We’re in Thailand! Prescott and I accepted a free three-night stay at the Marriott Vacation Club on one of Thailand’s most famous resort islands, Phuket, in exchange for an hour of sales talk. This trip has confirmed the fact that we are most definitely not resort people. But we’re finding lots of ways to enjoy ourselves.
Our two-bedroom timeshare apartment is significantly bigger than our apartment back in Singapore. Indeed, we have concluded that our living room at home could fit into the master bathroom here with room to spare. It’s exciting to have a giant bathtub again. Also, whenever we return to our room from a day’s outing, we find everything — towels, paper towels, toilet paper, bath mats, bed covers — folded and pleated beyond our wildest dreams. We’ve had elephants …
… and tiny rabbits …
… and swans …
… and even a giant crocodile:
We’re a little more than a quarter kilometer’s walk to the beach, and while the walk itself is not especially nice (it feels like you’re walking through a service alley for much of the way), the beach itself is remarkable.
We have been amazed at how empty it’s felt; while we’ve never had the beach entirely to ourselves, it still feels nearly deserted. At least some of this beach (Mai Khao Beach, or Airport Beach) is a National Park, so you can’t see any buildings when you’re standing in the water. I wouldn’t call it pristine — there is a bit of litter along the high tide line — but it’s pretty close.
We have been out for walks in the morning …
… and at sunset:
I always love sunset on the beach.
It wouldn’t be a beach photo session without some photobombing from Prescott:
I have been swimming in the ocean every day and have spent a good deal of time beachcombing. Here are some of my findings …
… which I’ve had fun arranging on our coffee table:
We’ve been happiest when we’ve made our way off of the ranch. On the suggestion of one of my old Park School students, we took a long taxi ride to the east side of the island. This drive took us past many of Phuket’s rubber plantations.
I am amazed that they are still tapping trees for rubber — by hand, from the look of things.
Our destination was the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, a small, private rescue endeavor located within a national park area. Gibbons have long been taken by poachers for the pet and tourist trade (people like to hold them because they’re cute), and this organization works to rehabilitate and reintroduce them into the wild. Here’s Tam, a gibbon who was maimed by her captor:
That amazing noise in the background is gibbon song! Gibbons sing to mark territories and search out mates, and they are remarkably loud.
Prescott and I also went up on a walk along a river to the Bang Pae Waterfall, the largest waterfall on Phuket.
The water looked great, and there were many large pools that we could have stopped in along the way — we regretted not bringing our bathing suits!
The only wild animals we encountered on this trip were bugs, including this fascinating thing:
We have really enjoyed checking out the world beyond the resort. Our favorite meal of the trip has been at JJ’s Bar and Food, where we ate a whole grilled sea bass and a tofu and Thai eggplant green curry. The place was high on friendly service and good cooking, but woefully low on ambiance (the photo misses the ants on the table and the trash heap just behind me).
While we have had fun on our few excursions, we have found that it’s not as easy to get around as we might like. Taxis on Phuket are infamously expensive, and our resort is surrounded by high walls, so any adventure on foot requires a lot of walking. This means that we have generally stayed on site, and I would say that we have done a good job of taking advantage of what our timeshare has to offer. We had a Thanksgiving meal — complete with turkey, very good cranberry sauce, and mediocre mashed potatoes — at a dinner buffet. We had a crazy workout day in which we took three exercise classes: yoga, ball pilates, and muay thai (Thai boxing). And while we haven’t had a great stretch of weather, I have spent time in and by the pool.
It will come as no surprise that I have been admiring the many flowers on site:
It’s Thailand, so there are several altars discreetly placed along one of the walkways:
Our timeshare (“we call it ‘Vacation Club’ because it sounds nicer”) sales presentation was surprisingly painless. It was conducted by a young Thai woman who grew up in Fairhaven, Massachusetts (where my aunt and cousin used to live), and we think that she could tell from the get-go that we weren’t prospective buyers. It helps to start a timeshare discussion by saying, “we don’t think resorts are our thing. We like exploring, we don’t like feeling trapped, we enjoy remote places, and we don’t like to be surrounded by small children all the time.” That all seemed to stop our nice saleswoman in her tracks. So we won’t be staying at another Marriott Vacation Club anytime soon, but we’re glad we had the chance to stay in this one.