The maxi-taxi from the airport to the resort the night before took just over an hour. Audi, our driver (that’s what he called himself, “Like car, You know, Audi”) was a real character with a sense of humour, sharpened no doubt from years of putting up with smartarse tourists. If sure that if we’re not careful, we can easily fall into the trap of assuming these lovely people aren’t quite as smart as us simply because they aren’t quite as wealthy (lucky) as us. We chatted about Phuket and Australia and his family and our plans for our stay on the island. Carmel mentioned a statistic that she’d heard regarding road safety that made road travel sound a little risky. He proceeded to inform us that there were no road accidents whatsoever in Phuket. “Nothing at all to worry about”, he assured us. I suspected he was having a lend of us so I asked him about sharks. He said “Yes”, there were “many, many sharks and many, many crocodiles”.
“Crocodiles?” I asked, “Audi, I think you might be pulling my leg”.
I can report though that we arrived at the Kalima Resort and Spa at Kalima Beach without incident; not even one croc attack. The Kalima resort is built on the side of a very steep hill as are a lot of the resorts along this stretch of the beach. The lobby ceiling towers above you as you enter via a series of stairs leading up from the driveway which in turn led up from the main road – everything tends to ‘lead up’; there’s not much leading down (on one day with a bit of time to spare I counted 207 steps from the lobby to our room but most normal people just take the elevator). As a result the view over the bay and surrounding jungle is spectacular. As I mentioned, there are of course elevators which, give or take a dozen or so stairs and a couple of walkways, will deliver you to your door. On arrival however, we piled into a resort courtesy vehicle (basically a Hilux utility with the tray modified to take people and luggage) and were driven up a series of roadways to our accommodation block. Not that it was anything like a ‘block’. Whether outside looking in, or inside looking out, it had been designed and built in such a way to deflect attention away from mere bricks and mortar. Instead your attention is drawn to the lush jungle foliage that virtually touches the main access walkway at the rear of the apartment or out towards the breathtaking panorama on show from the front balcony (I’ll be wanting some kickbacks from that little endorsement thanks).
Breakfast at the Kalima – absolutely exquisite! (didn’t actually realise Carmel was taking this pic………….and neither did the prick who apparently ‘forgot’ where he was sitting and decided to hoe into my eggs instead!)
Breakfast at the resort is more of an event than a meal! Eggs done any number of ways; pancakes with a smorgasbord of toppings; authentic Thai dishes (I really didn’t think there were that many ways to do breaky); fresh fruits, yogurts, freshly baked breads, cereals, salads, cold fish, sausages, bacon, hot drinks, juices, pastries; and that’s just off the top of my head. I should report though that there didn’t appear to be any vegemite – but thank Chuck for that! Not that I don’t like the stuff; it’s just nice to know that not everyone thinks of Aussies as some kind of vegemite-addicted yobbos! On the subject of stereotypes, I did have an interesting experience a couple of days later where I have to admit, I was definitely ‘out-Aussied’ by an Asian bloke giving out pamphlets to some show (featuring ping pong balls of all things!) They sometimes put on an Australian accent in the hope of establishing a quick rapport with the prospective buyer so I tried to match him.
It went something like this (LANGUAGE WARNING):
Thai man: G’day mate.
Me: How’s it goin mate.
Thai man: Bloody good mate.
Me: Bloody beaudy mate.
Thai man: You bloody good Aussie mate.
Me: Bloody oath mate.
Thai man: You wanna buy a bloody fucking DVD mate?
After breakfast and a quick shine, shave and shampoo, we caught the resort shuttle into the shopping district. The sheer number of retail outlets is incredible. I use the term ‘retail outlets’ loosely – many are little more than a series of adjoining rooms with an open front and every available square centimetre of space stacked with goods. I won’t bore you with another list, needless to say there’s a lot of clothing, lots of statues, paintings, trinkets, jewellery, painted trinkets, clothed and unclothed statues – you get the picture. I bought a pair of Crocs and two Billabong shirts. I’m not sure if the shirts were genuine or imitation or genuine imitation or imitation-imitation; I don’t really care – I got two nice shirts for $15.00. We were still pretty full from our first resort breakfast so lunch wasn’t really a priority; instead we stopped at a bar across the road from Patong beach for a cocktail – only $6. Later in the day we’d be enjoying two-for-one cocktails around the resort pool but this would suffice for now (“suffice for now” – sounds a little concerning – as if we’re just struggling to make it through the day without a drink until we can get back to the resort for afternoon Happy Hour). Well, kind of, but not really. You see Happy Hour isn’t actually a happy hour, it’s a happy three hours – these guys aren’t just satisfied with happy guests; no, they want you to be really, really happy.
A sneaky pic of Carmel after happy hour on the first night (she learned to pace herself a bit better as the week went on)
Dinner is also an experience to be savoured. That night I had a Thai dish featuring prawns and squid surrounded by noodles and presented with a tray of accompanying condiments: crushed nuts, chilli flakes, vinegar with capsicum pieces and sugar. The chef came out as the meals were served and asked us to please let him know if there was anything we’d like changed! Seriously? How about changing the date of my return ticket so that I can stay here and enjoy this superb cuisine for a little longer! (Incidentally, I don’t recall ever using the term ‘superb cuisine’, perhaps ‘a good feed’ or maybe ‘a great feed’ but never ‘superb cuisine’). No thank you, appreciate the offer but really there was nothing at all that needed changing. And on the point of exceptional politeness, the staff here will leave you feeling almost rude with the level of pleasantness they show guests. I mean, you’re leaving the restaurant or the bar and you say a casual ‘thank you’; well, the head chef comes out, the wait staff, the cleaner, the gardener, the guys laying the tiles on the new pathway outside, pretty much anyone who’s in the area, to thank you for dining or drinking at their establishment and to ‘please enjoy your day/evening’ and that they ‘hope to see you tomorrow’. Like I said, you just feel like you need to go back and add another fifty baht to the tip! (of course you don’t because that would be crass and besides, you’re way too tight for that). Beautiful people though, absolutely beautiful!