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      Mumbai, India | Email: santoshi@thestyledge.com

Island Hopping with CONTIKI - Phuket

March 31, 2017

Hi guys! Finally, the day for my second Contiki trip arrived! I still remember the exact feeling when I left for my first Contiki trip, which took me to Europe. Being my first ever International solo trip; I was a complete basket case and was nervous, anxious and excited all rolled in one. However, it turned out to be one of the best experiences I have had so far. So this time around when Contiki decided to take me for a trip, I was more than happy! I was surprised at the change I saw in my attitude; I was bolder and much more confident when stepping out to meet new people and not knowing the kind of people you will interact with was just part of the fun. This time around the trip proved to be a completely different experience from the first one since the location was vastly different. The first trip, being Europe, was full of architecture, understanding the history and the essence of the place; it naturally involved visits to monuments, structures and loads of travelling from one part of the city to another. This one was relaxed and leisurely. It took me island hopping, bathed me with lots of sun, made me lie down on beaches and relax my mind and body while I sipped on coconut water. I could easily label this one as the perfect vacation. I was a solo traveller and I met the craziest, most interesting people on this trip. And for that I will always be grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOM - KUL - HKT

 

 

Wearing: Top - Adidas Originals, Denims - H&M, Shoes - Converse

 

One major attraction with the Contiki tours is their ‘Island Hopper’ trips! These trips are extremely popular, loved by majority and sell out faster than you will be able to say Contiki! So if you plan to take a trip either solo or with friends, the first thing to do is an advance booking. I'm just adding a link to my Thai Island Hopper West trip here, so you can check out the tour I chose, the places I visited, things to do, etc. In terms of taking a trip to Thailand, I genuinely found it easy considering the distance from India and also the visa on arrival which means less pressure and planning. Even for my trip, the minute I reached Phuket I received the visa on arrival with almost no waiting time and felt very happy about the hassle free process and the quick entry into Thailand! I booked a mini-van from the airport and reached ‘Sawaddi Patong Resort’ by noon, ahead of everyone and thankful for the time I got to spend by myself before my roomie or the others arrived. I decided to do a quick lunch around the pool, stroll around and take a nap before things got started. I believe that on a trip you really need to relax your body as the excitement you build up for the trip drains your body without even realising it. Sometimes I feel we become more active on vacations than we ever are at home; I could procrastinate stretching my hand for the TV remote but I am active as hell on a trip, with all the packing, site seeing and moving around, sometimes we really fail to lie down and just let go!

 

After everyone had arrived, we kick started the trip with a meeting at 6pm with our Contiki manager ‘Bree’; who gave us a brief about the place, the tour plan, what stuff was to be carried and also the variety of options available for our disposal. The one thing that I have to really point out over here is how truly amazing and fascinating I found this manager. Everything from the way she spoke, presented herself and her attire struck a chord with me and I was sure I was going to really like her! Looking around I also realised this trip was a girl dominated one and that just means more craziness. We started chatting and everyone was keen to get to know each other; staying together for 8 days is an exciting prospect especially when you don’t know the people at all and are expected to interact and get along on a vacation. It’s an enjoyable experience and I guarantee it’s something you all need to go through at least once in your life. We decided to go out and get a glimpse of the night life of Phuket. This was where I met Maddy. She was the first person I became friends with on this trip. We sat at the poolside chatting and discussing her life back in Australia, the lifestyle, their way of living, the food and culture among other things. Most people on this tour were Australians and since everyone comes from different parts, it’s interesting how even in one continent there can be people so vastly apart in terms of taste, choices and accent. This trip made me see people who came together in groups diversify and get along with everyone else. And that is one more reason why I love the Contiki trips. The very essence of these tours is the way everyone mixes up and leaves behind all inhibitions. Even though people came in groups, they made an effort to become friends with everyone beyond their friend circle. I made it a point to ask them the purpose of travel and the reason for choosing Contiki. Why choose a trip when you can very well plan a trip for yourself and travel all alone or with your regular group of people. What they said, made me realise that no matter where you come from, travel is something every soul craves and every being on this planet will always enjoy. It’s rejuvenating and refreshing. And travelling with a group of new people is a whole other experience, since you get a glimpse of their lifestyle, the way they talk, their customs and thought process. It’s enriching beyond something that books can teach you.

