If there is anything I’ve learned backpacking, it’s that nothing will ever go right. But being able to understand that there is a million ways to get to the end goal, has helped guide is trip. Tonga and I set our intentions for the day, meaning that we decide on a loose schedule. Of these are a list of what I’m interested in seeing, but it isn’t set in stone. Sometimes you might meet someone who will give you a great insider scoop of a place to check out or you’ll ask a local about their favorite foodie spot. These little things can add up to a whole different adventure than what you had originally planned.
This was when Hina and Jonathan were to join us. We were arriving 2 days earlier to get settled in. We had planned to have a catch up day, then to have a sight seeing day , and once Hina and Jonathan came, we’d have an excursion.
- We were staying in Patong Beach.What’s interesting about this place is that it has a whole shopping center surrounding it that is filled with bars, homes, and clothing shops. This was also in the heart of gay district. All that bars were in that area and he music keeps going til sunrise. The hotel was very swanky, which was totally different than the hostels we were doing, but we wanted to ease Hina and Jonathan into it.
- Phuket is a very interesting place. There is a great/ terrible tourist scene here, but I would say has been my least favorite place of Thailand.
- We went on to Bangla Road which was the WORST idea ever. This was a street filled with people selling sex. These people looked like they were 12 years old… I kid you not. The women were in little bathing suits attempting to booty pop and twerk…. notice I say “attempting.” It was really uncomfortable to see these women be sexualized and treated like sex toys. The men were truly disgusting. What was the worst observation that I had at Phuket was that at every massage salon, they had to have a sign that said, ” NO SEX.” that is ridiculous that this is the culture of Phuket.
- So our intentions for the day was to see big Buddha and go to kata beach for the sunset. Sunset was around 6:45 pm according to Google, so that was our over arching end goal. We started off late and left the hotel around 3pm. We had research what the best way to hit up our two goals were. The excursion would be too late to book, and the public transportation is too unreliable and we didn’t have wifi to really be able to freely move around. The next best thing was a taxi. We were able to negotiate having a taxi driver take us to all of our places for 1400 baht, which roughly translates to $40 for a whole day out. That meant that he would wait for us and take us to the next destination and eventually drop us off. We had found a lady driver to take us, but she ended up switching out with her son. Tonga and I talked about how we wants to try to find women to hire for taxis when we could.
- Big Buddha is big. I think it was definitely beautiful, but it was also very gimmicky. Everything was placed for tourists to pay money to the temple. I thought that it would be more of a lowkey type of deal. But it was flooded with a show here or a trinket there. The view is amazing though and the monkeys are very mischievous. I didn’t feel like it represented my Buddhist understandings though. Simplicity was not the idea at this temple. It didn’t feel right.
- Next our driver took us to kata beach just in the nick of time for a sunset. It was truly spectacular. We were about to head out when I saw a floating lantern be sent off into the sky. Without skipping a step, I ran back to the beach to buy a lantern. Poor Tonga because all I did was yell, “lantern!” And run to the beach without giving her any context. We were able to get a lantern and make a wish to send it up. I had always wants to attend the Thailand lantern festival in November, but I could never find the time to take off, so this is as close as I’ll get. This was the highlight of Phuket.
- Hina and Jonathan were scheduled to meet us at the hotel at 2 am that night so we started to prepare for them. When I finally got wifi, I had learned that they missed their connecting flight. They were stuck in Beijing. Hina had mentioned that they Were trying to get to a 12:15 am flight, but didn’t keep me updated with their status. I had looked up the flights and nothing was coming out from Beijing at that time to Phuket. So I began to get worried. I did everything to try to find them. I messaged friends in D.C who had the blackberry number to see if they could get ahold of them. At is point it was 4 am and our excursion was leaving at 8 am. I was worried that the had made it to Phuket, but I missed their email and that they were stuck a outside or couldn’t find the hotel. Finally I figured out their route was to Bangkok and then to Phuket, but that meant that they wouldn’t make the excursion to James Bond Island.
- James Bond island was a really good tour. We were in beautiful cerulean water surrounded by little islands with lush green jungles. The group was about 20 people, but everyone was super fun. We all had a great time being in each other’s presences. It was good energy all around especially when the boat engines stopped in the middle of the ocean and they had to have an engineer fix the engine. The island itself was pretty crappy because it is inundated with tourists, but we had a canoe ride, an hour of exploring a floating village, and an hour to chill on the beach.
- Tonga and I stumbled upon a shady alley way full of food vendors our first day. As soon as we sat down, it was pouring rain. I don’t mean just a steady flow of rain either. I mean like monsoon type rain. The alley way actually became flooded, but the vendors acts as if nothing differently was happening. Motorcycles also were riding in and out of the tight alley so literally a motorcycle would be 3 inches away from me as I was eating.
- ICE CREAM!!!! there was this one stand that I went back to every night. It’s where they would create the ice cream mixture in front of you and then flatten it out and then roll it into rolls. It was like heaven in my mouth.