My stay at Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort

baby elephant

I was in a Phuket a week ago – it was actually just 2 weeks after my Bangkok trip so I went to Thailand twice in just a fortnight. However, Phuket is very different from Bangkok. Bangkok is where you wanna go if you like to get stressed out. If you want to relax and chill – head on to Phuket! ;)

outriggers phuket beach

Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort is a newly re-opened family friendly beach-front property – it faces Bang Tao beach. The entire resort has been completely renovated to modern standards during April 2013. However, the traditional Thai touches and warm hospitality are still there.

elephant

(like that baby elephant – it’s my favorite and it comes out to be fed twice a day!)

outriggers phuket

The best thing about Outriggers Laguna Phuket Beach Resort is the Water Park built right into the resort. In fact, it’s central and visible from reception! As someone who loves the water, I enjoyed this tremendously. It has multiple interconnected sculptured pools just beside the beach and to top that off, a water slide!

water slide phuket

It’s not just a small little water slide either, this long and curvy water slide is usually seen at dedicated theme parks and it took me 40 seconds to get from top to bottom!

You can watch this (slightly anticlimactic – forward to the 40 second point) video I asked a friendly vacationing family to help me take. I waved at them at the start and immediately went down the water slide. I splashed down at the end of the slide into the pool at around 40 seconds, and immediately went up again!

water park

It’s a lot of fun! :)

orchid

Outriggers Laguna Phuket Beach Resort is only 20 minutes from the airport – we had a car from the hotel waiting to pick us up, complete with wet towels and bottled water. We got an intricate bracelet made of orchids (I’m sure there’s a proper term for this) and a drink of water while we got checked in too! Gotta love Thai hospitality!

room

The rooms were surprisingly modern (or maybe not since it was just completely redone a few months ago) – flat screen Smart TV, a bath/shower combination, a day bed, free WiFi in all rooms (reliable and fast) and best of all, all rooms have a balcony or porch that looks out to the water!

balcony

You can have a beach view or a lagoon view (or both if you get the Club Suite) and it’s extreme proximity to the beach actually gives you a wonderful perk – you can hear the slow and calm waves from your room lulling you to sleep at night! :D

lagoon

Okay, I mentioned a lagoon – Outriggers Laguna Phuket Beach Resort is actually part of the Laguna Phuket Destination Resort which links several resorts together by a lagoon. There’s a complimentary boat that takes you to all the different resorts and access to golf clubs and even a shopping strip mall!

boat ride

The boat service departs every 20 minutes and you can tell the guy where you want to go.

laguna phuket

If you want to get to places faster, there’s also a complimentary shuttle that gets you around the resorts and access to the 18-hole golf course which departs every 15 minutes!

chilling

Of course, there is no real need to leave Outriggers Laguna Phuket Beach Resort – with the awesome white sand beach and azure calm sea right after the lobby, you can just chill by the beach and have a beer or a bite to eat at the various restaurants in the resort.

view

Breakfast is a truly awesome affair with an amazing spread that kept me full most of the day!

egg station

All the basics and more are there, customizable too!

triple egg

I had a 3-egg sunny side up with cheese and chives only. :)

phed mak bloody mary

There’s also breakfast juices/cocktails which changes daily – like this local flavored Phed Mak Mak Bloody Mary.

room view

I like how I can just trudge down from a good night’s sleep being lulled by the tides into breakfast, get something nice and healthy to eat, grab a cocktail and head out to the pool or chill by the beach.

bang tao beach

It’s truly one of the best resorts I’ve been to in Phuket – modern amenities combined with Thai hospitality on the quiet Bang Tao beach (trust me, you don’t want to go to the (in)famous Patong beach – that’s like Kuta beach in Bali, a noisy tourist trap). I really liked the location and the tranquility of Outriggers Laguna Phuket Beach Resort – I can chill by the Bang Tao beach and go down the water slide and hug a baby elephant twice a day!

phuket elephant

How many places can you do that all in? :D

Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort
323 Moo. 2, Srisoonthorn Road, Cherngtalay,
Thalang, Bangtao Beach, Phuket 83110, Thailand
Phone +66 76 360 700, Fax +66 76 360 670
reservation.phuketbeach@outrigger.co.th, www.outriggerthailand.com

8 delicious (and strange) food at Phuket Town Night Market

1. Sunny side up quail eggs

fried quail eggs

This is a whole lotta cholesterol in a package but it’s delicious! Perfectly fried quail eggs sold in a packet containing nine (9) sunny side up eggs with a toothpick. You can opt for a dash of pepper and soy sauce and it’s absolutely delicious! The feeling of slipping 9 eggs into your mouth for just THB 20 (about RM 2) is awesome! :)

quail eggs

You can opt for the soft boiled version with a packet of soy sauce too – just crack all the eggs into the bowl and enjoy!

