10 Things I Love About Phuket

We started coming to Phuket back in 2010 when we first left the UK.

The first trip was just a two week holiday on route to Australia.

It rained the entire time but I absolutely fell in love with the place.

The climate was amazing, the people so friendly with nothing being too much trouble, the food was to die for and the beaches, islands & sunsets were quite possibly the most beautiful I had ever seen!

Safe to say I was a big fan.

So at the end of 2011 we came back for a while, then a bit longer in 2012, bit longer 2013 etc etc. Until at the beginning of 2016 we decided to settle here until my daughter finished her IGCSE’s.

I ashamedly haven’t written much about the place since I have been here but I hope to change that over the coming months with a few Thai influenced posts sharing my experiences of this beautiful country.

For now here are the Top 10 Things I Love About Phuket;

1. Obvious one, but clearly the weather. A consistent 28 – 32 degrees year round, we have two seasons. Hot Season & Wet Season. Hot Season runs from around mid November through to mid April and Wet Season from mid April to mid November.

The best time to visit for the clearest waters and most beautiful sunsets is without doubt February / March – however it’s also the hottest time of the year. So for a slightly more temperate climate but still lovely to swim and visit the beaches – November / December (although it might still rain at night and sometime thorough the day if rainy season is a bit late).

10 Things I Love About Phuket

A beautiful sunrise

2. The food! OMG. I love Thai food. Chicken & cashew nuts, vegetable fried rice, panang curry, massaman curry, fish in 3 flavor sauce. Wow the food here is ah-maz-ing. Probably covered in MSG and clearly plenty of sugar (which may be why I still have a weight problem – really Jo? You think???). But so so tasty!

10 Things I Love About Phuket

Chicken & Cashew Nuts

3. The people. It’s called the land of smiles, because Thai people smile all the time. Don’t be fooled by the fact it’s one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, there are still plenty of people who live well below the breadline here and yet they’d give you their last bowl of rice if they thought you needed it.

They have changed a bit over the years. The western culture has seeped in via tourism and social media and with it comes an element of greed that wasn’t evident before, a decline in friendliness & happiness and a general suspicion of farangs (foreigners), but I’ve always found if you’re smiley and nice to them they will be smiley and nice right back atcha! 🙂

10 Things I Love About Phuket

A local entrepreneur!

4. The beaches! I love the beaches here mainly because the water is so warm. Sometimes wading into the Andaman sea is like walking into a cool bath. Also at certain times of the year, the water is as crystal clear as an aquarium and you can see right to the bottom.

One of my favorite pastimes is wading out to see with a bottle of chang and sitting in the warm water with a nice cool beer. Oh yeeeeaaaaahhhh.

10 Things I Love About Phuket

Enjoying the ocean! :)

5. Activities. Because of the weather there is so much more to do outside! Scuba diving, snorkeling, taking a long boat to the floating restaurants, zip lining, hiking, paddle boarding, visiting the elephant sanctuary, fireshows. Even though there are no live bands, west end shows, or a plethora of vegan restaurants, if you’re an outdoors type and love the ocean then this is the place for you!

10 Things I Love About Phuket

Awesome fire show!

6. Talking about live bands and shows, we’re only an hour away from the thriving metropolis of Bangkok! An hour from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Vietnam, Cambodia, only 3 hours from Manila, Indonesia, Bangladesh. We are right in the centre of South East Asia and can fly pretty much anywhere and everywhere in the world without too much difficulty.

7. Beautiful temples, a big Buddha and the most amazing feeling of love and acceptance because of the main ‘religion’ Buddhism. Quite possibly one of the most peaceful belief systems in the world today, you can feel it in the culture over here and the way the people feel about their King. When we go to the cinema, before every film we have to stand while they play the Kings Anthem. At 8am every morning no matter where you are or what you’re doing (other than if you’re driving) if you hear the Kings Anthem over the radio you have to stop and stand still in respect.

It’s slowly dissipating over time, but the respect kids have for their elders, for each other, for possessions etc, is a beautiful thing to see and long may it last.

10 Things I Love About Phuket

Local Vegetarian Festival

8. The hotels, bars & restaurants on the beaches. Sometimes I feel like we’re on holiday every other weekend. We can simply go to a nice little hotel on one of the beaches for a couple of nights, half an hour down the road from where we live and dine in the little shacks, sunbathe on the beach and watch the sunset with a cool beer in hand before walking barefoot back to our room for the night. We don’t have to fly anywhere for a beautiful and relaxing restful time away.

10 Things I Love About Phuket

Relaxing beach time :)

9. I have to be honest and say I am enjoying the ex-pat lifestyle. I’ve made a great group of friends hailing from New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, America, UK, Germany, Russia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, you name it I probably know someone from there.

I do a little daily radio show with a good friend of mine and have fully ensconced myself into the community. In fact as soon as I finish this post I’m off to a lunch at a friends house with a big group of ladies. The sun is shining, the weather is glorious and I’m hungry!

10 Things I Love About Phuket

A day out on the beach!

