By the time you read this, we will be gone. From Thailand, I mean! Wow. Sorry, that sounded a bit dramatic, didn’t it? We will be hurtling through the air at 500+mph and not looking forward at all to the impending winter we have to face in Sydney.
Thailand and Malaysia really have shown their best while we’ve been here and we’re really looking forward to telling you more about it over the next few weeks. We’ll also be posting more of our trip on Instagram for a while too. We’ve got so many photos to show you, but we don’t want to drown your IG feed.
This week our journey has taken us from the frenzy, noise and beautiful chaos of Bangkok to the sleepy, serine beaches of Hua Hin then on to some patches of paradise in Phuket. It still astounds me that places like this exist in the world… how many more are there just waiting for us to visit?
Anyway, we hope you’ve had a good weekend and that you enjoy this week’s Instagram Diary, and our travel update at the bottom too.
Cheers – J&C x
Our hotel in Hua Hin – the Aleenta Pranburi – is pretty special. This is our own private infinity pool looking out onto the ocean. It is a lot deeper than Mrs Romance is making it look though. She is merely lying on the edge. And very glamorous she’s looking too!
Aleenta Pranburi is not in Hua Hin town itself, which makes this an amazing retreat from a busy life. This hotel is really focused on sustainability, and everyone who works here is really focused on minimal environmental impact. These guys have got some amazing programmes and processes we’ll tell you more about later.
In the meantime, we’re enjoying the quiet luxury of this eco-retreat and its beautifully low-key facilities.
Down the road in Hua Hin proper, right on the beach, is Monkey Mountain and one of the tallest standing Buddha statues in the country. It’s an amazing sight, and – if you’re game enough for the climb, the steps take you up to a Buddhist temple called Khao Takiab on the top of the mountain.
Mrs Romance has climbed up, and said the views from up there are amazing. I, however, have decided to stay down on the beach with our mate Andrew to enjoy the beers and breeze at the bar here. Much better life choice.
By the way, it’s called Monkey Mountain because there are lots of (very naughty) monkeys everywhere here. Fair enough.
We’ve moved location again! We’ve shipped down to Phuket – the largest of Thailand’s islands. It’s well known for its beautiful beaches, proximity to amazing rock formations and of course party life. We’re still far in the north of the island, which is surprisingly big. Up here, there are no nightclubs and bright lights.
We’re staying at the Sala Resort and Spa, and it’s absolutely stunning here. One of the first things we do is take a walk along the beach. We’ve been lucky with the weather too; until a two days ago, it was raining heavily for two whole weeks. As a result, the sea’s very rough still and, if you’re following me on Snapchat (I’m @jim.butcher by the way) you’ll have seen us almost get swept away by a wave that came up the beach!
This evening, we’re taking advantage of the cocktail happy hour at the bar in Sala. Mrs Romance has indulged with a burnt lime and vanilla mojito, which is excellent.
Can’t believe this our hotel room… can’t believe it’s a hotel room at all actually. This amazing pool is all ours – as is that huge bath tub at the end of the pool, the daybed sofa on the left, the outdoor shower on the right. And just directly next to us on our right is the bedroom etc.
It’s flash, but it’s home. If it makes you feel any better, we’re not special. Most rooms here at the Sala have their own private pools!
Dinner tonight at the restaurant at Sala. We’ve discovered only after the food’s arrived that we’ve ordered way too much food. Thankfully it’s all delicious, so we’ll just have to eat it all!
In celebration of World Gin Day, we’ve decided to do a quick flashback to our cocktails in Bangkok only a few days ago.
This was at our favourite (and first ever) rooftop bar on the 56th floor of the Centara Grand. The views are amazing here as is the service, and the drinks are always excellent too.
If you want to find out more about what we know of gin and World Gin Day, check out our post from last week all about it!
I’m pretty much in love with this hotel. Sala‘s got an excellent breakfast setup. You know when you get the choice of a buffet (and you secretly want to feed your face until it explodes) or an a la carte option (which makes you feel civilised but still wanting the buffet too)? Sala gives you both!
