Embarrassingly, I have had several travel posts that have been sitting in my draft folder for MONTHS and this is one, bear with me as I resume my Travel Back Thursday series and finally share my experiences from the trips you may have seen snippets of if you follow me on Instagram .
Cast your mind back to August 2016 when I spent two weeks traveling around South East Asia starting in Bangkok for two days, five days in Bali, a day and a half in Singapore and finally five days in Phuket. I arrived in Phuket still weak but on the mend from tonsillitis that had me struggling through Singapore. For the final leg of our trip, I chose to stay in a private villa at the beachfront Aleenta Resort which was perfect to relax and fully recover. We spent most days lounging pool side and swimming in our private pool. The pool was pretty small but it was perfect for my young beginner swimmers as they were able to navigate without close supervision. We also visited the large infinity pool when we wanted to stretch out. The resort amenities and high quality and variety of food at the two on-site restaurants gave us little motivation to leave but we couldn’t pass the opportunity to explore Phuket and the surrounding islands that drew us there in the first place.
We arranged a full-day, multi-island boat tour that took us to explore several islands including James Bond island and beautiful beaches and caves with mangroves and lagoons. It was an overcast day with passing showers that made the water a bit choppy but that didn’t dampen our day (pun intended). Our island hopping included one island stop for a tasty lunch and another to visit a growing island community where we observed children learning and playing at the island’s only school. We were then treated to a lovely canoe ride through caves and around small islands by very strong women who shared a bit about life in the area.
The five days spent in Phuket were the most relaxing part of the two-week trip and a great way to recharge before heading back to London via Bangkok. However, our peace was interrupted by news of a fatal bombing that occurred on our last day on the island. Fortunately my family and I were safe but several people lost their lives and were badly injured; it was a close reminder of how temporary life is. Many of the places that I have travelled to have been impacted by terrorism, including my hometown New York City where I stood outside of my office on 9/11 just 3 blocks away from the World Trade Center. I refuse to allow these acts to deter me from travelling and having the experiences that I want; it actually motivates me not to take time or location for granted because anything can happen anywhere at any time. I don’t mean to cast a somber mood on this post because it really was amazing trip but there is possibly someone reading this blog that needs to be encouraged to not live in fear or other limitations.
We flew from Phuket to Bangkok and had a 10-hour layover in Bangkok so in typical fashion we checked our luggage into the airport storage center and set out to explore the city again. We hopped on the train into the city center and roamed around a large shopping area before heading back to the airport to catch our 13-hour flight to London that we nearly missed because I completely screwed up the boarding and gate close times. Thankfully an airline staffer miraculously found us in the airport amongst hundreds of other travellers and rushed us to our gate just in time. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this trip was our first experience flying on Oman airlines and they far exceeded my expectations. As if it wasn’t enough for the airline staff to find us in the airport and get us to the gate in time for our flight, the food and service were excellent and they even have a frequent flyer program for children where they can earn Oman passport stamps toward free flights.
Our two week South East Asian vacation was one that we will never forget and has inspired us to visit other Asian countries in the future.