Monday, January 21, 2013

Phuket Adventures: Patong Beach

Patong Beach is where the tailor was located (see previous post) and if you've read that post, then you know we spent quite a large portion of our vacation in the town.  Here are a few photos of our adventures in Patong Beach.

We got a little lost trying to find the tailor (I know, shocking that we got lost) so stopped at a Starbucks for some wifi so we could check the directions again and a map. As we were sitting there, this truck drove by with music blaring and a very loud announcement about Thai boxing.
Another view of the street. As you can see, it's pretty relaxed, dirty and come what may. A far cry from the pristine, sparkly and austere Abu Dhabi. No dress code here, that's for sure!
I was trying to take a photo of the McDonald's and the Christmas tree as a Tuk Tuk drove past. I like the way the photo turned out.
 Even Ronald McDonald knows the proper Thai greeting!
Thailand is very proud and very fond of their king so there are shrines like this all over the country. This was one of the biggest ones we saw. They always include a picture of him and often with his wife and there is always a lot of gold and blue and flowers. I never did find out the significance of the colors.
This is one of the many seafood restaurants along the beach road. Fresh fish that you pick out yourself and have grilled to your specifications. 
Tried to get Brian to buy a pair, but he's no fun at all!
Somehow it doesn't look as dirty at night. :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Phuket Adventures: The Tailor Story

Our Phuket vacation was a bit different than the many others we had in the last half of 2012. Usually, before a trip, I do quite a bit of research on the area and have a plan (okay, I'll admit it, schedule) with activities we should not miss while visiting. It's a lot of work and very time consuming (I know, poor me!) For this trip, I decided not to plan (at least not too much) and 'go with the flow'. We were staying at a time share resort so I knew there would be plenty of relaxation to do if nothing else caught our eye.

As a result, I was on the lookout as soon as we got off the plane for things to do and see in the area. And that's when I stumbled across the advertisements for custom tailors.

2 jackets, 2 trousers, 2 skirts completely custom made to your size for $188!!! I thought I'd hit the jackpot.

Now, I realize that buying clothes (especially work clothes) while on vacation doesn't sound that exciting (and you'd be right, by the way), but you have to understand that I'm a bargain shopper and a plus size so shopping here in UAE where everything is size 6 and designer has put a huge damper on one of my favorite pastimes. So I was very excited to see what this custom tailor thing was all about.

After a nice evening settling in and a good night's sleep, I started a little web research to sort out the tailor options and reviews. I found one that got great reviews on Trip Advisor and had a very professional looking website and decided to try it out. Brian, my favorite husband ever, said he was game to go along and put up with this shenanigans.

That's when we found out the tailor was an hour away from our resort.

I was about to abandon the whole idea, but after some discussion (and a little pouting on my part) we decided to do it thinking we'd end up passing through the town anyway on our way to some of the others sites, and according to the website, we might only need to go there twice - once to pick everything out, then for one fitting, and assuming everything's fine, they would deliver the final product to our hotel.

But you've read enough of my posts to guess that that's not how it turned out.

The first visit was fine although it took almost 2 hours as we waited for one of the owners to arrive, picked out fabric and what we wanted. I decided on one suit (trousers and jacket) and one trousers and another jacket (just not matching). Brian decided on a suit and an extra jacket. We left feeling confident and excited, although a little poorer than expected. The great deal advertised at the airport was for another shop of lower quality in workmanship and quality of fabrics. (I know, shocking.)

The next day, we stopped by for a fitting and that's when it became clear that this was not going to be the easy adventure I had imagined. Everything was fine, but there were quite a few adjustments to be made and I was not confident that everything would be perfect enough to simply be delivered to the hotel. And, I was bound and determined for everything to fit perfectly given the price we were paying.

The third trip uncovered more adjustments and finally by the fourth things were starting to look almost final. We were just having a little trouble with my suit jacket, but agreed he could deliver it to the hotel when complete.

I got the jacket the night before we left, tried it on ... and the lapels were different lengths! I was devastated, angry and very frustrated. Took a photo and emailed the tailor and he assured me it was just a matter of ironing and to send the jacket back to him through the hotel and he would send it on to Abu Dhabi once finished.

I honestly thought I'd never see the jacket again and said goodbye to my money and vowed not to be so gullible next time.

