Wednesday, January 26, 2005
We checked out of the Amari Orchid early in the day, then got a drive back to the Bangkok airport. Our driver was nuts – he couldn't not do something with his feet. Apparently just coasting was not an option, nor was driving a constant speed. He was consistently braking or accelerating, and for both it wasn't constant, he was quickly tapping his feet. It was as if he was tapping his feet to the beat of some song, only we weren't in on the song. We stopped about halfway there, and we saw him drinking something that looked an awful lot like liquor. Given his previous driving, we were a little freaked out, but whatever it was, it helped his driving quite a bit from there on out.
We got to the airport and ate lunch. Normally airport food is both overpriced and tastes horrible, but at the Bangkok airport the food was both very good and very cheap. Lunch for the both of us was less than $10. We went down to the gate, which was interesting. The gate was air-conditioned, but it had doors to outside where buses would take people to the planes, which were a short bus ride away. Anyway, the doors were open almost the entire time, so the air conditioning was attempting to cool down seemingly the entire outdoors.
The flight was very crowded, which seemed odd because of all the reports we had heard about people staying away from Phuket. As we flew in we looked out the window and saw some really nice limestone formations sticking out of the water. As we would find out a couple days later we were flying over Phang Nga Bay. We landed, got our luggage (once again without incident), and were whisked away by the Amanpuri people. Not as impressive as the Banyan Tree pickup, but very easy nonetheless.
When we originally planned our trip, we were going to stay in the Le Meridien, farther south on Phuket. When the tsunamis hit, however, the Le Meridien was damaged and had an uncertain re-opening date, so we decided not to take any chances and immediately changed our reservations to Amanpuri. We had stayed at one of the other Aman resorts – Amanpulo, for our honeymoon in April of 2000. We figured Amanpuri would be damage free because it is built on a steep hillside covered by coconut trees. Amanpuri's gym that was right on the beach was wiped out, but everything else was totally untouched. As it turned out, the Le Meridien won't be open until the spring time, so it's good that we changed our reservations when we did, rather than wait.
Everything we had read about Amanpuri had nothing but fantastic things to say, but with all the other nice (and much much cheaper) resorts on Thailand it didn't seem that the extra expense was worth it. At Amanpulo, on the other hand, the resort was on its own private island, which seemed totally worth it (well, as much as it can be "worth it" at that cost). We got to the hotel, and it was as advertised. It's in the middle of a coconut grove, and all of the rooms are on stilts on the hillside. Unbelievably, however, almost none of the rooms have ocean views, even though they are all tiered, on a hillside, right next to the ocean. This really infuriated Justin, and it got only worse when he realized that the room (101) had no television or internet either. It did have its own private breakfast area and a nice bathroom, however. He was bored out of his mind – it reminded him of his days camping growing up.
At dinner, the food was very good, but we were eaten alive by the mosquitoes. The resort had these little candle things that they put under the tables to keep mosquitoes away – by the time we finished dessert we had about 12 underneath our table. Crystal went to sleep early, but Justin had to go into the library and check out sports on the internet because he needs a television to get to sleep. He just stayed up until he was so tired he couldn't help but fall asleep.
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