Category Archives: Expat

Why Phuket is much more than a tourist island

Patong Beach, Phuket

These days, when parting with our hard earned holiday cash, our expectations have been colossally elevated by the sheer abundance of choices and alternatives out there. We demand that our holiday delivers and below are some very good reasons why a holiday in Phuket could prove to be an unrivaled travel experience that not only exceeds your expectations, but smashes them into oblivion.

 

 
The Initial Consensus

Your initial perception of Phuket as a travel and tourism destination will be shaped through hours spent surfing travel review sites & social networks, keying in google searches and the heavily influential tips and recommendations from your social circle. This conditional filtering of the limitless supply of available information will ultimately sway your choice of whether Phuket is the travel destination for you.

In a general sense, every travel destination comes with a pre-conceived label attached, compounded and defined by millions upon millions of online, user generated experiences. As Thailand’s largest and most developed Island, Phuket is largely perceived as being the most touristy, overcrowding and expensive holiday destination in the kingdom, with over 52,000 reviews on Tripadvisor alone helping to establish this perception.

Sunbeds & Umbrellas, Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand

Sunbeds & Umbrellas, Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand

Having lived in Phuket for the last 2 years of my life, my perceptions of this stunning part of the world as a travel & tourism destination have naturally evolved from this initial consensus and a new kind of filter emerges applying a new level of clarity and understanding to the vast abundance of readily available information.

Railay Beach, Krabi Province, Thailand

Railay Beach, Krabi Province, Thailand

Greater Phuket

One way in which my perception has evolved is that I am more aware of the Phuket that exists away from the main beach resorts such as Patong, Karon, Kata, Surin & Kamala. I am more aware of the ‘Greater Phuket’ Province, as well as neighbouring provinces such as Phang Nga and Krabi. I have discovered that Phuket as a tourist destination should not to be treated as in island in isolation.

 

 

The incredible places to experience in the greater Phuket province and surrounding provinces are all easily accessible, even during a 10-14 nights vacation and can comfortably be reached without eating too much into your holiday relaxation time. This makes Phuket a rich and diverse travel destination and provides an experience that few other holiday destinations can compete with.

Some Suggestions:


Raya Island, Phuket, Thailand

Raya Island, Phuket, Thailand

Island Hopping

Island Hopping has long held a fascination and pre-occupation for travellers to South East Asia. In the Andaman Sea, travellors to Phuket are blessed with islands & beaches such as Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Raya Island and Railay Beach, Krabi all within a few hours by boat, so that you can gain that feeling of ‘travelling around SE Asia’ even under tight time constraints.

Some Suggestions:

  1. Koh Phi Phi
  2. Railay Beach
  3. Koh Lanta
  4. Raya Island

A major draw to Phuket and part of the reason for it’s huge popularity is it’s International airport, the second busiest in the whole of Thailand after Bangkok. This means that you can book your flights in and out of Phuket and after spending some time relaxing at one of Phuket’s world class beach resorts, spend a few days on any number of stunning island destinations to add an entirely different perspective to your overall Phuket holiday experience.

Have you combined a holiday to Phuket with other nearby island destinations ?

Roger Gibson
Marketing & Communications Manager
Thavorn Hotels & Resorts (THR) Phuket, Thailand
Roger Gibson

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Life Changing Decisions in Langkawi, Malaysia

You’ve all experienced the post-holiday blues at some point,  despairing at the very thought of returning home and going back to the ‘same old same old‘ routine. Some of you may have even made an on the spot decision to continue your holiday indefinitely.

I aint leaving on a Jet Plane, don't know when I'll be home again

I aint leaving on a Jet Plane, don't know when I'll be home again

Good on you! My decision to take an ‘extended leave of absence’ from the UK happened in an instant, but the actual ‘doing of it’ took over 12 months to materialize.

This decision was made on a sticky evening in the town of Kuah in Langkawi, Malaysia, as the clouds drifting slowly across the breathtaking mountain backdrop.

Kuah Town, Langkawi, Malaysia

Kuah Town, Langkawi, Malaysia

This was January 2009 and the end of an amazing 3 week ‘blowout’ in SE Asia.

We celebrated the run-up to New Year in Langkawi, staying at our ex-pat friend’s apartment, and living like Rock Star Royalty.

New Year's Eve on Ceneng Beach, Langkawi

Little Lylia’s Chill Out Bar, New Year's Eve, Ceneng Beach, Langkawi

New Year’s Eve at Little Lylia’s Chill out Bar, Pantai Cenang was immense and once we regained consciousness, we embarked upon a land and sea mission up to Had Yuan, Koh Phangnan, Thailand for 10 more days  of serious relaxation and partying.

