Eastern Hemisphere, Travel

Phuket, part 1

OK, first of all, Phuket is an island belonging to Thailand, and it’s pronounced “poo-KET”. Most English-speakers think of “ph” as being an “f” sound, but in Thai written using English characters it’s not. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know. But “ph” is like “p”. So as you read this post, the little voice in your head shouldn’t be saying anything that’s a bad word in English. Good? Good.

We arrived in Phuket after an 80 minute ride in a jet airplane from Bangkok on January 8. We picked up our bags at the carousel, and then wandered out of the baggage claim area where we found a hotel transfer service that costs a lot less than the fixed price taxis. Saving money? That’s good, right? Sure, it is. Unfortunately, the van service sucks. Big time. We saved money, but it took about twice as long as it should, and we got terrible service. The company is called PMK Airport Shuttle, also called Phuket Maikhao Sakhu. Here is the website: http://www.phuketmaikhaosakhutransfer.com/index.php. If you ever travel to Phuket, don’t use this company. You can read the gory details on TripAdvisor. There are a hundred stories just like ours there, so I won’t even repeat it here.

Our hotel was Silver Resortel Hotel in Patong Beach. Not knowing a thing about the different parts of Phuket, I just chose a hotel based on the hotel reviews. And this hotel is pretty nice. Our room is great!

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The housekeeper arranged our towels into these shapes. I still don’t know what they’re supposed to be. Pigs? People praying?
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The first night we just ate at the hotel restaurant. Even with a 20% discount for being guests, it’s still overpriced. But everything in Phuket is overpriced, even this Coca-Cola.

The area isn’t very idyllic, though. It’s about as removed from the real Thailand as Disneyworld is from the real America. Most of the people here are tourists from Russia, and their idea of a good time is: drink, suntan, drink, sex with Thai hookers, and then drink some more. I didn’t expect there to be so many Russians here that hotel menus and signs are often printed in Russian (in addition to Thai and English and sometimes German).

The day after we arrived, we spent a few hours on the beach. And of course I got sunburned, even though I thought I was in shade most of the time. Our beach umbrella blew over and nearly self-destructed, but I was able to get it back together and the hotel (where we had borrowed it) didn’t say anything. So I guess I got away with it. I’m not a big fan of the beach; that’s Beth’s thing. Since I have a hate/hate relationship with the sun these days, after having skin cancer twice, I much prefer to stay cool and shady. But I do enjoy swimming in the ocean, which I got to do.

Saturday night, we decided it was time for something uniquely Thai, so I booked us tickets at the Patong Boxing Stadium, which is a local venue for Muay Thai matches. For 1350 baht each (a total of about $80), we got to watch seven bouts from very comfortable seats. They also picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel, and we each got a free t-shirt. They start with the lowest ranked competitors and work their way up.

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Empty ring before the fights begin

So the first bout of the night was a couple of 14-year-olds. Then it was a couple adults, one who got knocked out. Then two women, in what they billed as the “lady fight”. Then four more bouts of men. A couple of those ended in knockouts, too. I didn’t want to take my big camera, so I shot a few stills with my phone. They didn’t come out awesome, due to the action in low light, but maybe you get the idea.

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Two 14-year-olds trying to kick and punch the snot out of each other
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Here’s one of the competitors in the “lady fight”. She’s the one who won.
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The only women’s bout that night was one tall white woman against one much shorter Thai woman
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I can’t remember if this was the 4th, 5th, or 6th fight of the night
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Grown men kicking and punching each other

Sunday we stayed out of the sun, except to walk around and explore the neighborhood a little. After the late night at the boxing match, I wanted to sleep in and just chill all day long, which I did. I also had time to do some planning for our big excursion coming up on Tuesday.

Monday was back to the beach. This time I stayed under a tree and wore sunscreen all over. More reading. Beth got up the courage to go parasailing. That looked like fun to me, but I’m too much of a scaredycat for it, plus afraid of what impacting the water on my head or neck might do to my precious and delicate inner ears. I was pretty proud of her, though, and took a video of the whole thing.

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Beth getting suited up in the parasailing harness
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One last smile before lift-off
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It takes a crew of several guys to make this thing work. There are two in the boat, and then four or five on shore.

 

 

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