THAILAND TRIP – July 2016

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Another Aspire Supported Holidays group has returned from an overseas adventure of a lifetime.

We visited one of our absolute favourite destinations, Thailand. There’s something perfectly exotic, welcoming and delicious about this gorgeous country that just keeps bringing us back. Anyone who has ever visited will understand. And seriously, is there a more scrumptious cuisine anywhere on the planet?

Our group of 12 Aspire clients travelled with a team of 4 energetic support staff – Sue, Dennis, Jade and Simon (Simon rarely misses a trip to Thailand!). We travelled from Sydney on Thai Airways who always do a brilliant job looking after us. Again, there’s something about the gentle nature of the Thai people that makes their hospitality effortless and genuine.

We had a terrific client group who clicked from the get-go. and that continued right through the 12 nights that we were away together. 12 nights! The comfy Thai Airways seats and plentiful entertainment on our personal, seat-back TV screens always make a day-flight a joy. For many of us it’s the only time we have to catch up on a year’s worth of Hollywood releases. So, with the up-up-and-away it was headphones on, volume up, and press play.

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After an early evening arrival in Phuket we were met by our local driver and guide who whisked us briskly to the brilliant Centara Kata Resort – one of our absolute favourite resorts anywhere. We settled in for 5 days and nights of fun including a half-day city tour of Phuket to get our bearings. We visited temples, saw wonderful examples of the island’s unique Sino-Portuguese architecture, and visited Phuket’s famous beaches – Patong, Kata and Karon.

There was shopping galore, massages, free time aplenty, tasty dining, and a night out at Siam Niramit – a must for anyone wanting to glimpse Thailand’s glorious past as Siam. The spectacular 80-minute show is brought to life by more than 150 talented local artists. It’s really something. Equally eye-opening for our first-timers was an evening jaunt through Patong’s nightlife. Colourful to say the least!

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Another highlight was our night at the famous Phuket FantaSea show which is a cultural blend of night-time entertainment and theme park that takes guests on an adventure into Thailand’s ancient culture and realm of myths. Did we mention the delicious buffet dinner in Fantasea’s restaurant? Well, there are no words, really. Amazing.

A short hop across to the Gulf of Thailand on Bangkok Airways brought us comfortably to the island of Koh Samui and our very nice lodgings at Manathai Koh Samui.

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Again, we explored this wonderful island, enjoyed a free day by the resort’s excellent pool, and even visited an elephant camp where we learned about conservation and did an elephant trek. We had one wheelchair-bound guest with us who had always dreamed of riding an elephant. With the help of some locals, she fulfilled her dream. Even though our guests regularly surprise us, we were all totally blown away. It was another rich reminder of why we do what we do.

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We took to the sea aboard a speedboat for a full day at Ang Thong National Marine Park – home to 40 islands with beautiful natural caves, blue lagoons, stunning rock formations, an inland salt lake surrounded by ochre-coloured vertical walls, unspoiled beaches for sunbathing, swimming and sea kayaking. Perfection.

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The trip was another triumph and one we won’t forget in a hurry. The hospitality we experienced from start-to-finish was totally wonderful, including the VIP dinner hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand in Phuket – a real treat that made us all feel very special.

Hans Christian Andersen once said, “To travel is to live”.

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Who are we to argue with that?