Stone Bar, Haad Yuan, Koh Phangnan, Thailand

Stone Bar, Haad Yuan, Koh Phangnan, Thailand

Now we had returned to where it all began, Langkawi, and I had just made up my mind on a decision that had been gaining momentum as the trip progressed.

Conversations with my ex-pat mate and witnessing first-hand the experiences a life in Langkawi could offer made it clear to me that Se Asia presented possibilities, such possibilities as:

1. Dining like a King Every Single Night of the week

Since we had arrived there all we had done was go out for the most amazing seafood, chinese and malay dishes, all night long and the bill would come to about 10 GBP per head.

lobster, Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, Malaysia

lobster, Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, Malaysia

At Places like Wonderland, a Local Seafood restaurant in Kuah Town, the quality and price of the dishes was quite simply unreal.

Chinese and Seafood Feast at Wonderland, Kuah Town, Langkawi, Malaysia

Chinese and Seafood Feast at Wonderland, Kuah Town, Langkawi, Malaysia

Not only that, you could bring you own booze just paying for the price of the mixers at the restaurant. A trip to the ‘duty free off licence’ meant you could get seriously sozzled for another 2 GBP per head.

2. Smoothing away the rough edges with the Cool Beach Nightlife

You won’t find a more chilled out beach life than on Cenang. Sometimes it seems like no one’s running the show, so if you bothered about little things like your food turning up you may be dissapointed. But you will meet some colourful characters that take laid back to a whole new level.

Asie, Little Lylia's, Cenang Beach

Asie, Little Lylia's, Cenang Beach

3. Living amidst Breathtaking Natural Scenery

Langkawi is one of the world’s most beautiful archipelagos and is made up of 99 islands on the west coast of Malaysia, close to the border with Thailand. The best place to view this splendor is with a bird’s eye view from the viewing decks and sky-bridge, some 700m above sea level courtesy of a hair-raising ride in a cable car.

Langkawi viewed from Cable Car

Langkawi viewed from Cable Car

4. I haven’t even got to the Powdery White Sand Beaches and warm clear waters yet.

Cenang Beach has the most impossibly white and powdery sand, the kind where whole days can be lost just enjoying the sensation of it between your toes.

Therapeutic, time consuming sand on Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia

Therapeutic, time consuming sand on Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia

I am sure we’ve all felt like this at the end of a fantastic holiday, but these possibilities were playing on my mind, there was something more to this, there was a definate desire to break the chain of monotony in my life and go out there and experience something else.

Maybe you feel like I did back then, something a little bit more serious than the post holiday blues, of no real desire to go back to your life at home.

If you do, then my advice is to give it some serious thought, look at all the options. It took me a full year of living back in the UK before I finally did something about it. A full year of weighing up the pro’s and cons, considering whether it was just an extended break of a couple of months that I needed or a clean break entirely.

Even then, I wasn’t completely sure and I made the final decision whilst back on a 4-week holiday in Haad Juan, Thailand.

View from Bungalow on Haad Yuan (Barcelona Bungalows)

View from Bungalow on Haad Yuan (Barcelona Bungalows)

I decided once again, that this was not a long enough break for me and once I had made my final decision, the wheels were firmly in motion and there was no turning back … I went home, tied up all the loose ends and was back out in Asia within 30 days …

If you would like to know more about what life is like for an expat in SE Asia then please feel free to leave a comment or you can contact me directly via Facebook or Twitter at the addresses below.

Cheers

Roger

Top 10 Tips for a New Life in Phuket

This is something I did back in January 2010, so if you are thinking of doing the same, here are some Tips based on my experiences.

1. Get your Travelling out the way first

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

because once you find a job in Phuket, you will be working your ass off. If you go the TEFL route you still have to work hard, but at least you get time off for travel during school holidays. For a job in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry expect to be working a minimum 5-6 days a week.

We come to these exotic parts of the world, to experience new cultures and wonderous things

Tah Prom Temple Ruins, Siem Reap

Tah Prom Temple Ruins, Siem Reap

and of course to hang out in some cool places.

Chilling out in Koh Phangnan, Thailand

Chilling out in Koh Phangnan, Thailand

but it is best to do this before you knuckle down in a job, so you are not thinking 6 months down the line, I wish I had more time to visit these places. (Of course you will still be thinking this, we all do, but at least some experience of travelling will soften the blow).