2. Pork floss (jerky) with sticky rice

pork floss rice

This is also THB 20 and consists of two types – a tough jerky type pork floss and strips of marinated BBQ pork. I went for the latter and was very satisfied with the bed of fiber rich sticky rice!

thai pork satay

Watch out for the famous Thai satay too – it’s a piece of marinated BBQ pork on a stick for THB 10 and it’s the most tender and juicy pork you’ll ever eat!

3. Bananas dipped in chocolate

chocolate banana

There are several versions of this THB 20 dessert on a stick. The plain version is just a peeled banana on a skewer that has been dipped in chocolate. There’s also sliced and re-skewered bananas, which is the one I got – it’s been sprinkled with hundreds and thousands colored sprinkles and absolutely tasty in the hot muggy night market.

4. Deep fried insects

deep fried insects

The night market also has deep fried insects and quite a wide variety of them too. The lady will ask you to “contribute” to the photography tip jar if you take a photo without purchasing anything. I didn’t coz I didn’t like her tone. ;) I just had the same ones in Bangkok. I ate deep fried grasshoppers and other insects just two weeks ago.

5. Salt grilled fish

salt grilled fish

This is a Thailand speciality and it’s an entire fish that has been liberally packed with coarse salt and then grilled over a charcoal fire. It’s surprisingly cheap for an entire fish and you’re meant to eat the inside of the fish e.g. the salt covered outer skin is discarded.

6. Thailand orange juice

thai orange juice

You MUST try this when you’re in Thailand – it’s the local orange, squeezed into a bottle and it’s fabulous! I had the ice blended version for THB 40 and it came in a thong like plastic bag. Thirst quenching stuff – walking around the night market in the hot weather armed with this makes it a more pleasant trip!

7. Agar fruits with mung bean filling

agar fruits

This is an interesting snack – it is a mung bean dessert that’s been shaped to look like various fruits and then coated with agar agar (a Jello like substance). I was surprised when I popped one into my mouth coz I thought it was fruit! It goes for THB 40 for a packet containing every type of “fruit” they have – from grapes to guava.

8. Tiny pineapples

mini pineapple

OMG! This is the best find I had in the Phuket Town Night Market. The mini pineapples are much smaller than your fist and intensely *sweet and juicy*!

tiny pineapple

I bought one (it’s sold by weight – mine was about THB 25) and they cut it into four segments for your enjoyment. I can’t believe there’s such tiny, yet fully formed pineapples out there! It’s marvelous! :)

Shooting clay pigeons with a shotgun at Phuket Shooting Range

skeet shooting

I went to the Phuket Shooting Range yesterday to get some range time in. I haven’t shot a firearm since my initial foray with a .357 Magnum revolver, 9 mm and .45 caliber semi-automatic handguns while I was studying in Melbourne.

ak rifles guns thailand

I went quite often after that and got a license to own but I heard it’s a perishable skill – if you don’t practice often, you won’t hit the nice grouping you used to be able to do when you went every other weekend. I also…er, examined an Steyr M9 pistol while I was in Malaysia but I wasn’t interested in handguns this time and wanted to shoot a rifle instead.

phuket shooting

Phuket Shooting Range had a great package for a .22 caliber long rifle with sights for just THB 890 (about RM 90) for 10 bullets. You can get a semi-automatic or fully automatic (!!!) rifle with a scope for indoor shooting and I was sorely tempted to do this but unfortunately I only had 15 minutes since the girls wanted to go catch the sunset.

me with shotgun

Thus, I settled on clay pigeon shooting. It’s a package with 10 shotgun shells for THB 1,190 (about RM 120). I honestly don’t know if this is skeet shooting, trap shooting or sporting clays since the Phuket Shooting Range is huge and I was at a station with clay pigeons flying from two different directions and angles.

shooting range thailand

The registration process was incredibly lax – I didn’t need to hand over my passport or even prove that I am who I say I am. I just wrote my name on a piece of paper – I didn’t even sign it! You can get a variety of semi-automatic handguns from .38 caliber revolvers to shotguns and there’s even a full outdoor tactical range.

