I’ve been to Phuket several times 20 years ago and again last year when we enjoyed a very relaxing time at Laguna Beach Resort within the Laguna complex. The complex consists of a gated community of 6 hotels connected by a manmade lagoon. Strangely LBR was full of Russians. Even the restaurants had Russian menus. We noticed one big difference between the Aussies and Russians at the resort. Russian mums were quite happy to stick their toddlers in floating rubber rings and leave them unsupervised in the middle of the massive pools where they couldn’t stand. I watched the few Aussie blokes (and women) seething at what they saw as highly dangerous and neglectful parenting.
We were also reminded that Oz is one of the few countries with skin cancer education. White people just got lobstered at the pool each day and then complainened of feeling unwell at breakfast. The hotel staff seemed to have a quiet respect for the large white people wearing shirts and hats in the pool, no matter how uncool we looked!
Because of the last minute cancellation of the Japanese trip we could only into the Dusit Thani within the complex. The rooms are noticeably smaller, at least half the size. And the TV channels are all news and sport. No Starworld or the local channel that shows Survivor. These things are important to me!! We were only saved by free wifi at the lobby and managed to download our favourite TV shows. You may be asking about the need for TV, but when you are bedridden with fatigue, you can’t sleep the entire day. Chris also missed a swimup bar and the restaurants didn’t have the choice of LBR.
Unfortunately Chris and then myself got some sort of infection/virus which put us in bed for much of our stay in Phuket. So we didn’t do any photography in Thailand, not even the Buddhist temple I’d planned to visit. On the final day we went in Jungceylon (the big shoppping centre) in Patong to buy more cold and flu drugs. Medication is roughly half the price in Oz. Also went on a huge travel guidebook shopping spree since books are so much cheaper. For Lonely Planet and other big names guides, it’s half the Oz price. I bought 6 books for $A100.
For dinner we tried Shabu Shabu for the first time. It’s the Japanese version of hotpot. You have a pot divided in half so that two types of soup can be ordered. The table has a cooking plate in the middle that heats the soup. A conveyor belt has raw meat and veg. Just make your choice and cook your dinner yourself. There’s condiments like garlic, chilli, coriander and sesame seeds that can be added to taste. I had the Tom Yum soup while Chris enjoyed the chicken soup. I had a cross section of seafood, chook and beef meats but the pigs liver was too much! And stacks of bok choy, corn, mushrooms and particularly black eared mushrooms which I’ve never found in Oz.
This particular restaurant was called Shabushi as it was a buffet of both hotpot and sushi. For a set price of $A10 per person, it’s outstanding value. The food was absolutely delicious and the service was great. Yes it’s sad that I keep eating Japanese food in whatever country I visit.
I haven’t spoken much about Thai food. Believe me, I mostly ate Thai but given I’ve been eating and cooking Thai for 20 years there wasn’t a novelty factor. I just love Pad Thai for lunch – rice noodles with veg and meat. And my absolute favourite is duck curry which is a red curry of duck meat, lychees and pineapple. Thai curries are either red or green. And most Thai food uses coconut milk which is delicious but quite high in fat/cholesterol. The main flavours in Thai food are lime, coriander, chilli and fish sauce. It’s packed with flavour without being heavy. And doesn’t have much gluten which is great for me.
Thailand is also very good at stocking soda water. To minimise sugar intake we usually only drink soda water rather than lemonade (called Sprite in much of Asia) or Coke. Most of the rest of Asia don’t stock soda water. Despite being unwell, we loved our Phuket stay and found it extremely relaxing.