Excursions in Phuket, Thailand – Part 1

Hi all, thank you for being so patient with me as I have been so busy with travels, exploring the islands, and have had little access to a decent WiFi connection for a while (one of the downsides of travelling). But I’m back and ready to update you all on the rest of my trip, including the amazing excursions I got to do in the beautiful area of Phuket, Thailand. Phuket is by far one of my favourite places I’ve visited on this trip, made even better by the cheap and amazing offers they had to experience once in a lifetime adventures, some of which I’ll outline for you below.

A day of rafting, waterfalls, monkeys, elephants and ziplining!

As soon as you get into Phuket Town, you will see a tonne of tourist booths and hotels offering leaflets to go do all the excursions that the island has to offer. Tip:collect these leaflets to gain a broad idea of what there is on offer, but don’t book with these companies as they tend to inflate their prices for tourists. There are many online sites where you can find a better deal, offering the same things, and you often find yourself on the same ferry, trip or bus as the others who booked through the leaflet companies. One of my favourite, and cheapest sites I found was http://phuket-tours.net Unlike many of the other sites, they allow single person bookings, which is perfect for a solo traveller, and you can even book the tours the day before, before 9pm. I opted for a tour for 1095Tbh (the equivalent of only £23) that included white water rafting, zip lining, a trip to the bhuddist temple and monkey caves, and elephant trekking (I know, I know, I’ll go more into this later). This compared to the rates of £50-£100 that the leaflets were offering was a steal! Now I know, most people are a little wary of websites that end in .net rather than .com, as I was myself, but the transport came and picked me up from my hostel, took me to do these incredible activities and even gave me lunch, and returned me to my hostel safe and sound later that day. Check out the pictures below of some of the things I did there.

Feeding the monkeys

The excursion started with being picked up from my hostel Vitamin Sea at 7.45am, where I was escorted into an air conditioned shuttle bus (a godsend in the heat of Thailand), where I quickly realised I was the only non-Chinese person on the tour. That wasn’t an issue as I quickly made friends with the others, and we chatted away on the 45 minute journey to the monkey caves. Here we were able to buy breakfast and coffees, and food to feed the monkeys. I spent around half an hour at the bottom of monkey hill, calling to the monkeys, trying in vain to get them to come down to take a banana from me. After a while I moved on to explore the Temple of the Reclining Buddha just 20 feet to the right. Here I was surprised to find around 20 monkeys at the entrance of the cave, who came right up to you and took the food from your hands. Throughout my trip I have had lots of warnings about how volatile and aggressive monkeys can be, however these were gentle animals who were clearly very comfortable with human interaction. I spent a while playing with these beautiful animals, before admiring the beautiful temples dotted around the premises, and then returning to the van for the next part of the adventure.

Elephant Trekking

I know the backlash I’m going to get for this, and I apologise to all who are offended that I took part in this activity, however it was something that was a part of the package, and that I wanted to try just once. I’m aware that there are many elephant sanctuaries around which I could and should have opted for, however I’m going to be as candid as I promised I would be in my entries. I’m not here to pretend I’m the perfect backpacker, or that I always make the right decisions, but in all honesty I thought about it in this way: we ride horses for fun and sport, which are vastly smaller animals, therefore an elephant is much more able to handle the weight of a human. And I expected it to be like horse riding. Ladies and gentlemen, I was incorrect. The Elephants were saddled with huge metal benches across their backs, which were hooked beneath their tails to keep them on. The trainers carried large scythe looking hooks which I assumed were to prod the Elephants with if they weren’t cooperating. Upon seeing this I felt incredibly sorry for the elephants, but I went forward. However, I know at this point everyone is saying in their minds “I told you so”, but the trainer of my elephant was incredibly friendly and caring towards my elephant, he never once used his scythe, and actually never rode on the elephant with me at all, instead walking along the side and giving instructions to our large grey friend, which the elephant took very well. I was amazed by how incredibly intelligent they were. It was an unforgettable experience, and although I felt bad for the elephants because of the weight they had to bear, I can’t say it wasn’t an amazing experience. Yet again, I apologise to those who are offended by this post, and do I think elephant trekking should be stopped? In the way it’s currently done, absolutely, I think if they were properly saddled in a way which was non intrusive and shown the kind of love and care that the trainer of mine showed, then it would be more acceptable. But you cannot ride horses and donkeys, and keep dogs and cats as pets and then turn around and say that keeping a wild animal captive and riding it is unacceptable as that is exactly the premise of domesticated animals. This is simply my opinions and I’m sorry if you disagree, but I promised to be honest in my experiences and this is what I experienced.

After this, they drove me in a small, open backed truck up to the rapids to do river rafting. Here I met some of the most friendly Thai people, who were in charge of steering our boat. The rapids were wild, cold, and exhilarating to fly down. Our rafters were funny and often splashed other boats with water and had water fights while speeding down the rapids with tremendous speed and steering skills. When we finished this we were taken back to the main camp where we were given a buffet lunch, before being ushered over to the zipline. Here I was strapped in, and did a 100ft zipline across the river which I had just been sailing down in the raft. The views of the jungle like terrain were incredible, along with the wind whipping against my face and the adrenaline from flying through the sky, it’s an experience I’ll never forget. After this, we got back into the vehicle to make our last stop at the Sa Nangmanora waterfalls. I was warned by the driver that it was only a small waterfall, but after wandering around the site I found that the waterfalls went on for ages, surrounded by majestic, jungle like foliage, young children jumping in the natural pools at the base of each waterfall, and an eerie calm all around. Unfortunately by this time I was wiped out so I opted not to swim, but I took some pictures of the site and climbed my way up to the top of the falls to look out at the Thai jungle below. This was definitely my favourite excursion and I’m incredibly glad I did it.

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