PHUKET: As Iím sitting with friends on the way to see James Bond Island and Koh Panyee (the floating sea gypsy village), bouncing to and fro in our wave-battered dinghy, a thought occurs to me: living here ainít half bad.
In order to bring our focus back to why we came here in the first place, I offer you just a few of the reasons why Phuket is awesome. They can be roughly divided into two categories: the beaches and the non-beaches.
Topping the list of beaches Iím willing to tell you about is Ya Nui. One of the quietest beaches in the southwest of Phuket, Ya Nui offers world-class snorkeling, island kayaking, dining and massage services, and all with relatively little price gouging.
Next up are the sleepy eastern shores of Cape Panwa. This area has several attractions that can be added to your trip. Visit the Phuket Aquarium, including the beach-side nature trail that connects the aquarium with the Phuket Marine Biological Center, where youíll see baby sea turtles. Stop by Ao Yon and have a drink on the beach under the shady trees and visit the Khao Kad viewpoint on your way home for a view of Phuket Town.
Looking out from Promthep Cape youíll see an island whose name I donít know, but that I call simply 'Buddha Island' (because of the giant Buddha image being erected there). This tranquil place houses a monastery with friendly and inquisitive monks Ė as well as the largest volume of giant clams Iíve ever seen. If youíre confused about where to snorkel, ask one of the monks and he will point; thatís how I found it.
In the north, my favorite non-beach place is without a doubt Khao Pra Taew National Park where you can hike to Bang Pae Waterfall and see wild gibbons in one of Phuketís last rainforests. There is a secret klong in the middle of the trail that few people ever reach, which is secluded and beautiful.
Rang and Toh Sae Hills in Phuket Town offer great opportunities for picnics. Both of these places feature wild nature, stunning views, monkeys and the added benefit of exercise and fitness parks.
There are many more places but thatís all for now. In the spirit of this list I ask only that you be kind and respectful while visiting the places Iíve enjoyed so much.This article first appeared in the March 9-15 print version of the
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