After my short stay in Cambodia I traveled to the south of Thailand to the island Phuket. This west coast island is the country’s largest island. I was here for four nights and have been in two different locations, and with different I mean really, completely different. The first was a hostel (Lub D) in Patong. The beach of Patong was severely hit by the 2004 tsunami.
In the last 12 years they have definitely been able to rebuild it all. This area is extremely touristic, it has all of the major clubs of Phuket, a beautiful beach, plenty of restaurants, the sex industry and of course tourists.
My hostel for instance had four buildings, with four floors. Not my thing, I like to be able to bump into the same person more than once in a few days (I later found out that this is actually the biggest hostel in Asia). But granted, it was a nice hostel, with swimming pool, billiard, boxing ring, personal trainers. It showed in the overnight price of course. I decided to just stay the one night but did go to the beach and went to do my first escape room in Asia. I moved to the part of Phuket that is called old town (hostel Fulfilled). I instantly knew that this was way more my style. The houses are all little and very colorful. On every corner there is a coffee place and my street has three dessert-only places. I used the transfer day to walk around in the streets of the old town and treat myself to a pancake deluxe.
On january 11th I did an organised Phi Phi tour. Complete with hostel pick up and lunch we visited a couple of sites by speedboat.
- Maya bay, this bay has received instant fame when the film The Beach launched, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It has been crowded by tourists ever since. Before the movie the Thai people kept this hidden gem secret to prevent it from becoming overcrowded. This island has become a national park with an entrance fee of 12 euros.
- Loh Samah bay, this bay is on the other side of Maya bay. Less crowded and with a nice viewpoint.
- Khai island, for a bit of swimming.
- Monkey beach, if you are lucky you will be able to spot a few monkeys on this beach. These are special monkeys because they can swim. And as there are no banana trees on the island they eat fish and crab. Unfortunately tourist feed them as well with coke, beer and sweet treats.
- Viking cave, our tourguide told a story about this cave. There are nests of swift birds in this cave and these nests used to be plundered by people as they are worth a lot of money and are used for making soup. So yes, that would be a soup made from bird’s nests. Are they edible? These specific nests are made from bird saliva and are believed to boost fertility. It is very expensive and will cost a few thousand euros per kilo. There is now 24/7 surveillance to prevent people from climbing the caves. If the guide told the truth they would even shoot people daring to come at night. Instead of taking pictures of the cave I became the attraction for some Chinese girls wanted to take a picture with me.
- Pileh laguna, there are no animals here. Deep water once you are in but entering becomes harder when the tide is low.
- Snorkeling, my first time of snorkeling. Fun to do.
The tour guide dared a few people to sit in the front of the speedboat. You get the best views but suffer the most from the big waves. Guess where I was sitting? Luckily no sea sickness this time around.
The next day I rented a scooter with my Taiwanese roommate and did a trip round the island. It is a bit challenging to drive on the left side of the road, mostly when you have to turn right and need to manage your way through the rest of the traffic. But the ease of traveling is wonderful. I just can’t believe I never rented a scooter before. In one day we have been to several beaches, the big Buddha on a hill and some viewpoints.
I have been in Thailand for 10 days now and I notice that I am getting used to certain things.
- The temperature: I love it!! During the day it easily gets to 30 degrees and this drops to a mellow 25 degree during the night. I can wear shorts all the time and I am not cold (people who know me know that it is normally mission impossible for me to not be cold).
- Air conditioner: only time I do get chilly is with the air conditioner turned on. This seems to be everywhere indoors and all the time. I am not a fan.
- Stray dogs and cats: they are everywhere. Luckily the dogs pay no attention to me at all.
- Exhaust gasses: with the amount of motos, tuk tuks and other vehicles the air becomes very poluted with exhaust gasses. After my day on a scooter I literally had a cotton pad turned black when cleaning my face (without make up). Time to go to the jungle air.
- Food: the food is great, I do hear other backpackers complain about the rice after a few months of traveling. But I am not there yet. Where in the Netherlands I thought I could handle a little spicy I can’t here.
- Body lotion: I wanted to buy some skincare products, almost all of them have whitening in the product. A lot of Europeans like to get tanned whilst on holidays, being white is a sign of beauty or wealth around here. That probably explains the touching of my skin from time to time. And I’m born like this. Lucky me!
- Language: there is a huge language barrier. A lot of local people who are not daily involved with tourists don’t speak English. Luckily spoken language is only one of the forms of communication. I did manage to learn two words. Thank you – Korp kun ka and Hello – Sa wad dee ka .
- People: The people I have met are kind and helpful. In the touristic areas there seem to be two types, tuk tuk drivers and salesmen. As they live from their business they do ask every passing tourist to come and see the product they have.
- Hostels: this might be my biggest challenge. It is always a surprise how clean the next hostel is or how loud your roommates are. It is the perfect way to meet people, control your budget and I would not want to miss it but.
- Traveling (alone): I am enjoying it to the fullest. This feeling of freedom is amazing and am so happy I planned this.
Wow! Thank you for reading all the way down this post. I expect the next post will be after the 23rd. Once I have come back from my week at the Elephant Nature Park.