A few years ago, two of my friends announced that they were moving to Thailand to teach English. Although neither of them had any teaching or language qualifications, they were well received for the job. Having native English speakers is a hot commodity in the local schools of Thailand.
We kept in touch and they would always make a point to tell me how beautiful the country was. They also insisted that I come visit them as soon as possible. Eventually I made my way out there, and my only regret was that I stayed for only one week. It was everything I could have expected and more.
The flight out there was a bit challenging, but worth it. 16 hour flight from NYC to Guangzhou, China. 6 hour layover, then a 3 hour flight into Phuket, Thailand. It ended up being 26 hours when everything was done and said. It was an amazing feeling to see my friends standing there at the passenger pickup, all the way on the other side of the world. We had no way of communicating and I was entirely relying on them tracking my flight.
It was very late when I arrived in Phuket, so I couldn't really tell what anything looked like. I was so excited to have made it, and with all my camera gear and quad-copter intact. (pic of us in the car).
The next day I got up early and watched the sun rise. The place we were situated on was right on the water. When I say right on the water, I mean the water came up to some stone steps which lead into our courtyard. The very first thing I noticed is how blindly bright it was at 7am. Everything appeared grey - no blue sky, no blue ocean. There was a thick haze in the sky that never quite seemed to lift. I sat by the outdoor bar and had an espresso while I soaked in the tropical sun.
What I found out from my time there:
one week is not sufficient time to explore the area
there are literally hundreds of islands to visit. some inhabited with resorts and activities, some completely untouched
don't drive a car
do drive a motorbike
there are monkeys in those jungles
there are waterfalls to explore, but only in the wet season
there are jungles to explore, but probably not in the wet season
there are lots of elephants
there are lots of stray dogs. there are seriously a lot of stray dogs. they target people and sometimes "hunt" in packs.
Not a lot of Americans in Phuket, but a decent amount of Europeans and Australians. Lots of Chinese too.