I’ve never been clay pigeon shooting before. I did see President Obama (purportedly) skeet shooting in that well-publicized White House propaganda photo as he made more restrictions to gun laws in the US though. I do know shotguns since I grew up in Sarawak (locals are allowed to own shotguns) but this is a special skeet shooting double-barreled Over And Under design (O/U) that I’ve never used before.

competition shells

The skeet shooting shells are 24 gr 7 ½ inch 70mm meant for competition – the Olympics uses the same shotgun shells. I was given a short primer (smirk) on how to follow the arcs with my shotgun and shoot. The orange clay pigeons came from two directions – a bit like trap/skeet shooting in just one station.

phuket shooting range

I pressed my cheek against the stock of the shotgun, rested it against my shoulder and waited for the recoil that I thought would hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt nothing at all! There’s barely any recoil from this break open Over And Under (two barrels stacked vertically) shotgun with this particular shell.

shotgun shell

However, I found that tracking the clay pigeons (which is automatically thrown into the air from two stations – you’re supposed to track, lead and shoot it, breaking the discs) was harder than I thought. I wasn’t very comfortable with the shotgun – I wanted to have a front pistol grip, which is absurd, that’s something for tactical use, but it would be much more comfortable. :)


Full video of me skeet shooting!

I liked the double barreled shotgun design though – it gives you two chances to break the orange clay pigeons and you can fire it like a semi-automatic. It has a very light trigger pull and you literally break open the stock and reload two shells when you’re done.

shooting shotgun

I would have loved to go on the shotgun course too – they had metal silhouettes that ping when you shoot it with buckshot but I was pressed for time so I could only go for this one. I have finally shot a classic break open O/U double-barreled shotgun at clay pigeons flying in the air at high speeds! :D

break open shotgun

It was a lot of fun!

Posted: 1:28 pm Phuket time (GMT +7)

I’m in Phuket for the weekend!

phuket airport

Sawadeekap again! I’m *back* in Thailand after my trip to Bangkok barely two weeks ago. I’m staying at Outriggers Laguna Resort Phuket for the weekend – just checked into the resort and got a beach front room.

phuket welcome

It’s going to be a chill trip so I’ll have time to catch up on the blog posts which I’ve been neglecting. The past week has been a bit crazy for me – haven’t even had time to surf blogs, so it’s a well deserved R&R where I can just relax by the beach, enjoy the resort and blog. :)

Posted: 11:17 pm 31st May Phuket time (GMT +7)
(which is technically a month behind Malaysia – love the timing of this post!)

The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Scam

damnoen saduak floating market

or how we got scammed in Thailand and ways to avoid it

I have vague memories of people being scammed at the Damnoen Saduak floating market in Bangkok but never really researched it. Thus, when our taxi driver offered to take us on a full day tour for just THB 1,200 (RM 120), I didn’t bargain and thought it was a pretty good deal.

boat tour

I didn’t want the extras, I just wanted to cram in two floating markets (Tha Kha and Damnoen Saduak) for the day. It takes about 40 minutes to an hour to reach the latter and there’s a reason the taxi driver gave a lot of excuses not to go to Tha Kha (it’s too small, you won’t like it, etc).

floating market

Damnoen Saduak floating market is basically a well known tourist trap. It’s what you see on the postcards and has lost it’s original meaning of being a floating market for locals but rather a scam to bring tourists there for the same trinkets and souvenirs you’ll find on the streets of Bangkok.

tha kha floating market

Tha Kha floating market is the one that locals go to.

scam floating market
Unhappy tourists who were conned before us

Anyway, the way the scam works is that taxi drivers offer you a really good price for a day’s tour (you can hire the cab to go anywhere for the day) and bring you to a pier where you’re forced to take a boat tour. Our driver kept insisting that there isn’t a way to go to the big Damnoen Saduak pier, which isn’t true as we found out.

salt farm

It took us an hour and you can see lots of salt flats where they farm salts on the way to Damnoen Saduak floating market. It’s quite interesting to see the locals harvest salt and sell it in bulk by the roadside.

damnoen saduak scam

We got shuttled to Shang 2 Pier. I later found out that there are heaps of “private piers” like this one – they arrange a commission with the cab drivers to bring tourists here. A woman immediately approached us as we pulled in and told us it’s THB 3,000 per person or THB 5,000 per boat for a 1 hour boat tour of Damnoen Saduak floating market.

