After sitting on our butts and doing next to nothing for two weeks, we finally decided it was time to rent a scooter. But renting a scooter in Phuket is a bit more difficult than some other places. First, many of the scooter rental stands want to hold on to your passport. Thanks, but no thanks. Then, you have to deal with the realities of lax trademark laws. So you read that “Phuket Scooter Rental” is a reputable company with good scooters? OK, great, Do you think they are the company at phuketscooterrental.com or might they be the company at phuket-scooter-rental.com? And, be careful, don’t get confused by scooterrentalphuket.com. ARGH!!!!!!
In any event, after some very annoying missteps, we finally had our scooter and off we went. First stop was to see the Big Buddha. The Big Buddha sits on top of some hills and stands 45 meters tall.
There are some smaller statues scattered around as well. We even got to see a cheeky monkey, but he was up in a tree eating someone’s lunch so we didn’t get a photo.
There would have been some amazing views from the area, if only it hadn’t been a cloudy, hazy day. But the ride up the hill was fun, with lots of twists and turns. Although, it was really sad to see the elephants chained on the side of the road forced to wear saddles all day long…. (PSA: Back before we knew better, we rode elephants. Please don’t. It is cruel. Even though they are big, their backs aren’t made for carrying riders, especially in the big baskets. There are places that claim to be ethical where you can interact with elephants without riding them, although I would seriously research those places too before visiting to ensure they actually are ethical and not just jumping on the bandwagon.)
Then, we jumped back on the scooter, passed by Rawai Beach, and rode to the very far south end of the island to a place called Promthep Cape. There is a lighthouse there and some beautiful views of the sea and some small islands. Apparently, sunset up there is amazing.
Then, it was off to Robert’s pick — the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery. Ideally, this would be done before or after the Big Buddha, but they don’t start tours until 2 pm, so we decided to backtrack. And, let me tell you, that was a fun ride — scooter riding is an art here which often involves multiple scooters side-by-side on the side of the road with larger vehicles passing by on the right — there were times I could have reached out and touched some big trucks — big fun!
But we made it to the distillery in one piece. Chalong Bay Rum is made entirely with sugar cane (no molasses involved) and comes in a variety of flavors like lemongrass and Thai sweet basil. Everything, even the bottling, is done by hand. When you arrive, you get a cocktail (a mojito when we were there), then they do a short little tour explaining the process (no photos allowed), and the tour is followed by an opportunity to taste all their rums plus some really yummy pineapple preserves. Robert didn’t get to do much tasting, since he was driving, but he did buy a bottle for future consumption. He plans to crack it tomorrow when we arrive in Samui.
Then, we jumped back on the scooter, rode to the south of the island again, and then drove up the other side. There were beautiful views everywhere!
All in all it was a good day. So good, in fact, that we have pretty much decided to rent a scooter for our entire stay on Samui!