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Published: November 22nd 2014
After thoroughly enjoying Cambodia we took a flight back to Bangkok, followed by another to Phuket. We were back in Thailand.
On arriving at Phuket there was some serious rain, rain which we just don’t see in the UK. It was the kind of rain that turns roads into rivers within minutes. It was fun. The temperature drop that came with it was also well received.
We paid 180B each to take a shuttle bus to Patong, where we would be staying. We had heard the shuttles buses from the airport can be a little dodgy in that they stop half way through the journey at a travel agent in order to try and sell you tours. I had read some accounts of the travel agents in this scenario attempting to scam people by telling them their hotel had closed down and they would need to book alternative accommodation through them. This didn’t happen to us, just a hard sell which we stayed silent for. Within a few minutes we were back out the door and waiting in the van for the other suckers who were no doubt taking so long because they were
busy emptying their wallets into the palms of their Thai captors.
Due to the insane traffic, adverse weather conditions and the damn right cheeky hard sell it took about an hour and a half to finally get to Patong. A taxi would have been quicker but it was also over twice the price. I wasn’t grumbling.
We arrived at our hotel (The Nap, Patong) which looked like a nice place. There was a little issue with the booking, however. Seemingly the booking website we used to book the hotel doesn’t actually tell them what kind of room you want. Being husband and wife we had obviously asked for a double room but that information had got lost in translation and they had provided us with a twin. The hotel explained that they did this because they had assumed we weren’t a couple due to our differing surnames on our booking reservation. They went on to say that they had no double rooms for that night and we would need to take the twin, with the option of moving rooms for the following nights. That was a pain in the arse so we just upgraded to the nicer rooms
where there was a double. We are on holiday after all.
Before we had chosen to upgrade we had checked the twin room out prior to making the decision. We had noticed it was very damp. The entire room felt wet, even the bedding. This was the same in the upgraded room too. We took it that it was due to the humid environment here, but it was a little uncomfortable. To give you an idea how damp it felt, imagine dipping a piece of paper in water and then leaving it for an hour or so. That’s how the room service menu felt, almost like it was going to fall to pieces in your hand. The air conditioning didn’t do much to dry the room out either. Apart from that the room was very nice and quite comfortable.
While taking the elevator to our room we were accompanied by an older gentleman, I would hazard a guess he was in his early 60’s, and his two Thai ladyfriends who I would also hazard a guess at their ages being no older than 17. This is normal here as we were to find out, but I couldn’t help
By the time we had settled into the hotel it was about 8pm and we were getting hungry, so we hit the streets of Patong to check out the situation.
The place is insane. I’ve never been anywhere like it. If anywhere I’ve been to is worthy of the accolade of ‘sin city’ this is it. There was sleaze everywhere. We had just come out to the start of what I can only assume is Patong’s night life, which probably wasn’t great for first impressions.
We knew Patong was labelled as a tourist resort, but so had many of the places we had been, so we thought we knew what to expect. This was something else. It was like the whole place had been designed to suck every last Baht out of you. At every possible turn you were bombarded with tuk tuk/taxi drivers, sunglasses dealers/fake clothes dealers, suit tailors that always refer to you as bro and boss, which isn’t annoying at all. Hawkers for ping pong bars grabbing you and trying to pull you in, varieties of animals being lauded down the street for photographs, massage parlours.... to name a few. You can
expect all of this within every 100 steps you take down most streets. There are even walk-in STD clinics on every block for your convenience. If you’re going out, especially at night, you need to take a deep breath before exiting the hotel.
The place was expensive too. Prices were, in general, probably almost double that of Bangkok’s presented prices, and remember in Bangkok you could haggle and get things cheaper again, here though, there was very little haggling, because the next uneducated visitor will pay the presented price. This was not traveller/backpacker tourism, this was holiday maker tourism, to the max.
