We arrived in Phuket Town late in the evening where we had planned to only spend one night. We  expected very little of it from what we had heard of Phuket generally. As we cycled through the dusky streets I spotted an inviting looking little cafe/ restaurant which also advertised rooms. Admittedly I was drawn in by their library which reminded me of our own bookshelves back in what had been home in Killiney, Dublin. I went to check it out and was disappointed when the exceptionally friendly man there told me that their guest rooms weren't open yet. He asked what our budget was and offered to help in recommending a place to stay. All the while my eyes were drawn, longingly, to the tasteful decor and, yes, the book shelves. He said that the hotel next door was both very reasonable and was also a little bit of Phuket Town history as the ground floor doubled as both a lobby and a museum of "Old Phuket Town". It had secure parking which sealed the deal; both we and our bikes were very happy to stay there. We'd planned to sneak a peek at "Glasnost" that evening, my curiosity having been piqued once I read about it. It has the unusual moniker of 'Law and Notary Public Bar': a bar which doubles as a law office as the owner is a practising lawyer and which, according to "The Lonely Planet" has "about as laid-back and intimate a setting as you could find in which spontaneous jazz jam sessions are the norm". But in the end  - we were tired, as was Luca -  and, so, we were just delighted to go to the restaurant/ cafe I'd been to earlier which was mere steps from our hotel. "The Gallery Cafe". We, of course, found ourselves sitting right beside the book shelves which had an amazing mix of Old-ey World-ey English books - mainly antique and lifestyle books. We even found a book there penned by our dear friend Ronan's esteemed Dad, Dr. Harbison, on Irish Art and Architecture! I would always "go Thai" in Thailand but I couldn't resist the western fare of seabass, pumpkin and my much missed mashed potato which was DELICIOUS. Even Luca said afterwards, completely unprompted "I enjoyed that" (he'd had spaghetti bolognese).

We went back for a yummy breakfast the next morning which I enjoyed whilst digesting a book on Thailand's Boutique Hotels. Which was a bit like perusing the menu of the best French patisserie while on the Atkins diet. We just can't afford such hotels on this trip so I wish I hadn't seen them. (Yeah, yeah I know - your hearts are bleeding for "poor us" swanning around Asia :) ).  And so we left Phuket Town after a lovely evening and morning and decided to head on to check out the much lauded Phuket beaches - just for a night or two to rest our weary legs.

We'd read that Patong Beach was a party haven to which tourists flocked and so we opted for the family friendly Kamala Beach. We regretted our choice several times on the cycle there as as we struggled over the MANY and tough headland hills but were rewarded by finding a great and reasonable apartment - not quite beachfront but very close to the beach. Phil went to source somewhere to stay and when he came back to report said: "There's something about this place..it reminds me of somewhere but I just don't know where?". The instant I walked in I knew where. It was  minimalist, had a HUGE bedroom and a balcony with a view (partially obscured by telephone wires). It has something of our beloved apartment in Killiney about it. There's even a few book shelves.

Travelling is undeniably great, but, as Paul Theroux put it in "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star" which I'm currently reading "Home is bliss. Waking in your own bed, watching the news on TV, cooking, seeing friends... Travel means living with strangers, eating their food, being always on the move to an uncertain destination, creating an itinerary which is continually shifting, cobbling together a set of habits in order to stay rational, finding ways of filling the day and being enlightened, avoiding danger...reflecting on where I am and what I am doing." And so, like Mr. Theroux, I find myself sometimes thinking of "home" or, maybe in my case, of "a home".

I am genuinely not, by any means, wishing away our time in Asia which we are truly loving. But I do, on occasion, find myself reminiscing about how I used to hop on the bike morning and evenings 5 days a week to go to/ come home from work and drop/ collect Luca off to the creche and how we spent our weekends en famille in our old apartment in Killiney, cooking our own meals, listening to Radio One on Saturday and Sunday morning whilst reading the papers (I loved my "fix" of Roisin on a Saturday) with a big pot of coffee and hot buttered soda bread (has to be McCambridges) on the table. While Luca happily whiled away hours exploring his toy boxes or his own little book shelves. Feeding the birds with our post breakfast crumbs. Catching up with family and friends. These things I do miss.

I don't mean or want to sound homesick because I honestly don't think I am but I guess that between the cafe/restaurant and this homely feel apartment where we enjoyed a few days off the bikes, where Luca enjoyed some impromptu naps and where the birds enjoyed the leftover crumbs from our breakfast, I just got to thinking about our settled life is all. I wouldn't swap places with the me of a year ago though and I am genuinely excited about what I and we will be doing a year from now too. Quietly confident that all will work out for us.

We enjoyed our time here at Kamala Beach. The beaches are quite busy though, even during this low tourist season. Maybe we've just been spoilt and got used to virtually deserted ones. The waves are really big at this time of year - perfect for surfing -  but not very swim friendly.  Especially for a two year old. Our apartment had a fantastic communal pool though which we've been able to enjoy exclusively as the only guests here. One of the serious perks of travelling through Thailand during the low tourist season is being spoilt for choice for accommodation and getting discounts on it. Pretty good reasons to travel here at this time of the year. Apparently the Monsoons are due to hit this region soon though so we'd better get pedalling fast up to Bangkok.


At May 3, 2011 at 2:38 PM Roger said...

the photo of Luca at the end of Linda's blog is beautiful. YaYa Rog

At May 4, 2011 at 4:13 AM Linda de Paor said...

Thanks YaYa Rog. He was so peaceful and was jaded after most of the day playing in the pool. Hope I haven't jinxed us by mentioning the approaching Monsoons as there was a Tropical downpour here all night and up until a few minutes ago this morning. Heading to Thai Muang now on the bikes - about 60 km's away - so hopefully there'll be no more rain today. Will be in touch. x

At May 4, 2011 at 12:11 PM Roger said...

Found Thai Muang on my map!! Happy cycling - hope its not too hot or wet!! Rog

At May 6, 2011 at 1:04 PM Anonymous said...

I adore this pic of Luca - this is stunning

At May 8, 2011 at 10:21 AM The Galeas and Aine said...

Hey bookcases,
Sounds like a fantastic trip.
I envy you.
Cian read us all about your adventures. It all sounds so wonderful. Don't forget how precious this special time is. You'll have many years of normal life and routines in the future.
Aine and the Gang (On Australia's Mother's Day)


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