 

After a long session of just getting to know each other we met at the lobby and headed to a place called Number 6 for dinner. The place was like a shack and we ordered our own food. I was excited about Pad Thai at the start of the trip but eventually the fascination wears off and you crave normal food. We decided to go to Bangla road which was a happening street with bar hopping and other attractions. Since we were tired and needed to get out the next day as well, we decided to head back and go to sleep. But yes, some of them decided to stay back & have some more fun! A great thing about Contiki is that they give you an option to do whatever you choose and you can stay back and chill at the place or call it a night. It’s completely up to you. You need not restrict yourself and can do anything you want to. Because my trip this time was a lot of groups, instead of solo travellers I was a little nervous in the beginning, but realised immediately that there was no need for any worry. Everyone on the trip was there to interact and get along.

 

Day 1: #ContikiBree

 

 

 

 Wearing: Top - Lulu & Sky, Shorts - H&M

 

Next day started with the James Bond Island trip which started at 9am and we went on to experience kayaking; a tour of the scenic island which started with a ride in a boat to reach the island. I met a very interesting person named ‘Sama’ on this boat ride and amazingly enough, he loved clicking pictures. I had found my match! I told him everything I do and we hit it off instantly. He told me he would click pictures of me at different locations and that we would have fun shooting. And we did! Big thanks to him! If I ever visit Australia, I will for sure give him a call. That’s a huge perk of my love for travel. I have people I know in places all over the world because of the globetrotting experiences and that is a huge high. To visit any place on the map and have friends and locals you know, is a great feeling and you are guaranteed a good time.

The day at the island was one filled with nature and everything that nature has to offer.  I am not really a mountain person but I love islands, beaches, and the sand! I love the beauty and calm they bring with it. These tours make you understand a lot more about yourself, they help me look at different situations in different ways and appreciate the simpler things in life. Every place makes me think of how I have grown as a person. We visited the Hong Island. It was a beautiful experience kayaking through the limestone cliffs there. Then we visited the James Bond Island & Na Ka Island. After the island trip, we decided to get rest and experience the night markets of Phuket. Since Contiki arranges a group party scene every last night of any place they go to, we didn’t bother partying that night and just went to the arranged place to grab some street food and chill. Sama & I went out to try the fried ice creams & some nutella pancakes! So yum!

 

DAY 2: James Bond Island Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 Wearing: Bikini - Tommy Hilfiger 

 

 

 

 

 Denim shirt - Tommy Hilfiger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wearing: Top - Flirtatious, Shorts - H&M

 

 

The next day being the third day was a free day, which is left completely to you, to do whatever you wish. Everyone wants freedom and this works best because after 2 days of interaction I found the third day of me-time completely rejuvenating. Small groups will go to different places and I ended up accompanying a group to Paradise Beach which was a beach that totally blew my mind! It was calm yet happening at the same time, if you know what I mean. After I got back from this beach I decided to laze around at the pool side till the evening while people walked by chatting up and playing music and engaging in each other. It was bliss. There was a cooking class being conducted which I skipped considering I have no interest in cooking as such: P I freshened up and then since it was Zac’s birthday we did a whole cake cutting session for him followed by this super awesome game. Now the game is a stroke of genius. Suppose I say I love dancing, someone who loves dancing will put his hand up and introduce himself followed by something he is passionate about. And the cycle continues till everyone is familiar with each other. That night we went to this club called White Room Nightclub! Damn! I danced like nobody was watching! Haha! It was a fun and a long night! I have to say Bree is such a stunner & a super happening person! Smiling & enjoying every moment!

What I love about Contiki is the trip managers! The managers become your family and it feels like you have known them for the longest time. They welcomed us, helped us make connections and became our friends. It’s very focussed on giving you a great experience of not just the place but also a genuine vacation. The meals are optional and you can always pick the trips you want to take. The flexibility is just amazing.

 

I had fun sharing my Phuket story with you guys and I hope you all enjoyed it just as much. Here is what my first ever friend on the trip Maddie had to say-

 

 

She works at a salon in Western Australia as a beauty & massage therapist. When I asked about her love for travelling, here’s what she said – “I love seeing new things, things you could never experience in your home country. I especially love trying new foods and trying fun things. When you get back home you feel like you know a little bit more about the world. It’s nice to get out of your comfort zone!”

And Why Contiki? – “Contiki is great especially as a solo traveller. It makes life a lot easier as I haven't had to worry about much at all during this trip. Meeting new people from different countries is the best part. I think it’s a great way to travel! “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3: Free Day + Party Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wearing: Monokini - The Label Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wearing: Dress - Zara

 

That will be all for now. I will keep you posted. Come with me as I go hopping on to my next destinations- PhiPhi and Krabi! Here I come! Travel stories up soon! :*)

 

 

 

 --- Good Vibes --- 

 

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