It took me 26 hours to get to Phuket. Well, 30 hours if you're counting from the time that I walked out my front door in chilly New Jersey with my sturdy, tan Afar Backpack* slung over my shoulder to the time when I opened the door to my hotel room on gorgeous Layan Beach. And I can say that it was worth every hour of travel (even the last one, crammed next to a man who sucked on chicken feet for the entire flight)—especially when the most gorgeous sunrise greeted me on my first morning in the Land of Smiles.
In fact, the views over the Andaman Sea, the friendly “sawadee” greeting with hands in prayer from everyone I met in Phuket, and my first authentic bites of Thai curry made me certain that I had started my inaugural trip to Southeast Asia in the exact right spot.
I wanted to get a taste of the region, both figuratively and literally, getting a bite of culture, food, sights, and sounds, so I decided to follow an itinerary that started at the coast, moved to the city, and ended with one of my bucket-list destinations—Angkor Wat, which was just a hop over the border in Cambodia.
Phuket turned out to be the perfect place for me to get my feet wet, so to speak, in Thailand. I swam in the Andaman Sea, relaxed by the pool, and gently eased into a new country.