Well, since I've got 6 hours to kill at the Taipei Airport, I might as well post one more blog story about my Christmas Day.
I'm feeling much better about Phuket than my initial reaction. Although I never made it to Phuket Town (I heard everything there was closed on Christmas anyway), I had a great time around Patong Beach. The sun was shining and the ocean was calling, so a few of us spent several hours on the beach and in the water.
I was so excited about a sunny beach day that I underestimated my SPF needs and got pretty roasted. (It was monumentally stupid to get burned on my shoulders and back the day before I had to travel. It's very painful carrying a heavy backpack and tote bag around 4 airports. Ugh.) I think my mistake was putting on sunscreen for the beach but forgetting to reapply when I walked around town. Always reapply!
After some beach time, I walked around to find the craft market and got lost along the way - I ended walking for over an hour. The only craft bazaar that I could find was in the basement of the big mall in town. It was still reasonably priced and quite big (plus air conditioned!). There I found my favorite souvenir from Thailand - a wine bottle holder. :)
This is going to look so awesome in my apartment. (I just bought 1, not all 4.)
After the market, it was still really hot out and I could feel my skin burning, so I decided to go back to the hotel rather than back to the beach. It was only 3:00pm and dinner was at 6:00pm, so what did I do to pass the time? Massage! One final Thai massage before leaving the country - that makes a total of 7 massages for the trip. This massage therapist was much more intuitive about how far my body can stretch and didn't push too far. It wasn't painful at all. I'm a little upset that first Thai massage was so bad - it really turned me off of that style for most of the trip. Oh well. I had several different variations and enjoyed each one.
The evening entailed our final group dinner and a very elaborate cabaret show. What a way to end the trip!
And I finally ordered my favorite meal: pad thai. My plan was to order a different dish for every dinner out, and I certainly saved one of the best for last. I think that was kind of the theme of my vacation: try a little bit of everything in Thailand. From seafood curries to pad thai; from Thai massage to aromatherapy; from local craft shops to big fancy shopping malls; from Buddhist temples to cabaret shows; from the northern Chiang Mai to southern Phuket. I experienced as much as I possibly could in my two weeks in Thailand.
The group from tour #2.