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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dipping Our Toes into Asia

We've been doing pretty well, knocking off continents that we haven't visited before and heading off to Asia ticked another box. It was an impetuous decision to go and those are usually costly, but what we lost in money, we gained in experience.
(Only two to go: Africa and Antarctica)
We knew that this would just be an "amuse bouche" (if you will) of the Asian experience, but we thought some sun and sand might be a good way to finish our 3 month adventure. Little did we realize that we'd be on airplanes for 11 hours to get there, but that's folly for you. Our flight from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur was a disaster. One baby insisted on screaming for almost the entire 8 and half hours. The layover wasn't much better. There were two security checks and once you got through the second you were trapped in a small international terminal with two restaurants, of which, neither sold bottled water. Air Asia also has a "no outside food" policy, so we were at their mercy for such things as the basic human necessity of H2O, as well. Side note: never (and I mean ever) fly Air Asia for anything but the shortest hopper - no more than a couple of hours. You pay for everything! In an emergency, I'm pretty sure that the oxygen mask would have a coin slot/credit card reader beside it. There is no checked baggage allowance for an international flight. But that's a whole other blog.
Over half of our flights were delayed.
We arrived fairly late in Phuket and a driver was waiting for us with our name dutifully printed on a piece of paper. We hopped in the air conditioned car and watched the lights of Phuket stream by for 45 minutes until we arrived at our hotel in Kata Beach. We were greeted cheerfully, despite the late hour, with a cool drink and bellboy service.We had arrived at our "home" of the next two weeks. 

Hotel Entrance
One of the first things we noticed was their crazy electrical set up. The poles along the streets looked like black spaghetti had been tossed onto them. There were hundreds of cords running on the poles like they'd never considered having a main line and then using smaller wires to run the electricity to the individual shops and residences. It made Ecuador's wiring looked well planned and tidy and that's saying something.
A relatively clean example of wires and no sidewalks
Kata Beach is a tourist town with restaurants, souvenir shops and tailors. (They all wanted to custom make a nice suit for Ron...apparently I didn't inspire their fashion hopes.)  The first day wasn't too bad, with overcast skies and the odd rain shower. It was also HUMID. Now, generally, I like humidity, if I don't have to do much of anything, but walking around a little tourist town (that seemed to forget that sidewalks are really rather obligatory in crazy traffic) was a wilting experience. Did I mention that we were in the beginning stages of monsoon season? The next few days it poured...I'm talking cats, dogs, elephants...and we were stuck in a one room hotel suite. The only redeeming factor was the balcony, where we sat and watched wave after wave of storm clouds come careening in off the ocean.

Then the miracle happened. The clouds parted and we saw clear azure skies for the first time. What we somehow didn't expect was that the humidity had skyrocketed as well, after all that rain, both of us resembled drowned rats when we stumbled back into our air conditioned hotel room. (Yes, even Ron...the man who doesn't sweat!)

We went out to see the Big Buddha, their choice of name, not mine, and I met a baby elephant that was so desperate for bananas that he tried to eat my hand with them. His trunk was strong and prickly and all I wanted to do was break the chain attached to his leg and let him run. He clung to me like I was his mom, but I think that could have been the basket of bananas that I was holding. We went to the old town of Phuket and enjoyed a delicious meal as well as the wacky Trick Eye gallery and did some serious sun bathing by the pool. 

Tempura Mushrooms

Slow Roasted Pork Belly
Steamed Rice in a Banana Leaf
Before we knew it, we were counting down to our final days and looking at a very long trip back to Ecuador. (3 taxis, 5 planes, 5 layovers and two hotels.) We weren't looking forward to it, to be sure. Needless to say we made it back, mostly whole, slightly cranky and horribly exhausted. So ends our epic adventure to the other side of the world, which calls for a bit of a break from the blog...I'm sure you're all relieved to hear that. After 15 flights, numerous taxis and buses, a few boats, a large ferry, trains, a camper van, rental car, a tuk tuk and, lest we forget, a camel, we find ourselves amongst our stuff. Now we have to settle back in, lose the fat, pay the bills and figure out what to do with ourselves.

I'll leave you with this thought from John Steinbeck: "A journey is a person in itself;  no two are alike. And all the plans, safeguards, policing and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us."
A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. John Steinbeck
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1 comment:

  1. Phuket looks really nice, no pictures of beaches, were they nice?
    Great gallery shots, I assume the one with you hanging down was actually an upside down picture ?