Day 5 continued ... our last day in Phuket.
After breakfast, we hopped in with a driver we hired named Bahn (sp?) to see the rest of the Phuket sites. Bahn was the best driver we'd found in Phuket - he spoke decent English and drove a new Toyota Forerunner (or Fortuner as they are called here in Thailand). We paid him 2,000 Baht (or $68 US dollars) for 8 hours. Having a good driver makes all the difference when you're traveling. The day prior we had one named Pier (sp?) who wanted to take us to a monkey show and a jewerly factory - aka: a jewerly showroom where they try to sell you crap. Uh, thanks but no thanks.
First on our tour, Patong Beach.
Patong Beach is about 20 minutes South of the Twin Palms. We went there the night prior for dinner and to check out the night life and then back the next day to see the beach. It's a crazy, crazy place. Spring Break Cancun meets Bangkok Red Light District. While out for dinner/drinks, we went to an excellent restaurant called the 9th Floor. It was tucked away in a crappy, run down building down a dark alley. We rode a rickety elevator up to the 9th floor where we fully expected to see some guy snorting cocaine off a lady's behind ... but instead opened the doors to a gorgeous restaurant with sweeping views of the town. Seven (I'm not kidding, seven) Thai girls dressed in skimpy black dresses greeted us at the door and guided us to our table by the windows. We ate Mixed Green Salads, Grilled Vegetables and Cheese Fondue and drank Gin & Tonics poured right at our table. The food was fantastic. You'd never know it judging by its location.
Then we hopped into a taxi to take us to the main road called Batang St. Can I say it again? It was crazy (that's the most PC way I can put it). Take a look at the pictures below:
Although it's hard to see, this is a huge area with about 20 bars. Each one is owned by a different person and they all butt up to each other. As we walked though, girls summoned us to sit at their bar top. We finally picked one by the bathroom (best for people watching) and witnessed a dozen old men loving on young Thai hookers (or what Andi assured me were hookers). The girls danced on the bars in next-to-nothing clothes. It's safe to say I stuck out like a sore thumb! Outside on the main street, there were tons of Thai girls dancing in the windows, making cat calls for you to come into their club. Here are a few we snapped photos of (one of which kept wiping her nose with a Kleenex which I thought was funny...but I'm a girl, so I probably would)
I was seriously scared when we were down here. (The first time I've felt like that on this trip). There were guys everywhere calling for you to view the drink menus of their club and thousands of drunk tourists all over. I tried to be a good wife as long as I could. After an hour, we decided to head back to our hotel. Ick.
So...the next day, we went back to Patong Beach to actually see the beach this time and check out what it was like during the day. Drastically different. And quiet. I guess all the trannies were asleep at 10am.Patong BeachWe left Patong and headed South toward Katan Beach. On the way, our driver stopped by an elephant who was on the side of the road. It was basically a side-show elephant who posed with tourists who wanted to take their photo with him. He was 2 1/2 years old and super cute. I gave the elephant 100 Baht (or about $3 US dollars) and the lady let us take our photo with him.
After we got back in the car, I changed my mind about wanting to ride an elephant on this trip. Shame on us for allowing some lady to profit from cruelly mistreating an elephant. I wouldn't be surprised if they killed its mother only to chain the little elephant to a pole and make it take photos with tourists. We won't be doing that again. I feel horrible about it.
Anyway, we hopped back in the car and drove down to View Point Lookout. This was one of the highest spots in Phuket and gave us some great views of Katan Beach. Amazing.If it looks like we're a sweaty mess in this photo ... it's because we were. It had to be 95 degrees outside and we climbed up a ton of stairs to see this view. We stopped at another lookout spot down the road. It, too, was breathtaking. There was a shrine at this one - Andi and I haven't quite figured out what these are for. We tried to ask Bahn (our driver) if people pray at these or if it signifies something, but he didn't understand what we were asking ... so it remains a mystery.I had to use the bathroom so we stopped by this little shopping area. I paid the lady 5 Baht (or about 5 cents) to use the bathroom. (I think it's crazy you have to use the bathroom here, but that's for another day). Let me just say that it was the worst 5 Baht I ever spent. Absolutely disgusting. I opened the stall to see a hole in the ground with a bucket of water sitting next to it. I wish this would have been on candid camera because I seriously could not figure out what I was suppose to do here! I finally squatted over the hole, then used the water pail to flush out the hole. OMG. Ick. You can probably guess there was no toilet paper. Or soup & water for hand washing. Can you imagine living this way?
