Today was another early morning start for Chris and I. We had a few more hours left with our scooters and we wanted to do one last thing. We wanted to see the sunrise at a famous Phuket landmark, The Great Buddha of Phuket, also known as Big Buddha.
Big Buddha is a beautifully built, 18-meter tall statue located high on a mountain facing east, towards Ao Chalong Bay. Although it is still under construction, it was easy to see why Big Buddha is a popular tourist destination.
We jetted off towards Big Buddha during the wee hours of the morning, like 4:45 a.m. It only took about 30 minutes to drive our scooters to Big Buddha. About 10 minutes were spent driving around and up the mountain. We arrived just before the sky started to light up.
It wasn’t very crowded when we arrived, which was nice. It allowed me ample time to search out a place to attempt to capture a timelapse of the sunrise with my GoPro. (This is an essential part to the story). Everything was going perfect. The sun started to wake, the sky was turning beautiful colors, and everything was quiet. That was until the monkeys appeared.
Monkeys are known to be ruthless little creatures and scavengers on the hunt for food. In my case, one monkey was heading right towards me and getting a little aggressive. Then it started towards my GoPro. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
I grabbed for my GoPro, which of course, pissed this monkey off. Next thing I know, the monkey jumped on my back and attempted to bite me. It all happened so fast. I honestly couldn’t tell if he made contact with me or not. He was on my back so he tried to bite my upper back between my shoulder blades.
Two ladies nearby saw the situatuion and were kind enough look on my back for any signs of bite marks. Sure enough, the little bugger broke the skin; not deep enough to cause bleeding, but he did break skin.
Now, I know what you might be thinking. Monkeys are known to be carriers, though not frequent, for rabies. Why did I reach for my GoPro and put myself at risk? Simple, GoPros are not cheap, and I knew if this monkey got it, it would be gone forever. I didn’t want to lose my GoPro, so I grabbed it.
As the sun was rising, I had to explain to Chris what happened with the monkey. He was standing somewhere else and didn’t see the situation. I also texted my mom, who I am sure LOVED getting that text message. The three of us went back and forth about the rabies vaccination. Ultimately, we decided it would be stupid not to get the shots. It’s just not worth the risk EVER.
Unfortunately, Chris and I had a prebooked boat tour for the afternoon and knew we would not have enough time to go to the hospital before the tour. I understand this probably isn’t the smartest thing, but I wasn’t worried and didn’t want to miss out on Pha Nang Bay, so we postponed getting the vaccination until after the tour.
At this point, it is now 7 am. We were both starting to get hungry, and both in desperate need of coffee. What I didn’t mention from yesterday, was that Chris and I stumbled across this random coffee shop on our drive home from sunset. We were curious about it, so we decided that we needed to make a visit before returning to Patong.
Yes Coffee, we found, was established to support underprivileged people in Thailand. It is more than just a roastery. It is also a school, which provides Burmese migrant children with education and currently has about 50 students and employs three teachers. Talk about a hidden gem of Phuket. Stumbling across this coffee shop was, for me, a major highlight of the trip. I genuinely love supporting businesses like Yes Coffee.
With the time of the tour creeping close and our time with the scooters about to expire, we headed back to Patong and our hostel. We had enough time to change into our suits and gather our things before we headed out towards the marina for our tour.
Now, something you should know about Chris is that he is an incredibly active man, so when looking for tours, I knew I needed to find something more than just sitting on a boat. With all the research I conducted, this tour, John Gray Sea Canoe “Hong by Starlight” was rated exceptionally well. I knew it would be an excellent way to see the beautiful Phang Nga Bay, which I really wanted to see because this bay has what seems like hundreds of tiny islands clustered together creating a breathtaking scene. I couldn’t let either of us leave Phuket or Thailand without seeing this site, so this was the tour I decided we needed to experience.
Okay, back to the day. It didn’t take us long after our arrival to the marina before we boarded the double-decker boat. The main level is a full kitchen because shortly after we left the port and on our way towards the Hong Islands, we were served a delicious lunch with a beautiful selection of Thai food.
Something exceptional about this company is that one guide is assigned to each kayak and they paddle the sea canoe
“through “Tidal Nape” Sea Caves literally inside Phang Nga Bay’s marine limestone karstic islands into “Hongs “(Thai for “Room”)”https://www.johngray-seacanoe.com/trips/thailand/day-trips/hong-by-starlight.html
Our first sea canoe adventure took us through a tight cave, requiring us to lay completely flat, before opening to an extremely shallow mangrove lagoon. We were even giving the chance to stand in the middle of this lagoon. I mean, really, a once in a lifetime opportunitiy.
We continued to our next location, which was a larger cluster of several islands and lagoons. These lagoons were a bit deeper, and after our first time through with the guide, we were given a chance to go back alone and explore. Chris took the paddle and guided our sea canoe back to the lagoons. This was another major highlight for both of us because once we headed back, we found ourselves alone in the middle of an island in the middle of Phang Nga Bay in Thailand. It was so beautiful and peaceful. Truly a special moment shared with two friends.
The next adventure, which was another reason I selected this tour, included making our own krathong with the help of our guide. A krathong, which is a floating flower offering/basket that is a part of a spiritual ceremony which pays respect to the water spirits during a festival called Loi Krathong. I had the opportunity to participate in the festival in November, and I thoroughly enjoyed the cultural symbolism of the festival and felt that Chris would too. So, after we finished creating our krathong, and after eating a delicious dinner while watching the sunset, our guide lead us through a dark cave with bioluminescence. The cave ended in a beautiful lagoon, where we found our own quiet corner, lit our krathong, and released it into the water, making our wish.
Unfortunately, these quiet, special moments can’t last forever, and it was time we started heading back into port. It was quite late by the time we finally arrived back to our hostel and knew we had another super early sunrise wake up the next day, so we quickly headed to bed.
Stay tuned for the next blog, where Chris and I take another boating adventure to the Phi Phi Islands!!