Slightly different side to Thailand... Bars, bars and more bars, drinking games, ping-pong shows... welcome to Patong???

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Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Phuket
June 27th 2013
Published: August 20th 2013
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just lovely! just lovely! just lovely!

at Patong beach
Phuket wasn’t exactly on my list of top places to see, still my friend was starting her adventure there and besides that we had to make it to Bangkok from the islands somehow, so we thought we might as well do it from Phuket. We got there one day before my friend’s arrival so we could check it out on our own first. To make things easier we pre-booked a hotel a couple of days before and paid for the transport to the hotel on the boat as well so once we arrived at the port in Phuket, we were picked up by a van and headed straight to Patong. I can’t really say that Koh Phi Phi was peaceful, still there were no cars, motorbikes or tuk-tuks around (well maybe a few motorbikes?), so coming back to all the honking and traffic was giving me a headache already. When we were dropped at our hotel I couldn’t help but notice that it didn’t look anything like the pictures on the web – unless the pictures were taken 20 years before (or more)! It looked like we might have had some nightlife right at our doorstep as well as there were quite a few bars all around (they didn’t look too classy, I say dodgy would be a perfect description!). They definitely seemed like the kind of bars where you would go to ‘meet’ people (or pick up someone if you wish…). Ah well… First steps in Patong and I was already slightly intimidated by it! Still I thought I would give it a chance…

As nice as our room was (really positively surprised after seeing the outside of the hotel) there was no point sitting inside and hiding from Patong. It was time to go out there and explore a bit! First we decided to check out the beach. We couldn’t even get to it without being shoved menus in our faces every two steps! We made it though… Only to be bombarded with some more ‘offers’ – ‘Chairs sir, chairs mam!’, ‘buy something mam!’, ‘maybe some parasailing? Cheap, cheap!’, ‘henna tattoo mam?’… There was no end to it… Well I guess we needed to sit down, eat something, get some badly needed energy to deal with all this and think through our strategy of making it around in here… But even when we were sitting and eating our meal, we couldn’t enjoy it as constantly there was somebody coming to us offering things to sell. There was one couple sitting next to us and it looked like they were really getting fed up with all this… As when you hear somebody saying ‘Seriously do I look like I need a hammock right now???’ or ‘I have real Channel glasses, would I really need any of yours???’ with a few added f-words in between, well… think somebody might have just reached their breaking point… 😉 Once we were sitting, looking around and having our meal, we started thinking that we would just need to approach this place from a slightly different angle … there was no point in getting angry as it would only make us feel frustrated… we would just need to work on our patience a bit more. Maybe that’s why there were so many yoga and meditation retreats in Thailand – teaching people to open their mind and count to 10 before reacting to anything… 😊

With extra energy after lunch we were ready to take on Patong! Well, kind of… We just walked around the streets having a look at some shops along the way. One thing we’ve noticed straight away was how ridiculously expensive it was in here! We were thinking of buying one of the waterproof bags for some time already and while on Koh Phi Phi we could’ve bought one for 250 baht, here they were asking for the same bag from 600 to 900 baht. Ridiculous! Still they actually could do that as many people around weren’t even bothering with bargaining and just paid whatever price they were told. But then I guess looking at some of the resorts, there surely weren’t many backpackers staying in any of these… Eventually we got tired of bargaining and decided to just pop in somewhere for a drink. We sat at one of the random bars and even though I ordered an item from the menu, ice-coffee to be precise, it seemed to be a very rarely ordered item as it took two people to make it. Once we got our drinks we had a look around the place a bit. There were lots of oval shaped bars set closely to one another, but not too many people around at that time, guess it was quite early still... It wasn’t difficult to notice that most of the costumers at these bars were older western men, some of them accompanied by much younger Asian women hanging closely onto their shoulders. True love right? Hmmm… Rather not… After a drink we headed to the beach again. One thing that’s definitely popular here is parasailing – quite a few parachutes in the air all the time. I was amazed how fast they managed to land and take off with another person – almost no time at all! Not to mention that the guy that was accompanying the people in the air and steering the parachute had no safety harness at all and wasn’t actually attached to the parachute at all either. He was simply hanging onto it and just sitting in the air on the ropes (or on the other person in some cases). And the whole day like this – landing and back in the air again, landing, in the air… you certainly couldn’t let your attention go elsewhere even for a moment. Pretty skilful I would say! And absolutely crazy! We spent some time on the beach watching the parasailers and other people around, enjoying the sunset and each other’s company. Despite the big crowds and the madness all around it was actually a lovely afternoon! Later on we just headed to the cinema. That’s right! Haven’t been to a cinema for months and here it felt like a right thing to do – to hide away from it all if only for a while. The movie wasn’t amazing and I was almost frozen when I left the cinema (air conditioning full blast on!), still I really enjoyed it. One thing that really surprised me was when we had to stand up and listen to and watch the king’s anthem which was played just after the trailers. I haven’t read anywhere about this before and first I didn’t really know what was going on... Lovely music and singing and some really nice pictures depicting the right doings of the royal family, I have to say I really liked it, a Thai touch to a cinema experience. 😊

On the way back to our hotel we walked through THE main street in Patong. I can’t remember how many times I had ping pong show brochure shoved in my face… Seriously why on earth would anyone think I want to see it? Wouldn’t you rather show it to all the men that were walking around there? But then I guess they assume all the tourists are here for one reason only – to experience it all! Well, guess that’s not the case for everyone who comes to Patong though… Since my friend was coming the next day, we thought it was best to save some energy and decided to call it a night very early that evening. Think we have seen and heard enough for one day anyway… And I was sure that once my friend was here we would experience a bit of the nightlife as well… It was just unbelievable that we were going to meet in here after 7 years… So a proper catch up was definitely required… 😉

For the next two days, during the day we were just chilling on the beach and walking around the town, while in the evening we were tasting the nightlife of Patong. And by tasting I mean having a couple of drinks at some crazy bars, having photos taken with some interesting ‘ladies’, in general watching the madness around us, having a few more drinks, trying to beat the local champs in hammering nails (impossible by the way! But I guess they have years of practice behind them…) and things like that… Still ping-pong shows and all this kind of stuff were definitely off the list! No interest in that whatsoever! I really wonder what actually caused these kinds of things to exist in here? As you certainly don’t hear about ping-pong show anywhere else… Ah well… I guess if there is demand for it… well… in the end it’s just another way of making money right? At least that’s one way of looking at it and I’ll stick to that for now…

After spending three days in Patong I have to say I was quite exhausted. Not only because of the late nights but in general of all this chaos around us. It was just a bit too much for me. And I seriously can’t comprehend why would you choose Patong as a family holiday destination. Sure it has beaches, water-sports and all that but why would you expose your kids to all the other stuff going on in here? Anyway… This is one place that I don’t think I’ll be
henna tattoo in the making...henna tattoo in the making...henna tattoo in the making...

...wonder if the guy knew what was going on as he looked quite asleep to me!
coming back to. It was good to see it once, but that would be about it. So I have to say I was quite happy to be leaving… We weren’t exactly going to a much quieter place next as we were heading to Bangkok but it was just a temporary stop to get our Vietnam visas sorted and then we were looking forward to chilling in Chiang Mai. First Bangkok though…

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...and that's just silly...and that's just silly
...and that's just silly quite a bit of an audience though!

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