My last visit to Phuket was more than 15 years back. I remember i was really busy with my biz then and worked right through till late to take a flight in the morning…arriving at the Banyan Tree in my Romeo Gigli shirt…i had short hair..still managed to look all dishevelled on their arrival Polaroid. Then, I spent time holed up in the villa, taking only 2 nights out to Patong for dinner..all I could recall was the food was super and it was cheap and Banyan Tree did not suck either though they had many channels of pay to view xx rated films 🙂
I’ve not been to Phuket for so long now and was not sure what to expect, hecklers…touts..frankly, none of the above, Phuket turned out to be a great experience. Perhaps because i’m out on my own villa down South? Or I’ve not had a break for so long? Maybe. Rawai where i was at is probably one of the smallest town there, like a little village and the POI are a little bit spread out but it’s ok if you drive. And, it is much cheaper to drive then to rely on tuks or cabs – which i can assure you, is not to be found at anytime of the day or night..prob have to call to book. Driving also gives you much pleasurable freedom exploring the off-the-beaten tracks.
As usual, it is really hard to go wrong with Thai food in Thailand, so, they have the pluses stacked in their favour already. Cheap as ever, i mean you can have like 4 dishes at Bhat 200 cheap! Totally decent food.
I booked a couple of tours with the The Sea Canoe. The Original people…i like these folks. The tours are “low volume, high quality” i.e. no crowded boats and with cooks on board to cook you lunch on site! Luxurious…Cozy. Our self-row canoe trip to the “Hongs” (i.e. rooms/caves) were both exciting and creepy, not to be missed. Apparently not many operators offer self rows..possibly because they met with too many inept stupid tourist who land themselves into accidents? You know how tourists are..especially those who think they know it all? Anyway, i got to walk through the hongs..row under the hongs and generally hang around the hongs….honging all day long.
What wouldn’t you miss on an island retreat? Chill on the beach of course! I mean in the hustle and bustle of this weary world..it is not nice to be decadent and hedonistic for some moments in time…or not? Yes? So, it was Chang and massage on Karon Beach. Apparently, the drinks/beach chair vendor (he wanted to charge be Bhat200 for a chair and i told him NO..give the girl a Chang and make the chair free!) and the massage lady are related. I could not help asking them about the Tsunami (i couldn’t really rem when that happened but they said was in 06?) I was really curious how they survived! The guy has been working on that patch for 25 years..and the lady masseur..since she was 19..she is 45 now and she asked how old i was (whilst doing my legs)…and i was like uurgh..same? They told me the sea went away?! and being people who worked by the sea..they took cover and ran..she on her motorbike. “choke dee” (lucky) we said, she corrected, “choke dee mak mak (very lucky)…everybody in the family ok” Arrgh..these folks..they drive me to tears!
Then a peanut seller came up to me and asked for Bhat 200 for 3 packs peanut…that beach chair vendor said in Thai (we were eavesdropping..), “where are you from, you know you are not suppose to work this patch!” Girl said, “Gimme a break, I’m from Vietnam”, patch owner nodded ok (sweet:) )….so I said ok, I’ll take 2 for Bhat50..i know it is a bit of a rip off..but hey i’m on holiday and saving those few Bhats aint going to make me rich.
What was weird were some totally covered folks coming up to ask us how these deck chairs work. They look Asians so we thought they were some tourist from Taiwan or something? They turned out to be from Bangkok..Hello! We are from Spore! We, kindly, however, gave them the scoop, they were suitably impressed with our very little knowledge of the Thai language. Hooray!
Abba Bar at Naiharn stuck out in my mind coz i met a super bartender..being in the service line myself, i am always impressed by professional service staff. Ha..i just rem his name..Ekapoon (i think that is how it is spelt!) and he said Ekachai is too common a name..it is like everywhere and he likes his :). He worked at the Royal Yacht Club of Phuket for 18 years before joining this bar..i mean his bartending skills and presentation..wonderful! He was still at the Yacht Club when the Tsunami came..he was on the afternoon shift and he lives up on the hills, so he missed it all, he went to work and it was total devastation! Colleagues were chattering to him non-stop (i can imagine that..can you?) The Tsunami was only 8 minute long, he expressively described in his staccato English..”the sea went, then it came, then it went..and it came back in..then it went and a wall of water came in…3 times..” Thankfully the Yacht Club was at the extreme right corner of the cove and the waves came in sideways, Karon Beach..”luut” (finished). The Club escaped with the Reception and the Mediterranean Restaurant “luut”! Only 1 girl from Rawai died though…overall he mentioned more then 10K perished. When it was all over, what the Club did was fabulous…open bar and buffet for all guests, what a celebration of life!
On my last day i had to go back to my favourite Yanui Beach. Went to this little spot for breakfast and then lunch. Apparently it is owned and managed by a girl made good! I think it is great she made use of what she’s got to get on. She had a bar on Karon Beach when the Tsunami came (with the help of her then American boyfriend of “advanced” age, which she candidly mentioned is dead now..i was a little taken aback of course). Her bar was completely finished as with everything else on Karon! But oh..how she ran for her life..luckily for her, the American boyfriend of hers, being from Hawaii, was well aware of Tsunami and called her to RUN!! Her eyes welled over with the recollection, i can’t see what she is seeing but i could feel the pain all over her face..she said she may not have known everyone but everybody was there just for a good time really..
As with everything else, it is always the people who make things different for me, making me a little bit more in love with this warped, hatelful world.