November 13th, 2011

Phuket (Oct '11)

Diana’s best friend Viki was her for a few weeks, and we decided to go with her to Phuket for 5 days. Mid-October is generally a good time to go, as the weather is good but it’s not yet peak season. And even though Diana is pregnant now, it’s her second trimester and her energies are back! Time for a perfect and relaxing holiday…How many people can fit on a small scooter?
 
Phuket has many different faces. On the one hand are the busy beaches and tacky tourist areas, but there are also very calm and stunning beaches, such as Karon and Kata in the south of the island. Our choice this time: Karon. We managed to find an almost brand-new hotel, not too far from Karon beach, with a good deal. The rooms were very clean, everything looked new and we had a beautiful sea view from our room.
 
Jump!The first day we took it easy and spent almost the whole day on Karon beach. The weather was great, the beach had perfect sand, and the water was clear with occasional waves. We loved jumping in them! ... and we thought that our future baby might be enjoying it as well :-)
 
The next day we visited the gibbon rehabilitation project, which we always wanted to visit but never really had time for. It is an absolutely fantastic project, where they are working hard to rehabilitate gibbons that have been used in illegal animal trade. It’s also used to educate tourists and locals about gibbons in Thailand.
 
The sad truth is that many gibbons are removed from the forests of Thailand every year, to work in the tourism industry or be used as pets. Poachers go after the babies, but often have to kill the whole family to catch one. And 2 out of 3 baby gibbons die when poachers pull them out of the tree (falling 10-15 meters to the ground), making the whole slaughter useless. So for every gibbon in captivity, around 10 have died.
 
Many gibbons are forced to have their photos taken with tourists. Using gibbons in tourism is illegal in Thailand, but unfortunately the police sometimes closes an eye (or both). So if you are reading this blog, please make sure you never take a photo with a gibbon (or any other monkey or animal, for that matter). We haven’t seen any gibbons during our stay, but they can often be found in and around Patong beach (the busiest beach).
 
This centre is giving a second chance to gibbons who are lucky enough to end up here. Most of them are released into a protected area after 5+ years of rehabilitation – the ones that can’t be released will spend their lives in this sanctuary. It's possible to adopt a gibbon and we adopted Tam, one of the permanent residents (due to her physical disabilities of only having one hand and one foot). She was born in the wild in 1994, caught and beaten so brutally by her owner that they had to Wow...amputate one arm and one leg. She was then put in a cage with other gibbons without introduction and they bit off all but two fingers on her remaining hand. Despite all this, Tam is gentle and friendly and is still able to play and move around in her cage. It is true that she will never be rehabilitated, but at least the suffering is over for her. This is another great organisation that needs to be supported.
 
After our visit to the rehabilitation centre we visit the nearby waterfalls, which provided lots of wet entertainment for the locals.
 
Sjoerd & Diana on Kata beachWe spent the next two days just relaxing on Karon beach, shopping and enjoying the good Thai cuisine!
 
The last day we spent on Kata beach which had crystal clear water. We have also discovered a great drink: a mix of coconut water and coconut flesh with ice. Delicious!
 
So overall, not much can beat this holiday when it comes to relaxation…:-)