We were at the end of our 5 days in Phuket, and had been enjoying cheap massages daily, cheap beers and cocktails, checking out some of the culture – visiting temples and giant buddhas and Patong (arguably nothing to do with culture), and taking daily swims….along with some excellent Thai cuisine!
Life was treating us well, but we were excited and a little apprehensive to leave Phuket and travel by speedboat to a little isolated resort, on a small island in Phang Nga Bay, Thailand.
Luckily for us, all transfers were included in our package, so we were picked up by car, driven to a beautiful private marina, and got onboard a small speedboat with 6 other resort guests. It was great start to our adventure. But the tiny boat was soon crashing on the choppy water and continued to do so for the 1 hour journey. It was both uncomfortable and a little comical. Here we were, on our way to paradise, in a tinny.
What we did get to glimpse of Phang Nga Bay between bangs and splashes was breath-takingly gorgeous. Many islets popping out of the water like they were filled with baking powder and rose straight up in the hot oven of Thailand, topped off with lush green palm trees and the deep green of the rainforest. The beauty is astounding, and the waters a unique turquoise.
Then around one more island, we arrived at our destination. Paradise Resort stared back at us from the beach. A warm sandy beach with sun loungers lined up under tall palm trees was a welcome introduction to the days that lead ahead. However our attention was quickly diverted to a construction zone right ahead of us, and the sounds of metal cutting and hammering. I silently hoped this was going to be a good experience, knowing that we had nowhere to go but this small stretch of beach for 5 days. This could turn out to be torture rather than bliss.
We walked on sand to the reception, passed a bar right on the beach and a shack housing the day spa and another for the activities. The casualness of the beach vibe immediately set in and the open air check in lounge with it’s bamboo furniture and tropical print cushions was inviting calmness. We were early for our 3pm checkin, and it was apparent that the staff were all on ‘island time’ – nothing was done with any urgency – so we were offered the day spa to change in, and we quickly slipped on our swimmers and went for a swim in the resort pool, then the warm sea. A bell rang out at the beach bar announcing happy hour, we we, very happily, consumed beers and prawn burgers sitting at a little table set up near the bar, our barefeet in the sand. It was only 2pm, we had been in paradise for around 2 hours and already we were relaxing into its casual charm.
On 3pm we were taken to our room and along the way we passed the glorious pond full of pink water lilies. In the middle of the day the flowers were closed up but first thing in the morning and later in the evening they were open and glorious. It was here that we later discovered the huge monitor lizards that called it home!
Our room was spacious with a large outdoor shower, a balcony with a swinging chair and a room with a suspended mosquito canopy over the bed, a couch, a desk and a bathroom. We checked the fridge and were surprised to see no minibar items despite there being a list with prices on the couch. Wondering if this was a mistake and concerned they may charge us for the entire minibar consumption, I made sure to tell them twice there was nothing in our minibar to start with, but no-one seemed to bother, and no-one stocked it for the 5 days we were there.
The next 4 days all seemed to melt into a routine, starting around 6am to walk the few steps from our room to the beach to catch the sunrise over the water. Along the path we sometimes saw a monitor lizard walking on the land, or a monkey eating berries, or the pied hornbills birds that were everywhere in Paradise during the morning and evenings. There were ghekos in the shower area as we showered, and butterflies, crabs and large strange insects at the beach. It was like living in a wildlife sanctuary, and it really was like a little oasis in the natural desert that is our city life.
We got to do 3 things that made us extremely happy while on the island. We got to enjoy yoga on the beach in a purpose build pavilion one morning. The instructor was excellent, the scene was exquisite and the sea air was as fresh as could be. Together we stretched and breathed and balanced through 90 minutes of exercise. Another thing we did was rise at 6am every morning and greet the sunrise at the beach. Starting the day with the sun’s first glow feels like a beautiful gift and it made us so happy for the day ahead. And the other thing we both got to enjoy every single day was swimming at the sea and the in the pool after warming ourselves in the deliciously hot Thai air. The sea was warm and the pool was refreshing.
Also on our agenda was some reading, some lazing in the hammocks and on the sun loungers, and eating and drinking. The construction noise had long since stopped, in fact it was only evident when we first arrived, so all that was left was the busy sounds of the rainforest behind us and the sea in front. Occasionally a Thai longboat would motor past, and with their car engines for motors they did make a bit of a racket – the first time we heard one we thought it was a helicopter.
We took a kayak out on the bay one morning, and explored. Had we stayed longer we definitely would have done this again. Being completely alone in the bay was pretty special. It was hot out there on the water though, and next time we would probably moor on one of the many beaches and have a swim.
On our last day we talked about our experience in Paradise, and how we had enjoyed it. We had been apprehensive about how we would feel about 5 days in one place with no other restaurants, or anywhere to go other than our isolated resort. we are unaccustomed to doing so little and in fact the wifi was fairly intermittent too which meant even less to distract us (and it turned out to be a blessing). But the best measure of how we enjoyed our stay was at the end when we realised we wanted to stay another 5 days rather than check out.
And that, to us, is Paradise found.