The Worst & Best of Thailand
Trip Start Jul 12, 2009
27Trip End Nov 04, 2009
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Thursday morning Whitney and I woke up early and went for a run on the beach. It felt absolutely fantastic to run again - it had been over three months since I had done so. Afterward, we showered and jumped on a shuttle to Phuket Town, another area that the guidebooks described as being "underrated" and as a "stylish city of Sino-Portugese architecture and culinary diversity." We arrived in Phuket Town and were thoroughly disenchanted
After showering and relaxing in our room, we headed down the street to a bar on the corner that Joe had spent the two nights before use imbibing alcohol with the locals. All bars in our area were fairly empty with the exception of the bartender and several Thai women, most of which are prostitutes. Prostitution is ubiquitous in Phuket, even in the laid-back area of Kata Beach. The bartender at this establishment was a corpulent Thai man with a penchant for dancing to American music. Every time a good song would come on, he'd push back from his post at the bar and shake it! We conversed for a while and I grew even more fond of him when he guessed my age - 18 (he was 44 and looked 30 so I paid him a compliment as well with my guess)! The bars in Phuket are infamous for games; they are stocked with cards, Connect Four, and other board games. Joe challeneged on of the female staff to a game while Whitney and I chatted with an Australian guy named Matt that had joined us (Joe met him his first night in Phuket and had told him to meet us at the bar). Soon we followed our hunger to a nearby restaurant, where we had an amazing Thai dinner, drunken noodles with chicken for me and pad thai with shrimp for Whitney. During dinner we met a forty year old American man that had visited Thailand the previous year and immediately went home, sold all of his possessions and moved to Phuket
After dinner we took a taxi to Patong Beach which is home to the main tourist drag of Phuket. As Phuket is the sex capital of Thailand, the drag is a buzzing, sexually charged romper room lined with bars with Thai women dancing on the bar and on poles in attempt to lure well-paying customers. We found a seat at a bar that advertised two for one drinks and observed the mayhem. Apparently a US Navy ship had docked in Phuket that day and every person who found out that we were from America assumed that we were in the Navy. After I told one guy that no, I was not in the Navy but yes, I was from San Diego, he slurred, "Wait, you live in San Diego and you're not in the Navy?! Why not!?!?"
We slept in very late the next day and laid in bed watching television and reading for most of the day, as it was pouring rain. We ventured out at around 5 p.m., seeking food and a tourist agent. Whitney and I booked a one night trip to Koh Phi Phi, leaving the next morning. We were very eager to leave Phuket behind.
Saturday morning we were caravaned to the local dock where we boarded a boat for Koh Phi Phi. Koh Phi Phi is the icon beach of Thailand and for good reason (also the location of the movie "The Beach" with Leonardo DiCaprio). The water is turquoise and the island is surrounded by massive limestone cliffs, covered in verdant vines and plants. I had thought that the Gili Islands were the closest thing to paradise but I was wrong - Koh Phi Phi is a sight to be seen. The best part was the weather - sunny with just a few white wisps of clouds in the sky. After our arrival and check in at our hotel, we sought out the beach, lying on the white sand and staring with bewilderment at the sight before us
On the way to the dock we met a group of Canadian girls that would be joining us on the tour. They were exchanged students studying in Singapore and were on holiday in Thailand for a week. We ended up hanging out with them for the duration of the tour. The tour began by docking near monkey beach and we were instructed that we should swim to shore (a small boat was provided for non-swimmers). The swim was actually quite far - at least two or three hundred yards (don't quote me on that - I'm terrible at estimating distance). Despite spending the majority of my high school afternoons in a swimming pool, I had never swam in the ocean before. It was a welcome challenge to make it to shore. Once there, we watched as the guides fed a few monkeys bananas (been there, done that) and then we jumped back in the water and swam back to the boat, fighting the current this time. Next, we stopped the boat at a cove made from the limestone rock and were provided with snorkeling gear and a half hour to explore the water. As soon as we jumped in, the guides threw bits of pineapple in the water, attracting hundreds of small yellow fish. It was exhilarating to feel them brushing past us and to dip our heads under and watch them surround us in the water. As soon as I ventured a bit farther from the boat and tucked my head under the water, I was presented with an amazing underwater world filled with rainbow colored fish, sea urchins, colorful coral and sea anemones, among others. Several times I held my breath and dove down to get a better look, fascinated by everything in sight. The experience made me even more excited to get dive certified so that I can actually breathe underwater!
After a half hour of snorkeling, Whitney and I headed back to the boat and boarded a two person kayak
We were absolutely exhausted after our adventure, and headed back to our hotel room to read and watch t.v. before bed. The next morning, we woke up and had breakfast at the same restaurant on the beach that we had dined at the previous day, enjoying yogurt with granola and fruit. Afterward, we headed to the internet cafe and then the beach and finally lunch before boarding the 3:30 boat to Krabi.