29th – 31st May 2012
Still in glower mode from the wet season rains thundering around the Andaman and putting paid to my plans to visit Ko Phi Phi, I had to settle on Phuket. I’ve heard it’s very very touristy and probably not worth going for backpackers but giving these limited choices as I wanted to be in Koh Pha Ngan for the Full Moon Party in a few days, I thought I would give my verdict.
Here’s my verdict. Not worth it.
They were right. It’s so unbelievably touristy that I immediately got bored once we stopped for a break on the bus journey to Phuket. On this break, the Thai pushiest and swindling reared it’s ugly head when several travel agents tried to force me to stay at a ‘recommended hotel’. I said I already booked my place and after enquiring where it was, they gave me a snarl and forced me out of the door. No one on my bus took any advice from them.
As I was staying on Chalong Bay at the Nomads Hostel there, this meant for the bus driver to take me to the furthest point on Phuket island. He was already annoyed having to take me there and kept saying I should stay on Patong or Phuket Town. No, I booked the accommodation. He claimed he knew where my place is and after half an hour, he gave up in Chalong and threw me out. I started walking off in the direction I knew the hostel to be but it wasn’t until the bus driver was running up to me claiming I owed him money for taking me from Patong. He grabbed my bag. I was already annoyed because I wanted to get to my hostel for personal reasons and he was slowing me down. I pushed him back and said he didn’t take me to my hostel so he’s not getting any further money. Then he started yelling. I just walked off and he yelled to me all the way to the hostel. I do admit I found this to be funny because the rains started chucking down even with 1km walk to go and this very kind lady pulled up on her motorbike and offered to drive me to the hostel for free to get me out of the rain. Where did this leave the bus driver? Running behind us still yelling. Think I enraged him even more when I turned round and started laughing at him. Soon we lost him.
Arriving at my hostel, I quickly checked in, took a shower and spent some time to myself for reasons I will explain later on. But any illusions that I was on my own in my dorm room was made false when an Australian walked in. We chatted for a bit and decided to play some pool for the rest of the evening.
The hostel was out of nowhere but it was good to have some time to myself and experience the quietness of this part of Phuket.
The next day, John the Australian offered to go with him on his motorbike to explore Phuket Island. So, strapping my helmet on and having him between my legs, I grabbed hold of his shoulders as we sped off unsteadily at first down the highways of Phuket! First off, we visited the different beaches of southern Phuket while the weather was shining beautifully.
Then we roared off to find the Big Buddha. It took a very long while to find it and overcoming very steep hills but we found it in the end! Can you tell from my expression I was impressed or not?
After that, we thundered off to Phuket Town. First off, I wanted to know where I could catch the local bus to Khao Lak, where I would be meeting some people to travel with to the full moon party! After a lot of arguing with the transport people…apparently the Khao Lak attendant was not there so other attendants couldn’t give me the relevant information even though they knew it, I finally found out by buttering up a girl with compliments and she told me.
Waiting for the thunderstorm to subside as it started while we were in the bus station, we headed deeper into Phiket Town to find a restaurant. Everywhere in Phuket is expensive so we thought we’d just go for broke by ordering what we feel like. I ended up having the roasted duck curry. It was delicious and found myself mmmmm’ing to myself more than I could count on one hand!
Straight after that, we headed into Patong for an hour to see what the place is like. I heard about this place, but nothing prepared me for how sleazy it is. I got approached to see ping pong shows so many times (7 times in one minute!) or go to lap dancing clubs or see a ladyboy show who knows. The walking street is the place to go if you want some sleaze!
It wasn’t long til I found myself in a police station! Don’t worry, I didn’t do anything! Unfortunately, John wasn’t wearing his helmet while he was motorbiking (I was) and he got pulled over. But it was interesting to see police corruption at its best. Sure enough, John should have been wearing an helmet. His keys were taken off him and he had to go pay the fine at the police station. Upon returning, the keys were given back but I noticed many local Thai people were whizzing by without helmets and the policemen didn’t even bat an eyelid….until another tourist came by without an helmet. He got stopped. I enquired why they were stopping tourists not the Thais. He looked at me evilly and gestured me to go away. But I asked again. He ignored me and I noticed his pocket to be full of money. Corruption indeed.
From Patong, we finally returned to Chalong exhausted and fell asleep. But I had to wake up very early for an overpriced taxi to take me to Phuket Bus Station for my journey to Khao Lak. The time for quiet reflection was over and it was now time to P.A.R.T.Y.
Phuket has been interesting but I wouldn’t return back here. If someone offered, I would say..thanks….but no thanks.
I ended up in Phuket town for about half a day and Patong for about the same amount of time (due to logistical reasons). Though the people watch was horribly depressing, I actually ended up finding a little night food market in Patong, where I had the best fried chicken & orange juice ever. It was a nice surprise, with most of the sleaze contained just a few blocks away, I was able to sit amongst locals and exchange smiles as we dug into our delicious snacks, inevitably all served in plastic bags.