That’s RM 500 for the boat!

floating market scam

I said no way and walked back to the taxi driver and told him to bring us straight to the Damnoen Saduak floating market pier. He kept insisting that there’s no roads to go there except by boat. His English was pretty bad but I told him I don’t want a boat tour and finally the woman (who followed us over) said she’ll do it for THB 2,000 (about RM 200) per person.

That’s a ridiculous price and not knowing if there’s actually a way to the pier of the Damnoen Saduak floating market, I finally bargained with the woman and got us a covered motorized boat for a 1 hour tour for THB 1,700 (RM 170) per boat.

private pier

I realized later that we could have gotten it for much cheaper had we bargained more but there’s no way out of this scam, the driver will just drive you to different “private piers” which are just fronts for scamming people into expensive boat tours.

boat vendors

The driver of the longboat to Damnoen Saduak floating market was nice though and even helped us take a photo (which we learned some other less scrupulous drivers will charge you for).

damnoen saduak us

Damnoen Saduak floating market is a tourist trap but it’s worth a visit for the experience if you don’t mind paying the over-inflated price. It’s like the Venice of Asia with the canals and waterways. The shops are right beside the canal – it’s now concrete after the tsunami and floods but still interesting to see shops where you literally have to row up to.

coconut sugar farm

There are also various boats selling food and a coconut sugar farm inside.

coconut sugar

I liked the coconut sugar – it’s exactly like those brown sweets from primary school except this is a large, hot wok and the taste straight from the paddle is incredibly sweet and nostalgic. They also offer a tour of the coconut factory but we didn’t go for that one.

It’s quite a nice experience sitting in a boat while traversing the waterways of Damnoen Saduak floating market but getting scammed into the boat tour took some of the fun out of it. You can get a (much) cheaper boat hire by getting to the Damnoen Saduak floating market pier itself. The pier bit in that last sentence is the most vital part – that’s where the regular boats depart.

floating market stalls

I hear it is near impossible to get a taxi to go to the pier itself since they have lucrative deals to scam tourists into the private piers for the commission (the lady consulted with our taxi driver on the THB 1,700 price before agreeing). There are also tours which scam you into the private piers so be careful of that.

damnoen saduak pier

My suggestion is to go to a floating market that the locals actually use e.g. Tha Kha floating market and take a boat to Damnoen Saduak floating market from there. I got quoted THB 200 an hour per boat for a tour (RM 20) departing from Tha Kha before bargaining.

floating markets

That’s a huge difference from THB 1,700 and closer to the real price. Tha Kha is more of a pier and not the postcard picture perfect floating market you think of but it’s a nice market where practically no one speaks English and meant more for locals. It’ll be hard to convince a taxi driver to go there though.

grilled bananas

Ours didn’t want to go to Tha Kha at all until much coercion and asked for THB 100 for lunch which I absolutely refused to give after the scam he pulled. I only gave it to him when he said it’ll come out of the THB 1,200 price we agreed upon (e.g. I’ll just pay THB 1,100) coz he didn’t have any money for lunch.

damnoen saduak

When it was time to go back, our taxi driver put the meter on so I thought he wanted to scam us again (it’s THB 2,000 from Damnoen Saduak floating market to Bangkok if you follow the meter) but I was quite hostile to him and paid just THB 1,100 and left.

damnoen saduak photo

The Damnoen Saduak floating market scam is pretty well documented. Be careful of the private piers and go straight to the Damnoen Saduak pier. If you want a more local experience, get a taxi that’ll bring you straight to Tha Kha and head to Damnoen Saduak floating market from there, which will cost just THB 200 (RM 20) per boat.

