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Waves, culture & history

By Mark Hughes | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-27 07:36

Mark Hughes finds glimpses of paradise to delight his children on a rare visit to the delightful resorts of Asia.

My first thought was this holiday was going down the pan, quite literally. After a long climb upstairs, I'd been plonked in a bright yellow rubber boat and shoved down a dark, wet and windy tube to emerge in what looked like a WC bowl, around which centrifugal forces carried me several times before gravity took me down another tunnel that emerged in a swimming pool, my screams still echoing behind me, along with those still engaged in the surprising excitement and shock.

No wonder it's called The Toilet. But despite the less than beguiling title it is clearly the most popular ride in Phuket's Splash Jungle, a paradise waterpark close to the airport and full of entertainment for all age groups.

Waves, culture & history 

Zeavola resort features a tropical island retreat, offering diving, snorkeling, kayaking, golden beaches, sailing, colorful seabed scenes and sumptuous food. Photos by Mark Hughes / China Daily

I was there with my two daughters aged 10 and 15 to while away the time before a speedboat came to whisk us off to the idyllic island retreat of the Koh Phi Phi Marine National Park.

About a 70-minute ride out into the Andaman Sea, this is a park where watching flying fish detracted from the occasional bumpiness of the ride in which James Bond would have been proud to have had a chase and shoot-out with bad guys in this gutsy aquatic speed monster.

Waves, culture & history

Related photos: Delights at Zeavola 

In fact, there actually is a James Bond Island, although we were kept too busy to find it.

One of the islands is Koh Phi Phi Ley, where the iconic book and film based on it, The Beach, the latter starring Leonardo DiCaprio, were set.

Our resort was Zeavola, on the largest, Phi Phi Don.

The attraction was not only to treat my daughters, whom I hadn't seen for months, to a sumptuous tropical island retreat away from useless UK summers, but also to educate them.

In Beijing - their first visit to the Chinese mainland - we had climbed the Great Wall, strolled around Tian'anmen Square, walked around the Forbidden City, the Olympic Park and Houhai, and looked at but not eaten scorpions and grasshoppers.

They learned a lot about history, Chinese food and culture, and the need to have eyes in the back of their head when crossing Beijing streets on foot.

But I also wanted them to learn about the need to preserve the environment.

And what could be better than a five-star resort offering diving, snorkeling, kayaking, golden beaches, sailing, sumptuous food and even TV and WiFi for when the vibrancy of the real things under tropical temperatures brings on a languor that only a lie-down and a cocktail (even a virgin cocktail) can chill you amid the yawning heat?

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