Posts Tagged With: phuket

Khao Lak & Khao Sok

As beautiful as Phuket may be, there are hundreds of great destinations sprinkled around mainland Thailand just on the other side of the Sarasin bridge. Last month Sean’s parents visited and we took them on a long weekend up to Khao Lak and Khao Sok National Park. The former is a beautiful beachfront area on the mainland and the latter is a stunning national park around 2 hours north. 

We left Phuket around 3pm and got to Khao Lak just in time for sunset. My favorite place is called “Thai Life Homestay” and is actually 30 minutes north of the main tourist area. Living in Phuket which is super touristy, we find that our vacations involve trying to escape crowds as much as possible. 

The beach in front of Thai Life homestay. Absolutely empty and perfect!
Our hotel was in the main tourist area and called “Gerd and Noi”. Strange name, great place! But we’re partial to anywhere that’s dog friendly. Summit and Sean watched me do some handstands in the pool after breakfast. 

We explored near the hotel and found Sai Rung waterfall. It was pretty small but was right next to the parking lot so makes for a nice 20 minute side trip. 

The surprise of the day was finding Pak Weep beach. Literally directly across from the waterfall on the other side of the highway, it was beautiful white sand and turquoise waters. The best part? Peace and quiet!

Spent the evening playing cards and enjoying happy hour on the beach. 

The next morning we set off for Khao Sok National Park. It used to be a river valley but was dammed to generate electricity in the eighties. Now it’s a protected area and you can rent boats for day trips.

The karst limestone is beautiful!

We hired a boat for four hours and went to a raft house for lunch. The food was awesome; both Sean and his mom said it was the best fish they’d eaten!

Then we rented kayaks and paddled around for a while. Summit fell off at least twice which was… exciting. Luckily her noble owner jumped in after her and swam to shore with her. (Sean watched from the boat.)

The area around Khao Sok is equally beautiful; I recommend Art’s Riverview lodge if you want good river access.
I definitely recommend a trip to khao Lak and khao Sok for anyone visiting southern Thailand. We’ll be back for sure!

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Long weekend in Phuket

Monday is a national holiday, so Sean and I have been enjoying a three-day weekend together. Contrary to what we expected, we actually spend very little time at the beach here on the island! Take a look at a few snapshots from this weekend to see how we generally relax. (Hint: It largely revolves around food and the dog!)

It hasn’t quite felt like Christmas season even though it’s only three weeks away. That changed when our friend Amanda threw a lovely Christmas party on Friday night. We put on our red shirts, brought some egg nog, and had fun dancing the night away!

Saturday marked a recent trend in Sean’s hobbies which is attending our local ukulele group. It’s held at Anthem Wakepark and a few teachers along with other friends get together and play music. I’m working on learning the cajón but end up playing with the dogs! They’re doing Christmas music next week so I think I’ll be a vocalist.

While it’s not going to win any photography contests, this picture from out the car window as we drove home Saturday night was too good not to post. Half of Phuket feels like a tourist hub, but the backroads, oh the glorious backroads! Just a few water buffalos, storks, and palm trees….

Dinner on Saturday night was at Kruvit Raft House. We’d driven past hundreds of times but never thought to try it out. The restaurant is situated around a small lake and half of it is floating on the lake itself. We chose a bamboo hut and ordered fried rice with crab and mango salad. There were massive chunks of crab which was really surprising. I’d definitely go back!

Sunday morning was pretty rainy, so we didn’t leave the house until noon. We found a noodle shop on our way to the park that was absolutely packed with people. The dry noodle dish in the foreground was my favorite; while I couldn’t identify everything in the bowl, that didn’t stop me from slurping it down!

After filling our bellies, we headed to King Rama IX park. It’s a pretty large park in the center of the island with plenty of paths for walking. Summit liked the dinosaurs. 

With the end of the rainy season finally here I think we’ll be spending more time at the beach. But honestly, I really love the side of Phuket we’ve explored so far!

Categories: Misc | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Scenery of Phuket 

Living on a tropical island is pretty beautiful. Most of my blog posts are centered around a specific event or location, but I’ve been accumulating so many random photos of daily life that it’s time I post them all at once. I hope you enjoy!

This is one of the banana trees growing in our yard. We snapped this picture right as sun set; you can see the small bananas growing each with an individual flower. You can actually cut off the large red blossom and make really delicious banana flower salad, but I think we’ll keep it on the branch for aesthetic appeal.
The view out of bedroom window, looking across one of the many valleys of Kathu. I used to think I wanted to live near the beach, but now I prefer the cool temperatures of the clouds as they build up around the hills!

We had some friends over for lunch today, so I ran to the market to pick up lettuce and tomatos. Of course there are hundreds of grocery stores where I can get Kraft macaroni and cheese and Reese’s peanut butter cups, but I prefer the atmosphere of the local market for my fresh produce. Not to mention you can buy cloves of garlic that have already been peeled!