Therefore, we’ve done the right thing and photographed the nice things first before destroying the buffet and pigging out good and proper!
Mrs R’s Thai omelette with greens is all well and good, but it’s my eggs benedict with homemade hollandaise that wins everything. Why? Because it comes on a sliced fresh croissant. Oh, and it also comes with house-smoked barbecue pork! Even the Thai waiter gets excited when I order this! #foodwin
So, we’ve moved on – yet again! This time, we’re in Aleenta Phang-Nga just north of the bridge to Phuket. The Aleenta here is absolutely astonishing. It’s completely different to the Aleenta in Hua Hin and yet there are lots of beautiful similarities and comforts with both.
Once again, we’re spoilt with incredible views and our own private pool. Going home is going to be such a horrible shock to the system!
Mrs Romance can’t help but glam up this pool. And I didn’t think our private beachfront pool could get much more glam. How wrong I can be!
But if we could ever get bored of our own pool, there’s always this: the main pool. Yes, these are daybeds. Yes, that’s an infinity pool looking out over the Andaman Sea. And yes, behind us is a swim-up bar – a concept I’ve always enjoyed.
Aleenta Phuket, we salute you!
Our final pic for the week is of my feet! Sorry if that’s unsettling for you, but I think they deserve some recognition – after all, they got the rest of me here! Neither me nor my feet can quite get over this view from our pool here at Aleenta. love it!
This week’s travel recap
Each week we go back in time over some of our favourite travel destinations using never-before-seen photos of our travels. Here’s where we’ve been looking back on this week.
Capri. What an incredible place. It wasn’t far from this outlook that we discovered an amazing little seafood restaurant and private beach.
Just after our incredible meal on the cliffs of Capri at a restaurant we discovered completely by chance, and a swim at a private beach we gained access to because we’d eaten at the restaurant, we were given a lift round the island on a little speedboat back to the port for our lift home to Naples!
Talk about perfect day. And these places on the cliffs are just as perfect. Here’s what else we got up to in Capri.
A while back Mrs Romance and I visited the fascinating island of Tanna, which is part of Vanuatu. It’s got some amazing things going on here on this little rock: an active volcano you can walk up to, a weird cargo cult and also the folks that worship Prince Philip as a god are all here.
There are also wild horses roaming the island. We spotted these guys having a quite dip at the beach!
A closer shot of the Vanuatu horses. This… herd… is it a herd of horses? A flock? A furlong? Anyway, these horses decided it would be a good idea to follow us all the way back to our digs after we interrupted their swim. Amazing but also a bit freaky. They’re a lot bigger when they’re following you around and you don’t know why.
The Cook Islands somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean has and always will have a special place in our hearts. It was our first tropical island getaway together, it’s somewhere both of us have always wanted to go and it’s also where we got engaged.
Plus, it churns out the most incredible sunsets like this one all the time like they’re nothing!
Here’s some more about how we got engaged.
This shot of an English country garden is so full of English country garden stuff it’s almost like it’s a joke or a mock-up. The pear trees, the white cast iron table and chairs, the basket of veggies, the wheelbarrows and grass roller… if the Queen strolled by it wouldn’t have surprised me!
This little walled town on a hilltop somewhere in Tuscany was one of the first places we stopped when Mrs Romance and I had our trip to Italy with my lovely mum and dad. It was one of those holidays that bonds everyone together even closer than you thought was possible.
We’re so glad we did it – and I think that comes through in this photo – taken by Mum of course. If Dad had taken it, there’s a good chance we’d be missing our heads and the rest of us would be out of focus! Sorry Dad!
Tuscany has this profound effect on people though – of bringing them closer, I mean. It’s beautiful. Just beautiful. And if you haven’t been here before, this is permission: granted to go! If you have been there, you know what I mean.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s Instagram Diary. Looking forward to catching up again soon. We’d love to hear how your week’s been and what’s been going on in your life. So drop us a line or tell us in the comments below!