Thursday, January 27, 2005

Crystal got up early and went to a Yoga class. Justin got up a little later and walked around a little bit. He got a little good news when he found out our room did in fact have an internet connection. It was hidden on the underside of the desk in the room, so we never would have found it except for the fact Justin asked the front desk. Justin was much happier now that there was something to do in the room. Because Crystal was at Yoga and Justin was wandering around, we didn't end up eating breakfast until around 10am.

After breakfast we walked down the 50+ stairs to the beach. The beach was fairly private (only one other resort is along the same beach), and there were hardly any people there. We saw some people on a floating pier a couple hundred yards out from shore and wondered what it was doing out there, so we grabbed one of the canoes and paddled out there. The pier had a great view of the resort (down on the beach all you can see is the stairs because of the steep incline). Also out on the pier were a number of fish swimming around in the water. And, since it was Amanpuri, there was a cooler with ice cold water to cool us down after our difficult 2 minutes of paddling.

We paddled back to the beach and hung out there for a little bit longer. Crystal stayed down at the beach (and fell asleep), while Justin first went up to the pool, then started wandering around the entirety of the resort. Amanpuri is very large there are about 40 rooms, but then there are also about 25 large villas spaced out over the grounds, not to mention the spa, the tennis courts, the restaurants, and the main area. We had seen in some books that Amanpuri was on Pansea beach, whereas in other books Amanpuri was listed as being on Surin beach. It turns out that both were probably correct. Amanpuri is on the end of a small isthmus, so it's surrounded on 3 sides by water. The villas are all near the north facing beach, while the main resort is on the west facing beach.

We met up again and had a late lunch. Since there wasn't much to do at the resort and we wanted to buy some souvenirs, we went to Patong Beach, which is one of the most popular beaches on Phuket, about 20 minutes south of Amanpuri. Patong Beach is the beach that was hardest hit by the tsunami. The streets and shops were empty. Some of the shops were open, some were still closed but had almost completed their repairs, and others still looked demolished. The Amanpuri employee that took us to Patong told us that it is usually hard to get through the streets of Patong during a normal high season. We did find one market area that was open (we were literally the only customers), so we opted to get out of the car there. Since bargaining is expected in Thailand , we bargained for the souvenirs. Justin proved to be a better bargainer than Crystal (although we may have both been horrible), but the best deal we got was by not bargaining walking out of the store, only to have the owner call a price out to us on the street.

We did a little exploring around Patong to check out the damage. We walked up and down the main drag that paralleled the shoreline. It was very strange as we walking along the boardwalk, because if we turned our back to the street and looked out at the beach, it looked very peaceful and serene. If we turned our back to the beach and looked at the buildings beyond the street, you could see all the damage. Soi Bangla, the main cross street, was in pretty good shape, better and better the farther away we got from the ocean. Almost all of the establishments were open, but there were very few customers. We stopped in at one club to have a drink, but we stayed for awhile so that Justin could watch the Safin-Federer match in the Australian Open semifinals (one of the best tennis matches in years). Crystal tried to look interested, and braved the travel books by actually ordering some food. Luckily we were both fine with the food and the drinks.

After the match was over, we left to check out some of the other bars and clubs, but they were really empty. We did see some transsexuals on the street and considered going to their show since we missed the one in Pattaya, but decided against it based on what we saw on the street it was more than enough. We caught a cab (much easier in Phuket than in Pattaya) to go back to the resort. We were expecting to have to bargain for the price, like in Bangkok, but the driver's price was less than we were expecting to pay, so we didn't have to negotiate. We aren't sure whether the fares are fixed in Phuket, or if the fare was so low because there aren't many tourists.

People really need to come back to Phuket and all of the other tourist areas that were damaged by the tsunamis. Many of our co-workers (especially Crystal) were "shocked" to hear that we were still planning on going to Phuket after the tsunamis. Given that the last tsunamis in the Indian Ocean were when Krakatau exploded in 1883, we figured we'd take our chances. Some people thought that going to a ravaged area was impolite to the people there, but we thought just the opposite. Phuket's economy revolves around tourism, so if the tourists stop coming, the economy dries up, people lose their jobs, bad times all around. So, with all this in mind, plus the fact it was a full month after the tsunami, we went, and we're glad we did.

Back at Amanpuri, we had some drinks by the pool (with us covered in bug spray) and then went to sleep.



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