Seemingly part of an elegant and vibrant market, this is actually a deserted tourist destination near my house. It’s called the floating market and has little shops selling trinkets and t-shirts. 

Oh boy, this was a surprise. We went to Patong beach on Wednesday hoping for a quiet patch of sand to watch the sun go down. Little did we know that November marks the beginning of high season. Our once sparse beach was totally packed, and it’s not even Christmas.

…and we saw our first cruise ship. 

The road I drive to school every morning. (Yes, it took a while to get used to left-hand driving. I still hit the windshield wipers when I’m trying to signal…)

And finally, one of my favorite photos from this month. Sean and Summit (our dog) on Laem Ka beach. Even though tab been a long rainy season we’ve still found our afternoons of sunshine! 

Categories: Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to get a Thai driving license if you’re American

If you’re an American living in Thailand and would like to get a Thai driving license, I’ve got a few quick and dirty tips for you.

A Thai driving license is important in the following scenarios:

  • You want to fly domestically without your passport
  • You get in a car accident
  • You’re stopped by the police
  • You need proof of identification
  • You want to pay the ‘local’ price at tourist attractions

Since we just got a new car, it was only natural to go through the process to get a Thai driving license. The biggest tip I can possibly give you is this:

Get an international driving license from AAA in the United States.

If you get an international license, it’s just a 45-minute visit at the department of land transport to “convert” it into a Thai license. We live in Phuket, so I’m not sure how busy it is in Bangkok or Chiang Mai,  but this morning we arrived at 8:15 and left with a Thai license in hand at 8:59. If you show up in Thailand WITHOUT an international license, you’re looking at a 2-3 day process and the stuff nightmares of made of.

Okay, that was an exaggeration. But you will have to do the following if you do NOT have an international driving license:

  • Vision test
  • Color blind test
  • Reflex test
  • Depth perception test
  • Watch a four-hour video
  • Take a 30 question test
  • Undergo the “technical” driving course, complete with parallel parking and laser sensors that beep if you cross a line, Mission Impossible style.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather pay $20 to AAA to get it done in 45 minutes.

Either way, if you have an international license or not, you’ll still need the following things:

  • copy of passport
  • copy of visa
  • medical certificate from past 30 days (any clinic can do this for 200-300 baht)
  • copy of work permit
  • copy of residency permit if you’re not working (ask your landlord for help with this)
  • copy of international driving license
  • Around 400 baht for the whole process

I recommend that you show up the day before you aim to go and show the nice lady at the front your documents. She can clarify which pages were incorrectly photocopied, of which you will most likely have a couple. You can then go home and make new copies that suit her request and come back the next morning at 8am feeling confident and ready to hit the gas.

Honestly? Good luck, and happy driving!

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Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Trigger warning: This post contains graphic images of body piercing and mutilation. Proceed with caution.

Did I get your attention? I thought I should come back to the blogging world with a bang. 

I’ve been away for a long time, and much has happened since my last post. Two major events mark the return of Angkor Away:

1. We moved to Phuket, Thailand.

2. I got an iPhone. 

The former was an incredibly busy time of packing up our home, visiting the embassy to make our visas, and transitioning our jobs. The latter just means that I now can blog anywhere, anytime. It’s infinitely easier to take pictures and post them to WordPress now, as opposed to uploading the images from a camera and typing up a formal post on my laptop. I’ll miss my standard Nokia brick phone with its black and white screen and games of Snake, but at least I’ve joined the 21st century. 

So my first post back is about the vegetarian festival of Phuket. A couple hundred years ago, a Chinese opera group came to Phuket and fell sick with malaria.  They prayed to the Chinese gods, ate a strict vegetarian diet for one week, and miraculously overcame the fatal disease. Today, Phuket still celebrates this moment in history as an invocation to the 9 Chinese gods for protection from evil. 

How do they invoke the gods? Gnarly body piercings.

I got up at 6am yesterday and went to my loca shrine to see the morning ritual. Thai people were there in droves. Incense was burning, drums were pounding, it was surreal. I’ll let my pictures explain the rest.

Categories: Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day Trip to Koh Sire 

There aren’t many places you can get off the beathen path in Phuket. The infrastructure, the beaches, the McDonald’s, the massages, the 7-11’s. I’ve heard Phuket referred to as “Disney world” and “Thailand light”.

All of which is fantastic, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes I miss that unpolished side of Southeast Asia; that place of upturned soil and hodgepodge of motorbikes nestled alongside unadulterated natural beauty. Koh Sire straddles the divide of polished Phuket and quietly, stunningly beautiful Thailand. 


Just a few miles east of Phuket town, it’s hard to know you’re on another island. Koh Sire is often overlooked due to the lack of tourist facilities, but that’s exactly why we sought it out. If you find yourself in Phuket, set aside a few hours to check it out – but you’ll need a motorbike or a car. And the trip to the temple is a must. Enjoy the photos. 

Categories: Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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