Nai Yang Beach, Phuket
Phuket immediately felt much cooler than Abu Dhabi, still nice and warm, but not too humid. We were also immediately struck with how ‘calm’ it was. Nobody tried to force us into a taxi or asked us where we are going like in India.
We pre-booked the first four nights in two different hotels, treating ourselves to slightly (this is an understatement) more expensive places than we would usually stay in. The Airport Resort and Spa came to pick us up with a sign that had my name on it, another first for us.
We were quite hungry at this stage, but also very tired. After checking in we just went down to the ubiquitous 7-Eleven store that can be found every few hundred meters so far in Phuket. We bought instant noodles for dinner and went to bed soon after. One rand is worth around 2 Thai Baht (B), a packet of instant noodles only cost 6B, thus around R3. Total dinner cost: R10. During the night we could hear the monsoon rain.
The next day around noon we ventured out and had our first ‘local’ meal at a street side café. We shared a bowl of noodles with red pork and wontons (60 Baht) – heaven. We’re finally back in Asia with its cheap and delicious food.
Back at the hotel we tested our newly bought GoPro and GDome in the resort swimming pool. It works!
Later we swam in the Andaman Sea, lounged and walked in the low tide to the end of the beach. The water is not as turquoise as in the high season, due to the monsoons and rougher waters, but still very pleasant to swim in.
For dinner we ate at the same restaurant again, Pad Thai and Fried Pork with rice.
We pre-booked our hotel in Patong as well, but only after arriving in Phuket did I read that it is the world famous party beach and ‘sin-city’. Luckily the hotel was somehow quiet, and we could get good sleep.
Despite being off-season Patong was packed with people from all over the world, we’ve never seen so many tourists, restaurants and hotels. Also, everything is way more expensive than in the previous town.
On Saturday, our first day in Patong, we did some work and then ventured out at 23:00 the night to see what all the fuss was about. The main ‘attraction’ is the Bangla walking road which was packed with tourists and touts. Both sides of the road are lined with bars and clubs with women dancing on the counters with skimpy clothes. In the street touts tried to lure people into hidden clubs where the woman presumably had even less clothes on (less being no clothes). The strangest part is seeing all the families with their young children also walking down the street.
Walking back to the hotel around midnight we saw a lot of vendors only starting to setup their goods for sale. Looks like we were still too early.
The next day we stayed in the hotel working until 17:00 in the afternoon before going to the Jungceylon mall. We went to the cinema and watched Hobbs vs Shaw. The popcorn flavour: Cheese Corn. A bit strange, but they really did somehow give an ‘extra’ corn flavour. Just like in India we had to stand while a video played celebrating the King.
For dinner we had dumplings and Pineapple fried rice (100 Baht each) at ‘street stalls’ inside the mall. The mall is truly massive with lots of ‘open’ shops. An entire floor would be full of shelves with no walls, but it would be separate stores with different pay points.
Across the road there was an even fancier mall with similar ‘open’ shops and eateries.
Back at the hotel we read about the Simon Cabaret and decided to stay another night. Our first ‘non-pre-booked’ night. We found a place on Agoda for only a quarter of the price we paid. For only a R100 we got a room and TV just as big as the previous hotel, but with flickering electricity, black water coming from the tap, dirty sheets and dirty floors. I couldn’t sleep until after 04:30 in the morning from all the noise, among other things.
Before the not sleeping incident, we had a memorable day. The Cabaret was quite entertaining. We read some negative reviews about the bad lip syncing and other ‘minor’ issues, so didn’t go with too high expectations which is always a good thing. I bought the tickets form a small vendor for 500 baht cheaper than the official price and only got a little scribbled on piece of paper. The first positive surprise was that we got fancy tickets with my name already printed on it in exchange for the scribbled note. How they managed that will remain another one of Thailand’s mysteries. Just like the airport sign with my name on it as we didn’t let them know that we are flying in, we could have already been in Thailand for all they knew.
The second surprise was getting seats smack bang in the center of the auditorium, a row with just two seats and an aisle on both sides. Then it dawned on me that this might be the ‘participation’ seats, which probably jinxed me even further. The costumes of the dancers truly are spectacular, and a lot of trouble went into the sets that appear and disappear in a matter of seconds. Between two of the acts a plus sized woman with an even bigger dress exaggerating het bottoms and breasts came out and danced seductively. She made her way down to the audience and pressed an audience member’s face into her fake breasts. I didn’t know where to look or whether to make eye contact or not, but before I knew it, she came to sit and my lap and wrapped my arms around her. The whole audience cheered as she kissed me on both cheeks leaving bright red lip marks.
After the show we treated ourselves to massages. A Thai massage for me and a foot massage for Caro. Finally, we went to a cheaper night market and had fresh fish and squid that the vendor grilled to order.
Despite saving on the accommodation it was our most expensive day to date.