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Discovering Thailand & Cambodia

Continued...

From the hard reality of Cambodia, we flew to the tropical splendor of Phuket, one of the jewels of Thailand's resort destinations nestled between the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. Phuket is known as the Miami Beach of Thailand. The area was formerly an abandoned tin mine, and the lagoons were lifeless. Visionary investors made it into a gold mine with fabulous hotels, a thriving marketplace for shopping and a variety of excursions to nearby island paradises.

We took a daylong boat ride to Phang Nga Bay where we went kayaking through the sea and bat caves. Later we headed to a private beach for swimming. Meals and snacks were provided on the boat.

Other adventures in the area include scuba diving in the coral reefs of the Similans, snorkeling, trekking in the Khaosok rainforest, water skiing, deep sea fishing, marveling at the beauty of the Phi Phi Island's twin bays, wandering through Phuket Town or visiting Butterfly Gardens or waterfalls. There are pearl farms on Naga Island and it is reasonable to purchase cultured pearls. We went to the Andaman Trade Center at 108/2 Srisoontorn Road, to purchase pearl jewelry. Feel free to bargain - you can end up with an excellent purchase.

Patang is the largest beach area located in the western part of Phuket and is worth visiting. Residents of the island are fishermen, farmers involved in the rubber tree business, or tour operators. There are many beautiful hotels to chose from. The luxurious Banyan Tree Phuket hosted us. Villas are the only form of accommodation, and offer the utmost privacy and intimacy. There are garden villas as well as one and two bedroom villas complete with a private outdoor pool.

A magnificent meandering pool complete with a pulling current, floating bar and showers is not to be missed. The Spa experience is regarded as a "sanctuary for the senses". It is viewed as a holistic spa geared to health and meditation. There is a feeling of peace and serenity throughout. An entire menu of services is available starting at $50.00.

The manager, Abid Butt, who formerly worked at Windows of the World, is very personable and gifted. His staff is friendly and efficient. Mr. Butt developed eleven different dining options, some of which are quite innovative. The Wine Rack offers a prix fix seven course menu with seven wines. Villa dining consists of a Bar-B-Que cooked at your villa by your personal chef. There is lagoon dining aboard a boat sailing before sunset with one couple aboard, three serving staff and musicians known as San Ya Rak - the Promise of Love - which lasts for 2-1/2 hours. The Tamarind Restaurant by the pool features health food and is excellent.

In Thailand, there are colorful and elaborate structures called spirit houses that almost every dwelling has. The Thai people believe that these mini-temples house the spirits of the land. Food, flowers and incense are offered to the spirits to invoke good luck for those living there. The luck extends to visitors to be in the "Land of Smiles" as well.

Seasons

Currency - 40 Baht to the US Dollar

Religion - Ninety percent of Thais are Buddhist, six percent are Muslim and the remainder Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Animist.

HELPFUL CONTACTS FOR YOUR TRIP

Tourist Offices

New York
5 World Trade Center, Suite 2449, New York, NY 10048
Phone (212) 432-0488; Fax (212) 912-0920

Los Angeles - Phone (213) 382-2353

Bangkok - 372 Bamrung Muang Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Phone 226-0060

Thai Tourism Website: www.tat.or.th

Thai Airlines: (800) 426-5204

Bangkok Airways Website: www.bangkokair.com

US Embassy
120/122 Witthayo Road
Phone: 205-4000

Jewish Association 121 Soiz, Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok, Thailand Of Thailand
Phone: 258-2195

Even Chen
The Bossotel Inn
Synagogue
55/12-14 Charoen Krung Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Phone: 630-6120

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