Stampede does Phuket!
It's about to become old news now, but last two weeks the rest of the Stampede team with the exception of Shen (boo-hoo!) decided it was time to embark on an island vacation to Phuket, Thailand!
Arriving at Phuket International Airport at 9 am in the morning, we were ushered to our sweet mother of a resort, Burasari Resort located in the busy streets of Patong - the streets which are filled with random Thai women calling you in for a massage, colorful knick-knacks, various stalls selling all sorts of stuff (really) and of course, mobile stalls selling my favorite banana + Nutella crepe.
Day 1: Rain rain go away
We were greeted with a drizzle in Phuket which ultimately progressed to a downpour. After a good hearty welcome Thai meal & retreating to our rooms, we decided to go freestyle -Shaiful and Syazwan decided to scour the streets for a massage and more food, Shaza and Dov lounged in their room, Wan quietly sneaked under the white covers and went to sleep for what seems like eternity, and yours truly decided to get some salad and go for a read at Burasari's very own salad bar, Naughty Radish.
After a good deal of chillaxing, what could be a better way to spend the night rather than another hearty Thai meal - so we headed to the town of Patong by the tuk-tuk to Kusuma Seafood.
I had the privilege to teach Shaiful how to eat fresh oysters for the first time, Thai style. This is how the homies across the Andaman Sea do it - top the oyster with garlic cloves, fried shallots, some of Thai hot sauce and sprinkle some lemon zest all over it. The result is stupendous (I use this word because it felt like the kind of word to describe my expression here).
" Tip #1: Try the local delicacies whenever you go travel. If the locals survive having it on a daily basis, you probably will too."
Day 2: Road trip!
The initial plan was to rent a car, figure out how the island works and go for a drive for ourselves. But after a few discussions weighing the pro and cons like every extensive Stampede team meeting goes, we finally decided to get a driver and have us drive us around the tourist spots.
Thai people are amazingly friendly. From the chauffeurs to the hotels staffs to the drivers, they never hesitate to step down and help the best that they could. Our driver for the road trip is called Pyat - petite, always on the phone (even while driving), but often with a smile. Despite the language barrier, Pyat was ever helpful with identifying the places to go and teaching us new Thai phrases.
Pyat: You have to see my friend, she is .. poom pui (expands his arms with his hands on his waist)
Pyat: No. Fat!
... and the whole van roared with laughter.
" Tip #2: Be friends with the locals. They always have interesting stories to tell."
We also made a point for a detour to Phuket Shooting Range (the website, MY EYES!) for Dov's shooting fix as well as a small-ish paintball battle between the boys, which turned into a bloodbath of yellow and red paints (Shaiful got shot in the earlobe, despite all the armour).
That night, we decided to go to Bangla Road, the absolute hub of the tourist nightlife, on foot. The streets are lined with restaurants, bars and discos, the drill. Shaza and I said that we wanted to go to the bookstore (which is partially true because there IS a bookstore there) but what we accidentally saw is not something we want to tell our moms back home. Tee-hee!
Anyway, moving on to Day 3, shall we?
Day 3: Island adventure
The rain had been almost torrential the few days before, so we were lucky that on the third day when we were off for an island adventure across the Phi Phi islands, the morning was bright. We were picked up by the tour agent in a van from our hotel to the Chalong Bay. From the bay, we took a speedboat on another 45 minutes trip to the Phang Nga Bay, where the previous shooting for 1974's James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun took place, as well as Danny Boyle's The Beach.
Wan and I, the adventurous lot that we were, decided to sit at the bow of the boat, unaware of the consequences, which shall be discussed later.
When we arrived at Phang Nga Bay, the place was packed like a supermarket before a hurricane.
30 mins later, we were taken to see some monkeys and finally, to the waters to snorkel.
Next stop would be glorious lunch at Ko Phi Phi Don and of course, some coffee and gelato would not be bad idea as well.
The last bit of the boat trip was the hardest. Bobby the boat operator warned us who sat at the bow of the boat to hold on to the railings as good as we could, as the ride was going to be bumpy. We had no idea how bumpy it was, until the first bump hit us and I went, "Holy, my back! My butt!"
Wan was having a ball for the first few bumps, going about his signature buzzword "woohoo!" until I noticed he grew quiet after a while. We had to endure the epic bumpy ride for about an hour until we arrived at the last island (I am horrible, I forgot what it is called), and Wan said, "I think I want to puke," and I replied, "Dude, me too."
Shaiful, fortunately, ever helpful as always, offered the best advice to combat seasickness, "Think of sexy thoughts, guys."
It was raining heavily when we arrived, so the activities were pretty much limited when the rain stopped after about 20 minutes. We just lounged about having drinks and the team gathered around me listening (and laughing) to my woes about being horribly sunburned. No, I won't post pictures.
Dov offered to take Wan's and my places on the bow of the boat during the ride home, how sweet of him. The ride back to Chalong Bay was pretty much quiet, with mostly everybody had fallen asleep. But not Iwan - he sat at the back of the boat like a bawse.
" Tip #3: Be adventurous. Even though after the epic boat ride, your back might hurt so bad and you return four shades darker than you already are, you can go home knowing you have experienced it."
" Tip #4: Obviously, during a beach/island trip, do not take sunblock lotion application lightly!"
Day 4: Shopping & conclusion
The last day before going home we went to Jungceylon shopping mall to shop for souvenirs for friends and family back home. The whole basement is dedicated to a whole range of souvenirs ranging from t-shirts, keychains, textile products and many more.
As with many shopping trip, I can say I am not the best person to elaborate on this so I thought I might want to jump straight to conclusion.
Before I end this lengthy blog post which took me three days to complete due to my anal retentiveness of drafting and re-drafting the whole thing ("I hate my English!" "Not funny enough!" "Do it chronologically or collectively?"), I would like to let everyone know that the trip was actually devised by Shaza as a final company trip before my departure to London for a year (stay tuned for another blog post in a few weeks time). She thought it would be a great idea for everyone to have a get-together, away from home, taking a few days off.
And you know what, she is right.
A friend of mine gave the following advice, "You are the average of the 10 people you spend time with". Looking back, I was able see how impactful this was to my daily life and I am drawing the conclusion that:
" It is not the location of the trip that matters, it's the company of people you spend time with that will make all your memories seem so worthwhile."
Or something like that.
Anyway, on that note, all choked with emotion, I would like to say that I am so grateful to be part of the Stampede family.
To see more photos & the team's antics of the trip, follow #stampededoesphuket on Instagram and Stampede Does Phuket tumblr.
Zana Fauzi is the Project Manager of Stampede Design.
In her free time when she's not sweet-talking clients & breathing down her team members' necks, she trains her cat Monty to do backflips. Check out Zana's musings or follow her daily findings on Twitter.