19 to 28 December
Luckily we didn’t have to wake up too early today and we got an Uber around 09:30 and were at CDG just after 10:00 for our 12:30 flight. With the 6 hour time difference between Paris and Thailand we had an overnight flight and the longest flight either of us have ever been on!
Finally about 12 hours later we arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok around 07:00 local time. Then after around a 2 hour layover, and a slight delay, we were in the air again for the short flight to our final destination, Phuket. One crazy thing about this around 1 hour flight was that they operated massive 747’s because the route was so popular. Finally we arrived at the Phuket airport with no issues and our bags all eventually arrived, even if it was a little slow. While at the airport we took care of changing some money, as well as getting a Thai sim card for Jer’s phone. Once we were done at the airport we made our way outside for our pre-arranged taxi ride to the hotel. After over an hour (holy traffic!!) we finally made it to Marriott Resort and Spa, Merlin Beach, our home for the next week.
We were welcomed with a nice welcome drink and enjoyed some time relaxing after a long day of travel before finally going downstairs to have lunch while waiting for our room to be ready. It was very strange to be in such a warm place (and not home for that matter) for Christmas, but they did a great job of making sure you knew it was the holiday season.
After a nice lunch at the cafe overlooking the adult pool they came down to let us know our room was ready so we went to check it out.
As usual with Marriott we were treated amazingly and got a great room. We took some time to unpack and settle in then it was time to go explore the resort a little see what we had available to us. First thing we did, of course, was make sure all of our things were set up for golf over the next few days as well as the reservations we had made for some of the upcoming evenings when they were having special events at the resort. Eventually we made our way down to the beach area for some relaxation and to explore the on site reef now that it was low tide. The main reason we chose this specific resort was because they had a reef just off the beach that was private and accessible to us anytime we wanted.
It was so amazing to be able to literally just walk around a reef and see all the amazing sea life because low tide allowed us to walk out hundreds of meters to areas that you would have had to swim out to earlier in the day. Once we had taken some photos we went back to the room and changed for the rest of the evening. We had a few drinks before dinner and then, after an amazing first sunset, we enjoyed dinner at the outdoor grill by beach because they had a seafood buffet that looked great.
Today we were up very early (going to be a theme) for our 06:15 taxi to our first round of golf of the week. We were playing Blue Canyon Country Club this morning which was all the way back up near the airport. We had a 07:50 tee time (trying to avoid the heat as well as having our afternoons free to do whatever) on an awesome course where they had played PGA Tour events in the past. One very interesting thing about this course is that we each got a female caddie to ourselves. They even drove our carts for us as well as doing everything a caddie would normally do. Talk about service!
After our round we did some shopping in the pro shop for some gifts (and a little for ourselves of course) and ate lunch at the club, with a refreshing post round beer too of course. Our taxi then picked us up and we returned to the resort after navigating through a bunch of traffic again (another theme seemingly).
Once we got back we changed and headed out to enjoy some more sun and relaxation on the beach. We then found out that every day around the adult pool there was a happy hour with 2 for 1 cocktails! After enjoying a few drinks during happy hour at the swim up bar it was time to go back to the room and get ready for dinner.
Tonight (after another amazing sunset) they had an outdoor Thai market and buffet set up along with an evening of Thai kickboxing on the lawn by the beach. We ended up sitting with some nice people and their kids and we enjoyed all the food we could imagine.
After enjoying a few more drinks post dinner, we arrived back to the room and our “animals” were dressed as Santa!
Another early morning because of golf, just a 07:00 taxi today, but this time only Jer was playing. Today he played at Red Mountain Golf Club which he said he actually liked the layout more and was much closer to our resort than yesterdays course.
While Jer was out playing I did a spa day which Jer had set up for me so I could get a facial and my nails done. He was back from golf just after noon and we met up for some lunch at the cafe again. After lunch we enjoyed some more sun and relaxing around the resort and we of course enjoyed some more happy hour drinks.
Today we also started contacting places for SCUBA since the one at the resort did not have what we were looking for. Other than coming here for golf and relaxation we had read about the amazing diving they had around Thailand. This was something on our MUST list since we enjoy it so much.
