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If You Need A Quick Time-Out, Do It In Thailand

Four days is all you need.

11/08/2017 4:30 PM AEST | Updated 14/08/2017 10:53 AM AEST
Sri Panwa, Phuket
Yeah, I can get used to this.

You might be thinking that it's mid-August, which means winter is nearly over. Which means that, soon, it will be Christmas. Which means it's holiday time.

But should you wait really more than four months for a reboot? Even a short break from work can boost productivity and energy. So consider a short trip before the end of the year. Like I did.

After completing a major work project, I took off to Phuket for four short, refreshing days. I felt satisfied with the project's outcome and was energised by the work, but in truth I was tired. I'd not considered taking time off until later in the year, because then it's Christmas.

But an opportunity came up and I took it. After all there's a good reason we're given four week's leave a year, Natasha Hawker, managing director of Employee Matters, tells me.

"I think that people who are not taking regular breaks are generally less productive and efficient," she said. "People are much more rejuvenated by frequent breaks. Four days can feel like a significant break."

Perfect. Because four days is what I'm dealing with.

Upon landing in Phuket on a Thursday evening, I'm met by a private driver. Because you don't come all this way not to have someone whisk you away while you sneak in a nap. Hey, I'm tired. It's time to get this mini-break started.

An hour later I arrive at Sri Panwa, a five-star resort perched on the eastern side of the Phuket peninsula. It's night time, but I can tell the view is spectacular. This place and I immediately strike up a robust friendship.

Next, another driver. This time it's a tuktuk. I like tuktuks. They're fun to ride, and the word tuktuk is fun to say. Go on. Tuktuk. See?

Lazy lunch commute with my TukTuk Guy.

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Drop And Flop

The gloriously spacious villa is perched above the water peering east. I immediately drop my bag, fetch the auxiliary cable and cue up about nine Drake songs. Because dinner's about to arrive and I have to check out the infinity pool.

At this point it's important to note I'm a drop-and-flop type of traveller. I'm a reasonably active guy, but when I'm tired and need to get away for four days I look for any opportunity to do nothing. There are so, so many options to be active on this trip but I look for every reason to sleep in and catch up on the goings-on over a leisurely buffet breakfast.

What I can and will do is have a massage. Specifically, a coffee body scrub. I've never had anything but your standard head/neck/shoulder set-up. But I literally live on coffee. Why not become ensconced in it? An hour later I wake from a slumber to discover, indeed, I am ensconced in coffee. My skin tingles, I revel in the aroma, and I'm relaxed. In fact, I feel like a coffee. I repair to the villa to get my fix with a cigarette in hand as I gaze across the peninsular.

Brb

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But, what with all the sleeping and dazing during massages and swimming in the pool and making use of all three showers available to me, I've worked up quite an appetite. Let's talk about the food.

Get In My Belly

I wouldn't describe myself as a foodie per se, but I do love me some food. Sri Panwa has so many eating options you could take each meal somewhere new. But my favourite is Baba Hot Box. The name perhaps gives it away; this small granny-flat style eatery is built around a grill. Where meat is prepared. So much delicious meat.

As far as dinner goes, I'm incredibly into Japanese food. I've been to Japan four times. I can pass off the language in basic conversation. I like sake. This is where Baba Iki comes in, providing a delicious array of fresh Japanese food prepared by one of the top chefs in Thailand. We're told he's quite the, er, dish. The food is certainly fantastic, particularly the sashimi which was so fresh I felt like we were eating it straight from the boat. And sake? Much obliged, thankyou.

Bottom's Up

This is where we need to have a serious talk about lycheetinis, of which I enjoy several by the pool after wandering down from Iki with the tang of wasabi still popping off my tongue. But first we need to back up, to where the lycheetini and I first met, on Baba Nest's rooftop deck.

2/10 at best...

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So, OK. It's approaching sunset over the peninsular and I've woken from, yes, another nap. Like I said, doing nothing is pretty exhausting. I make my way onto the spacious wooden deck and perch myself on an ample seated cushion to meet my fellow travellers for a dusk tipple. We peruse the menu diligently but it becomes pretty clear on the recommendation of the more seasoned guests that there's only one reasonable option: The Lycheetini. Though not officially Sri Panwa's signature drink, the combination of Belvedere vodka, lychee and lime is something I sign off on more than one occasion. Chilled or frozen? Both. Obviously.

Coming back to the pool, the perfect combination of lycheetinis and aforementioned Drake songs on the stereo sets up a great atmosphere for us to dance into the night. We do, spirits are high and the warm evening air reminds us we're far removed from the Australian winter. But the night can't last forever -- I have some serious sleeping to do.

Move It

My newfound friends are evidently more into the activities than I am, because over each breakfast I'm regaled with enviable tales of rooftop yoga frenetic Thai boxing classes. I'm assured they're first-rate, and ordinarily I'd be first in and last out. I've come with a plan to sleep in and do as little as possible to and I'm sticking to it.

But one excursion I can't turn down is a boat ride across to Ko Lon, a sleepy closeby island to Phuket's south-west. We set off towards Ko Lon's long pier, with our driver taking to the waves with confidence. I accept the challenge of trying hold my can of beer upright. I barely succeed. A far greater challenge lies ahead -- staying aboard a banana boat while its towboat marshal laughs maniacally at your feeble but ultimately fruitless attempts to avoid an unscheduled plunge into the Andaman Sea. I fail, he succeeds, and I return to shore for a long stint relaxing on the sand, snorkelling in the warm, shallow water and enjoying another beverage.

How long does it take to get a permanent Thai visa (asking for a friend)

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That Went Fast...

Before long I'm back to the luxurious confines of the villa, with nothing on the schedule except a cooking class and a night by the pool.

To my surprise, but ultimately owing more to the expert and gracious touch of the chefs by our side, I pull off a half decent Thai seafood salad. The flavours are balanced, if I say so myself, and I'm suitably sated for one last quiet night in (not to mention one last tuktuk ride...).

Yep, I cooked this. #pinkapron #yeschef

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I emerge the next morning positively beatific. From the fresh lychee cocktails to the casual afternoon snoozes by the infinity pool -- with some delicious food in between -- I got what I came for. And, according to Natasha Hawker, my boss is probably going to be pretty happy to hear about it.

"People are generally upbeat, renewed, energised and optimistic when they return from a break," she said.

Check. Although I immediately start planning my next break on the flight home.

Chris Paine travelled to Thailand as a guest of Sri Panwa, Phuket.

Sir Panwa
Pool villa. And that view...

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