Mom & Son Trip to Thailand
Going to Thailand was a dream trip of mine for a while. It was actually a YouTube video of Thailand that got me interested in video production, so ever since seeing that, I knew I had to make it out there eventually. I finally got that opportunity when my mom planned a trip for us to go to Phuket, Thailand together as my college graduation gift. It was the last big thing I got to do before shipping back to Pittsburgh to start “adult life” with my full time job, so I was ready to soak in every single moment of this trip. There were definitely some hiccups along the way, but they didn’t ruin the experience of visiting such an amazing place.
Day 1: As suggested by the concierge, we used the first day to just hire a driver for the day to take us around to some of the big touristy hot spots so we could get our bearings and see what was around the nearby area. Our first stop was Wat Chalong, the best and popular of the Buddhist temples located in Phuket. I was completely blown away. I don’t think I had ever seen something so amazing in real life. The detail of the temples was spectacular, and the colors were just so vibrant in contrast with the overcast weather of that day. I think seeing all of this in person is when it really set in that my mom and I were on the other side of the world. Our next stop was the Big Buddha statue, which is a 148-foot statue of the sitting Buddha on top of a mountain on the island. The views from up by the statue were amazing – a lush, green coastline of trees that went into some of the bluest water I have ever seen. Another cool part was that there was construction going on on the base of the statue, and visitors could purchase a tile to help support the project, and then write their names and a message on the tile. Of course the tiles will be put on with the writing not showing, but it’s pretty awesome knowing that our names will be somewhere on this amazing statue forever. After the Big Buddha, we went back into town and went to the Optical Illusions Museum. This was indeed less Thai cultured, but it was still a cool place to check out and was different than any other museum I had been to. The concept of this museum was that every piece of art had some kind of interactive illusion to it – similar to the street art you see Facebook videos of that make it look like you’re falling off a cliff. We spent an hour or so taking pictures at all of the different pieces of art, so I would say it was worth a stop in. Our last stop for the day was the Phuket night market that happens every Sunday. This is where all the tour websites say you should try some unique street food and buy your souvenirs, so that’s exactly what we did. I couldn’t even tell you what half the things we ate were. We just thought something looked good, so we bought it and ate it. We definitely had as many good choices as we did bad choices, but it’s what we expected and it was a fun experience. It was also at this night market that I purchased an awesome painting of an elephant that I have hanging in my living room and admire every day without fail. All in all, it was a heck of a great first day. What made it even better was that we got to go back to an amazing hotel that even included a little mini pool right on our back porch. Not bad, Phuket.
Day 2: For our second day in Phuket we left Phuket. We took a ferry across the water to Phi Phi Islands because there were some activities we wanted to try there that we couldn’t get in Phuket. We arrived around mid-day, so we just used the evening to settle into our hotel, walk along the beach, and then hike up to the Koh Phi Phi viewpoint to watch the sunset. This was easily a Top 10 sunset that I have seen, and the viewpoint was an awesome location, giving us a view of the entire island from above.
Day 3: This was an exciting day because we were doing one of the things I was looking forward to most: a long-tail boat tour. We almost didn’t even get to do the tour because we planned it late and were only in Phi Phi for the two days. Luckily it all worked out. Our guide arrived after not too long and we were off with our group of Irish girls to explore the islands. For our first excursion, was taking a swim in a little cove between a group of islands and it was so surreal. It was something I had only seen in videos and to be in the moment was something I will never forget - clear blue water, giant rocks covered with the greenest trees all around us, hanging out by our long-tail boat. After swimming around for a little bit, we pulled into a secluded beach where we all relaxed and ate lunch. I don’t think the awe of the scenery ever wore off. After lunch, we boated out a little more to an area where we could snorkel for about an hour. Snorkeling is definitely one of my favorite activities. I just feel like I’m in an episode of Planet Earth with all of these different types of fish and sea creatures surrounding me. We even saw a couple baby sharks (do do do do do do) so that was a cool surprise. After snorkeling, we went to the last stop of the boat tour and that was Monkey Beach and yes it is exactly what it sounds like it is. I’ve seen pictures of all the wild monkeys that roam Thailand, but it’s crazy to see how many there really are in person. They just wander wherever they please and they aren’t of the people visiting at all. One of the cooler moments of being at monkey beach was seeing one climbing around carrying what appeared to be a pretty close to newborn baby monkey. Once we were done monkeying around (ha), we hopped on a ferry back to Phuket because we had another exciting day coming up.
