Having just been to Thailand for a week we travelled to Hong Kong for the second part of our holiday. Often Hong Kong is used as a stopover but there is so much to do there, we didn’t stop for one minute for two weeks and we could have stopped longer, there was so much we didn’t have time to do.
Our travelogue – or how to spend two weeks in this glorious city.
Finally arrived in Phuket after 24 hours of travelling, and it is dark gloomy and very stormy. Apartment fantastic – absolutely huge and well equipped. Two pools ideal for Joe. Took a walk into Karon – lots of typical shops, massage parlors and restaurants – first meal, huge success, absolutely delicious
The day we ventured out and decided to see a little bit more of Phuket than our apartment.
We hired a driver and minibus and embarked on a tour to see some of Phuket’s highlights. Mr Kai was our very accommodating and friendly driver and his minibus was comfortable / airconditioned and had installed a light show that would rival Blackpool illuminations.
The Big Buddha (Place of worship: free entrance)
High on a hilltop overlooked Phuket sits a big Buddha. 45 meters high and made in white stone (we are told no concrete) the Buddha gleams in the sunshine. The road up to the Buddha is steep and winding but our minibus makes its way (noisily) to the top. Charlie and I are lent sarongs to cover our legs and shoulders as a mark of respect. Around the base of the Buddha is a display of famous Buddists (Richard Gere, Steve Jobs etc), a few trinket shops and a display of icons of faiths. Then came the views. My oh my has the Buddha got some wonderful views to look at from his perch on top of the mountain, panoramic views around Phuket and beyond. Crystal waters and picturesque islands, no photoshop needed here. The steps up to the Buddha itself weren’t too bad (about 40) and the Buddha was very impressive indeed, part of the inside was hollow with a place for worship underneath.There was a manmade garden next to the Buddha where people had hung heart shaped tin messages and dedications all over the trees and fences. It was lovely seeing every language imaginable.
More gift shops and places of worship on the way down.
Wat Chelong (place of worship: free entrance)
Chelong Temple was our next stop. This too gleamed in the sunlight compared to the surrounding town and area. It is beautifully tended and a sight to behold, the most beautiful of the temples was three storeys high. The area consists of half a dozen beautiful temples where worshippers entered (covered up and with bare feet) to pay their respects to Buddha. They stuck gold leaf on the statues, left offering and showed reverence. It was very calming and beautiful…. and hot.
Honey Factory (tourist spot: free entrance)
Once the ‘religious’ part of our tour was done, we hit a couple of tourist spots, both with free admission but with a hard sell in the gift shop department. First we went to the Hooney Farm. I have fond memories as a child going to a honey farm when we holidayed in Wales. This was a bit of a disappointment. We got walked round a small garden where there were three types of bee. One was the honey (photo opportunity as we could hold a piece of the hive) and two other varieies which were very small…and that was it! Into the gift shop we went.
We were taken to a table where we were told about the medicinal properties of honey and how honey in good for you and then we browsed through the shop. Every time we stopped we were encouraged to try tiny samples of their fairly expensive and highly packaged products – all of which (of course) were delicious and yes we spent far more than we meant to.
Pearl factory (tourist spot: free entrance)
Onto the pearl factory. We thought initially we were going to see a pearl farm (as in oysters in the sea) but we ended up in the Pearl factory showroom! My this was well done. Greeted upon arrival with a refreshing juice we were given a tour/talk about pearls and how they are created, the difference between fresh water and salt water, how they differ in colour and how they can manipulate the pearls into different shapes it was all very fascinating.
Three showrooms followed, firstly the jawdropping ultra expensive showroom, the type where only the fabulously rich could buy pearls, glorious necklaces, earrings and bracelets with the most expensive pearl being £47,000.00 yes really. Exiting this bewildering array of fabulousness we encounter crowns that are made for all the Miss World competitions, each worth about £30,000 there are two made each year. One for the winner and a second is made for this glittering (literally) display) showroom. They were drop dead gorgeous. The second showroom was the mid-range. Still beautifull but not so eyewateringly expensive as the pearls were either smaller or not perfect, Hereyou could pick up a beautiful piece of jewellry for *ahem* a few hundred pounds.
The factory is very clever, by the time you reach the third showroom chock full of items ranging from £40 upwards, you understand fully that this is the bargain basement however you are convinced that a bracelet costing £100 is a snip! Luckily, I remember the pearl necklace I have at home that I never wear and although was sorely tempted by a bracelet I resisted.
(note: therfamily bought me one of the cheaper necklaces as a 50th birthday present – I love it).
Thalong Road – Old Phuket (Sightseeing)
Next, we took a short walk down Thalong Street in Old Phuket Town, a very pretty area of town with brightly coloured shops lining the streets. The driver dropped us at the end of the street and we sauntered down. The shops were very pretty from the outside but by this time of the day we didn’t have the energy to go in and browse – we were pretty hungry by this time, not to mention hot and bothered.
And no wonder we were hungry, it was late afternoon by now and so we asked the driver to take us to a Thai restaurant of his choice hoping that we would get a culinary feast. Unfortunately, we were disappointed. We were taken to a deserted restaurant by a fishing harbour, The view was lovely with boats bobbing along the sea and a jetty jutting out. We sat at a table by the waterfront but we got unmercifully bitten by mosquitos and the food was probably the worst of the holiday. Tasteless and expensive – very disappointing.
On the way back our final stop was the Western most tip of Phuket. There were hundreds and hundreds of people lined up to view the sunset. Lining the walls it was lovely to see so many tourists missing with the Thai people. We waited for about half an hour but our choice of day wasn’t the best as the sun was behind clouds. As we sat there though it was great to reflect on what a wonderful day we had experienced. Climbing back in to minibus once more the driver took us to another viewing platform where we saw the beauties of the bay laid out for us. It was a great day.
We have had a LOVELY half term. Usually we are rushing around here and there and are really busy but as our lives, my theatre, hubby’s work and children’s activities etc are manic at the moment. We took the time to sit back, relax and appreciate a little time off.