To give you an example of this, I broke my sunglasses so needed to go out and get a pair. In a place where there are at least 1 million pairs of sunglasses for every square meter of Patong I would expect them to be very cheap. I find a vendor. I ask him how much. He draws his calculator like a .45 colt commando and starts slowly typing in some figures. 1... 5... 0 “okay, not bad” I say to myself... 0!!! What! 1,500B ! I LMFAO in his face, quite laterally and purposefully as
this was the piss taking I had come to expect. That’s nearly £30. He defends his position claiming them to be good quality Ray Ban. Sure they are. I start to walk away. He then hands me his calculator before I can take my first step. I return fire with 200B (less than £4), gave it back to him and continue my departure. I get less than 10 meters before he’s chasing me up the street calling me back. I bought the sunglasses, but this was the only time I managed to haggle for what I would consider to be a reasonable price during my stay here.
On the first night we found a small reasonably priced Thai restaurant down a quiet lane for dinner before heading back to the hotel.
Breakfast in this hotel was excellent. I’m starting to warm to Red Thai curry and fried noodles for breakfast. Those chicken sausages which I had previously mentioned and might have baulked at were now also becoming a staple of my diet too. The party piece of this place’s breakfast though had to be the entire honey comb straight out of the bee’s hive they had hanging at
the buffet. You scraped the honey off it with a spoon and right onto your toast, wowzers. I think it freaked Tina out a bit though but she managed to not think about it TOO much. If it was a honeycomb that was actually a nutellacomb made by nutella bees she would have loved it.
On our second day we went out to check on Patong by day light. We walked all the way up the road which ran parallel to the beach. The beach itself was swarming with people.
We were trying to find a place to hire a moped to take us around Phuket, but it seems to be standard practise here for the hirer to hold onto your passport as a deposit, something we weren’t too keen on releasing. Alternatively you could put a deposit down of 8,000B (bout £150.00) cash. Something else we weren’t keen on doing. I’ve kind of learnt here that if you give someone money don’t expect to get anything back, or at least not all of it. My issue with the passport was quite obvious. Not only was it not in my care, but I feared it would be used
against me in some kind of allegation I had damaged their moped on its return. Maybe I’m being a little paranoid, but from what I’d seen of this place so far, I didn’t trust anybody. Apparently there were places which would settle for a photocopy of your passport, but we never found one.
We never did hire a moped in the end. The first barrier being the above mentioned issues we weren’t happy with, but the second was the amount of tourists we saw bandaged up with weeping road rash wounds. I had read it was common to see and it really was. You would see couples with corresponding bandages on their left/right sides where they had slid down the road in their shorts and vests. Nasty. The worst we saw was a girl with bandages up and down her left side, arm, leg while pushing her partner in a wheelchair with similar injuries, their bandages all red and bloody.
For lunch we found a great Japanese sushi restaurant on our travels called Fuji. Less than £20 will net you more sushi you can possibly eat and it was nothing like what we get in the UK. You
don’t just get a pathetic slice of salmon on your rice roll, you get an entire salmon side! The rice to fish ratio here was well in favour of the fish. It was amazing. Full up on that sushi goodness we went back out to battle with Patong.
We spent the next few hours walking about Patong again educating ourselves on what tours were available and at what prices. It was difficult trying to make our mind up on what we were going to do over the coming days, which wasn’t shag as many Thai bar girls as possible.
The issues with the tours were simple. Every tour we would have liked to do included a stop off for a bit of animal cruelty. I wanted to see Big Budda but didn’t want to stop off on the way to piss off a baby elephant. I really wanted to do some zip lining too, but that included force feeding a baby tiger which had undoubtedly been taken from its mother too early and put on hard drugs.
We spent a lot of time wandering about today trying to decide what to do, so much time in fact
that it soon became dinner time.
We ate at the hotel that night because they offered a set menu for 550B (£10) which included a starter, three mains and a dessert and a class of wine. You cannot argue with value like that. After dinner we got a bit drunk on some cheap cocktails then went to bed.
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