Trip to the Andaman Opera Suite Phuket

Three nights away from Krungthep was just what we (and our guests!) needed.  We stayed at the Andaman Opera Suite located on Mai Khao Beach on the far north end of Phuket island.  A year ago October we stayed at this three-unit condo which we knew as the Black Pearl.  It turns out that each of the units, which are owned by a trio of couples, has a different name.  The Black Pearl is one of the downstairs units and the Andaman Opera Suite is the the upstairs unit.

Since the Black Pearl was unavailable, its owners suggested we call the agent that handles the Andaman Opera Suite.  It turned out to be a great move and was plenty of room for five adults, although the master bedroom suite (in which the three guests stayed) has only a sheer curtain between the bedroom and the shower portion of the bathroom, so this required a little coordination.

Here are photos from the website.  I figured they are so much nicer than anything I could shoot, so why duplicate efforts?

Andaman 8 Andaman 7
Andaman 6 Andaman 4
Andaman 1 Andaman 2
Andaman 3 Andaman 5

The kitchen turned out to be rather well-stocked, enough to prepare a couple of meals at home.


Mixed grill – dry brined pork chops and a variety of German sausages.


Brownies!  I cheated and used a mix.  Seemed silly to buy cocoa powder just for one batch.

For our third evening, we stopped at the local market and picked up some fresh seafood, herbs, and vegetables to make a nice dinner.


Before and after: a snapper-like fish stuffed with lemongrass, dill, and galangal root, with kaffir lime leaves and a butter-soy-lime sauce.  Wrapped in foil and baked 25 minutes.


Chicken biryani from one of the vendors at the market.  Tasty!


Tawn’s own contribution: tom yum goong soup, a spicy chili-tamarand shrimp soup with coconut milk and herbs.  Tawn held back on the chili to spare the guests.


Before we chow down for dinner on our final night: me, Tawn, Jack, Craig, and Matt.


Trip to the Black Pearl Phuket

A weekend on the beach in Phuket.  What a nice way to get away.  Our good fortune was that Tawn’s cousin Fon won a voucher for a free three-day, two-night stay at the Black Pearl, a three-unit condo on Mai Khao Beach in Phuket.  Since the condo is not particularly young child friendly – unsafe edges everywhere – Fon generously gave the voucher to us.

After a few scheduling hiccups, we coordinated with Ben, Jason and Kobfa to join us for a weekend getaway at this beautiful property.

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This is only the second time I’ve been to Phuket.  Previously, I didn’t hold the highest opinion of the island because on our first visit we stayed in Patong, the heavily touristy area that, despite its pretty beach, reflects all the excesses and undesirable aspects of tourism.


The Black Pearl is located on Mai Khao (“white tree” – i.e. birch) Beach on the north tip of the island, at least a forty minute drive away from the tourist resorts of Patong and the main town of Phuket.  In fact, Black Pearl is on an isolated stretch of beach with no other development immediately around it. 


There are three owners, friends with each other, of this three-unit condo complex.  Two units are on the main floor with master bedrooms on the back side of the top floor.  The third unit is entirely on the front part of the top floor.  Above is a picture of the outdoors dining area for our unit.  This place is gorgeous and was a lot more enjoyable than some five-star resort because it felt like home and was many times more private.


The infinity-edge pool on the main floor, overlooking the beach.

We arrived on Friday night about 7:00 and drove down to Phuket town to meet up with Stuart and Piyawat, who moved to Phuket a half year ago.  We had an amazing dinner at an Italian restaurant.  This meal deserves its own entry which I’ll add soon.


Saturday we lounged around the house all day.  Biscuits, bacon and eggs in the morning with lots of coffee.  Sunning, swimming, walks on the beach, listening to music and enjoying the perfect weather and cooling breezes.


There is a caretaker family that lives on the ground floor.  They are very friendly and helpful.  You can send the maid to the market with some money and she’ll buy food and prepare all sorts of Thai food.  We went with her, selecting the food ourselves for a grand seafood feast.  Above, the maid, Tawn and Kobfa select veggies.


Fresh (and huge) prawns.  These were ridiculously inexpensive.


Fresh fish anyone?  We ended up buying a few red snappers from another vendor and stuffing them with herbs and grilling them in a coat of coarse salt.   


In the kitchen, Tawn puts the finishing touches on the Tom Yum Goong (spicy shrimp soup).  The maid did most of the work and then left him to adjust the seasoning.  It was really tasty.

While the cooking was going on, we enjoyed a most amazing sunset, shown here in three pictures each taken about ten minutes apart.


In the final picture, you can just make out the lights of shrimp boats on the horizon.


The maid’s husband did the grilling, including these gorgeous shrimp, a few large squid, and the salt-crusted fish.  The homemade nam chim chili dipping sauce was fantastic!


Sitting around the table before digging in to our seafood feast: Jason and Ben, Kobfa, Chris and Tawn, Piyawat and Stuart, and Noi, one of the owners of our unit.  Noi and his partner Pat came down for the weekend and stayed in the upstairs unit which is owned by a friend of theirs.  Very nice couple and they joined us for dinner and then for Sunday brunch, too.


Noi and Pat playing with their “guard” dog Sing.  Their two dogs were former strays and both look and act very vicious when you first see them.  About ten seconds later they are your new best friends, very friendly and well-behaved.


Sunday morning we awoke to the sound of rain.  It was overcast and drizzly until about 9:00 after which the sun broke through and we had another beautiful day.


Jason looks on as Tawn does some yoga.  Tawn thinks he resembles an embryo in this pose.  He has one of the most flexible bodies and is able to do poses I would never be able to do no matter how much I practiced.


Harking back to the attempt at Parmesan Biscuits a few weeks ago, I made a modified recipe that turned out much better.  I’m going to make one more attempt at it and once I’ve perfected the recipe, will share it in a sperate entry.  They biscuits had smoked salmon and arugula again.  Very tasty.

I’ll do a few more entries about some of the other things we did while in Phuket.  Needless to say, it was a relaxing weekend.  If you are planning a trip to Thailand, especially in a group of 4-6 people, I’d strongly recommend that you consider staying at the Black Pearl.  If you do contact them, please let them know that you heard about it from Tawn and Chris.