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JULY 2014

Hi Nirmala

Yes the holiday is but a distant memory after one week back at work!

Was certainly very warm over there, which we were very pleased to be there in the monsoon season or it would be too hot probably.  The weather was overcast for the most part which was perfect as when the sun did peek through it was fierce if you were out in it.  Did have a couple of showers which were over within minutes and cooled everything down.

 We went on a day trip in one of the big launches to Ko Phi Phi Island plus couple of other stops.  Have to say after having been there 24 years ago we were shocked at just how much tourism has taken over the once beautiful island.  Eateries etc. built right to the water line, then you get 30 plus big launches anchoring to drop off the tour groups makes the visit to Ko Phi Phi something I would not really recommend (and remember it’s the low season!!).  Plus the lunch was terrible, basically mass produced slop'(think I picked up a 24 hour tummy bug there).  It didn’t really matter what company you booked through as they seem to all use the same caterer, we just had different coloured wool tied around our wrists! 

A tourist staying on the island saw us in our towels and asked had we found somewhere to swim.... she was staying on island and there was nowhere to swim due to the waterfront being built up and the other side of the island having too many crabs!  Felt very sorry for her.

My husband and I stayed on this Island 24 years ago and it was paradise.

Part of the trip was to a lovely lagoon which was amazing for swimming off the boat, and to see monkeys in another part of the trip that were on the edge of the forest trees over hanging the water.  The final destination was to another tiny island which would have been paradise but had been wrecked by 500 odd rainbow deck chairs and umbrellas being rented out covering every part of the beach. Plus food stalls etc. but nowhere to put rubbish etc.  The Japanese/Chinese tourists seemed to love this but I would not recommend this to New Zealander's myself.

In saying this it was cheap, $50 each for whole day including pick up and drop off at hotel.  We had thought we would not get out at all being monsoon season, but believe me those boats run even in a big swell, the weather would have to be near on typhoon for them not to go!  None of my family get sea sick - but out of 50 odd on trip around 70% were throwing up!  Some caught a faster ferry boat back from Ko Phi Phi Island and abandoned the trip.  So be warned - it is rough this time of year so don't go if you have any doubt of sea sickness

All the trips have brochures with prices but in the low season the prices are half to 2/3 of that price.  Also went elephant trekking which was great - but they did go through my bag and take some money when we were 'bathing with the elephants' Never mind as it wasn't that much in NZ $ and they did give us a wonderful trip

My husband went on another boat trip to try find some better snorkelling as he didn't want to go on elephants.  Trip was much the same as the first one, and although there were a few coloured fish there is no coral to see on these trips

We chose not to see Fantasea show, went to Simon cabaret instead just my daughter and I (lady boys) which was well done.  Hired a taxi and driver for 6 hours one day to take us about (very cheap) and went to Tiger Kingdom (very good)  and Monkey show against my better judgement and was terrible with monkeys chained up - again some tourists love it but I'm not into keeping animals in those conditions myself.

The hotels in Bangkok and Phuket were stunning - especially Bangkok!  Have not stayed anywhere as great as these before.  Locations of both were great.  Phuket right on waterfront.

The transport for pick- ups from airports and drop offs was excellent - always there and easy to find and much appreciated.

Phuket as a location for a holiday....mmm... was good to see, all of us really enjoyed the shopping which most island destinations do not have.  That was one of the draw cards for us.   The food and eating out was also very good and really cheap. The Thai people are lovely, and it was actually cleaner than a lot of places I have been too.  Apart from the ocean that is- lots of debris being washed up on beach - but as New Zealanders we are spoilt.  Prefer to swim in the pools anyway of which there were plenty of choices at the hotel.  We are not people to sit and relax by the pool so we did get quite tired with the heat and being out and about, but the hotel did have good air-conditioning which we would use to revive ourselves before going out again

One down side was the flights... We talked to another New Zealander who went Thai airways which went direct to Bangkok which would have been wonderful.  Eliminating the Aussie stop would have been great as with having the 2hour reporting prior it makes a heck of a long trip each way.  I think that is worth considering into price factors for options.

Hope you can use some of our experiences to help your clients that may be going shortly.  We appreciate your organisation of the trip which went well for us and did overall have a great time!

Kind regards

Sue McGiven