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March 9th 2011
Published: March 9th 2011
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I realize I'm over a month behind on blogs - but that's what you get with minimal electricity and even less access to internet. So here goes.

Monday 1-31 to Saturday 2-5
Off to the beaches for some relaxation time in the sun! After Chiang Mai, it took 2 days time to get an overnight train to Bangkok (THE slowest frickin’ train ever – I could have ridden my bike faster!); find our way along Bangkok’s new elevated train, and catch a flight down to Phuket Island, then take a ridiculously long bus ride into town (the buses from the airport are a scam – they just take you out of your way to a travel agency to try and sell you something; what should be a 30 min ride turns into a couple hours). Sadly, Nick lost his Kindle on the plane, but we also got rid of some excess clothes and supplies, so we’re traveling a little lighter overall. The hotel we had originally booked in Phuket town was a disaster and we ended up spending all night trying to find another one, which was not an easy task given that it’s now high season and Chinese New Year, so everything was booked up. We were hoping to see some of the fireworks and parades for the new year, but either we missed them or they just don’t really celebrate it here. We could hear kids setting of small fireworks, but we never saw much of a display or any other celebrations (although he mall of course, was decorated to the nines in pink rabbits).

We finally found an available guest house in the largest beach town, Patong, and began our 3 days of beach leisure (Milena, you would be proud). We rented a scooter and really enjoyed motoring round the west coast of the island. [Nick Note: Patong is extremely crowded, maybe not Coney Island photo crowded, but back to back to back beach chairs which are rented out at $3.33 a day. You swim in a roped off area because the rest if for people renting jet skis and boats. A seemingly popular activity (since there are many operators) is parasailing. We timed how long a $33 parasail ride lasted and the longest was 8 minutes and the shortest was only 2 minutes for $33, at that rate for time ($1000/hour) you could make an argument that parasailing in Thailand cost more than a high-scale hooker! (Or so I hear :-) If you go to Phuket we tried about 5 beaches and the best one was Kamala beach, very pretty less crowds and we used the Marriott Courtyard beach chairs for $3.33 which included a towel, water, access to beach equipment like boogie boards and a fresh shower at the end.] It’s kind of crazy to see all these signs and posting about tsunami warning zones and evacuation routes. It was a nice drive, a little like CA-1. We hung out at Patong Beach – the tourist mecca of Phuket. It looked like a mini-Vegas but with more girlie bars than Casinos. (As a side note, the sex trade seems really creepy here. It definitely fits the stereotype of scantily-clad unhappy looking Asian women hanging out of the front of bars, calling out to passersby and creepy middle-aged white men with young Thai girls on their arm. Our hotel, as with many others, advertised rooms by the hour and had a “no charge” policy for extra female guests.) Bang Tao, Karon and Kata beaches were also very pretty (and crowded) but we by far liked Kamala beach the best. The long white sandy beaches gently slopped into clear blue water that was as flat as glass! Incredibly picturesque and the water was so nice! While it was hot on land, the warm 70 degree water was nice and refreshing (what up SoCal beaches?!). We spent our afternoons just being beach bums – swimming, reading, swimming, napping – it was so nice!

There were tiny little jellies floating in the water, though, so we got a lot of stings. Not too bad, just small stings. I did try my hand at body boarding – only caught one really good wave, though Nick had several nice, long rides. And we learned that tacos are WAY overpriced here ($6 for a single taco; are you f’n kidding me?!) and not very good but the sidewalk crepes (bananas and peanut butter) are TOTALLY worth their $1.33 price tag! The people watching was really good too. Tons of European tourists, all of whom love to wear thongs (men included) and go topless. In fact, the old fat, hairy men in speedos never failed to crack me up. And the amount of old, leathery, wrinkly bodies was amazing!

One of the most interesting things to me about Thailand’s beaches is the tide; no wonder people didn’t see the tsunami coming in 2004. The water level changes about 6 feet or so between high tide & low tide. Which really isn’t that big a deal except that the slope of the beach out to open waters is so shallow! A difference of 6 feet means you can walk about almost a kilometer at low tide! It’s a little creepy…I was definitely hesitant to get on the beach when I saw how low low tide was! I kept telling Nick, if you see the water move out really far, RUN! Which is kind of pointless because, frankly, you’d be screwed on these beaches if there was a tsunami – everything is at sea level and there’s really no way to get up into the hills quickly. Fortunately for Thailand, the beaches and resorts seem to have rebounded quite well from the tsunami and there are loads of people here taking advantage of the beautiful beaches. The one down side is that while Thailand is good at recycling glass and plastic bottles, there is still tons of plastic debris and trash along its beaches and pooling around the shores :o(

Additional photos below
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9th March 2011

plastic debris
Did you see any pellets? If you see any on future beaches bring me back some.
15th March 2011

Yeah! I missed you guys. Not sure I'm sold on the Phuket beach experience, but glad you enjoyed it.

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