Have you ever tried sandboarding? It’s a little like snowboarding except you’re doing it on sand dunes instead of alpine slopes. Also, you don’t have the same control a snowboard gives you since a sandboard is literally a skateboard with all the wheels and lower half removed.
It’s quite fun though since the sand dunes in Port Stephens, Australia is very high. You’ll be surprised since there’s not a lot of shadows and contrast in the desert (it’s actually a beach) so it’s hard to tell distance and height. This sand dune we went down on is easily 30 feet high.
I hear that some children can actually stand up while sandboarding and do stunts. I don’t know how though since you’re not physically attached to the sandboard (unlike a snowboard, so you can do an Ollie, which is just about the only trick I know). Haha!
Check out the video of me sandboarding! I managed to go the furthest. The only way to control your descent is to use your hands to steer / slow down. You can actually carve the slopes dunes if you’re good enough, but the sandboard itself is pretty basic so you need at least one hand behind you to navigate.
…and unlike other places where we actually have to *climb* back up the sand dune to do it again, we were on a quad bike expedition (also known as ATVs in the US) so we had the quads to drive back up the sand dunes (as you can see in one of the photos as I forgot to take the protective cover off my head).
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! ;)
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.
(like that baby elephant – it’s my favorite and it comes out to be fed twice a day!)
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!
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!
It’s a lot of fun! :)
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!
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!
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
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!
The boat service departs every 20 minutes and you can tell the guy where you want to go.
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!
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.
Breakfast is a truly awesome affair with an amazing spread that kept me full most of the day!
All the basics and more are there, customizable too!
I had a 3-egg sunny side up with cheese and chives only. :)
There’s also breakfast juices/cocktails which changes daily – like this local flavored Phed Mak Mak Bloody Mary.
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.
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!
Sawadeekapagain! 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.
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!)
I went helmet diving in Boracay and it turned out to be one of the highlights of my Boracay trip! Heh. I’ve seen it being offered in other places with names like sea walking or reef walking but never got around to doing it.
It’s quite an interesting experience – there are various touts independent tour operators offering helmet diving at White Beach. We were approached by one while having the famous shakes at Jony’s with Xinxian and managed to bargain it down to PHP 800 for two, which works out to 400 pesos per person (about RM 30).
Helmet diving is called such because there’s a really long hose connecting the helmet to the oxygen tanks on top.
The journey started with a short speedboat trip to a floating sea platform on the Bulabog Beach side of the island.
The floating sea platform is where the entire operation is done. It’s anchored to a prime spot in the ocean and there’s an area at the sea bed where you can roam around.
We were briefed by the guide on how the basics of reef walking and I have to admit, I didn’t listen to half of what he said. Posed photo.
I was walking around instead and it’s quite interesting to see the locally made reef walking helmets. These are not the Sea Trek/Seawalker helmet diving systems but jury rigged ones made to resemble them. The helmets have clear glass plates so you can see out and you can breathe normally while you’re underwater.
The experience is totally unlike scuba diving. You descend down the ladder while the helmet is fitted over you by someone on the platform. The ladder goes down 10 – 15 feet to the bottom of the sea and you get to walk around and look at the corals and feed the fishes.
Helmet diving allows you to actually reach inside the helmet so you can equalize the pressure in your ears if you need to. I can do it without pinching my nose but I made the mistake of wiping the glass inside the screen, which made it fog up – you can see half of my face is obscured in the underwater photos. :)
There’s also a scuba diver that takes shots and videos for you. I didn’t realize the guy was taking a video so I posed for a photo instead and wondered what was taking him so long. Haha!
You have pieces of bread to feed the fish and you get to spend 15 minutes at the sea bed watching and touching the fishes. I quite enjoyed it – the only thing that bothered me was that the homemade helmets tend to drift away if you’re not holding on to it.
I would have thought the water pressure is enough to keep it in place but the current will shift it around. The guide told us to keep one hand on it. You can take your hands off for a while if you’re standing perfectly still but once you move, you’ll have to hang on to your helmet. Heh.
Despite that minor design issue, helmet diving is quite fun! I didn’t think it would be after scuba diving but I was quite surprised to find myself enjoying the time reef walking on the sea bed and exploring the marine life. It’s a totally different experience.
I wish we had more time underwater instead of just 15 minutes and before long we had to climb up the ladder back to the platform. The CD with the photos and videos were ready by the time we were up there. Helmet diving might be commercialized and scuba divers might scoff at the restricted movement (the hose limits where you can go) but it’s still a lot of fun.
I had a blast and I’ll recommend it if you come across it – helmet diving is a totally different experience altogether and I’m really glad I tried it! :D
This group of fire dancers were performing along the vibrant night life section of White Beach in Boracay – around Station 2.
They’re called the Boracay Phoenix Fire Dancers and I was quite impressed by one of them – she has really good skills.
There were multiple performances – both indoors and outdoors simultaneously, and the latter having no constraints with ceilings and such, could perform aerial tricks.
One of them did an amazing catch after throwing the meteor hammer up in the air – she didn’t catch it the first time, but managed to snag it on the second try. It was the monsoon season so the wind speed was rather fierce, I was amazed she even managed to catch it at all!
The Boracay Phoenix Fire Dancers also lit a lot of cigarettes by spinning the fire dancing apparatus close to the cancer sticks.
…and they also managed to scare a lot of people shitless by spinning the meteor hammers around their faces.
After a long day diving and ATV riding at Boracay, we walked to White Beach to catch the sunset and I somehow managed to get my trusty flip flops stuck in the sand and the right pair finally gave out.
