Over the last few weeks I’ve been putting my tech skills to work planning our trips during the summer holidays. You see, I have this obsession with finding the perfect beach. You know the one: powdery white sand, crystal clear blue water, swaying palm trees, no one else around; and, of course, the perfect hotel to match: small, boutique-style, spa treatments galore, tasty food, and no hideous strip of chain hotel monstrosities looming above.
Amazingly, I found this perfect place in Malaysia (Redang Island) on our first vacation when we moved there in 2005. Unfortunately, it’s a little too inconvenient to get there from Bangkok and part of the “perfect beach” experience is only having to undergo one flight (maximum) to get there. Plus, I figured Thailand, the land of beautiful beaches, must have something even better!
Normally, I would ask around at school for tips from my colleagues that have been living in Thailand for many years, but all I got was the same old, same old: Koh Samui, Phuket, Koh Samet, Koh Chang. Not that those places aren’t beautiful, but I really wanted something different, something only the local resident would know, yet of course, would meet my needs as an emerging “fancy pants” (as my husband would say).
Now, I realize I shouldn’t really spill the beans here on how I’m doing my super tech savvy undercover exploration of stunning Thai islands, but I figured, despite this being slightly off-topic for this blog, you guys are the only ones who would really understand how cool this little web 2.0 planning experience really was.
So, here’s what I did:
1. I knew I wanted to stay in Thailand, but I wanted to make sure it was one of those perfect beaches (not like some of the other places we have stayed, where the websites looks stunning, but when you get there it’s really nothing special). So, I figured the best place to start was a search of “real people’s” photos: Flickr.
2. I remembered that a friend of mine had recommended a specific beach in Phuket, but I couldn’t remember which one, so I searched on Flickr for “white sand beach Phuket.” A beach that looked suitable was the very last picture of the first page of search results.
3. Once I clicked on that image, the picture description told me that it was taken on “Koh Racha Yai island [which] is located 30 minutes south by boat from Phuket, Thailand.” Aha! This was the kind of place I was looking for, close but not too close, easy to get to, but still isolated.
5. The top rated hotel looked pretty spectacular, so I checked out their website, and then of course went back to Flickr for more realistic photos and found this picture with this description: “Racha Resort is a luxurious 5-star resort built in 2004 after Tsunami.” Plus, there was even a comment from another Flickr user enthusing about this island and hotel with even more pictures posted! Yes, this was exactly what I was looking for!
6. Just to get all the facts, I opened up Google Earth, and checked out the beach from above (well, I guess from space, technically) and all the embedded images around the island, thanks to Panoramio.
7. Seeing as all the evidence points to an especially stunning, and quite private, beach on a lovely tropical island, I booked our flight and hotel right away.
Now all that’s left is to actually take the trip!
How do you use your techie skills to plan the perfect holiday?