While I was enduring all of that, Andi snapped this photo of the shopping area and a lady cooking at a roadside stand.
Next, we drove to the famous Big Buddha statue. Construction began on it 2 years ago and is expected to commence at the end of this year. It was amazing to see the level of detail in the statue. You can see Big Buddha from almost anywhere in Phuket, as it sits on the highest mountain top.
There was also a smaller, gold Buddha statue next to the other.
Next, we drove to Wat Chalong Temple, the oldest and largest in Phuket. There are many temples within this area, and we asked Bahn why this was. He said each one means different things (ie; you go to pray for the dead in one, happy wishes in another, pay respects to Buddha and monks in another). The government builds the temples he said, and then each city takes care of the maintenance of them. In this building, there is said to a piece of Buddha's bone in the center which is on display. Interesting to witness people praying, lighting candles and leaving flowers here. I can't imagine how long it took to build a temple like this. The small detail work was truly amazing.
We had 2 hours to kill before our flight to Koi Samui so Bahn asked us if we wanted to go to Central Festival to do some shopping. We said sure and before we realized where we were, we'd jumped out of his truck and he sped away. It was a freaking shopping mall. OMG. Nothing different than you'd see in the States; they even had a KFC, Sizzler and Au Bon Pain inside. So, we decided to make the best of it and walked around to find a restaurant to eat lunch. Our first thought was to find a place with alcohol (that'd surely pass the time), but there was none. It's interesting how drinking is not advertised here in Thailand. We picked the least scary place w/o eating at KCF or Sizzler - a restaurant called S & P. Not sure what to order, Andi just started pointing to things on the menu and before we knew it, about seven plates showed up! I have no idea what the food was actually called but I'll try to describe it the best I can.
We ate fried rice balls
Spring Rolls (which were nothing like the spring rolls you'd see at home)
Fried Rice w/ PrawnsA Green Tea Iced Latte, strawberry smoothie and 2 Coca Colas. All of which was very good. And all for 700 Baht (or $17 US dollars)
After our cultural experience at Central Festival, we headed to the Phuket airport in route to Koi Samui (or Samui as it's called here). We flew Bangkok Airways which wasn't as nice at Thai Airways (the airline we took to Phuket). It's safe to say all the passengers on our plane were a little nervous about the flight to Samui. Two days prior, a plane crashed into a control tower while landing in Samui due to high winds. The pilot died and 12 passengers were injured. Luckily the flight was only 40 minutes. It was windy, but we landed safely. When we landed, the entire plane started clapping. I guess there's a Full Moon Party taking place this weekend on an island not far from Samui called Koh Phangan. It's world-renown and why we expect our flight was jam-packed with young tourists. It seriously felt like Spring Break all over again. The Full Moon Party takes place each month and is full of dancing, drinking ... and many, many drugs.
We're staying at Kirikayan Luxury Pool Villas in Samui. Andi booked us the penthouse for 3500 Baht (or $170 US dollars) a night. It's the most ridiculous room we've ever stayed in! It's our own private villa with an entry way, kitchen, living room, dining room, master suite, open-air jaccuzi tub and toilet. There's also our own sunning deck w/ an outdoor hot tub and bathroom. When we checked in, they greeted our car and said "hello Mr. Dickson" (I have no idea how they knew it was us). The hostess greeted us with cold towels and a coconut drink and showed us our room. Inside the refrigerator was a complimentary bottle of champagne and a cake (Surprise! said the Thai hostess as she showed us the cake. Imagine saying the word surprise in a Thai accent to get the full effect, it was funny). Here's a few photos of our villa:
This is where I sit today and write about our adventures. On our private deck, taking in breathtaking views of the mountains with the ocean waves behind me. Welcome back to paradise.