Day 4: It was finally time to go see some elephants. No, we did not go ride them or support anything like that. We went to an elephant sanctuary where they have space to roam and it is not allowed to ride any of them by any means. Our day at the sanctuary started off with us making food for the elephants. Half of the group cut up sugar cane, while the other half made balls of rice and banana. After making the food, we got to feed it to them and just hang out by them and take some pictures. I was surprised at how small the elephants were, but apparently African elephants are the larger of the two. Shortly after feeding time, the workers opened up a mud pit for the elephants to go down and play around in on their own. There were two baby elephants down there that were just having a blast. They were rolling around, flinging mud everywhere. It was awesome to watch them just having a good time getting dirty. After dirtying themselves up, they migrated over to a little pond to wash off all the mud. After they got settled in there, we all got to join them and scrub them down and help clean off all the mud. It was hard to believe that I was really sharing a bath with elephants. That just seems ridiculous as I’m sitting here typing it up. That was truly an experience of a lifetime.
Day 5: Unfortunately, this was the day my mom got a stomach bug and could not even get out of bed, nonetheless go out for what we had planned. That left me out on my own for today’s adventure: a local cooking class. This was an amazing experience, and if you ever go to Phuket, I highly recommend Mike’s Cooking Class. Unlike most touristy cooking classes, this one was run by a couple right in the comfort of their own home. They came and picked me up from the hotel and our first stop was to a local market where we bought groceries for the food we were going to cook. I think I ended up cooking a total of 4 or 5 different things, and every single one was absolutely delicious. The coolest thing about Mike’s cooking class is that at the end of it, you cook a large pot of a traditional dessert and then bring it to a foster home down the street for the kids and you get to hang out with all of the kids. Unfortunately, the timing of my class aligned with their naptime, so I didn’t get to meet any of them, but it was still nice to do that for those kids who only have each other. What Mike is doing with his cooking class is very special and that’s just another of many ways that his class stands out from all of the other ones offered. I would say that it is a must-do for anyone visiting Phuket.
Day 7: Yes, I skipped Day 6 because after my mom finally got better, I got just as sick, so we spent most of the day just hanging by the pool, playing some games, and enjoying the hotel. This was our last full day in Thailand and it started before the sun even came up. For our last big excursion, we took a sunrise boat tour. It was awesome being on the water to catch one last Thailand sunrise before leaving, and it just made me appreciate everything about the trip. Once daylight broke, we arrived at an island where we would go walking through some caves. This was not an activity I expected to do in Thailand, but I always enjoy some good cave exploring. After the caves, we went and saw James Bond Island, which is a very slender, vertical rock jutting out from the water that was featured in one of the old school James Bond movies. I hadn’t seen the movie before, so it I had nothing to compare it to, but it’s always cool visiting somewhere featured on a major film whether you saw it or not. The rock itself was very unique and interesting to look at on its own. Last, we spent a couple hours on an island where we had yet another amazing meal, and then visited the homes of some locals and we learned about their history and their way of life. Not much compares to getting away from the touristy scene and having an authentic experience. After our time here, it was finally time to head to Phuket and enjoy our last hours at the hotel before heading home.
This trip was nothing short of amazing (aside from the sicknesses) and I couldn’t thank my mom enough for bringing me somewhere that had been at the top of my destinations list for a while. As with any trip, there was more we wish we could have done in Thailand as a whole, but I think we did pretty much everything we were interested in between Phi Phi and Phuket, and that left us happy and satisfied with how it all worked out. It was my first experience into Asia and it was a great one. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is even slightly considering it. As always, if you made it this far, thank you for reading and stay tuned for more!