After jumping on a cheap internal flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket (Thailand’s most popular Southern Island) we’ve spent the last 3 nights in Patong and feel we’ve experienced the good, the bad…
and the ugly of this touristic trap. The beach here is really beautiful (even though very busy), with white sands, clear water and ample sun loungers to use. The problem arises as soon as you’ve laid your towel down on the sand, with hawkers coming from every direction to pester you to buy their goods. Forget about having a beach snooze, we found it impossible to relax with “I scream you scream” being bellowed across the beach by the ice cream vendor every few minutes.
Directly off the beach we found masses of shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, all pretty tame and pleasant during the day. On the nights however, Patong’s main strip, Bangla Road comes to life like nothing we’ve ever seen before. All the bar fronts present pole dancers in their windows, wearing little to no clothes at all, contorting to music blasting out of immense speakers. Ping pong shows and other sexual performances are advertised on leaflets which are pushed into the hands of passers by whether they liked it or not. All around, prostitutes (3/10 being lady boys) parade around in thongs and French knickers, slapping the bottoms of men who walked past. We sadly felt this place was beyond seedy and actually felt a little uncomfortable, especially seeing tourist children wondering around the strip with their parents, with views usually found only in a strip club. We did however try to embrace the party culture and enjoyed watching the World Cup on an evening in the bars, with a group of travellers we had met on the beach on our first day. Last night we headed out to get dinner, with the mind set of sensible adults, intending to have a quiet drink and bite to eat to mark the end of our three days here in Phuket, planning on being in bed for 10pm, so we could be up, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready for our 7 hour bus ride to Ko Samui this morning. We sat at a bar, with a cocktail in hand, and thought that that was all the island had in store for us, how wrong could we have been? Trust us to have chosen the bar to drink in which gave out free tequila slammers every 30 minutes, and be surrounded by travellers who’s encouragement to “down it down it,” was too much for us to ignore! At this point we made a grave mistake and continued to drink well into the early hours, deciding at 2am we were ravenous and needed some food.
Staggering into the only food stall open at that time, we ordered two masseman curries, and tucked in, stupidly forgetting to specify ‘little spice’ when ordering, we were soon sweating and burning up after just a few mouthfuls. Booze sure does make you feel invincible, so we ploughed through, completely forgetting the challenge that came in the morning. We crawled into bed at 4am, and after 2 hours sleep we’re up to catch our bus. We feel awful and without sounding too crude, have spent the last hour taking it in turns to hog the bathroom! Travel tip: ‘always think ahead and have self discipline’ (unlike us!) The trouble with some Thai buses is they don’t have a toilet on them, and if you are a passenger for 7 plus hours, they may only stop once for a toilet break. If you are unwell, this may be a nightmare for you, as it will no doubt be for us, let’s just pray our bus arrives with a toilet on board!
Phuket has been a very interesting place to stay, and although we wouldn’t choose to come back in a rush, we’re glad we’ve experienced it for the record.