I held my wife’s hand tight, kept my eyes closed as the plane prepared for landing. A ritual thing I do that made me feel safe. I felt the plane descend, waited for that crucial moment when the landing gear made contact with the ground and it did. Sigh of relief. We had landed in Phuket, Thailand.
We stepped out of the plane door and were greeted by the hot and humid air. “I can’t wait to change into my singlet and shorts”, I thought to myself. We breezed through baggage claim and then we were out looking for a taxi to our hotel. “Where are you going?”, a man from a booth asked. “Kalima Resort” I answered back. He then pointed to another booth where a Thai woman was standing behind with a smile on her face. “You need a taxi to Kalima? I’ll show you an island tour for you and if you book today, we’ll give you a discount for the taxi”. As reluctant I was, we entertained her proposal. We were already planning to book an island tour and since it was within the airport grounds I assumed that it was much more safer to book a tour here than off the street. She showed us a ferry tour around Phi Phi islands, two islands to visit. I wanted to visit more as I saw a three island tour on a speed boat and she said we can book that instead and so right then and there we had killed two birds with one stone (and so it seemed at the time). And so we got on our taxi and made our way to our hotel. The streets had a very familiar vibe. It reminded me of the Philippines. The houses, the people, the way of life. The street vendors on the side road selling fruits, vegetables and all kinds of delicacy, the electric poles heavy with power lines that darted from every direction and the stray dogs that wandered around in search of their next meal. If the signs were switched from Thai to Filipino or English, you would think we were back at our country of birth.
Halfway during the ride, the driver asked us if we wanted to stop by a place to book some tours while we were in Phuket. Nice try, I thought. We told him we already booked a tour. At this point we really just wanted to reach the hotel. As we got closer to our destination, the route became windier and steeper. Whizzing through the road, carved from the side of the mountain, I spotted an elephant in the tall grass munching away leaves from a tree right next to it. We were going too fast for me to even take a picture. That was when it hit me that we were definitely in Thailand. Australia had kangaroos, Thailand had elephants.
We arrived at Kalima Resort at noon. The first thing I noticed was the location of the hotel, perched high up on a hill side. You could see the bay from the distance. The lobby was grand, modern in style with its high ceiling and down lights. What stood out was the massive water wall feature. Just looking at the water cascading down to a pool below cooled me down a little bit. The ceiling fans helped in that department too. Check in time was at 2pm and so we had less than two hours to wait. They provided us with a refresher towel which felt amazing on my warm skin. It was paired with a drink I never had before, Roselle drink. Apparently it’s a red sour fruit, somewhat herbal in nature, the perfect thirst quencher.
Two hours later we were inside our hotel room on the third floor, right on the corner of the building overlooking the bay and Patong Beach, the closest town to the resort, we also had the perfect view of the infinity pool below. There were plenty of guests already soaking up the sun and cooling off in the pool. I was itching for a shower first. The room was modern in style, very slick – big bed in the middle, a couch by its side and on the coffee table laid two dragonfruits, a gift for the guest. It was the first time for me to even taste this fruit. I cut into it and revealed the white flesh seasoned with tiny black seeds, carved a bit of the fruit and straight into my mouth. That was the last time this fruit was ever going near my palate, the taste was unpleasant. Since we haven’t had lunch yet we ordered a marinara pizza, thin crust covered in melted cheese, it was delicious. A nap followed after that.
It was finally time to check out the pool! Wifey didn’t have shorts to wear as she was planning to buy one at the town and so she stayed on the pool side sipping her mango shake. I however made the most of the cool water and as the sun was about to set we returned to our room and changed for dinner.
Pan Yaah Thai Restaurant was only 5 minutes walk away from our resort. It had positive reviews on Trip Advisor and so we definitely had to try it. It would be our first ‘authentic’ Thai food experience. One of our favourite cuisines, especially pad thai. I had tasted many versions of this dish back in Melbourne and I wanted to see if there was any difference. Since we didn’t book ahead of dinner (TIP: Book ahead, get your hotel to call them so you get a prime spot by the balcony) we didn’t get to sit right next to the balcony where the view of Patong Beach was the best. Yet, from where we were seated, we could still see the bright lights of the town and the waves crashing on to the sand. We ordered the pad thai (of course), chicken fried rice and the crab stuffed with pork, around 150-200 baht each ($6-$8 AUD). There wasn’t much of a difference from the pad thai back home apart from the slightly more sour note, i guessed they used more of the tamarind flavour. The lemon iced tea we ordered was the sweetest we’d had. We had to order a bottle of water to dilute the flavour. It was a great dinner nonetheless and walking back to our resort was a little bit tougher due to full bellies and a steep climb but it was well worth it.