Southeast Asian Adventure Part 5: Banyan Tree Phuket

The last stop on our Asia trip was at the Banyan Tree Phuket resort. Our visit here was in many ways much like our previous stay at Phi Phi Island Village: lots of eating, swimming, and relaxing with a bit of activity sprinkled in here and there. The main difference was that, while Phi Phi Island Village was superbly nice, the Banyan Tree was off the hook nice – we definitely saved the best spot for last.

Let’s start with our “room” – which was a large villa complete with its own garden, a riverside Jacuzzi, and an outdoor sunken tub, among other touches. (The really nice ones were “double pool” villas, which as you might guess, had not one, but two pools. Excessive.) Everything else about the Banyan Tree was similarly top-notch. It was a pretty sprawling place, so depending on where you were going, you’d often have to call a “buggy” (a golf cart) to give you a ride. We tried not to be too lazy, but it was big and we were on vacation.

 

 

 

As for the trip itself:

Tuesday (4/5): Arrived. Got introduction from reception, chatted about Scuba options with concierge and booked a trip for the next day. My white swimsuit got pretty destroyed from chlorine + sunscreen + wetsuit at Ko Phi Phi, so I grabbed a shuttle into town to try to find a new one. It was disturbingly difficult finding a non-Euro skimpy option but at the last place I stopped I was able to get some passable board shorts. I returned to join Meagan lounging by the pool.

 

 

After a poolside lunch, we hopped on a buggy to the oceanside beach, which had to be one of the prettiest, most mellow spots. After relaxing and swimming for a while, we headed back and changed for dinner, but then I returned to the beach for some sunset photos. The sunset was a little muddled by the clouds, but it was still quite nice.

 

For dinner, we went to the far side of the resort to Tre, a French Vietnamese restaurant overlooking the river and the double-pool villas. We were literally the only ones dining there that night – I think the previous storms + the upcoming Thai new year holiday meant that there were fewer guests than normal at the Banyan Tree. I no longer remember what we had, but I remember that it was amazing. We were entertained along with the staff by chucking old pieces of bread into the water to trigger a feeding frenzy among the fish.

 

Wednesday (4/6): Pretty much a full day of scuba diving. Got up early, had breakfast by myself at the stellar breakfast buffet which included all-you-can-eat mango sticky rice. Listened to a mellow tropical adaption of Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok”. The waiter caught me trying to record it with my phone and offered to hold it closer to the actual speaker for me. Quite embarrassed. After breakfast, the scuba shuttle picked me up and we headed to the southern part of Phuket to meet the boat. It took a little more than an hour since I was the first pick-up on the northern side and we had to fetch the rest of the divers along the way.

 

Diving itself was pretty stellar. Locals were a little disappointed by the relative lack of visibility and wildlife, but as a novice diver who had only done cold water dives until this trip, I thought it was pretty sweet. We did three dives: Ko Dokmai (a small island), King Cruiser Wreck (a sunken ferry boat), and Shark’s Point (sadly no sharks). We went with Euro Divers, who I’d highly recommend for their ability to cater to beginners and experienced divers alike (largely due to my instructor Nok’s patience!). I was happy with my progression and increased ability to manage my buoyancy, but I was definitely still a “heavy breather” and one of the first ones up on each dive. Still, while I was down, we managed to see a lot, particularly on the last two dives. It was fun swimming through the sunken ferry boat – next time I’ll have to get an underwater camera!

After diving, we repeated the drop-off in the reverse order – me last. But the trip back included a great sunset drive of the western coastline. It also included a drive through Patong Beach, the Thai equivalent of Cancun, which was pretty entertaining.

Back at the hotel, I rejoined Meagan (who apparently had an epic spa day), and after enjoying the last of the sunset from the Jacuzzi, we finished off the day with a typically large meal, this one an Asian buffet at Water Court.

Thursday (4/7): Our last full day. Started off with a tropical breakfast and then continued with a trip to the spa. I thought I wasn’t much of a massage fan, but this one might have convinced me otherwise. Banyan Tree is known for having one of the best spas in Asia apparently. After an hour I felt pretty invigorated yet relaxed. The rest of the day was a mix of pool, sun, and ocean. A little bit of rain actually interrupted the afternoon, which would have been a less than ideal end to the trip, but we patiently waited it out and had a pleasant late afternoon at the beach. We capped the evening off with a waterfront cocktail and an awesome Thai dinner at Saffron.

 

Friday (4/8): The end of the trip, or at least the beginning of a long, long day of travel. We started with our last epic breakfast buffet, which included me finally having too much mango sticky rice. After chatting in Spanish for a while with our Ecuadorian waiter, we headed to the lobby to gather our stuff and begin the journey back.

 

 

The rest of the day was pretty much a blur: ride to the Phuket airport. Phuket to Hong Kong. Hong Kong to Vancouver. Vancouver to Seattle. And, due to the wonders of the International Date line, it was still Friday when we arrived.

Our friend JJ was kind enough to pick us up at the airport, and even dragged Lulu with him to greet us. Eager for some non-Asian food, we grabbed some Mexican food and margaritas at El Chupacabra in Greenwood near our house before turning in and beginning our long battle versus jet lag.

As you might expect, we weren’t keen for the trip to end – it was definitely hard leaving the Banyan Tree – but it was nice returning to our life in Seattle. I was looking forward to a weekend of post-vacation chilling and catching up with friends before the real world beckoned on Monday. Not to mention that we were still getting used to the St. Patrick’s Day news of Meagan matching for her residency at Seattle Children’s! To be honest we had largely forgotten about that big news on the trip and had lots of good times in Seattle to look forward to.

Another continent checked off, another amazing adventure with Meagan, and another new list of places that I’d like to go back to again. But, since I am pretty much dead out of vacation time now, that will have to wait another day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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