Flying in to Phuket from Penang was a very quick 1 hour flight on FireFly – and very inexpensive ($90 with a carry-on bag and back pack including taxes per person). Upon arrival we grabbed a Grab which is the ride sharing program for Asia – what we should have done is hailed a taxi as Grab is not allowed to pick up from Phuket and is a bit more expensive than a taxi. We arrived in Patong Beach about an hour later and settled into our Airbnb which was in the heart of the city but set back on the mountain just enough for us not to have to hear the never ending party music from below. The Airbnb was a very modern apartment which had a great balcony with views of the mountains and of the ocean. The best part of this stay was the rooftop infinity pool which had fantastic views of the mountains and ocean and was a great place to have a drink while watching the sunset.
While in Phuket we visited the Green-Elephant Sanctuary which is a phenomenal place, rescuing elephants from the very cruel tourist industry where they are forced to provide rides to tourists all their lives. The sanctuary was just opened a few months ago and to date there were 3 elephants which were all female- 35 year old, 15 year old and 40 year old Mallee. These elephants will never be chained or ridden again.
Mallee lost her toes riding tourists up and down mountains but they still forced her to work. She arrived at the sanctuary 4 weeks ago and as soon as she got off the truck she ran to the mud pool and started to play in the mud. The rescuers thought that after such a long truck ride she would be too tired, but clearly finally unchained and free she knew she was safe and wanted to play. We got to feed the elephants with pineapple and bananas (they prefer the pineapples) and eat both with the skins still on. We also played with them in the mud bath and got to wash them off in the little lake and the XXL shower. It was an extraordinary day which we will never forget.
Overall we found Patong to be very loud and busy. It was a bit cleaner than Penang, but still on the dirty side. We were excited to be headed out to visit Koh Samui.