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Published: March 5th 2010
That's Patong Beach at the top and Karon Beach a little closer in.
Yep, we’re still in Thailand. Originally, we had planned to only spend 3 days in Thailand (Bangkok) and then return to the country here, in Phuket (poo KHET) for a brief stay before the flight to Viet Nam.
Phuket is an island that is one of the top resort areas of Thailand. The island is close enough to the mainland that it’s connected by a relatively short bridge. It lies about halfway down the thin sliver of a peninsula that reaches southward to the southern border with Malaysia. It was our intermediate stopping off place last year when my wife, Cheryl, and I went to Ko Phi Phi (KOH pee PEE). We flew from Bangkok to Phuket and were picked up in a resort limo, drove to a marina on Phuket and then a fast speedboat to the resort on Ko Phi Phi, possibly the best place I’ve ever been.
When we were leaving Hua Hin an eternity ago, we considered a bus to Bangkok, a flight to Krabi (another high-profile Thai resort) for a few days and then a bus or flight to Phuket. Then we were told that it is a 9-hour bus ride from Hua Hin
Is Singha beer the cause or the solution of the emergency?
to Phuket. We then looked at a map and found that Chumphon is about half way to Phuket so, why not? After a 5 ½ hour bus ride to Chumphon, we figure it has to be a similar ride to Phuket.
We got on the bus at 10 AM, Monday and after 8 1/2 hours of saddle sores and nearly non-stop bumpity bump we arrived in Phuket about 6:30. It only took us an hour to communicate where it is that our hotel is situated. The standard fare was printed on a sign near the bus station stating 450 Baht ($13.50) and we agreed. We piled into the back of a VW Combi with the driver, his wife and 1 year-old cutie of a daughter to trek to Patong beach.
Once we arrived in Patong he had to ask directions at least twice (he’s obviously not an American man) before we got to our hotel. It’s rather minimalist, but has a comfortable bed, good air conditioning, satellite TV, WiFi in the room and is clean. There’s no pool, it’s in the middle of a construction zone but has plenty of eating places and shopping opportunities nearby.
happened on to it again. This time we are about a block from the Patong Hospital and near the emergency room, no less. Fortunately, we haven’t needed it at all, but we did notice that the ER is sponsored by Singha, a brand of Thai beer. Any connection? Probably not.
On Tuesday, our first full day in Phuket, we set out about 9AM and walked the 600 meters (about 1/3 mile) to Patong beach - just to check it out. We checked it out and the beach was already full of beach umbrellas, beach chairs and, you guessed it, tourists. People flock from all over Asia, Australia, Europe, US, Canada and just about anywhere else you can imagine to soak up the Thai sun and enjoy the beach here on the Andaman Sea. It really is a pretty setting.
After breakfast and trudging back to the hotel we felt like a couple of wilted lilies. By the time we got back to the hotel, we were able to determine that it had cooled down to 96 degrees. Panting and gasping in the air conditioned comfort for a couple hours did wonders for our comfort.
The next couple
Motorbike Filling Station
If not here, then the local outdoor vegetable markets have liter soda bottles with gasoline.
of days we explored a variety of eating and drinking establishments, spent a fair amount of time in a huge (not quite Mall of America huge, but big) shopping center, Jung Ceylon. Now, I don’t want to give you the impression that we are shopaholics, but Jung Ceylon is air conditioned, ‘nuff said?
Thailand, in general, and Phuket, in particular, is overrun with motor scooters. No matter where you go, in a taxi, on foot, in a tuk-tuk they’re everywhere! It is next to impossible to walk across a street without being run down by one. In Bangkok, it’s understandable because there are so many people. Here in Phuket, it’s a matter of convenience. Tourists want independence and scooters give it to them. Seemingly millions of Phuket-ers (or what ever they call themselves) need to get around and serve the tourists, so motor bikes are the way to go.
On this part of the island, gasoline stations are pretty few and far between. While walking the streets, we happened upon the local solution, a motorbike refueling station. It’s not particularly suitable for automobiles, but since it adjoins a motorbike repair shop, it’s just the ticket.
This is how a "wai" should be done.
we’ve been in Thailand for about two weeks, we’ve become familiar with some of the Thai customs. The traditional form of greeting in Thailand is the “wai” which is done by putting the palms together and performing a slight bow. While on our wandering the streets we found that the McDonalds restaurants have Ronald McDonald doing a wai. Definitely, not what we’re used to in the USA.
Tomorrow, we’ll finally leave Thailand on our way to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Viet Nam. We have a late afternoon flight and will arrive after 9PM. I can hardly wait to start our new adventure.
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Did you have to post a picture of an old guy in a Speedo? As an aside - Ronald McDonald looks like a grown up Chucky. Have a safe trip to Vietnam. I checked Travelocity and Orbitz and I can get you a great rate at the Hanoi Hilton. Isn't the Internet amazing!
I love this blog!! Well done! Thank you. L7
Thank you for sharing your journey with us!! I get so excited every time I see that you have an update. What an amazing once in a lifetime trip. Very envious!!
Did you make it to India and Nepal yet? I thought you will be going there last week or so. How is Loren's health? Hope he is doing good and enjoying the trip. I am jealous but work is work! New job at Oracle started at Feb 15 and there is no vacation (2 weeks first year for first 3 years)... It is HOT here (60's today!!) Enjoy the remaining travel around world!! Vasant