Published: September 4th 2011August 30th 2011
Breakfast at McDonalds, Bang Tao Beach, Phuket
Have you ever seen a McDonalds restaurant as empty as this? I was the only customer.
Monday August 22
My plane left Bali at 12:30, I was at the airport far too early, and had a very long
wait. On the other hand the taxi driver told me that the week before there had been
a huge traffic jam, and it had taken 2 hours to get from Sanur to the airport (which
should be a 20 to 30 minute trip). So better too early than too late.
Arrived in Phuket, and had a very easy trip through immigration, and then set out
to find the metered taxis. I inquired at a taxi counter and they pretended not to
know where the metered taxis are - trying to get me to take their overpriced service.
I really hate that. I know there are metered taxis, I am not going to use your
ripoff service, I speak Thai, so why not just cut the bullshit and tell me where they
are instead of acting like slippery pricks! Once i did find the metered taxi stand
I had another problem - it was like a circus - they were trying to fix (excessive)
fares for each customer. As I told them i wanted to use the
meter they seemed to be
ignoring me and shoving less fastidious customers into taxis in front of me.
(I spoke to an American guy in the queue who told me that he had actually got into
4 different taxis and got out again when they refused to turn on the meter!)
Maybe they got sick of me because eventually a driver said he would take me, and use
the meter. He was a lovely guy. Told me had 3 daughters, 9 years old - TRIPLETS!
My god! The fare turned out to be a good 20% less than the fixed price. I gave him a
On the way to the hotel I was struck how big wide and carefree the roads are compared
with congested Bali. People complain about the traffic in Phuket, and maybe it is
bad in parts, but I (after 5 days) haven't seen anything to compare with the average
road in Bali.
Weather was rainy, and pretty cool. Cooler than previous visits to Phuket.
I checked into a hotel in 'Patong', the busiest, sleaziest part of Phuket. I will
stay hear a few nights before heading somewhere quieter.
I heard about a nice beach, named Surin, which has surfboard rentals. I set off
on a hired motorbike, in gorgeous weather. The surf was very small and it would
have been useless trying to surf it on anything other than a longboard. But the
only boards for hire were very short :-(
I contacted the nearby surf shop, and they sent up a 11 foot stand up paddle board
(this all took quite a good deal of time), and I had a go on that. Found it quite
tricky to balance, and didn't actually catch any waves :-(
I also contacted a Thai language school, as I wanted to have a few lessons.
About 5PM went to Kathu to have my Thai lesson. The owner, a lady named Jee, and
a bloke named Arkom and I watched a Thai movie on my netbook computer. The movie
is full of slang and vulgar language, quite entertaining. They were pretty helpful.
There is a lot more to colloquial Thai than I had thought. Almost impossible to
catch some phrases. Also there is a lot of meaning being particular phrases that
you can never find in
Weather had gone downhill a bit.
Went back to Surin beach, and had another go on the stand up paddle board. It was
a lot choppier with bigger, but crappy, waves. My balance had improved but I still
didn't quite get a wave. Can't paddle fast enough, and still maintain my balance!
The above activities required quite a bit of riding around on a small motorbike.
Fortunately it is dead easy and (seems relatively) safe to do this in Phuket.
Overnight it pissed down rain, and at 8AM the hotel grounds and the laneway were
completely flooded. Plus my poor little motorbike was up to its knees in water.
I was worried it would be stuffed.
I couldn't get out, and had no food. The hotel restaurant couldn't operate.
Had to eat some crap from the minibar.
Around noon I braved wading down the lane (soi) to the main road which was also a
mess. Almost no traffic. I had hardly any Thai money on me, and wanted to change
some Aussie money, but all the banks and money changers were shut.
lunch in a restaurant that was still working, and after another hour the
floodwaters had subsided and I found a moneychanger.
Another unsavoury encounter during the above was a horrible backup of disgusting waste
in my toilet bowl. Aarrgh, too horrible to even think about. Fortunately by 2PM I was
able to flush it all away.
When I tried starting my poor little motorbike about a litre of water got blown out through
the tail pipe; some Thai guys thought it was hilarious. But once I got it started
it didn't miss a beat.
Rain, rain, rain. At least it's not very heavy. I rode through the drizzle over
to Kathu to have another Thai lesson. This lesson was with Arkom, as Jee has
gone to Bangkok to pick up her car from the repair shop.
I have a waterproof jacket with me, and this keeps me mostly dry. Plus it is not
After the lesson it was raining too heavy to leave, so I stuck around and talked to
the staff (3 lovely tyoung ladies),
and had lunch with them. They order some food from a local eatery, delivered
Watch where you step when you're on a Thai beach!
motorbike - a nice dish is only about $1.30.
Still raining, and too heavy to ride in at 9AM.
An hour or two later I braved it and managed to get over to Kathu for my fourth of
five Thai lessons, again with Mr Arkom.
Again I stuck around and had lunch with the lovely young ladies who teach there. They
don't seem to have many students though. Most of the time they are on the net chatting
or playing games. One of them however spends most of her time printing out lesson
When rain had finally subsided enough I took off on a long ride down to the south end
of Phuket (Naiharn beach), thence to Kata beach. Finally the rain had stopped, and
the wind had subsided. The surf looked reasonable so I hired a mini-mal from
Nautilus surf shop (friendly people, and professionally run) and had a one hour surf.
Even though the waves were pretty ordinary I thoroughly enjoyed it.
2 hours later, back at Patong, the weather had turned foul again. Lots of wind
and rain. I am dreading another flood. Tomorrow morning I will move
Garbage on Kata Beach at low tide
Amount of crap in water at Kata Beach was pretty disgusting.
to a nicer
hotel in 'Karon'. It is quieter there, right on the beach, and still a pretty good
Caught taxi over to Karon beach, and moved into the Phuket Island view hotel.
Very nice hotel with 3 pools, and quite a bargain at the moment because it is the
low season (i.e. rainy, windy season, with some surf). It is 1200 Baht per night now,
but around 3,000 Baht per night from December till April.
Weather is still quite foul, and it is difficult to go anywhere.
Weather has improved slightly.
I rode my motorbike over to a Cable Ski Park at Kathu. This park has a rectangular
lake with a cable system to tow skiers around it. I wanted to have a go, but the
takeoff looked tricky. You get towed from a sitting start up to full speed in just
a few seconds. While I was waiting a lot of beginners turned up and had a go.
Most were having a lot of trouble, so I figured I couldn't do any worse.
I only paid for 30 minutes, thinking I would have a longer
After 4 falls I managed to get up and skiing on a wakeboard (shaped like a snowboard)
and went about a hundred metres before falling, but then my 30 minutes was up.
There were some nice people there, including a lovely Russian girl and a young pommie
guy who has Russian parents. They gave me plenty of advice.
Tuesday 30 Aug
Finally we have nice weather. The surf looked nice too - small clean waves, and no
wind. But first I had to do my final Thai lesson with Jee at Kathu. After that was over
I went back to the cable ski park, and paid for another hour.
This time I had no trouble getting up and was able to ski down to the end of the lake,
where there is a right hand turn - that was really tricky. If you don't approach the
corner right, the cable goes completely slack, and then suddenly pulls again with
tremendous force. It took me 5 goes to get round the corner, then I managed to get
right round the course. Great fun. I should have done it when I first go to Phuket.
(next 2 days my arms and neck were really sore from this activity!)
Late in afternoon I went back to Katha beach and had a surf. Although the surf wasn't
bad, it was a bit dumpy, and I didn't really have many enjoyable rides.
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