Before dinner Jer decided he needed a workout, but when he tried to go to the gym it was packed and instead he decided to go for a run to the end of the peninsula we were on. He will tell you that Thailand is a lot hillier than he anticipated.
The special dinner tonight was a beach BBQ with skewers of different meats along with another huge buffet.
When we arrived, and were ready to eat, they had so many people that they needed to add additional seats out on the lawn which we were sat at. It was actually nice to be dining out under the stars again and looking out over the water. We even had a friend join us for dinner.
After dinner we went for a walk on the beach before heading back to the room to call it a night. We had some friends out on the beach with us as well.
We got a chance to sleep in just a little this morning as we didn’t get picked up for our SCUBA refresher course until 09:00. Once the van arrived we made the short drive to Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort for our classroom refresher as well as pool refresher where we gave everyone having breakfast a good laugh. Since we had done this so many times before just 2 hours later we were back at our resort and prepared for our open water dives Tuesday.
Back at the hotel we had heard many times about how this was the best place in the world to get a suit so we went to the local tailor in order to get Jer some tailored suits and even a tux and some shirts too. After the fitting and measurements were finished we grabbed some lunch and scheduled a taxi to take us to Big Buddha.
After exploring Big Buddha, and the surrounding area, for a while we headed back to the hotel in some of the most insane traffic (like I said another theme). Once we were back Jer went and got another workout in while I walked through the on-site butterfly sanctuary.
Tonight was El Classico and since they had a sports bar at the resort we got a few local micro-brews and some burgers while watching the match. It was actually a fun atmosphere because many people wanted to watch the match and of course it being a resort we had people from all over the world. During the first half Jer also had to go back to try on some of the pants and suits that they were working on at the tailors. After the match we enjoyed a few more drinks before calling it a night.
Christmas Eve!! It feels really strange to be saying this when you are wearing a bathing suit, but today was the day we were looking forward to the most on our trip, elephant sanctuary day.
As usual on this trip it was another early morning as we had a 06:45 pick up from the hotel. The sanctuary set up everything with a shuttle to and from so we sat in the back of an open truck for the hour plus ride to the sanctuary picking up others as we went. It was certainly a very interesting ride and our friends from NJ weren’t doing so hot for much of the trip.
Eventually we arrived and they went over the details about the sanctuary and what they were doing as well as what we were going to do with the elephants today and then it was time to get the food ready for them. We prepared sugar cane, bananas, and watermelon to feed the elephants. We put it into individual buckets because apparently we had some divas in the group and they would only eat certain food.
The handlers then got them ready and brought them over to where we were and we fed them everything!
After feeding them (and petting and selfies of course) it was time to head to the mud baths with them. The mud is very good for their skin and they need to do this multiple times per day so they have the healthiest skin possible. They have a few separate areas throughout the sanctuary that the process them through. They have just a straight mud bath, followed by washing off the mud, followed by there very own “outdoor shower”.
After going through the routine with them we all needed to wash the mud off ourselves so we went into the showers and did our best and once we were mostly clean it was time for us to eat lunch. They provided a nice locally made lunch for everyone as well as some drinks. Before it was time to head back they provided us some additional conservatory information as well as a parting gift, a special shirt.
On the return trip we asked that they drop us off in Patong (which was the closest city to our resort) so we could walk around. We hadn’t really been off the resort other than to play golf and to go to another resort for diving instruction. We explored the beach area a little, walked around their version of Bourbon Street (yes it smells equally as bad), and eventually made our way to Jungceylon Shopping Center, which was a huge western shopping center, to get some gifts and other local things we wanted.
After finishing our shopping we decided to stay in town for a while and grab some beers so we could experience the city, plus the really cheap beer didn’t hurt. The nice thing was that we knew the hotel provided a shuttle from the shopping center a few times per day so we ended up getting the 4pm shuttle back to the hotel and it was time for another fitting for Jer at the tailor followed by another workout.
Since it was Christmas Eve we decided to do the dinner and the Christmas Eve festivities that the resort had set up since it seemed like a big deal. Well what we didn’t know before hand, but quickly found out when walking in, was that tonight had a Frozen theme! Even though it was a little more geared towards children (and my inner Disney Princess heart) as usual they did a great job with all the different types of food (although the French station didn’t live up to what were are used to) and experiences you would expect at a Marriott resort.
