AFTER a day cruising the small islands off Phuket, we were racing back to the marina ahead of a storm that was bearing down on Phang-Nga Bay.
We had earlier that day toured James Bond Island, a location for the film A Man with a Golden Gun.
Heading home, it felt like we were re-enacting a scene with six high-speed boats pushing to reach the Royal Phuket Marina.
Luckily, it was a late afternoon storm and we had already visited Naka Island for a cool drink on the beach and the Floating Sea Gypsy Village for a hot meal.
Describing the food at the floating village as hot did not do it justice.
Just the aroma from the food cleared sinuses.
Back on the boat, the storm whipped up the usually tranquil bay, giving us a wet and rough ride about half-way out from the marina.
Despite the condition, the passengers were in a good mood and no amount of seawater could wash it away. Phuket does that to any traveller. It's a paradise where a smile is not difficult to find.
Stepping on to the marina, I was overcome with an urge for my hotel room at Amari Coral Beach Phuket.
If I didn't feel a little bit Bond after the tour, I certainly did at the hotel.
The resort is spread out so that every room has an ocean view over a private beach.
Unfortunately, this also means many stairs need to be negotiated and some walking must be done from the lobby to my room.
This was an effort at the best of times and my sea legs made the distance more of a struggle that day.
The rooms were magnificent with a shower to share and a bed to match.
I expected an evil henchman to crash through the door at any moment, looking to even the score with 007.
It was the same at Amari Watergate Bangkok where decadence was in no short supply.
Bangkok is one of my favourite cities in the world and this was my fourth visit. Although the "busyness" and pollution of this city does put some travellers off, it's the vibrancy of the place and the friendliness of the people that make Bangkok so appealing to me.
My last visit was 13 years ago and I didn't expect much to have changed for such a big city.
I was wrong.
With a new international airport and a low-cost airline flying from across the region into Bangkok, the capital of Thailand was growing into a truly international city rivalling Tokyo.
There were tourists from everywhere and a growing number of tourists from neighbouring Asian countries.
At the Amari Watergate Bangkok, I met guests from India, Germany, Kuwait, Russia, and of course Australia, just to name a few.
The Swiss general manager Pierre-Andre Pelletier was often seen greeting or ushering guests around the lobby that, along with the range of foods available in any one of the six bars and restaurants, only added to the hotel's international atmosphere.
It was not until you stepped out of the hotel that you found the real Thailand and the hustle and bustle of the traffic and the street markets.
Many visitors may think at first that everything seems to occupy the same space or is attempting to.
It always takes a few hours to start dancing to the city's rhythm.
And although the hotel offers the weary traveller, or secret agent, a few creature comforts, I would always suggest people hit the streets often.
A Stay at Amari
- Amari Coral Beach Phuket: Deluxe Rooms start from about $170 a night.
- Amari Watergate Bangkok: Deluxe Rooms start from $85 per night. Executive Rooms start from $230 per night.
- The above rates are the standard online rates, and breakfast, taxes and service charges are not included.
* Troy travelled as a guest of Amari
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