2. Establish a base and a plan to find a job.

Once you arrive in Phuket it’s time to get a semi-business head on. I decided to stay at a guest house in Karon Beach, which actually turned out to be a little bit like this

Chilling out in Koh Phangnan, Thailand

Chilling out in Koh Phangnan, Thailand

but for the most part I behaved and stuck to my plan, which was to hit all the 4-5 star resorts along the coastline and to hand out my Resume and Covering Letter. I chose Karon Beach, as it was pretty central to where I wanted to be looking for work with Patong, Kamala, Surin beaches to the north , to the south, Kata, Kata Noi, Nai Harn, Panwa and also Phuket Town to the east.

I didn’t want to land in party central Patong Beach and begin my job search from there as that would have lead to distraction.

3. Avoid distractions.

Because there are plenty here in Phuket.

distraction

It doesn’t project the right image if you turn up to a 5 star resort with your CV, bloodshot eyes, reeking of Sangsom and Red Bull buckets and with an entourage of pretty girls from the night before. That’s not to say you cannot enjoy the lively nightlife in Phuket, but maybe just on the weekends hey. Treat your Job Search like a Working Week.

4. Get a monthly Rental on a Motorbike or Car.

You will need your own transport when looking for a job in Phuket and this is by far the cheapest and easiest option of getting between the different beach resorts. Plus it looks better when you turn up for interviews. I figured I could walk from resort to resort along Karon Beach

Job Hunting in Karon Beach

Job Hunting in Karon Beach

but again, it is not a good look turning up to meet with the General Manager, dripping with sweat and sun stroke. Although, you will probably be offered a refreshing drink and a cold towel, it is unlikely you will be offered the job.

No, I'm fine - please take a look at my CV

No, I'm fine - please take a look at my CV

5. Local Thai Mobile Sim Card

This is essential, so get yourself one from the nearest 7 11 store when you arrive. Add your new number to your CV and your Covering Letter and try not to lose your mobile on a booze fuelled night on Soi Bangla. If a resort is interested in employing you they will need to be able to get hold of you, and it looks more professional to have a Thai mobile number and shows perspective employers that you are here to stay and mean business.

6. Resumes, Covering Letters and Recent Passport Photos

You will need a lot of copies of your CV and Covering Letter to hand out at the resorts, so the cheapest way to do this is print out a copy of each at an internet cafe and then go to a print shop and photocopy as many as you think you’ll need for 2 THB per copy. I also scanned a recent passport photo and duplicated it about 50 times onto an A4 sheet using Photoshop. I then printed this out at a Kodak shop and again it saved me alot of money rather than getting passport photos done at a shop each time I needed them.

7. Prepare a Job Search Spreadsheet

It helps to have a plan and keep organised when looking for a job in Phuket. I created a spreadsheet of all the resorts I wanted to visit including location, contact details etc. I then planned on which day I would visit each location i.e. Kata and Karon one day, Surin and Kamala the next. I printed this out and then updated the spreadsheet with Names, Numbers and notes about each place I visited, so I could keep track of the places I had been and also any new leads I generated.

8. Check the online job market first

Before you go out cold calling with your CV it is worth seeing which of the resorts on your spreadsheet are actually recruiting. You can then make adjustments to your CV to transform you into the ideal candidate and also write and print off a Letter of Application for that specific job vacancy.

9. Cold Calling works

Having said that, cold calling is an affective way for finding a job in Phuket (it worked for me) and most hotels and resorts are happy to keep your details on file if they haven’t any current vacancies, which could lead to opportunities further down the line. Always dress like you’re attending a Job Interview when you visit a resort i.e. no shorts and flipflops. Smart shirt, shoes and smart trousers/jeans should do it. Try and speak to the General Manager or Human Resources Manager as leaving your CV at the Front Desk is unlikely to achieve anything. If a manager is not available, then find out when they will be and go back at a later date. Update your spreadsheet straight after every visit so it’s fresh in your mind, keep business cards, make notes, remember names, follow up on tips or recommendations.

10. Networking

Phuket has a large Ex-pat community, so it is worth frequenting the usual haunts, such as Irish Bars, Sports Bars etc to see what opportunities are about. Remember, everyone’s personal circumstances are different and some people can afford to sit in a bar all day and night. Not You! If you are serious about finding a job in Phuket, remember to treat this as a Networking exercise and be careful of the pitfalls associated with Tip No 3.

distraction

While the quality of life out here in Phuket is fantastic, don’t be under the impression it will be constant girls, partying, hamoks and palm trees. Unless your lucky 😉 My experience is you will work as hard as you have ever done anywhere else, but when your work is done for the day, you can enjoy your new life in Phuket and all the benefits that living on a tropical paradise island brings.

The good life in Phuket

The good life in Phuket

On a side note, I am currently looking for talented native speakers of English to come and join our Social Media Team. If you are interested in starting a new life in Phuket, you can contact me via Facebook or Twitter, see below

Cheers

Roger

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