Nutty Phuket

Trip Start Oct 17, 2007
1
9
49
Trip End Feb 04, 2008


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Flag of Thailand  ,
Friday, November 2, 2007

Ah, yes, welcome to Thailand and bustling, touristy Phuket!  It's busy, it's crowded, it's beachy and markety in every way imaginable.  We have to remind ourselves that a tsunami wiped out the area we are staying in only three years ago, and it's fantastic to see that life now abounds and they are relatively standing on their feet.  Reminders of the tsunami are placed every few hundred meters with signs pointing to the direction you should run and evacuate should it occur again, as well as in the reconstruction that is still going on.

 

Patong beach in Phuket is crrrraaazzzy man!  Really, I thought you could not get more people shoving things in your face to buy than in Cartagena, Colombia, but oh no, how wrong one can be!  Just the first day has provided us with a plethora of comic relief with the things that vendors and massagers and tuk tuk drivers and beauty salons and "gem" sellers and "tour" operators have said to us to try to secure some business.  Allow me to loosely recreate a walk along a couple of blocks.  Imagine, if you will, Scott and I miserably failing at trying to not look touristy, strolling hand in hand along the cramped sidewalks:

 

Tuk tuk driver: "Hey you!  Where you going!?  Hello hello!  Tuk tuk tuk!"

Scott and I: (laugh, bow heads) "Thank you, no"

Taxi driver:  "Hey boss, you want taxi?  Where you go?  I take you!"

Scott and I:  (giggle, bow heads) "No, but thank you!"

Taxi driver: "Yes!"  (We continue to walk.  We really really meant no, even if he didn't believe us.) 

Continuing on the walk...

Taylor shop attendant:  "Hello boss, you know what you missing?"

Scott: "No, but it's ok, thank you"

Taylor: "You missing nice suit, I make you one!"

Scott:  "Thank you, bye".

Jenn:  (looks at Scott with big grin on face) "You sure you don't want a suit, Boss?"

Scott:  "Just call me Patron!" (that means boss in Spanish, he got called that when we were in Colombia)

Jenn: (cracks up laughing) "Smart ass!"

Female "massage" therapist:  "Hello hello mister, wanta massage?  Very cheeeeeeeeap!" (gives him the serious up and down)

Jenn:   (jokingly to Scott) "I'm not a jealous person but I will draw the line at massage with happy ending!"

Scott:  (laughs) "Don't be silly, as if I'd go have a massage in a place like that"

"Gem" stone owner: (very underhandedly and secretively into Jenn's ear) "Psst!  You wan diamon?!"

Jenn: (pisses herself laughing, that one was the funniest by far, it was said with such stealth!) No thanks!

"Tour" operator follows us on a scooter:  "Hey Boss, where you from?"

Scott: "It's ok thanks"

"Tour" operator:  "I'm not trying to sell you anything (swerves around parked delivery truck, catches up with us again), I give you tours, very special price, happy hour! (we finally shake him off)

 

Now multiply latter mini-play by about 100, and that's what it's like to walk down the street in Patong beach, Phuket.  The survival guide is simple.  Taking cultural etiquette into account, be ready to politely and firmly say "no thank you" and continue on your way, having a giggle at it all.  It is, after all, quite amusing the way they try to get your attention, and that deserves credit!  They even put on fake Aussie accents trying to build rapport:  "How ya goin'? G'day mate!"

 

Speaking of cultural etiquette, here's a little anecdote on how not to be a moron.  In Thailand the King is highly revered and the people really love and respect him.  Also it is considered rude in Thailand to show the soles of your feet or wear shoes when you enter many places as they are your dirtiest part, and as the King's face is all over their money (baht), you DO NOT step on money, it is as if stepping on the King himself.  We arrived late and exhausted to our hotel in Phuket, and as Scott was pulling out his money to pay the cab driver, a one hundred baht note blew into the wind and landed onto the pavement where I very quickly saved it from blowing away further by SMASHING by big, dirty boot all over the King's pristine one hundred baht face!  Loser!  People of the world, learn from my mistake, and fight your instincts to do what you normally do and find another way to do it.  Needless to say, I cringed after doing it and apologized to the cab driver.  He said nothing.  At least to my face.

 

Our other major activity in Phuket was going to the surrounding islands, which are stunning.  Cliff-faces covered in plant life plunge suddenly out of the ocean, and the colour and clarity of the water surrounding them are incredible.  Visibility is perfect and all the coral at the bottom of the water can easily be seen for meters.  Unfortunately, there is absolutely no way of seeing any surrounding islands without falling knee deep in the poo that is the Mac Daddy of the tourist trap.  Or is there?  We didn't see any other way.  Throngs of people in boats zip around different islands, bays and snorkeling spots, it's just a matter of where you wanted to go and how you wanted to get there that determined what company you went with.  We did go to different beaches on Phi Phi Island where Maya Bay is located, more famously known as "The Beach" from the movie.  It is beautiful!  The sand is soft and fluffy and the water is a clear, light lime colour.  We also went to a couple of snorkel spots, including Khai Island which had some amazing reef life, Loh Samah Bay and Yong Kasem, aka Monkey Beach where there are wild monkeys that the many tourist feed and feed and feed all day with processed, flavoured peanuts that the tour operators provide.  Don't even get me started!  If you want to know my stance on feeding wildlife refer back to Penang, Malaysia blog!  Needless to say, Scott and I didn't feed the monkeys.

 

The night life in Phuket is another blog altogether...  in short, little Patong beach is Sin City, and everyone is trying to sell an entirely different set of services, and as you wander down some streets Thai people, mostly women and lady-boys as they are called here,  latch onto you and try to pull you into their "establishments".  Whether single, a couple or a group, they grab on and try to pull you in.  Scott and I found ourselves taking turns snatching each other away from groups of people that would latch on to draw us in to their eccentric bars, shows and clubs.  On the more innocent side of the night, lanterns were also sold along the beach and lit and released with a wish up into the night sky, which looks pretty spectacular...  but somewhere downwind from Phuket there's likely a giant pile of burnt up lanterns that have come back down!  Fire crackers were also freely sold and set off continuously along the water front, sometimes, dare I say, shooting off in the wrong direction.  Market stalls also abounded, and there was no shortage of choice in food, particularly seafood, a lot of which we couldn't really identify!

 

Anyway, despite the craziness of the days and nights, it is a beautiful area, and like nothing we had ever seen before.  Phuket is worth the trip, you just have to be prepared to accept it for what it is.  Oh, and by the way, I didn't think it was possible, but on our second day Scott moved up another notch in Phuket society, by not only being called Sir, or Boss, but BIG BOSS!  Yes, it's true; day after day the accolades just get better and better!  Now if only I could find a t-shirt in Phuket that says "I'm with Big Boss".... Hmmm.  Maybe I'll suggest it for next time.

 

Canaussie rating time!

 

Sweet Custard Palm desert: 3.5 tastes good, looks cute (see photo)

Pad Thai and green curry chicken: 5+

Grilled corn from street vendor: 5, yumm!

Islands tour: 3, beautiful but too many of us
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