One day in Bangkok!

bangkok

I applied for a debit card before I came here coz I always felt that having a debit card when you’re traveling is essential. I also thought that since I’m gonna be spending more often than I would while back home, it would be apt that I tried to win prizes every time I swipe my card. ;)

cash connect

Speaking of which, RHB is currently running a ‘Spend Small, Win Big’ contest, and the prizes up for grabs are pretty attractive:

  • 1 x Nissan Almera 1.5E(A)
  • 1 x Honda CBR250R Mugen
  • 3 x iPhone 5 (16GB)
  • 5 x Mini iPads (16GB)

I’m eyeing the iPhone 5 myself. I just needed to spend the equivalent of RM 30 to qualify for an entry – it’s all done automatically so you don’t even have to fill out any forms! I’ll have plenty of quirky places to do just that on my vacation so I figured it would be nice to bring it to Bangkok! :)

Jatujak Market

jatujak market

The place is heavily commercialized now but still fun to go to when you’re in Bangkok. Contrary to popular belief, this is no longer a “cash only” market – you can also use cards. I applied for the RHB Debit Cash-Connect MasterCard and put cash in it so that I can manage my spending.

jatujak

You know how hard it is to do that on vacations if you have a credit card. I figured it’ll be much safer to bring my RHB debit card instead of lots of cash and use that instead.

shop

I bought a couple of shirts and souvenirs here. There are boutique shops that will even customize attire for you! I spent THB 400 in just one shop (about RM 40) – it’s one of those witty t-shirt places and a bunch of Americans (I presume) were laughing loudly at all the funny words and pictures on the shirt.

Internet access

hotel

Our packaged tour got mixed up and we stayed at 3 different hotels over 5 days (!!!). The first one doesn’t have internet access so I bought a 24 hour net access card for THB 600.

pool

That’s around RM 60

net

…and the worst part was we shifted hotel right after I bought it. -_-

Oh well, at least that got me a contest entry.

Groceries at 7-Eleven

thai easter eggs

Now, the 7-Eleven in Bangkok has a lot of interesting stuff. I’ve mentioned it before on one of my posts. I only got the equivalent of RM 10 at the time but on the last trip (we went to 7-Eleven each night) I spent almost THB 500 (RM 50).

frozen pork burgers

I mostly got a lot of these microwave pork burgers to bring back home. :)

security

My check-in luggage got opened by customs – probably due to the suspicious package – so it’s a good thing I had a TSA lock (which allows customs to open your lock with their special key without damaging it).

Gourmet Market @ Siam Paragon

durian chips

This is an awesome place that first visited 7 years ago. Siam Paragon was a new mall then and the Gourmet Market was newly opened. It’s an import specialty shop.

hello kitty rice

We bought loads of stuff to bring back. Everything from Hello Kitty rice flavoring (it’s supposed to be sold only in Japan according of the label on the back)…

durians

…to durians!

hokkaido milk

The total cost was THB 857.50 – about RM 86.

Mango Sticky Rice Blizzard

dairy queen

You can only get this Blizzard at the Dairy Queen in Bangkok. :)

thailand dairy queen

It’s a country-specific specialty that goes for 690 baht (about RM 6.90) for the large version. It has a lot of sticky rice on top of mango ice cream and it tastes really good – a great twist on the street vendor version.

dairy queen mango bar

There’s also Mango Bars – only available in Thailand. I figured since we were going to freeze the pork burgers to bring back, we might as well try bringing this back too. The total amount on the bill was around 350 baht (RM 35) – bought an extra couple of sticks of ice cream to bring the total over RM 30.

dairy queen mango sticky rice

My RHB debit card also has a 0.5% unlimited cash back in addition to the contest. You just need to apply for the RHB Debit Cash-Connect MasterCard and tell them you’ll be traveling so the card will be activated for overseas spending. The best thing about the contest is that you only need to spend RM 30 and entry is automatic! No more filling in long and bothersome forms while you’re on vacation! :)

Eating Fried Insects in Bangkok: Beetles, grasshoppers, frogs, crickets, worms, red ants!

fried insects

It’s a veritable feast of creepy crawlies! The first thing I think of when I see, say, a spider, is to throw a shoe at it. The Thais go about it in a completely different way. The immediate thought seems to be “I’ll fry and eat it!”. smirk

fried insect stall

I found this street vendor selling all sorts of deep fried insects on the streets of Bangkok. Okay, frog is not actually an insect but she also had grasshoppers (huge and small ones), crickets (not the sport), beetles (which I am secretly scared of) and even red ants! Deep fried red ants! Imagine that!

deep fried insects

I bought a pack of large grasshoppers for 20 THB and a mixed bag of every single insect she had for 30 THB (RM 5 total). The street vendor laughed and complied with my request – a deep fried cricket here, a sprinkling of deep fried red ants there. There’s even two types of beetles (water beetle and weevil). It’s supposed to be a delicacy here.

