Phuket, Thailand

After a couple of hectic weeks in South East Asia, we spent the next and our last week in the region on the relaxing island of Phuket. We arrived by a 2 hour Air Asia flight and were picked up by the hotel and transferred to the Naka Island, Luxury Collection by a speed boat, a tiny island off the coast of Phuket. Ayaan loved the experience including ringing the gong on reaching the island and sitting in his favorite buggy. The check in experience was great as they took us straight to our room which was very helpful since Ariana was sleeping. We were upgraded to a beautiful villa overlooking the bay and islands with a private pool, a private hut and an outdoor soaking tub. Over the next 3 days we spent many hours lounging in our villa and ordered room service several times. The main pool was fantastic as well with a large area for kids to run around. The beach had soft white sand and the water was shallow, and the kids and I spent several hours digging muddy puddles to splash in. Our agenda over the 3 days was essentially non-existent as we spent the mornings in the pool and beach after a great breakfast, chilled in our private pool and hut while the kids napped, and took the kids for ice cream and to the game room in the evening. Ayaan attended a cooking class in which he enjoyed making chocolate sticks with sprinkles. He was very amused when he found a frog in the soaking tub one of the days! We got a babysitter one night and had dinner at the upscale My Grill restaurant onsite. The only downside really were the mosquitoes and bugs, and Ariana often asked “will you scratch my owie?”. It was a great relaxing 3 days for all of us as we all got a major tan.

After a wonderful 3 night stay at Naka Island, we took a boat and taxi to our final hotel of the trip – the Le Meriden located close to the busy and touristy Patong. We were ready for some action after a relaxing stay at Naka Island. The Le Meredien is a large hotel with 500+ rooms and some of the best and largest pools we’ve seen. It has one of the most magnificent beaches with calm, warm water, white sandy beaches surrounded by lush green tropical forests. The kids enjoyed the kids club with both an indoor and outdoor area. The staff was nice to provide a baby potty, stepping stool and a bottle warmer. Anjali loved the fact that they had live music everywhere and the balcony in our room was located right above where the live shows were every night which was great entertainment as the kids slept. On our second night we got a babysitter at night and explored the infamous Patong district, especially Bangla road and it’s branching Sois. We spent the evening listening to some of favorites from the 90s played by a rock band and capped off the night with some hookah.

Next morning we took the all day cruise to Ko Phi Phi islands on the Blu Anda catamaran, since we figured it would be safer with the kids. In our almost 6 month journey this was our first all day tour/trip, so Anjali and I were both nervous. The kids did amazingly well and the tour was very well organized – we highly recommend it. We spent the day cruising the stunning blue-green waters on the catamaran stopping for snorkeling at the Monkey beach first. The sand was incredibly white and soft and the water was crystal clear with colorful coral and diverse fish. It was my first time snorkeling after LASIK and it made the recovery worth it! We then stopped at Phi Phi Don for a Thai lunch overlooking another stunning shallow beach overlooking the limestone cliffs. After lunch we cruised to Phi Phi Le for another snorkeling adventure at Tonsai bay which was cut short a bit with some rain. We ended our adventure with a sail around Phi Phi Le including a visit to Maya Bay (made famous by the “The Beach”). Maya bay beach was closed for environmental recovery but the sight itself was stunning. The kids napped on our sail back to the pier and in the minibus ride back to the hotel. We were exhausted after the day trip but decided to go for a nice family Thai dinner downstairs Including some yummy Tom Kha.

We spent our last day chilling on the beach and in the pool, hanging in the kids club, and Anjali and I had a chance to get a beach massage each! The kids have definitely gotten more of a handful during this SE Asia leg partly because of their age and partly because they’ve lost some discipline. But did we have a blast? – “Ummm Yess” as Ariana says. Off to Bombay for a final 3 weeks before we head back west to America and say goodbye to Asia. Thailand we’ll miss you, especially the Pad See Ew!

Algarve

A short 2.25 hour drive from Lisbon brought us to the beautiful Pine Cliffs, A luxury collection resort on the beach. We enjoyed an al fresco lunch of gazpacho and fajitas before hitting the resort pools. A bottle of rose and a lot of splashes later, we enjoyed a Japanese dinner at an elegant outdoor restaurant by Chef Olivier. Ariana enjoyed bonding with her masi while devouring sushi (see video). Later that evening, we enjoyed a nightcap of Madeira on our deck before drifting off to sleep.

placeholder://We started the next day with a sumptuous breakfast and then spent some time enjoying the kids club. Ayaan and Ariana got to ride in some real John Deere trucks and jump in a bouncy house! Ariana has started speaking a few full sentences since our trip began and it’s been a pleasure to witness her progression real-time. Her favorites include expressing her preferences – “I like masi!” or “I don’t like this”.

We then joined the rest of the family and drove along the coast to Praia de Benagil. Ayaan and Ariana enjoyed playing by the beach, and then we took a boat which guided us through an awe-inspiring landscape of limestone formations and crystal clear blue aqua!

That evening, we grabbed drinks and dinner at the hotel bar where we had prime seats to watch the Portugal vs Iran and Spain vs Morocco World Cup games.

The next morning, we headed to the stunning hotel beach that was lined with cliffs of orange hues on one side and surrounded by clear blue water on the other. We had lunch at Mare, the hotel’s beach side bar before heading to the pool where Ariana napped and Ayaan enjoyed an ice cream with Nani. In the evening, we headed back to the kids club where the kids got to ride a motorized car!

This evening, we’re looking forward to having the babysitter watch the kids while we enjoy a nice meal with my parents at Pescadore, the hotels seafood restaurant. After the meal, Gaurav and I opened the bottle of Sassacaia that we’d saved from SF and enjoyed it against this beautiful backdrop of illuminated orange cliffs…Overall, Algarve (and the Pine Cliffs resort) was stunning and did a solid job of differentiating itself from other beach destinations.