Phuket – overrun shit-hole. Mostly.

Monday19December

The province of Phuket is an interesting place, depending on who you are and what you’re looking for.  There is, as they say, something for everyone, but not necessarily everything for someone.  Or something.  Anyway, the highlight of my stay here is of course, reuniting with my Bishkek baby and partner in crime Alex, as she flies out to experience first-hand what it’s like to hitchhike with a crabby old misanthrope.  They say if you find the person you can travel with you must never let them go.  Maybe that’s why I’m still single.

Phuket old town. Easily the most charming thing about the place.

Phuket old town. Easily the most charming thing about the place.

We’re staying in Phuket town, which at first glance appears to be the land that time forgot.  There doesn’t appear to be much here, and I’m wondering why Alex booked it.  I’m considering the possibility it’s because I couldn’t get to the beach to find three Russian models to bring back to the hotel, and that tucking me safely out of harm’s way was the right course of action.  However there is certainly more here than meets the eye – and in the long run, we’re both very thankful that this is home base.

There's some really cool street art to find here. I say street art - it's only because I can't spell grafititi.

There’s some really cool street art to find here. I say street art – it’s only because I can’t spell grafititi.

Phuket town is a charming wander, with interesting buildings and street art aplenty, and some wonderful places to chow down on street food, get an incredible Thai massage, or simply lie on the grass by a round-about, blind drunk and looking up at the stars.  It’s quiet here too – which serves me well considering how much I hate people.  But of course, the obligatory visit to other parts of the (kind of) island are warranted.

We don’t actually visit Patong beach – which by all accounts looks like – and is – a hole of a place.  This you can glean just from looking a map of it.  One long stretch of sand with garish, shitty joints and insalubrious establishments dotted along the front, geared towards speedo wearing, lard-bellied Europeans and Russians – of which there are more of here than in their own countries.  Perhaps finally learning my lessons from San Juan Del Sur, Kavos and Koh Samui – I’m happy to give this place a wide, WIDE berth.

It's alright I suppose.

It’s alright I suppose.

We opt instead for the (slightly) quieter region of Kata, which – as the sun goes down – is actually rather pleasant.  There’s still a significant Russian presence here, which is evident in waiters trying to tempt us in by bawling the language at us.  Of course, Alex is fluent and keen to show it outside her usual stomping ground of Kyrgyzstan – but I certainly don’t want to be confused for being from there.  It’s bad enough that people think I’m German.

I jest of course.  Or do I?  No, I do.  HAhAhAHAh.    HA. Hahaha.  Ha.  I’m running out of things to write about Phuket, aren’t I?  Oh, wait!  Taxis!  FUCKING EXTORTIONATE.  Buses don’t run after around 5 pm, which in itself is outrageous, and it’s clear that everyone is in cahoots to charge stupid money from tourists after hours.  Some kind of taxi mafia exists which is in league with local police too.  After leaving a late night showing of Rogue One (very good – but more like a Star Wars video game than a Star Wars film), we’re robbed about ten GPB just for the privilege to get home.  Taxi transport here is at London prices, so watch yourself if you’re caught out late.

I like this picture. It reminds me of Monet...

I like this picture. It reminds me of Monet…

Phuket is also the gateway to some of the most beautiful islands Thailand has to offer.  Or did have to offer.  This includes famous locales such as the ‘beach beach’ – which is the beach from the film of the same name; and ‘James Bond island’ which is taken from the finale of The Man with the Golden Gun.  Movie fan(s) that I am (we are) we didn’t go to either.

Alright, alright pipe down dear readers.  Of course, this might appear to be a little travel snobbery on my part – and perhaps it is – but I don’t care.  I’ve seen the pictures of these places – awash with a hoard of holiday makers, and you pay over the odds to be shoe-horned onto a boat, given a short time to explore a place you can’t see over the throng of sun-hatted-lobster-flaps, thong-sporting-skin-cancer wannahaves (melting with age and UV) and giant-camera-wielding-photo-envy-sauruses.  Then you get a distinctly average lunch menu, with a friendly English speaking guide who doesn’t speak English, before being shipped back with the masses.  Not my idea of a holiday, not my idea of traveling, and most certainly not my idea of fun.  We decide to save the expensive and overpriced ticket money for a rainy day – but to each their own.

A giant crayfish on the side of a building. Much more fun than a load of Russians in speedos.

A giant crayfish on the side of a building. Much more fun than a load of Russians in speedos.

And speaking for rainy days – there are lots of them.  We are in the season after all.  This I’m not too bothered about, as I prefer the rain to the sun, and so long as that shit is coming down – I ain’t getting burnt.

Buddhist temple in the old town.

Buddhist temple in the old town.

With the exception of the old town (places of its ilk I’d dearly like to see more of – but I keep getting dragged to party beaches), Phuket isn’t anything to write home about.  On the morrow will be my first hitch with a hitch buddy since my Australian friend Olivia and I gorged ourselves on Magnum ice creams while tearing through Turkey two years ago.  It’s also Alex’s first ever hitch hike.  Wish us luck – because I reckon the next time you see a picture one of us is going to have no hair.

Below is a small selection of the weird and wonderful you can find wandering around the old town. When I could be bothered to take a picture.

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