fried bugs thailand

I ate it sitting on the steps where my girlfriend took this video of me eating all the deep fried insects:

I also made her eat some, much to her disgust, but at least now she’s tried it. :)

I’ll give a quick review of the insects:

fried grasshopper

Deep fried grasshopper
Surprisingly crunchy and delicious but the legs can have spines that can cut your tongue.
Deep fried frog
These are tiny frogs that can fit in my hand. They don’t even remove the bowels! Tasty and crunchy.
Deep fried beetle
The wings can be hard to swallow coz it sticks to the top of your mouth like peanut butter.
Deep fried cricket
Tastes like grasshoppers but has more of a bee-like texture to it.
Deep fried bamboo worms
Tasty and creamy!
Deep fried red ants
Highly toxic when consumed in large quantities. It makes my mouth itch just thinking about it.

eating insects bangkok

I’m not a huge fan of deep fried red ants – it’s hard to pick up (they’re tiny) and I find their venom to be a bit hard to take. It actually made me sick!

snacks insects bangkok

I was feeling slightly unwell after eating all these, she thinks it might be coz of the fried grasshoppers, I thought it was the toxin from the deep fried red ants. It’s an interesting experience nonetheless! :)

Posted: 10:30 am Bangkok time (GMT +7)

Bangkok: The airport security incident, RM 1 Red Bull and pork, pork, pork!

breakfast

Sawadeekap! I’m in Bangkok, Thailand! Six of us flew in late last night – it was supposed to be a couples trip planned after a HCMC trip was cancelled. We’re staying at Indra Regent Hotel, which is just a stone’s throw away from the overrated and commercialized Platinum Mall.

hotel room

Oh! I’ll tell you an funny incident last night. I was going through airport security, and took off my belt to go through the metal detector. I don’t know what happened, but it must have been stuck in the machine coz I didn’t see it – worse – didn’t realize it until the plane landed in Bangkok, I reached to tighten my belt…

belt

…and noticed it wasn’t there. -_-

sliced milk bread

Anyway, we hit the local 7-Eleven opposite the hotel as soon as we finished checking in. The 7-Eleven over here is really quite good – it has a lot of interesting stuff and it’s cheap!

red bull

The Red Bull over here is particularly cheap – all of them going for THB 10 or less. That’s about RM 1 – a price which you’ll be hard pressed to find in Malaysia! In fact, I paid less than the equivalent of RM 10 for all my purchases!

pork tom yam noodles

There’s a lot of nice pork wares too – even the store branded instant noodles is Pork Spare Ribs with Tom Yam Flavor. It sounds very Thai. ;)

pork pocket sandwich

We had this Shredded Pork Mayonnaise Pocket Sandwich for breakfast just now. THB 12 or RM 1.20 for a sandwich stuffed with pork floss and mayo with the edges (crust) sliced off, just like your mom used to do for you when you were a little kid. smirk

sliced butter bread

I also found this interesting bread product that goes for 7 baht each – around RM 0.70. I don’t know how to translate it properly coz the writing is all in Thai. It’s just a slice of bread with either butter or milk spread on top but it’s super delicious!

Posted: 11:42 am Bangkok time (GMT +7)

Stuck in Frankfurt due to bad weather with no confirmed flights back to KL

lufthansa sign

This is quite a funny story. Not LOLOL funny but an interesting experience coz I like to take things in stride and things like this happen. I had a flight cancelled due to fog in Melbourne when I was in uni. Hey, it’s an adventure to me. :)

Our flight from Berlin to Frankfurt was delayed due to bad weather in Frankfurt. No flights were allowed to take off from Berlin. We all waited in the plane for ages. No flights were allowed to depart from Frankfurt too – all the planes there were grounded so we thought we could still make the connecting flight.

frankfurt delay

Everyone boarded an hour ago but we could not take off – at least we got updates from the Euro 2012 Germany-Italy semi-finals match from the pilot, sorry for your loss Deutschland, I supported your team…coz we were in your country and it’s a fine one. Heh.