But there is a happy ending to the story. A few weeks after Christmas (and after 2 reminder emails to the tailor) my jacket arrived and the lapels were the same length.

All's well that ends well, but I think I might go back to researching locations in advance. :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Phuket Adventures: Phuket Town

Our adventures continued one day to Phuket Town, which was about an hour away from the resort by shuttle. We stopped there because a) it was one of the stops the shuttle made, and b) it looked like it might be interesting. Unfortunately, only a) was true.

No, actually, it wasn't all bad and had a very nice temple, which ended up being the only one we saw due to "the tailor story" which is coming up in a later post.

When we got off the shuttle, a guy from a taxi company suggested we take a tour of the 'old town' and the temple. We hadn't yet checked things out and couldn't tell if we were potentially getting ripped off so decided to walk around a bit first and come back if interested.

So we walked around, found a little bit of shopping (horrible) and a nice little place for lunch (yummy and cheap) and then decided to take the tour as it didn't look like there was much else to do in Phuket town. Our only requirement was that we see the sights by Tuk Tuk.
It cost us $3 for the 30-45 minute tour in our Tuk Tuk. And yes, it was uncomfortable, smelly and hot, but it was part of the adventure.
The tour of 'old town' was a bit of a bust. It was one street and the only building the driver pointed out was the one above - some kind of government building, we guessed as we couldn't really understand what he was telling us. Well, really, what do you expect for $3?
More interesting were the variety of transportation options we saw on the streets. lots and Lots and LOTS of scooters (much cheaper than cars) and then all kinds of souped up motorcycles like the two in these photos.

The tuk tuk also took us to a temple, but I'm sorry to say I didn't catch the name. It was a small area next to a school. The photo above includes some signs of advice that were posted on the trees outside the temple.
We weren't allowed in the temple - it was locked up, which someone later told us was a bit strange as the temples all over Phuket are open to the public like most religious building around the world. Maybe it had something to do with the proximity to what looked like a high school?
In any case, the exterior was beautiful enough, although I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to see more and go inside a few. They look gorgeous.
Here's a good view of the whole area. Pretty small, actually. I don't really know anything about the religion of the area so not sure if it's for a small congregation or maybe people come individually so it doesn't need to be bigger. Definitely something to research before a return trip to Thailand.
So, we're walking around town and there really just isn't anything going on. Not many people about and a pretty quiet afternoon. And then we look across the street and see this woman hauling a huge cart of stuffed toys. I had to get a photo. Where was she going?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Phuket Adventures: The Marriott in Mai Kao

In early December, we took a week's vacation to Phuket, Thailand. I know what you're thinking, "why on earth would they need a vacation with all those public holidays?" Anyway ...

We flew direct to Phuket from Abu Dhabi on Air Berlin and stayed at the Marriott Beach Club in Mai Kao, which is about a 20 min drive from airport. The place is gorgeous! A huge resort, but the way they've tucked things into the massive tropical gardens makes it seem much more cozy and small than it really is. Here are a few pics of the resort and our stay.

Our first evening, we hung out (pun intended) in one of the bars overlooking a beautiful pool. The service was amazing and we got our first taste of Thai hospitality.
This is the lobby area. It was a bit weird to see the Christmas trees in the 90 degree heat and humidity, but it was nice to be reminded that it was the holiday season.
One of the three pools on the resort grounds. It figures that the two days we spent at the pool were overcast and a bit rainy. Still a relaxing great time, but we didn't come back with any tan, that's for sure!
One of the gorgeous sunny days walking around the resort gardens.
A view from the lobby looking out toward the beach area. 
Part of the beach area. We had hoped to go out on one of the hobie cats, but never got around to it. Maybe next time.
Can you see the baby elephant? He was hanging around the beach areas most days with his handler. You could go up and pet him and feed him fruit and get your photo taken - probably for a small fee, we didn't try so I'm not really sure what the deal was.
Another part of the resort - did I mention the place is HUGE?
We stayed in a 2 bedroom villa that included daily cleaning service. These little towel creatures greeted us when we came back to the room on most days. This one is a sea turtle that was on our bed.
A seashell on the edge of our jacuzzi tub.
And the elephant family. The momma elephant was there when we arrived and she was joined by the baby the next day. Such a cute touch.