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March 8th/9th:
Fly overnight to Thailand via Singapore. Upon arrival in Phuket, transfer to the locally rated 4-star Novotel Phuket Kamala Beach Resort for the next three nights. The hotel overlooks a sandy beach and the Andaman Sea, with a backdrop of trees. Facilities here include a main restaurant serving national and international cuisine, a bar, a rooftop bar where drinks and light snacks can be enjoyed, a swim-up bar and a bar situated a few metres from the beach. There is also an outdoor pool, fitness centre and lounge area, beauty salon (charges apply), Jacuzzi and spa (charges apply). Each of the 166 air-conditioned rooms has a balcony, telephone, television, minibar (charges apply), safe, iron, hairdryer and free Wi-Fi.

March 10th:
Explore the island of Phuket, its shores washed by the emerald Andaman sea. Known as the ‘Pearl of the South’ this island is made up of untamed jungle, rubber plantations and sweeping bays bordered by cliffs.  See the 45-metre high ‘Big Buddha’ who looks out across the island from the top of Khao Nakkerd Hill. Constructed from concrete and clad in 'jade marble', it is an important landmark and religious symbol on the island. Next, visit the largest and most ornate temple on the island – Wat Chalong – where you can view a splinter of the Buddha's bone. During the 19th century Phuket was an important trading port and you’ll see the Sino-Portuguese houses in the old town, where you’ll visit the Thai Hua Museum to learn about the history of the area and enjoy a drink at one of the old coffee houses.

Arrival at Phuket Airport
Imagine our dismay when arriving and being greeted by our tour guide with the words “Mr and Mrs Berwick, you are not on my manifest.” This included transfer and occupancy at the first hotel. We were not to know if we were booked in the other hotels on the trip. Worried? You bet we were. What a welcome. We also discovered that we were a larger party than our guide was expecting. Definitely not a good start.

Fortunately our guide was able to photograph our passports and documents and send them into head office, but the process took some time and we were not sure what the out come would be. I immediately fired off a complaint as we were fortunate to have wifi at the airport. The main thing that concerned us was that we were the only two tour members to come in via Kuala Lumpur, the rest arriving via Singapore. What if we had been the last to arrive and everyone else had departed for the hotel? We wouldn’t have been able to contact the hotel as this had been changed from the Novotel Phuket Kamala Beach to the Sunprime Kamala Beach Hotel without any prior notification to ourselves. What a way to start what we thought would be the bucket list trip of a lifetime. Forty eight hours after our complaint we received an EMail from yourselves assuring us that all was in order an we should enjoy the rest of our holiday in Singapore. Hardly reassuring. Would we have a bed at our next hotels?

The hotel was probably the best we stayed at during the whole tour and it was a relief that we bonded well with most of the rest of the group.


Day Three Phuket
This was a disappointing day. The visit to the ‘Big Buddha’ was fine, not exceptional but interesting as was the visit to ‘Wat Chalong’. Then on to the ‘Hua Museum’ which was very uninspiring and just room after room of photos. Most people made a beeline for the ‘Old Coffee House’. Drinks were pleasant and very welcome but the owner obviously wasn’t geared up for serving individual drinks to a party of 17 as this took almost an hour.

To sum up the day (and this was a general feeling amongst the group) pretty sparse as far as content was concerned and even at this early juncture, not measuring up to the usual standard of SAGA holidays.

  • Day One - Big Buddha

    The Phuket Big Buddha is 45 metres (148 feet) tall and 25.45 metres (83.5 feet) wide. It is made of concrete and covered with Burmese white marble.
    Sitting atop Nakkerd Hill near Chalong, construction began in 2004 and was completed ion 2017.
    The statue cost 30 million 
    Baht (approx. £750,000) sourced primarily from donations.

    Day One - Wat Chalong

    Wat Chalong was built at the beginning on 19th century and is the largest of the Phuket temples. Among the monks who founded Was Chalong were Luang Pho Cham and Luang Pho Chuang who led the citizens in fighting in the Chinese rebellion in 1876.

    The most recent building on the grounds of Wat Chalong is a 60 meters tall 'Chedi' sheltering a splinter of bone from Buddha.

    Day One - Thai Hua Museum

    The Thai Hua Museum is dedicated to recounting the history of the Chinese people in Phuket, from the first big wave of immigrants who came to the island in the nineteenth century to work the tin mines through to the merchants and others who built Phuket into a powerful trading center.

    What I said in my post holiday report to Saga
    Getting to Thailand
    Absolutely no complaints about the transfer to London Heathrow by taxi. The driver was punctual and courteous all the way to the airport.

    Arrival at Phuket Airport
    Imagine our dismay when arriving and being greeted by our tour guide with the words .Mr and Mrs Berwick, you are not on my manifest. This included transfer and occupancy at the first hotel. We were not to know if we were booked in the other hotels on the trip. Worried? You bet we were. What a welcome. We also discovered that we were a larger party than our guide was expecting. Definitely not a good start.

    Fortunately our guide was able to photograph our passports and documents and send them into head office, but the process took some time and we were not sure what the out come would be. I immediately fired off a complaint as we were fortunate to have wifi at the airport. The main thing that concerned us was that we were the only two tour members to come in via Kuala Lumpur, the rest arriving via Singapore. What if we had been the last to arrive and everyone else had departed for the hotel? We wouldn’t have been able to contact the hotel as this had been changed from the Novotel Phuket Kamala Beach to the Sunprime Kamala Beach Hotel without any prior notification to ourselves. What a way to start what we thought would be the bucket list trip of a lifetime. Forty eight hours after our complaint we received an EMail from yourselves assuring us that all was in order an we should enjoy the rest of our holiday in Singapore. Hardly reassuring. Would we have a bed at our next hotels?

    The hotel was probably the best we stayed at during the whole tour and it was a relief that we bonded well with most of the rest of the group.


    Day Three Phuket
    This was a disappointing day. The visit to the ‘Big Buddha’ was fine, not exceptional but interesting as was the visit to ‘Wat Chalong’. Then on to the ‘Hua Museum’ which was very uninspiring and just room after room of photos. Most people made a beeline for the ‘Old Coffee House’. Drinks were pleasant and very welcome but the owner obviously wasn’t geared up for serving individual drinks to a party of 17 as this took almost an hour.

    To sum up the day (and this was a general feeling amongst the group) pretty sparse as far as content was concerned and even at this early juncture, not measuring up to the usual standard of SAGA holidays.

  • Day Two - At Leisure

    We are at the Supreme Kamala Beach Hotel, probably the nicest hotel of the entire trip.

  • What I said in my post holiday report to Saga
    What? Already? We are only effectively on day two and we have a day of leisure.
    There was an optional excursion today. Either cooking with a family at an extortionate optional extra 200$US or a trip to Bond Island which was taken up by one group member and seemed to be mainly travelling there and back.

    What I said in my post holiday report to Saga
    What? Already? We are only effectively on day two and we have a day of leisure.
    There was an optional excursion today. Either cooking with a family at an extortionate optional extra 200$US or a trip to Bond Island which was taken up by one group member and seemed to be mainly travelling there and back.

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