Anyway, when we finally managed to get airborne, we ended up taxiing above Frankfurt coz there was a sudden influx of inbound and outbound air traffic. That’s when we knew we couldn’t make the connecting flight to Bangkok…and sure enough, we only landed way after that flight has departed.

sheraton frankfurt

Lufthansa issued us a free night’s stay at Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel and 30 Euros in “credit” which turned out to be dinner. This is dinner:

lufthansa dinner

There were heaps of people trying to get on a flight – any flight – so one of the staff advised us to get some rest and come back the next day. There were over 200 people on the waiting list after midnight! Thanks for queuing up and checking Nigel!

german cigarettes

I had packed my cigarettes into my check-in baggage so I had to get another at the airport – it’s 5 Euros, which is almost double our price, but with a long flight ahead and no bookings yet, you gotta have that nicotine hit.

checkin line

We went to the hotel and found out that the queue there was quite impressive too. This is where all the cabin attendants stay – it’s connected to the airport so that was good. The queue was still there after we finished dinner. Mind, this is only the Business and First class people so imagine how many people in total which was affected.

sheraton frankfurt internet

I had my notebook and bought 24 hours of WiFi from Sheraton for 19 Euros (about RM 76) using my credit card. I didn’t know how long I would need to wait, and I ended up wasting it coz I crashed at 2 am and woke up at 4 am to go line up at the airport. Oh well.

frankfurt shower

It’s a good thing I had a souvenir t-shirt of the Berlin Wall so I could change my shirt at least before heading to the airport. I didn’t even unpack coz I fell asleep after the long flight delays.

lufthansa delay queue

This was the line this morning. I started queuing at 4 am and this is what it looks like at 7:37 am. (!)

I waited in line for hours before one of the Lufthansa staff saw my ticket and brought me down. I managed to get a confirmed ticket – a husband and wife team with us went through India at 12 pm and Nigel also managed to get the 3 pm flight that I was on.

(all times are GMT +2)

lufthansa breakfast

The reason for splitting up is due to the sheer amount of stranded passengers so we couldn’t stay together. There just wasn’t enough seats. The grounding of the Frankfurt airport really affected a lot of people – several thousand people stayed at the airport (Economy) or the Sheraton in Frankfurt (Business and First).

sheraton frankfurt airport

You know what the worst thing was? No one could retrieve their check-in baggage! There’s a rule that it has to stay at the airport or something to that effect. I’m pretty sure I’ve broken the record for wearing the same underwear, jeans, socks and shoes. I could only change my shirt. I can smell myself from 200 meters away. Heh.

I’m also staying awake on willpower and coffee alone. I’ve drank more than 15 cups in the past 24 hours. :x

I’ll have to wait for a while before I’ll know if my flight back to KL later is 100% confirmed. I’m the only one left here coz there were just too many people needing to fly to various parts of the world.

It’s a good thing the Thai Airways Royal Lounge in Bangkok has a shower room so I could use their fresh, fluffy, wrapped towels and brush my teeth and freshen up.

thai air lounge shower

Thanks for booking us on Business Class, Volkswagen Malaysia – that really helps when stuff like this happens. :D

I’m still wearing the same clothes from several days ago (except for the t-shirt) but that shower really freshened me up. I can semi-write coherently while being extremely sleep deprived. Heh.

Now, I shall go back and check if my outbound flight is confirmed. I need to go back today. I don’t even know what “50% confirmed” means. *shrugs*

bangkok shower

Oh well, it’s all good! Sawadee krap from Bangkok! :)

Posted: 11:33 am Bangkok time (GMT +7)

My experience in Club Med Phuket, Thailand

Believe it or not, I’ve never been to a Thai girl show. Never.

fire

I’ve lived in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, risked life and limb while backpacking Eastern Europe to follow a couple of guys I just met to see the darker side of Georgia, but as for Thai girl shows, it still remains on my bucket list.

I’ve been to Thailand a lot of times. It was just a series of unfortunate events that made me miss the famous shows our neighboring country has to offer.

This is my fifth trip to Thailand.

water yoga

I was there to check out the newly renovated and revamped Club Med Phuket in Thailand last month. This is my very first time at a Club Med resort and the legendary Club Med hospitality with the GOs interacting with the guests was a pleasant surprise for me.

beach

You don’t feel like you’re in Phuket (which can get a bit rowdy) at all. You’re greeted at the airport and as a GE, whisked away to the village. The serenity in Club Med makes it insular – in a good way, since you can always head out to the low end party scene of Bangla Road whenever you want and come back to the lap of luxury. ;)

trident

I like the little touches at the resort – the Club Med trident in the ash trays are so much like cappuccino art, with a fresh orchid.

