Asia · Thailand

Phuket

It’s crazy how different it is travelling by yourself and travelling with someone: during my two weeks in Malaysia I spoke to one Canadian guy, during the six hours I spent travelling KL to Phuket I spoke to a Malaysian guy on the bus between the terminals, a Malaysian girl who is going to study in Brighton in October (small world) and a guy originally from New York who now lives in Thailand on the plane. Anyway…

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Finally arrived in Phuket after a one hour flight delay, loads of turbulence and a thirty minute immigration queue to find the girls waiting for me (sign and all). We got a cab to our hotel in Patong through a storm, including Eddie protecting herself from the rain INSIDE the cab with my conical hat. The drive took much longer than I expected (about an hour) and we arrived in the dark. The guy who showed us to our room and we did some unpacking, showering, catching up etc and then went to the Italian restaurant next door because it was close and it was getting late and the girls were tired from travelling all day.

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We walked into the restaurant and no-one approached us with a menu or for a table or anything so these two Italian guys were talking in the middle and looked like they worked there so I said ‘table for 3 please’ and one of them looked at me and then started walking to the back of the restaurant so naturally we followed. He pulled out a chair at one table so obviously we went to sit down in it and he looked really puzzled and said ‘do you want to sit with me?’. We got really confused because we didn’t know why the waiter wanted to sit down. So he motioned to go to another table and we followed and it was only then that we clocked on that he didn’t actually work there! Anyway it was a source of amusement for us for the rest of dinner. Every time I looked at him I cracked up thinking of his confused face. The pizzas were HUGE so me and Hayley shared and Eddie had pasta… Not very Thai but we’ll definitely be eating Thai food most of the time, that was just for convenience. We then came back and had an early night.

As I looked out the window on Thursday morning, my first image was a man standing on a balcony with a hand held mirror trimming his nose hair… Not quite a golf course or highlands or the KL skyline! We walked from the hotel around Patong down the two main streets, making a note of the famous Banglore Road, which is the epicentre of nightlife in Phuket, and of course picked up some smoothies on the way. We all knew it was going to be mega touristy but I don’t think we were expecting just how touristy… It’s so over the top with bars and restaurants and tour operators everywhere. Although of course it doesn’t come alive until it’s dark so it was relatively quiet. There’s also a big shopping mall – although it’s tiny compared to KL malls – and lots of markets.

We then spent the day on Patong Beach chilling, reading and swimming in the sea. The beach isn’t beautiful but we decided to walk as far as we could to find the quietest spot. We paid for a bed (under Ł2 for the day) and the men who worked there swept everyone’s beds for sand regularly and were very attentive when we wanted umbrellas up or down: at one point we ended up with three umbrellas on us, total coverage. At about 2ish we went and got lunch: the first of many Pad Thais for me and Eddie and chicken noodle soup for Hayley. Then it was back to the beach for a couple more hours, including being basically attacked in the water by a small child who took a random liking to me! We got a bit lost walking back to the hotel but eventually found our way after asking numerous people for directions.

We showered and changed and booked our hotel for Krabi on Sunday and did some more planning for the rest of the trip. We then made the walk back into town (about 15 minutes). It looked like a different place, alive with bright lights, loud music and swarms of people of all ages, nationalities and genders. We walked through the craziness and down a side street where the guy who I met on the plane had recommended we eat for cheap but decent food… We all paid under Ł1.50 for dinner and a drink whoo. We then ventured back onto Banglore Road.

PARENTAL GUIDANCE IS RECOMMENDED FROM THIS POINT ON

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There is no other way to describe it, there was literally sex in the air! And unlike Rhianna, we did not like the smell of it. It was just crazy. The lights were even brighter, the music even louder and there were even more people (and gender confusions) than anywhere else in town. There were girls dancing on bars, men and women trying to get us into a million ping pong shows (there was a list of 30 shows, including 15. F***ing show… Not how we would chose to spend our Thursday night!), and our personal favourite THE LADYBOYS!!!

