Koh Phuket – someone pinch me!

24 Aug

Instead of giving a day by day blow of our time in Phuket I will point out all the highlights.

Phuket is Thailand’s  most popular tourist destination for obvious reasons.  Thailand and Phuket in particular is a very popular destination for South Africans.  So when my parents told me they wanted to meet halfway between Korea and South Africa Thailand was the obvious choice.  At first I was a bit bummed to go to Thailand.  I wanted to travel somewhere more exotic and off the beaten track.  As August crept closer and closer I got more and more excited.  I completely forgot about my initial hesitations and got really anxious about getting there.

August and September are the worse months to visit Phuket as monsoon rains are pretty constant.  I knew this before going and was fully prepared to have a few rainy days.  The spirits were in good favor as we only got two rainy days!  The rest of the time it as perfect sunshine and ideal beach weather.  My first impression of Phuket was that this is a tropical paradise.  The lush vegetation reminded me of the Amazon.  The island vibe combined with an easy way of life contributes to Phuket’s alluring quality.  Motorcycles pass you by on every side transporting families of up to four or five around the island.  People fill the streets and remind you that this place is home to some.

Tourism is Phuket’s main economic activity, so you better be prepared to be hassled by everyone you pass.  “Sir, I make nice suit”, “Sir you need suit?”,  “Madam, how about sunglasses” and between the shuts of “taxi” and “tuk-tuk” it was easy to forget the beauty that surrounds you.  I think this is where my hesitance to come to Phuket originated in the first place.  I spoke to many people who have visited Phuket in the past and many of them all say one thing – Phuket is overly commercial.  Tourists flood the place.  And even though this is absolutely true and your interactions with the locals are limited to taking your orders in restaurants asking for directions in a taxi, I thoroughly enjouyed Phuket.  The reason I enjoyed Phuket so much is because of my past six months in Korea.  I also found myself comparing everything in Thailand with Korea and how it differs.  In my point of view Thailand won!  In Korea it is a struggle to do the most basic of things, like asking directions or ordering food.  Thailand’s orientation towards tourism allows you to navigate the place without quarrel.

To me Phuket personifies both the garden of Eden and Sodom and Gomorrah.  The beautiful white sandy beaches, green jungles, fresh fruit and tall palm trees all show that you have arrived in paradise.  The sunsets fill your soul with tranquility and allows you to forget about the existence of an outside world.  Time is redundant in this part  where months could easily pass you by without ever noticing it.  But apart from the heavenly scenery many tourists flock to Phuket with an alternative agenda.  SEX!  Never in my entire life have I seen such a large concentration of scruffy, old, greasy, lonely men than in Phuket.  These men are off course all accompanied by breathtakingly beautiful Thai woman.  And luring these men is at the core of many Thai women’s business approach.  I’m not sure how the deal is struck to have a Thai beauty by your side and in your bed for a week but it seemed to me that bars are the place where these hookups are conjured up.  Also the ping-pong shows, ladyboys and all sorts of “exclusive” entertainment is a big draw to this magical place.

Another reason why I enjoyed Phuket so much is that I absolutely loved the food.  Thai food is by far the most delicious food in the world.  Also because Phuket is a tourist hub international cuisine was readily available.  I enjoyed steak, and mince and beef pies and lasagna and and!  What was really refreshing to me was the weather.  Although it was hot and somewhat humid it was not as bad as Daegu’s weather.  My parents who came from an icy South Africa struggled to adjust to the sudden climate change, whereas we flourished.  It was so refreshing to be able to breathe outside and not be all uncomfortable.  Another aspect that made Phuket even more perfect was the smell, or shall I say the lack thereof.  Korea stinks.  There’s no way around it – this place really stinks, like one giant sewerage plant!  Phuket and even Bangkok does not stink.  It was fantastic.

Phuket is also very cheap. We stayed in luxury for ridiculously cheap and the excursions are also not a deal breaker.  We went to the Phi Phi islands on a speed boat, Para-sailed, rented a jeep and had more cocktails than the average Korean has Kimchi!  Fabulous!

Although Phuket offered so much more we took the time to truly relax and just take it all in.  Thailand will see me again and soon!

Para sailing

Cheers from Kimchiland.


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