5:35.
That’s when my toddler regurgitated his entire afternoon meal in a projectile angle. I was beginning to notice that he was getting a little restless but did not expect this. There was absolutely no sympathy from the cab guy. ‘Oh No! My Car!! That will ruin my business’ was his reaction. Anyways with all the wet tissue that I had , I cleaned it up to the best extent possible and repeated my apology n times . I signaled to my husband that we should pay him something to make up for the mess we had caused. When my husband handed over a 50$ bill he accepted it, did not give us any word of thanks or any other feeling and got back and sped away. Basically he helped himself to the extra money to make up for the mess by not giving us our change back.
We came to the check in counter at around 5:50 and there was a pretty long queue. There were people going back to some cities in India and their flights were much later at 8 or so.
My husband left me and my son in the queue and went to one of the impeccably dressed airline personnel trying to explain to her that our flight was in half an hour and try to push us ahead in the queue.
That is when the lady smiled and uttered one of the best things we had heard the whole day, a statement which would have normally evoked a long groan from us. ‘Sir! Your flight has been delayed to 7:40. You should not have any problem’. We both heaved a huge sigh of relief and proceeded to await our turn to check in. The vomit had cleared all the indigestion in my little one’s tummy and he was now happily playing with the tapes they use to channel the passenger queues.

Day 1 in Phuket

One of my favorite things about any vacation is the scrumptuous buffet breakfast served in most resorts . Being a foodie of the first order I love good food and I love exlploring different cuisines as well. My dad used to say that whenever you are on a holiday you should have a very heavy breakfast . That way you will remain energetic throughout the day and you won't need a full fledged lunch . Some light snack would do . I am not sure what a dietician or nutritionist would opine on that one but practically it did work . In a breakfast buffet by the time you explore a little of all that they serve - salads , baked potato , bread , baked beans, cereal, fruits , juice etc you will be loaded for the day . After having a relaxed and heavy breakfast we set out for the day .
We took the help of the lady at the travel concierge at the hotel . She was a very sweet lady who offered us great assistance on all three days of our stay .
We booked a taxi for the whole day. First the driver took us to a souvenir shop as it was slightly raining. But who will be interested in souvenirs in the first leg of the journey ? But my son was ecstatic seeing all the elephant dolls for sale in all shapes and sizes .
You will find elephants in one form or the other everwhere in Thailand. Even the toilet in our resort room had a wall hanging bearing the picture of an elephant. So it was the perfect holiday spot for my elephant lover son!
Our next stop was at a place where they reared elephants and offered elephant treks . There was a baby elephant there and at a price of a 100 bhat u could feed him a basket of bananas . My son squealed with delight and thoroughly enjoyed himself . But as a supporter of animal rights I hated this concept of using a calf for such commercial reasons . He was getting deprived of the freedom he deserved.
Our next stop was at the Big Buddha . They have built a gigantic statue of the Buddha on a hilly terrain overlooking the ocean . The place has some magnificent views of the island .
From there we went to the wat talong one of the Thai temples in Phuket . It consisted of two temples next to each other . Beautiful architecture and a feast for the camera .

By then my little one was hungry . In our holiday excitement we had forgotten to pack any food. The driver said that he would take us to a wonderful restaurant and drove us to some seafood restaurant which was in the middle of nowhere . Being strict vegetarians that wAs the worst choice for us . We had explained that we were vegetarians but poor fellow got the wrong idea and his attempt to impress us with the wonderful seafood Thai cuisines kind of got totally goofed up . The place was pretty crowded though . Maybe the seafood is really good there but I can't comment . This place was also not like a shopping area or anything where you have a lot of options. So exploring if we got something else was also totally ruled out . Then we explained our predicament to the driver . He suddenly got reminded of an Indian restaurant that he knew and took us there .
Food is heaven especially if it's something like hot basmati rice and rotis and dal in some remote corner in Thailand and the fact about being extremely hungry adds extra effect .
After an awesome lunch we headed to another elephant trek area . By now the sun was out and the weather much better . We decided to go for an elephant .
It was really adventurous as the lady-mahout led the pachyderm through ups and downs in a kind of muddy wet mountainous terrain. My kiddo was squealing with delight though me and my husband were a bit anxious and tensed . After the trek we spent another 100 bhat to feed the elephant . This time pineapple chunks .
The final destination of our day tour was a place called karon view point . Really amazing views .
After returning to the hotel we freshened up and got ready to go to Fantasea at Phuket . A kind of fantasy park mainly promoting it's daily musical show .
There was a bus pick up from the resort and this park is situated on kamala beach . The show was very good and worth the ticket price. It actually combines a buffet dinner which you can choose to opt for or not . The buffet dinner is supposed to be served in grandeur and style . We did not opt for it . The show is a mix of music, dance , magic , tricks and above all close to 40 live elephants performing on stage . Definitely worth a visit one time and enjoyable by both kids and adults . No photography allowed though . In fact they ask you to deposit your cameras and mobile devices and the queue for collecting it after the show was a teeny weeny bit frustrating .
We got dropped back at around 12 and after such an eventful day it took us hardly a few seconds to fall into a deep slumber !