Taking in the sights of Phuket.

Wednesday – Stampin Up! took us on a group activity out to a number of islands including ‘James Bond Island’, canoeing in and around the islands, visiting a village built over the ocean,  and providing lunch on an island.

The islands are limestone islands in the Phang Nga National Park and are fairly unique in their appearance as they just jutt out of the ocean and when you look around the place is just littered with these limestone islands sticking out of the sea.  It is quite spectacular!  One of the famous islands we cruised passed (as it was too small to land our boats at) was Khao Phing Kan island which was is the James Bond movie “the man with the golden gun”.  Since that time it has been also known as James Bond island.

To further experience these landmarks up close and personnel we cruised in and around them in a canoe.  Cruising through tunnels under the islands and along their cutaways to observe the stalactites growing from above. While there were quite a lot of canoes (both our group and others) it really didn’t feel that crowded and you had time to appreciate your surrounds. This was in contrast to Phi Phi island which was just mayhem!

This was simply stunning.

I’ve seen pictures of villages built on the water but never imagined visiting one.  While I was a bit uneasy about traipsing through the place it was a fascinating place and way of life.  I spoke to the guide about my concern and this village’s main income used to be fishing but now it is tourism so I guess it’s what they have bought into. And none of the locals or kids seemed to be fased by our precense there.

And no village is complete without a football field. I’m guessing a field like this teaches you accuracy and not over kicking the ball.

I guess this is like the house with the car wrecks in the back yard…

And I liked the ingenuity – outboard motors too expensive find an old motor off something and use it on your boat.

Then after lunch on a quiet island we had a few hours to swim and chill before heading back to the mainland.  Not a bad way to spend a day.

Thursday was interesting and educational.

Because we didn’t have anything planned until lunch time it was a lazy morning of sitting by the pool under the shade of a palm tree reading my book while having a cold drink. Yes it was truely a taxing morning. I think I may employ this strategy again tomorrow.

Our days planned activities didn’t start till lunchtime with a tour taking in us to a number of things around Phuket.

1 – a cashew factory. Okay I have to say I did not know that cashews grew on trees as a cashew apple, with the cashew nut in the pod below the apple.  Toextract the cashew they have to heat the pod first before manually removing the cashew from the pod.

2 – the main Buddhist temples of the area.  These buildings were very bueatiful with lots of intricate carvings and paintings with lots of gold and red paint.  While these were a tourist destination they were still places of worship for the local people and it was encouraging to see that people showed respect for the temples and those who worshiped there.

3 – an elephant ride through the bush.  These are truely amazing animals and I was mesmerised by the way they walk and their stumps for feet.

4 – a small working / demonstration farm which went through the process of traditional rice farming from the paddy fields, to separating the grain from the husks, and for me the most interesting part was the rubber plantation where they demonstrated tapping the trees, extracting the sap, and then the process to turn the sap into a saleable rubber compound.

From tapping trees and extracting sap –

To processing the sap to get rubber.

Then to complete the ensemble of traditional farming we were returned to our modern transportation by tradional bullock cart.

While Thursday started very quietly, it sure got busy in the afternoon. Holidaying sure is tiring. Friday isn’t shaping up much better as I have five big things planned – get up late; have a casual breakfast; swim in the pool; have a drink while in the pool; and read my book while sitting by the pool.

Looking back I think I achieved most of what I set out to do on Friday.

And finally to top off a great trip Stampin Up! put on a final night dinner and concert in another big marquee with lots of tradional foods, handy works, and local music and entertainment.

Thanks Stampin Up! for another great trip.

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