By Andrea Cheng
Jan 31, 2015 @ 4:00 pm
Raymond Sein

My childhood was a little different than most—I grew up in Michigan until my father's job had him relocate us overseas to Hong Kong. I spent the remainder of my adolescence and all my awkward teen years in Hong Kong. My parents still live there, and ever since I graduated from college, the number of times I see them sadly whittled down from twice a year to once.

It's why I save and splurge my vacation days all at once. But this year, instead of just hanging out with the fam in Hong Kong, we added a quick four-day trip to Phuket, Thailand to the itinerary.

I hadn't been to Phuket since I was 11-years-old. What I remembered of the island? A lot of beaches and a lot of sun. This time around, I planned to make the most of the trip—escape the NYC cold, clock in quality beach time, and soak up some of the culture. But all of this meant re-thinking my wardrobe. In the winter, I gravitate toward structured menswear-inspired silhouettes in black, charcoal, or navy threads.

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For Phuket though, a tropical place that boasts sunshine year-round with temps that can drop to a balmy 75 in the winter, I tossed aside my city-slick M.O. in favor of fluid pieces washed in an ocean-inspired color palette of blue that ranged from aqua to deep azure. To complement the blues, I packed neutral separates (think: stark blacks and whites, and soft creams) for endless mixing and matching. One color theme also meant I could get away with one set of accessories, more or less. Plus, it helped minimize the risk of over-packing, and a pesky overweight luggage charge (guilty on both counts in the past).

Beauty-wise, I’m a huge stickler for sun protection. I brought all kinds of SPF under the sun, from lightweight liquids (perfect for the face) to heavy-duty lotions (for the body) to solid sticks (for both face and body). Other than Cetaphil’s gentle face wash, cleansing towelettes, and a sheer lip tint for a hint of color, there wasn’t much else to my Phuket beauty regimen.

Raymond Sein

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We stayed at Angsana Laguna, a resort that lives among a cluster of other family-friendly resorts situated on the Bang Tao Bay. When we weren’t setting up our daily camp at the beach, my boyfriend and I ventured outside the resort’s sprawling walls to explore little market areas (where I picked up a woven straw tote and cute knickknacks), marvel at one of Phuket’s most impressive and grand Buddhist temples Wat Chalong, and walk through Old Phuket Town, a historical district with Chinese and European influences in its architecture—it’s really something to see. Most people have to decide between beach vacations and city ones, but this one had a little bit of both.

Raymond Sein

And finally, after so many missed opportunities during our quick stay, I was able to pet a baby elephant minutes before we headed to the airport. Her (or his?) hair was surprisingly bristly and coarse, and she shook hands with her trunk. Talk about falling in love and nearly dying from cuteness overload! Let's just say it was the perfect ending.

PHOTOS: Travel to Thailand and See What Andrea Packed