bar

This is the poolside bar where you can order whatever you want. Club Med is all-inclusive, that’s part of the appeal – you can eat and drink as much as you want – it’s all included in the price.

pool

The Oval Concept Bar is a great place to chill out – there’s an awesome view of the ocean and most of the resort, including the swimming pool.

water

The main pool is the hub of lots of water activities like water yoga. It’s a great place to lounge and chat with fellow guests and GOs too! :)

refreshment bars

There’s fresh coconut juice and snacks in thoughtfully placed refreshment stations as you stroll about the huge resort…

snacks

I’ve even come across desserts at tea-time which I took the opportunity to sample. I ate a lot during my stay at Club Med. If it wasn’t for all the activities, I’ll have gained quite a few kgs by the time I got back. Heh.

cold towel

There were even cold towels handed out by the friendly GEs to wipe yourself with in the humid temperature of Phuket.

You just cannot beat that.

golf

There are also activities that you can participate in every day – everything from golf lessons to snorkeling, whatever rocks your boat. Pun intended.

flying trapeze knee hang

I made it my personal mission to master the flying trapeze. You can see my efforts here and during the 4D/6N (we flew in at night) I’ve only missed my lessons once.

I got to know the Circus GOs (which stands for Gentils Organisateurs, or Gracious Organizers) and finally managed to do backflips and catches, which was worth all the pain of waking up with aching muscles.

cert

I still have my certificate!

smaller boat

We also went snorkeling on the very last morning. The GO offered us Dramamine pills for sea sickness – individually wrapped – again, it’s the little touches like this that makes you feel welcome.

larger boat

We went from a small longboat to a large ship before anchoring at a nice spot…

boat

…and spent a good 45 minutes under the water.

snorkling

I really liked that too – the water wasn’t very clear that day, but it was fun! I love being in the water – it’s so peaceful.

archery

There are a lot of free activities in Club Med Phuket – one thing you won’t be while you’re there is bored.

paths

The adults-only Zen Pool is a new addition which offers a view of Kata Bay.

zen pool

Yes, you can swim inside, it was officially opened when we were there. You can also get cocktails and lounge by the relatively quiet poolside while reading a book or just enjoying the ambiance.

payot spa

I had a massage right after I got my flying trapeze certificate – a very apt reward. :)

club med payot

The new Club Med Spa by Payot makes you feel relaxed just by walking in.

club med spa

I was quite impressed that the spa of the Club Med village in Phuket is one of the few that’s done by Payot. Payot is a French luxury brand and their spas are legendary.

massage

The masseuse worked through all my sore muscles and the spa only use Payot products.

roses

There’s singles and couples massages with a wide range of treatments. It’s part of the newly completed renovation and a very welcome addition. :)

chu da

We had dinner in conjunction with the launch of the newly renovated Club Med Phuket at Chu-Da restaurant. It’s a completely new 98-seater restaurant and we all got a purple scarf as the theme of the night.

person

Chu-Da is a specialty restaurant that’s also free but requires booking and is adults-only. It’s perfect as a more private dining experience and the pavilions at the al-fresco dining area is very comfortable. I saw a person in a boat of the Zen pool inside the restaurant and thought it was a prop…but no, it was an actual person. Heh.

I gorged myself on Alaskan King Crab that night.

longest domino cocktail

This is probably the longest domino cocktail I’ve ever seen.

Watch it fall!

Club Med is also famous for their nightly performances. These can range from heavily themed circus acts to parties.

beach party

My personal favorite was the beach party.

fire twirling

There were fire twirlers…

wish

…and lanterns you can send off into the skies with a wish!

My wish didn’t come true, but I like to think of it as it *hasn’t* come true yet. Thanks for helping me record an emo personal moment Ji San. Haha. :)

phuket 2012

It was the perfect way to end a perfect trip. :)

P/S – A bunch of us went out to Bangla Road on the very last night but it was closed due to it being Buddha Day. It was like a ghost town. Thus, the Thai girl show experience is still in my bucket list.

club med

Nevertheless, it was an awesome and unforgettable experience at Club Med Phuket. There are a lot of resorts coming up with similar concepts but nothing beats the original Club Med hospitality. Thanks Kelsey, Kelly and all the GOs from Club Med and Ji San, Kenny, May Kay, Celia and Charlotte who came on the trip! I had a blast! :D

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