I mean what else would you do on Christmas, but play golf of course, and today we were at Laguna Golf Phuket. Trying to get in the festive mood we even teed off with Santa hats on!!
Since it was another early tee time (08:00 this time) we were back at the resort by 1pm because we wanted to enjoy the all day beach BBQ they had set up for Christmas day. We even had GoT themed Christmas shirts for the occasion.
After lunch we timed the high tide so that we could go explore the on-site reef again, but underwater this time. We saw some amazing fish and coral just a few hundred yards from the resort and made us even more excited for our SCUBA trip tomorrow. We had purchased snorkel masks from Decathlon just for this specific occasion and although Jer had some problems with sealing, due to his beard, overall the masks worked great and much better than typical snorkel gear.
After at least an hour in the water we relaxed back on the beach with some happy hour drinks before it was time for Jer to go to his final fitting at the tailor. He was very happy with how everything looked and they just had a few minor tweaks to make before everything would be finished. Eventually we headed back to the room and after getting showered and changed we went back out to the beach BBQ to grab dinner and experience the fire show, and we were treated to yet another amazing sunset.
After all the activities tonight we were doing everything we could to stay awake and not fall asleep at our normal 9pm time since we had calls scheduled with our families and with the 12 hour time difference we did it later in order to make sure everyone was awake back in the US.
Today was yet another day that we had been looking forward to on this trip since we booked it, SCUBA day!
As has been a theme on this trip, we were up early, as we had a 07:45 pick up to take us to Chalong Pier in Phuket. After picking up a few people along the way we joined the rest of the group for our day with Sea Fun Divers. There were about 20 of us diving today all with mixed experience, but all with 3 dives for the day which for us was something we had never experienced before. Once we gassed up the boat we headed out on the hour long boat ride to Racha Yai where we would end up diving in 3 different bays on the eastern side of the island today.
Because of the need to recover properly we had lunch provided for us between the 2nd and 3rd dives.
After 3 amazing dives it was unfortunately time to head back to Phuket. We cannot thank Ron (our instructor/guide) enough for our experience. Ron, if you ever read this we promise to finally get our certification so we don’t have to keep doing resort dives every time.
We were back at the hotel by around 6:30pm and Jer had to run and pick up all his suits now that they were finally finished. After we got showered and ready for dinner we headed to Merchant Kitchen because they had an Asian themed night so we decided to go to try all the different types of food. After dinner we started to get some things together for packing since we were leaving tomorrow :(.
Go figure we waited until the final day of our vacation for once to not have an early alarm set as this morning was focused on relaxation.
After enjoying breakfast we had a couples massage set up. Jer of course got a sport massage and I got just a normal massage, but the spa really was nice here.
After the spa we continued our relaxation down on the beach on what turned out to be the hottest day yet since we got here. We had some local food for lunch while sitting out on the beach. Then, with a long flight coming up, Jer wanted to get one last workout in after getting the massage so all the “bad stuff” didn’t build up in his muscles he said. Meanwhile we ordered some additional food (lunch just wasn’t quite enough) from Wellness Bar that ended up having to be delivered to the room because they were having trouble in the kitchen. Once Jer was back from the gym and we finished packing we went for one last walk through the butterfly sanctuary before it was time for our taxi to leave for the airport.
Our first flight wasn’t until 8:30pm, but we left a little early because along the way we made a stop at a Buddhist temple and of course it was only right that we had more traffic on our last drive in Thailand.
We ended up being at the airport quite early, but used the time to get some last minute shopping in. Finally it was time for our quick 1 hour hop to Bangkok again before boarding our final flight home to Paris around midnight local time in Bangkok.
After another 12 plus hours in a plane, where for once we both actually slept quite a bit, we arrived back at CDG around 07:00 local. I do have to say we were both very pleased with Thai Airways overall as everything was very comfortable, the food was good and the service wasn’t to shabby either. After gathering our bags, even though Jer thought his clubs were lost again, we got our Uber and were back at the apartment before 09:00. We spent most of the day doing laundry and getting settled back in. The good thing was that neither of us had to go back to work this week.