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We walked all the way to the end of the strip to take it all in and then about-turned and made our way back to the top to get some drinks. There was a massive crowd gathered so we stopped to see what all the fuss was about and there, in all there glory, were the ladyboys, up on a platform bumping and grinding… It was so captivating! We were trying to figure out all night what makes it so fascinating to watch – women doing exactly the same thing all over the strip kinda makes me feel sad but I understand that everyone needs to make a living. We literally couldn’t take our eyes away!

We managed to for a while and walked back up to a place where we’d seen cheap buckets. We’d walked past this particular bar earlier and heard something like a cat screaming so we assumed it was karaoke. But alas it was not! After a few numbers, they sang the most ironic song they could sing on Banglore Road… Jessie J’s Pricetag (if you don’t know the song, Google the lyrics). After we finished the bucket we decided to go back and sit at one of the bars where the ladyboys were… And that’s where we stayed very happily for 3 hours! They weren’t even doing anything particularly exciting: just dancing, ‘flirting’ with the male observers and kicking their legs in the air (a few ‘nip and tucks’ were observed, especially when the waitress moved us to one of the front tables). The whole evening ignited a variety of debates among us and a million questions that will never be answered! Banglore Road is a psychologists dream. The most interesting thing was that for some, the ONLY thing that gave them away was the size of their feet (and others their very prominent jaw line). We eventually tore ourselves away at 2am after one of the most fascinating nights of my life!

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On Friday, after a little lie in, we decided to make our way to Phuket Town so that we could at least say we visited Phuket proper. We thought it would be a half day trip… How wrong we were! We got the local bus at about 11am. We got on a bus where the driver seemed to be asleep so we kind of just sat there for a while and eventually we started moving. We thought it was a joke when the driver didn’t make it out of first gear all the way along Patong Beach, we could have walked it quicker! After a while we started going at a normal speed but it took a lot longer than we thought it would to get there (an hour).

The map we had for Phuket named Phuket Town as one of the top attractions and described it as ‘an exciting mix of old and new, simple and sophisticated, peaceful and pulsating’… I think we were in the wrong town. It was like a ghost town with worn out buildings and funny smells. We saw a tiny fountain that didn’t work and a clock tower that made Epsom Clock Tower look like Big Ben. We also visited a rubbish ‘mall’ and generally were unimpressed by Phuket Town. So we had lunch and left. To top it all off, on the bus home there was a man clipping his toenails and fingernails all over the bus floor (luckily nothing flew at us). The only things that saved the day were that I got a bag I really wanted for a good price. Also Eddie made a good point: if we hadn’t gone we would have felt we’d missed out on something. So after the hour bus ride back to Patong we went and chilled on the beach for about an hour and then walked back to our hotel.

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We had a shower and a little nap and then got ready to go out. We’d bought a couple of drinks to have before we left but foolishly forgot we didn’t have a bottle opener so spent quite a while trying to get into them (eyelash curlers eventually did the trick, good work Eddie!). We left at about 9.30pm and went for dinner (grabbing a ‘street cocktail’ on the way). We then tried to make our way to go and watch the ladyboys again but we got lured in by a cheap bucket and never made it! We went to an amazing club and spent 4 hours raving it up (including sighting a lone man who had an uncanny resemblance to Einstein). We got home at 4.30am exhausted but very happy.

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Today we slept in until 10am and then made our way to the beach (smoothie for me on the way of course). We had a really lazy day working on our tans, eating pineapple and loving life. We had lunch at 3pm and then made the final trek back to the hotel (it’s about 3km one way). We realised that in the last three days, we have walked over 30km: to and from the beach, to and from the strip and all around Phuket town… And don’t we know it! Painful legs, glutes and blisters all round. In the evening we just had pizza for dinner and waited for the arrival of a very sleepy Lizzie to complete the reunion!

Phuket. Where to start?! Patong is SO touristy and not really the sort of place that I would want to spend a whole holiday or that I would recommend. I’m really happy that I’ve been here but I don’t know what all the fuss is about unless you’re here for sex tourism. The beach is nothing special and there doesn’t really seem like there’s anything to do in the day. However, I have to say that the nightlife is amazing. We had a very interesting night watching ladyboys and went to a great club the next night. We also made our own fun in the day so it all worked out perfectly! Now, how about Krabi…

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