What do you do when you have a sudden five-day break and you’re hankering for adventure? You book tickets to Thailand. From my home in India, this is a quick getaway, easy to reach and offers the unbeatable advantage of wonderfully low fares.
Bangkok, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan have all seen the soles of my travel shoes, but Phuket island has somehow eluded me. So I set my eyes there and did some research. Patong beach on the island’s west coast seemed far too busy for me, so I chose Mai Khao further up north instead – more secluded and a stone’s throw away from the airport.
My location for the week was Splash Beach Resort, an expansive property stretching across the virginal sands of Mai Khao, endowed with perfectly manicured lawns and landscaped gardens, a state-of-the-art conference and event area, beautiful spa, dedicated children’s area, and my favourite bit – jaw-dropping views of the beach on one side and Phuket’s hinterland on the other.
Through my tropical holiday in Phuket, I soaked in Thailand’s profound beauty, indulged in delicious local and international food and plied myself with mimosas and mai tais. From my secluded spot at Splash Beach Resort, I soaked in some well-deserved sunset time on the Andaman Sea with flights carrying excited passengers gliding in overhead.
Still, I wanted more. Thailand is synonymous with Muay Thai, a fast-paced local combat sport that has now achieved global acclaim. In my search to improve my fitness skills in this sport, I chanced on Mai Khao Muay Thai led by the indomitable Pearl.
Being just walking distance from my hotel, there was no excuse to miss this powerhouse. From the first day, I stepped into the gym and with her two experienced trainers – Arm and Kru – she took me through my paces. Five days of intense training later, I felt lighter and quicker on my feet, stronger and far more skilled than when I had arrived.
Meeting Pearl was a blessing not just for my interest in combat sports, but also for my little vacation in Thailand. She gave me the inside scoop on the best places to visit in Phuket and helped arrange all my excursions.
We kicked it off with a leisurely ride on a rented bike to take in all the beaches on Phuket Island. Patong was busy as expected yet absolutely stunning, but my breath was taken away by Surin beach with its top-end celebrity hangouts, beautiful million-dollar homes, fine white sand and clear blue water.
After some shopping, we called it a night to prepare for the early day to come where I would tick off an experience on my bucket list. We enjoyed a delightful breakfast at the pier before speeding off to the gorgeous Phi Phi islands courtesy of Crystal Sea Marine And then was the highlight of the day trip – taking in the legendary Maya Bay featured in one of my favourite movies The Beach.
We also visited Monkey Beach, Viking Cave and hiked to a lovely viewpoint at Loh Samah before heading to Phi Phi Don island for lunch. Then there was swimming at Pileh Lagoon, and snorkelling and water sports activities at Khai Island.
Throughout, we were well looked after by the charismatic Sonny and his expert sailing team. They gave us the scoop on every worthwhile experience and location on Phuket island. It was after we left Phi Phi island that Sonny hit us with reality. He took us back to the tsunami of 2004 when he was walking along the beach with his brother and girlfriend. The massive wall of water took them away and neither survived.
Spending time with them brought back both the raw beauty and sheer destructive power of the same sea as well as the resilience of the Thai people to bounce back from tragedy. Phuket is certainly more than a popular tourist destination, and I will be back to explore it further before I know it.
For more details on Mai Khao Muay Thai
Contact Pearl on +66 80 975 3450