10. Finally I have to say the fact that my 12 year old will grow up blind to religion or color. When she’s older she won’t see whether someone is Muslim or Catholic or Christian or Buddhist. She won’t see whether they’re white, black, brown or blue with yellow spots. She has a big group of friends from school who are every race & religion and she loves them for who they are. This is how she will grow up and view the world and I believe that is the best gift I could have given her.

10 Things I Love About Phuket

Banya Literacy Center, where we regularly donate clothes / toys.

The act of traveling itself broadens the mind beyond recognition. The people, the cultures, the surroundings, the varying levels of living standards. I’ve always been an open minded person, but since traveling I have become more tolerant, more understanding, less fearful of that and those I don’t fully understand.

To travel is to see the world as it truly is and not just how it’s perceived to us in the media or on facebook.

I highly recommend travel itself and of course Phuket as a place to holiday, to explore and live in. We won’t stay here forever, but for right now this is home and I feel like the luckiest woman on the planet.

I hope one day to see you here.

Jo 🙂

Don’t Be Lonely

Running an online business can be super lonely.

Traveling the world although amazing can also be quite lonely.

You work behind your computer on your own, you live a transient lifestyle moving from place to place and although you probably know a lot of people online, it doesn’t quite make up for the physical interaction of some good company.

In the last couple of years we’ve really made our base here in Phuket and last year I made a huge effort to get out into the community and make friends.

I say huge effort because it’s so easy to get caught up behind your computer and not get out and about and meet people.

It didn’t take long before I was part of a large and welcoming community of expats, some of whom have undoubtedly become lifelong friends.

No matter where I go now, I will make the effort quickly to network and meet people wherever I can.

It’s so easy these days to utilize platforms such as meetup.com, Internations, & Facebook Local to meet and socialize with like minded individuals wherever you are in the world.

Just remember if you are shy there are ten other people just as shy as you are and all it takes is a hello to break the ice.

🙂

Meeting Mark Zuckerburg on the Great Wall of China

On the 21st March 2016 (3 years ago Thursday!), I was on my first of many ‘Sisters on Tour’ trips with (clue is in the title), my sister.

We were doing a City tour including Bangkok, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo & Kuala Lumpur.

On this particular day we were visiting one of the great wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China which is indeed great!

But you can imagine my surprise when all of a sudden a group of youngsters came breezing passed me as I’m attempting to climb these huge stairs towards Watch Tower One.

Please note the surprise wasn’t that a group of youngsters breezed passed me, that’s quite believable given the fact I was super unfit, red faced and panting so hard I looked like I was about to have a heart attack!

No no, the surprise was that the main youngster in the middle of the group was Mark Zuckerburg. 😳

Yes THE Mark Zuckerburg, creator of Facebook Mark Zuckerburg.

In my surprise I turned to myself sister and rather loudly shouted, ‘Nat’! (My sisters name is Natalie). ‘It’s Mark Zuckerburg’!

She looked up and shouted back even louder ‘Are you sure, it looks like Chris Martin!’ At which Mark turned to us laughing and I was able to 100% confirm his identity.

Well, my goal that day had been to make it up to Watch Tower One and on seeing Mark & his entourage almost jogging up the stairs I took chase!

All the way up I was thinking, ‘oh my gosh, Mark Zuckerburg’, ‘what am I going to say to him’, (‘how many more steps’), ‘shall I just approach and say hey Mark, thanks for Facebook’ (‘am I going to make it to the top?’) or ‘hey Mark, you’re the source of my business’, (why can’t I breathe anymore) ‘or simply ‘hey buddy nice to meet you’, (I don’t care if it’s the queen of England up there, I can’t go another step!). 🥵

Finally I made it puffing & panting to the top and thankfully MZ was long gone into an area that said ‘no entry’.

I say thankfully as I really did look like I needed an air ambulance which frankly was quite embarrassing, so I sat down for a few minutes to recover and gain my composure.

When I got my breath back I had a little shifty about but all I could see was bushes, no track and nowhere to go! 🧐

I had no idea where they could have gone and presumed that somehow they had a secret invisible Zuckmobile hidden up beyond the Great Wall of china that whisked him away to a secret location.

However to my surprise as I turned to head back down the steps, he reappeared right beside me!

But instead of leaning over to shake his hand and say Hi. I stood, rooted to the spot completely speechless. 😳

I’m not sure if it was the altitude mixed with my still 150bpm heart rate which led to one of the most unlikely scenarios known to man – me speechless, but I couldn’t find a single word.

Instead I lifted my camera and took a quick shot as he walked past.

Then I believe I said something fairly banal to his entourage and then finally fired up my Periscope app to get some video footage!

Please find below a heavily chopped and edited version of what was originally a 30 minute Periscope which was mainly me puffing and panting as I chased Mark down and up the Great Wall of China.

I have cut out the part where I was given CPR (only joking). 😂

Before you go to watch the video though, can I just say, the Great Wall of China with or without Mark Zuckerburg is a site to behold and well worth a visit if you ever get the chance.

One of the highlights is the trip back down, where apparently Mark had gine down about half an hour before us!