After a long overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani (~1200BHT, and about 12 hrs), where a vendor sang "Singha Beer, Singha Beer, Singa all the way!" to the tune of Jingle Bells .. all the way.. and a few more busses and scams, we finally ended up in Phuket. Which might as well be named Little Russia. All signs and menus were translated into Russian, and sometimes English.
We found a great hostel, minutes away from Kata Beach. A pretty touristy place, but not as bad as some of the places were managed to avoid in Phuket.
We immediately signed ourselves up for an elephant trek at Kok Chang Elephant Trekking. It seemed to be the least commercialized camp, and judging from some TripAdvisor reviews, they actually took care of the elephants fairly well.
What they casually forget to mention when you sign up, is the free included GIANT SPIDER SANCTUARY. Where spiders freestyle jump and appear inches from your face when you least expect it.
I came down with a pretty bad fever while in Phuket, so I don't have very positive memories from this place. We never bothered getting any of the anti-malarial or any anti-fever shots prior to our trip, so I was pretty concerned it was something serious. Luckily enough, there happened to be a Canadian doctor from UBC right around the corner from our guesthouse, who took me in for a free checkup and told me I'll live.