We were pleased to see our hotel after a long time travelling and not disappointed by the traditional architecture.
Everywhere we looked there were elephants. Not real ones (though these were often seen wandering along the sides of the roads). A helpful IGer mentioned to me that elephants are thought to bring good luck and are often traditionally placed in doorways, such as this one, for good fortune. There were always beautiful flower displays everywhere. Orchids are the carnations of Thailand and frangipani is my personal favourite.
While we were there, the country celebrated SongKran or Thai New Year and the hotel built a little shrine. The tradition is for people to throw water at each other (quite welcome given the temperature!) and also flour (not so welcome!)
Our villa was pretty sublime, to be honest. Plenty of space and most importantly, air conditioning!
How could one forget the outdoor bathtub?
By day, we took the opportunity to relax and leave all our troubles behind. The swimming pools kept a certain Munchkin happy. There's those elephants again.
The other half and I were to be found sipping the odd cocktail and catching up on the reading pile from time to time.
When I go on a relaxing holiday to a gorgeous exotic destination though, I am generally there for one main reason. That's the beach. This one didn't disappoint. Mile upon mile of powdery sand and remarkably warm water, so warm it was like stepping into a bath tub. Bliss. Uncrowded too. It was ticking all the right boxes.
When I could tear myself away from my English Paper Piecing, you would probably find me over at the massage huts. Thai massage is not like any I have experienced before, it really is quite strong and is about pressure points and strong movements to stimulate the mind. It's not relaxing in the way that a strokey soothing Swedish massage is. That said, it is really rather wonderful for loosening you up. Oh and for having a little chuckle whilst watching the main lady giving Mr HenHouse a "strong" massage which left his eyes watering! At £6 for an hour, we went back most days.
We made friends with a very cute little ginger cat in our resort. He really was the noisiest little cat I've ever met! We could hear him from far away and we only had to mimic his miaow and he would come running.
Unfortunately, he did have rather bad fleas and was in the sort of condition you come to expect from the stray cats you meet on foreign holidays. He loved the ham and chicken we possibly managed to sneak from the buffet! He was very sweet and friendly, lots of people in the resort befriended him and he really took a shine to the Munchkin. Awww, cute little ginge.
The holiday wasn't completely about laziness. We did manage to lever ourselves off our sunbeds to visit the local market. This is an experience not to be missed, I find, for getting a local flavour. The stalls with meat and fish were best avoided unless you had a peg for your nose!
The flowers, however, were stunning, made up into pretty garlands, just 25p to buy. The jasmine smelled divine.
We found another furry friend in the medicine stall. Purrrrr. This one was clearly a pet, in really good condition and quite fat for a Thai cat!
After a spot of shopping, we bought ourselves a veritable banquet of food from the stalls and repaired to the local sand-floored bar. The food was cooked fresh in front of you, everything from spring rolls, to breadcrumbed king prawns and spicy kebabs, and unbelievably cheap, just about everything was 10p or 20p. You might be thinking this was a bit dodgy but our rep had assured us that food standards were high and as a person with possibly the dickiest tummy in the world, I was absolutely fine.
The drinks were also very cheap. From a stall in the market, you would pay just under £1 for a beer and 30p for a bottle of water or a soft drink. In a bar, it was a little more but that night, our drinks and food cost us less than £10 for the three of us. It really is so very cheap in Thailand, incredible value compared with other far flung destinations like the Caribbean.
The transport was interesting too! There were tuk-tuks and golf carts to take us round the resort, it was really too hot to walk very far (truly), and the taxis for longer trips were rather whacky affairs, basically a transit-type van with an open back with bench seats along the sides. Fabulous built-in air conditioning but it's fair to say, this is a place where health and safety has not gone mad! A taxi to the local market was £5 (about a 20 minute trip) and you could easily share with other people and split the cost as the taxis took up to twelve.
We went on a classic day trip to the Khao Sok National Park. First, we went to ride on an elephant. I've done this before in the North of Thailand and felt it was a better experience as it was in a more natural jungly environment but it was good for the Munchkin to see a real live elephant other than in a zoo.
Later, we went to feed the monkeys which was good fun. They're remarkably clever and very fast, one swiped the whole bag of peanuts the Munchkin had bought to feed them and ran off!
Finally, we went in a canoe down a river which was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon and our guide pointed out some interesting wildlife including a python (this was very exciting, I've never seen such an amazing snake in its own habitat) and even picked us fruit from the trees.
By night, we could be found in one of the hotel's bars which were very stylishly decorated. It remained very hot in the evenings and extremely humid. The temperature was topping out at about 35 degrees in the day (hot, hot, hot!) and was still about 26 at night. Phew.
There was absolutely no evening entertainment which suited us just fine. We either played Yahtzee or bingo before having lots of lovely early nights.
Of course, all too soon, it was time to wave goodbye to the Land of Smiles and head back to good old Blighty, utterly refreshed and relaxed. The Munchkin's handiwork...
We absolutely loved our trip to Khao Lak and would certainly love to return to Thailand if we get the chance. But for now, we're looking forward to the great British Summer!