Thursday, 7 November 2013

Talking Thai- Day 2: Let's go exploring

We were very comfortable in our hotel room.  The bed was massive and the air conditioning was glorious.  The view from our balcony overlooked the sea below and the road below was constantly busy.  One thing that struck me straight away was that this place never stops.  Any time of the day or night, the beach road below our balcony was a constant buzz of activity.  Locals would zoom along there on their scooters, no helmets and in thongs and shorts.  Cars would drive along at a steady speed of 40kms per hour and each one had its own set of disco lights in it with fantastic stereos that would pump out the best party music.  Young people would gather on the beach and just enjoy each other's company, have a beer and a cigarette with no trouble, no carry on, just get together and be happy.  Yes, we were now in Patong, at Kalim beach, Phuket, and I quickly said to myself that this was going to be one great adventure!
After some sleep, we were up early and walked down to the shop next to the hotel which was called a 'Family Mart' (this was like a 24 hour convenience store).  This place was great as you could get pretty much anything you needed, any time of the day or night.  There was an ATM there also so accessing cash was a breeze.  We bought some bits and pieces (including a packet of cigarettes for me for $3 which for us Aussies is a bargain!!)  I made sure that I had a good coffee and sugar supply for our room and then we headed back to the hotel, ready for breakfast.

The view we had for breakfast was stunning.  It was a constant 24 degrees each morning so we would sit outside, under the palm trees and have our breakfast overlooking the ocean in the amazing warmth of the tropics.  The breakfast buffet was had a good mix of Western and Thai food, a selection of fresh fruit, coffee, tea and juices, so you could always satisfy your morning hunger.  We were amazed at how hungry we were in this climate, each morning we would eat a big breakfast and this would see us through to lunch time when we were just as hungry again.  The warmth of the hotel staff was beautiful as nothing was too much trouble.  The Thai people are truly wonderful and after spending only a few hours there by this stage, this became obvious.
After breakfast, we set out on a walk to go exploring.  We walked along the beach road, up and down hills on strange roads that had very little foot paths.  At first this was a bit freaky as cars, scooters and trucks full of people going to work would drive past and come quite close to us as the roads were very narrow.  But we never had any close calls for the locals had seen it all before and were so used to getting around on these roads that it was clearly a very 'organised chaos'. 
We headed for the main beach at Patong and this was an eye opener.  The beach was spectacular with clean sand and clear blue water.......but we couldn't really spend much time there as the place was full of hawkers (mainly foreigners to Thailand, never locals) trying to sell us tickets to various night clubs.  They get a commission if you end up going the bar that they have recommended to you, and being the classic Aussie tourists that we were, we stood out a mile and were easy first!  It didn't take us long to work out that we were going to get bothered a lot by these hawkers and this became very annoying, very quickly.  But by the end of our stay, we were that used to them and devised our own way to deal with them.......and that was simply make no eye contact and not acknowledge them in any way, just keep walking.......and sure enough, they would move on to the next 'victim'.
It was very hot and we walked into town, trying to find the main shopping centre called Jungceylon........and we got a little bit lost!  But we were very pleased to find a groovy restaurant/ bar called Nicky's Handlebar which turned out to be one of our favourite places to eat and drink.  The staff were friendly (as they were all over Phuket), the drinks were mixed well and the food was delicious.  It was a place free from your standard Thai 'girls' and hawkers and was absolutely chock a block full of motor bikes and memorabilia.  It was a fascinating place and we were pleased to have found it after it had been recommended to us by a friend.  We did finally find the shopping centre that had what we would call a 'food court' down stairs and there I sampled some authentic Thai Tom Yum.......absolutely delicious, with different ingredients to what I was used to at home.
After a few drinks, we just had to head back to the hotel because we were so very hot.  We had our first tuk tuk ride (tuk tuks are little vans that have bench seats, no seat belts, open windows and always with a great stereo and disco lights in the back).  This was how we got around, in and out of town when we didn't want to walk.  It never took long to sober up in Phuket because I'm sure that we were sweating so much that this processed the alcohol very quickly.  After being bothered every few foot steps by someone trying to promote a night club, Thai women asking if we wanted a massage and taxi drivers asking if we wanted a ride, we were always very relieved to get back to the hotel which became a safe haven from all of this.  There we could relax and swim in the most amazing pool, have a drink at the pool side bar and enjoy the sun.  I was in heaven!
After exploring the town, eating traditional Thai food, drinking at a great bar, experiencing our first tuk tuk ride and swimming in the pool, we were more than ready to head back to our room and relax a bit before dinner.  David promptly flaked it on the bed and I sat on the balcony, taking it all in and was completely mesmerised by all that I could see.  The weather was stunning, the people were beautiful and fascinating and our hotel was very comfortable.  Yes, we were on holidays and I felt so happy to be in such a beautiful part of the world.  After dinner, we had a good sleep, for tomorrow promised to be a very busy, exciting and amazing day.......and night! :) xxx