My own private cocoon

By Mike Peters ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-05-04 10:16:38
My own private cocoon

Cliff-side villas are trending in Phuket. They offer privacy and scenic luxury.

The private pool at our cliff-side villa is a symbol of all that was good about Phuket, Mike Peters finds. 

My own private cocoon

Sunsets and dolphins in a rain forest 

My own private cocoon

Qinghai Lake: Habitat for birds

The pool. ... oh, my god, the pool! I had never imagined that my much-anticipated trip to Phuket would turn me into one of those characters in the Ron Howard film Cocoon. You know the one: Space aliens crash land in a Florida suburb, take on human form and hide their "cocoons" in a secluded estate's swimming pool. Some old folks from the nearby retirement home climb the fence for a dip, and find themselves rejuvenated by swimming in what turns out to be a modern-day fountain of youth.

The pool, of course, becomes an obsession.

I didn't go to Phuket for the sake of a swimming pool - we have them in Beijing, after all - but the oh-so-private infinity pool outside our cliff-side villa at the Paresa resort soon became the symbol of why Phuket was so right for a vacation.

As a vacation destination, many veterans of Thailand travel are quick to pooh-pooh Phuket. So crowded. So commercial. So last-year. So ... over. (I often hear the same nonsense about Austin, Texas, the delightful capital of my home state in the US.)

As my partner and I relaxed in the lovely blue-tiled pool that hugged our deck, looking beyond the cliff edge to the seemingly bluer Andaman Sea, the peaceful solitude was almost palpable. Sunrise was so electric you could smell it in the coffee; sunsets were just serene and magical.

While funkier accommodations still lure plenty of backpackers, Phuket's expansive area and scenic cliffs have spawned a luxury resort industry that has blossomed since the island was savaged by the tsunami of 2004. Today, we can see no sign of that awful human tragedy.

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