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Published: December 7th 2009
Sunset from our balcony at the Hilton.
The Hanoi paper today had an interesting article. It has become fashionable for young urban Vietnamese men to purchase beard implants in order to appear more manly. Similar to hair implants in the U.S. , beard implants are surgically implanted hair strands (either their own - harvested from their head, or horse/synthetic hair). The cost for a typical implant procedure is $600 but soars to a lofty $2,400 (US) for the popular David Beckham look. The article goes on to say that the procedure can be dangerous and that some men can't even look at themselves in the mirror after the procedure. Interesting stuff.
Today we left Hanoi for the crystal-clear waters of the Andaman Sea, on the western side of southern Thailand.
The Hanoi airport looks a bit like the one in Vegas. No slot machines but lots of neon signs. There wasn't much to do so we perused the large number of gift shops (all sellng the same thing) for a wedding gift for our good friends Michelle and Reef. Perhaps a large cobra pickled in glass bottle of local moonshine? There's a matching scorpion too. We think the pair might compliment their dining room set well.
Our room on arrival. Ok we stretched the truth a little bit.
Our flight to Bangkok was fine. We are happy to be back in Thailand where there are loads of western convenience stores including 7-Eleven (yes, it's very American to say that but after traveling for so long, it's nice to see some Oreos). With several hours to kill before our flight to Phuket, we found one of the three post-offices at Bangkok International Airport and sent some of our souvenirs home.
Our short flight to Phuket was filled with a young/energetic party crowd. Most of the passengers were sporting flip-flops and were decked out in beachwear - we felt a bit overdressed. We chatted with the young guy sitting next to us on the flight. He's from Lake Tahoe and is starting a one month trip through Thailand and Cambodia with his buddies. We told him about our experiences in Angkor Wat and Chiang Mai and he told us what he knew about Phuket. We ditched our Lonely Planet guidebook after our visit to Chiang Mai but we perused his guidebook during the flight to find out more about restaurants on the island and common day trips/sight seeing trips.
At the Phuket airport, we booked seats on a minivan to our resort on Karon Beach. Phuket is a very large island, separated from mainland Thailand by a very narrow channel. The western side of the island is covered in stunning tropical beaches. The most famous (infamous?) is Patong, where there are cheap hotels, cheap beer, and drugs of all varieties - essentially a massive party scene. The more tranquil (upscale, adult) beaches are Karon and Kata, which located near the south end of the island. On our minivan ride, we chatted with a Brazilian couple headed for Kata. There were also five extremely weird Australian guys in disagreeably short shorts headed - not surprisingly - for Patong.
The drive to Karon Beach takes about an hour and we arrived at the Hilton Arcadian Resort around 4pm. It's a beautiful resort surrounded by acres of tropical gardens and lagoons snuggled up right next to the beach. We were greeted with a welcome drink (we're really enjoying watermelon juice these days) and cold towels and shown to our room which has a large balcony overlooking the lovely main pool.
Funnily, the guy who transported our bags tried to sell us a full day tour (evidently he runs a side business as a taxi driver and guide). He enthusiastically told us that he's had several American customers including a group of army guys who liked to say f**k a lot. We had a good laugh about that but probably won't be booking a tour with him.
It was late in the afternoon by the time we were all settled, so we unpacked, showered and headed out to explore the resort. It's not the same caliber as the Metropole but it is still very nice. The fitness center is well-equipped, the spa looks very nice, and the bars/restaurants/cafes all look good.
Before sunset, we walked down to the beach. It really is paradise here. We watched the pinky-red sunset from our balcony.
The rest of the evening was quiet - we had dinner at the hotel and got some rest. Tomorrow is a big day: we hit the beach!
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