24 September 2009

Phuket - The Tropical Get-away

Even though I flew into Phuket from Bangkok on a domestic flight, I was quite surprised by the tight security checks at the airport. It was even stricter the security checks I had experienced at the Stansted Airport in London. But then again, they have every reason for doing it. Tourist spots have been the target of a series of terrorist attacks in the past few years. Even though Phuket has been spared so far but with so many tourists come to this Andaman island all year long, it is quite a likely target. Well, quite up to its reputation as a sun-basking island, my arrival in Phuket was welcome by this.
I was to check in at a hotel I had found through the recommendation of travelers in TripAdvisor – It was called The Tatum Mansion. Located very much close to the famous Patong Beach, I was glad I had stayed there.
This is the room that I was placed in. Not bad for a room with only 1000 baht per night (RM 100/night). Everything is quite basic, except they’ve got these for extra. Quite enough to keep you going just in case you plan to stay inside the room for days and nights to fulfill all your Thai sleazy dreams.

Patong really is a vibrant town. It is full of energy with tourists roaming the streets all day and night. Being there is like being in some western country because westerners seem to dominate the whole town. Patong has now fully recovered from the devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami. The only thing that is left of it is this. Being a tourist magnate, Patong has to be one of the most overly commercialized towns in Thailand. Everything seems to be overpriced. You can always get a better deal by doing a little bit of negotiation but you can never get anything cheaper than it is in Bangkok, or KL. Literally. I mean, apple to apple. A pair of sandals like this had cost me two hundred baht (RM20) – the cheapest I could find around. Even crazier, a small bottle of mineral water would cost you some 40 baht (RM4)!!

Foods in Patong are quite as expensive. While I was hoping to feed myself with more Thai cuisines in Phuket, I could only laugh at myself when I had to settle for fast food restaurants.At least I could be assured of a full stomach.
Ordinary dishes are priced averagely at 200 baht per dish (RM 20).

In Patong, you can get at least an hour of foot massage for that. Surprisingly, massages in Patong are unbelievingly cheap. Tatum Mansion is surrounded with massage parlors that you can’t avoid walking past them every time you go out. The girls would sit outside of the parlors and do all the necessary attempts to seduce you into getting a massage from them.

I kind of liked it at first but some of them could get quite overboard by grabbing at my groin. Ouch. There even was one time when they took the umbrella away from me, leaving me all soaked and drenched in the rain. Somehow, I’d rather go for the less pushy bunch. Like this girl here, she didn't even come running to me when she saw me coming..
She spoke very little English but she seemed to understand when I proposed to her. She agreed even if she had to follow me back to Malaysia. But of course, it wouldn’t be that easy. I’m sure she’ll make a good wife for someone else.

Patong locals can be quite too friendly than necessary. Every now and then they’d come up shaking hands with you and give you all kind of friendly approach such as: Hello my friend.. How are you? Where you from? How long are you going to stay in Phuket? Bla Bla Bla..
But believe me, they don’t get friendly for nothing. Later they’d try to get you into buying all sorts of things – tour packages, massage services, tailored suits, tattoos etc.
I would say Patong Beach is quite ordinary. I’ve seen more beautiful beaches in Malaysia. I could only assume that tourists don’t really come to Patong for the beach but more for some other reasons say, a tour to the other Andaman Islands. And of course – for the Patong vibrant lifestyle. Patong is a place where the young and beautiful..and the old and ugly..
can get intimately together...
can go lovey-dovey without being stared at.. they are commonly seen all over Patong and Phuket as a whole..
No wonder some people call Phuket the Land of The Beauty & The Beast..

But still Patong probably offers one of the liveliest beaches in Asia with so many ‘beachy’ activities to indulge in. And one of them is to just lie down and feed your eyes.
I was there on what they called a low season when bad weather was quite expected – rainy, windy and rough sea. Business was not quite good. But still, some people didn’t seem to be bothered at all.
Tailoring in Thailand is said to be one of the best, if not the best in the region. There are hundreds of tailors in Bangkok and Phuket, making it one of the most important businesses in Thailand tourism industry. Bearing that reputation in hands, making a tailored suit is supposedly in anybody’s list of must-do things when visiting Thailand.

There are more than 200 tailors in Patong alone. After checking out at least half a dozen of tailors including some that were highly recommended in a number of internet forums (you don’t have to believe them!), I decided to settle for Martin’s Tailor, a little shop owned by a young Nepalese guy called Johan. Knowing practically nothing about fabric and tailoring, I was impressed by all the info and guidelines that he had facilitated we with. A deal was made.

Patong really is a party town. People from all over the world come to Patong to experience its nightlife and friendly atmostphere. It is a place where strangers can become friends over just a bottle of beer.
and it probably has the friendliest girls in the world they'll make you feel guilty for even thinking about leaving. And they can be quite entertainingly whacky. Hehe.

ON the downpoint, it was raining most of our days in Phuket, killing any hope of a tour to the islands. Even the red warning flag was up most of the time. :-(
Well, some things are better left undone so that you have a good reason to come back again in the future.

So was the Muay Thai. Even though it was one of the things that I had put in my priority list, I didn’t get to attend any Thai Boxing match due to time constraint.
Again, I’d spare it for some other visit.


Man-D said...

Muay Thai... yeahhh... rugi sa nda palce my bet hari tu... I got all the winners right ni... phewww

JIPP said...

woww. bagus lagi ko ada pigi tingu. Sa termiss ohh.. huhu.. a New Zealander couple whom we made friends with over drink had asked us to join them but it was against my pre-planned schedule. May b next time la..

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