I could still use it by stuffing the bit that got loose back in – this pair has actually been relegated to my balcony back home, but it’s at best a temporary fix. It would come apart again at the slightest provocation, such as walking on the beach, or even sneezing for that matter.
I figured it was time to get new flip flops.
The first shop I went to had one I really liked but unfortunately they were not for sale. It’s a display only item and anyhow, it was soooo large that I could practically *sleep* on it.
I managed to get a pair for 400 pesos (about RM 30) at the next outlet but after I got back to the resort, I realized a little too late that it was slightly too big for me. :(
Much has been said about Kuta beach. It’s not exactly the uncharted 3K’s of backpacking these days. Nowadays, you’re more likely to be bugged by people offering massages, hair braiding, Bintang beer and all sorts of random stuff…like a handmade “magic” cigarette dispenser that is really quite nifty, but that was at Legian.
We stayed right opposite Kuta beach so it’s literally right in front when we walked out. Come to think of it, we did a lot of walking in Kuta – and let me tell you, these flip flops are *not* made for walking. It’s really hot during the afternoon – mostly Caucasians catching a tan/recovering from hangovers go there at that hour…
…but it’s really nice during sunset.
You see people start streaming in and picking a good spot around 4:30 pm or so – the beachfront vendors are mostly gone by then so you can sit unmolested, without someone asking you if you want something you don’t need and just…
…chill there, watching the waves roll in, breathing in the sea salt and immersing yourself in the Zen of it all. It feels very serene, especially if you sit right in front. We stayed until 7:30 pm and I think we were the only ones there at that time. Heh.
It should be noted that if any eateries offer to add in some mushrooms into your food, they’re not really talking about ye olde regular mushrooms.
This person does not have a PADI license so we can either go for the sea walk (closed) or snorkeling. I have a wealth of underwater photos taken which I’m rather proud of, mostly due to the awesome marine life teaming around the islands of Sabah.
This rainbow fish is actually quite delicious but it’s off limits – you know the drill, take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints.
I was submerged for a good 45 minutes swimming around and snapping photos of the corals and fishes around them.
Jerine on the other hand, can’t swim to save her life.
The best thing about Sabah is that the aquatic lifeforms is very tame and not afraid of homo sapiens at all.
Hell, some of them even tried to bite my fingers. >.<
I took a lot of underwater videos too – this is the best of the batch. I only have one word to describe snorkeling in Pulau Sapi – serene. :)
I was in Langkawi over the weekend for a dose of sun, sea and surf (not forgetting the other s – spirits ;)). It’s about a 1 hour flight from KL and as soon as I exited the airport, there was a sign with “Poh Huai Bin” waiting for me.
It was the concierge from Tanjung Rhu Resort and I was pleased with the luxurious van that provided airport transfer to the resort (complete with the driver offering you a wet towel as soon as you make yourself comfortable).
Tanjung Rhu resort is one of the best resorts in Langkawi, or so I hear. I was there to check it out for myself. The lobby is built according to an open concept with various water features (of the natural kind), a nice cool sea breeze and birds chirping.
There’s even a real, live hornbill (and a six foot monitor lizard they call Jack). The check-in is very hassle free – it’s done in your room! This brings personalized check in to a whole new level. Heh!
Your luggage is dropped in the lobby to be ferried to your room later while a nice lady shows you your room, offers you a wet towel (everyone needs a towel), takes out some ice cubes and pours a drink for you.
She fills in all your details too! I think every hotel should offer this service. In-room check-in FTW!
The room is large and spacious – it has a huge tub and a gigantic bed which was rather wasted on one person. :)
It’s the small touches that makes Tanjung Rhu such a luxurious place – Time magazine on a practical shelf beside the bed, a balcony overlooking one of the pools, and chocolates at night in a proper wooden box instead of paper.
There is a reason Tanjung Rhu is the hotel/resort with the 3rd highest spend in Malaysia – they treat their guests really well, with an amazing memory prowess which enables them to remember your name and greet you when you walk past them! MENSA grade, seriously.
Oh, and another reason could be the RM 155 champagne cocktail flutes, of which I had a few. ;)
There’s no lack of activities to do in Tanjung Rhu – we went for a Mangrove Tour (RM 220) which brings you to:
Monkeys – Langkawi is INFESTED with primates, we even saw a family on the way to the airport
The mangrove swamp
This reminds me of a certain scene in Apocalypse Now
This one brings back memories of The Two Towers
Eagles and kites
A fishing village…featuring the amazing spitting fish!
We took turns to operate the boat too – I think I freaked out the tour guide when I put it on full throttle. ;)
I have to reiterate that it is of utmost importance to wear flip flops on this tour since you’re on a boat.
Leave your mosquito repellent at home since the bats here eats all of them so there’s none! :)
I also went for a swim in one of their pools – they have several, with one reserved for adults only. One interesting thing about Tanjung Rhu is that they limit the amount of children in the resort to about 5 and of the restaurants – The Rhu - does not allow kids inside.
However, one of the best features in Tanjung Rhu is the remarkable sandbar which makes it possible for you to actually WALK to the Turtle Islands over yonder. They have an awesome spa and massage too!
Tanjung Rhu Resort room rates ranges from RM 1,850 to RM 3,250 per night. I recommend going for the all inclusive package where all food and drinks are free, no matter how much you eat. It also includes room service, but unfortunately not alcohol.
Sunbathing naked is officially prohibited by the resort though.
It’s still a very chill and relaxing resort if for a nice beach holiday.
Heck, with room rates starting from RM 1,850 per night, it better be good! ;)