Phuket (10-14 September 98)
(Unwittingly we took a beach holiday during the monsoon season)
I practiced golf in the morning at the nearby driving range. This has really become fun since I am finally keeping my right shoulder down through my swing. Sure makes a difference – now I am getting good contact with the ball. It makes either a nice thwack or pock sound.
After researching our resort hotel on the internet — it appears that it is not a hotel but a condominium. Guess I should take some food and tea making stuff.
My friend – also named Nancy — called before I left. I would have rather gabbed than pack (I used an old ‘for the beach’ packing list). At the last minute decided to take my golf clubs.
I had the maid carry the bag downstairs where I added the guide books to the ‘to be packed’ pile. She and the chauffeur argued over who was going to carry my bag to the car. Like two little kids they each held a handle and said ‘no! let me’. I said, ‘You’re NOT arguing over who is going to carry my bag.’ Let the chauffeur do it.’
The airport logistics were rather complicated. Al was coming in from the Phillipines. I met Al’s flight and then we proceeded to our check in VERY EARLY. Thai Airways took our bag and two golf bags (on free frequent flyer tickets!) no problem. We waited in an airport restaurant where we ordered spicy seafood salad.
On the flight I couldn’t stop worrying about some consulting I was to do in a few weeks in Hong Kong and Singapore. I didn’t have the training material yet and I still needed it to prepare for the trip.
A pretty sorry taxi at the Phuket airport met us. The roads aren’t that good. The rough road was accentuated by the non-existent shock absorbers in the cab. It is a rather long drive from the airport in the North to Karon beach where we were staying on the West coast of the island.
Over-friendly help at the condo checked us into a 10th floor sea view condo. I asked for a non-smoking room. I just got a blank smile and a, ‘What’s that’? We didn’t notice at first that we had twin beds. We were not very happy about that but also not willing to go through the rigmarole of changing rooms. So we just pushed to bed together.
It was fairly late but we decided to explore the immediate area on foot. Desperately aggressive shopkeepers tried to get us to buy from them. We declined. The girls in all the bars we passed all yelled ‘Hello & Welcome’ at us but we just walked by them.
We were served breakfast by a pretty little transvestite. I really liked his/her white rayon top from India. He/she had a really nice manicure with a deep burgundy polish. And I am pretty sure it was wearing hair extensions. There were very few customers in the restaurant and all the waiters hovered around us. Al finished before me despite having the full cooked breakfast(read fry-up). I had the European breakfast (roll & coffee). I was so astounded I was unable to speak as they took my plate away before I was done.
Before we could walk very far at all a man offered to rent us a jeep. So we plunked down 2400 baht (US$60) for four days for a little red 4WD Suzuki with airco. If we liked we could exchange it for a big American jeep the next day.
We took off in the jeep to explore the South side of the island. Al found ‘Jimmy’s lighthouse’ evidently a rather famous place in sailing circles. They served the best limeade I have ever had.
Next we went to the popular tourist beach area called Patong. We don’t like these noisy, stinky bar ridden places but we are not opposed to visiting them for a short time. This is the place to buy fake designer watches. At lunch I proposed we circle the islands many excellent restaurants ordering spicy seafood salad at each one for comparison purposes.
In the afternoon we checked out the Phuket Country club golf course. Al made reservations for the next morning and then we both went to the driving range. It was more expensive than the most expensive driving range that we go to in Bangkok and not as nice. Only the practice putting greens were much nicer than the one we use. Al could not resist adjusting my driver swing.
I can’t remember the name of the restaurant that night but we ate outside in a kind of primitive Flintstones garden. A very pregnant calico cat took me for the cat lover I am and practically tried to jump on our table to eat the BBQ tiger prawns (500 grams for 500 baht about US$15). After I had shelled a few of the shrimp I asked the waiter to give the leftover heads and shells to the cat away from our table. That worked. She didn’t come back to bother us until she had finished our leftovers. Just as we were done it started to sprinkle rain.
So we got back into the jeep and headed back into Patong. Parking was not easy and as soon as we were about 6-10 blocks from the car the rain came down in great pelting sheets. We took shelter under the awning of a seafood restaurant kitchen along with some other soggy tourists.
Al had an early tee-time and I just sat around on the balcony enjoying the sea breeze, ocean noise and view while reading. In the late morning I ventured out and bought some flip-flops. It was really hard to find some that were NOT fake designer. Now I was prepared for a walk on the beautiful beach. After my walk I lounged by the pool until Al returned. The beach was so wonderful we went back there for some serious wading where a very huge wave stole Al’s glasses, safety strap and all.
Then it was back to the Light House for a sundowner. The drive around the Southwest of the island was indescribably beautiful. Both the beaches (Club Med is there) and the inland scenery are spectacular.
Dinner was at a very large restaurant at a crossroads. We had to walk and walk down many wooden covered corridors to get to the dining room. The food was not as spicy as we would have liked. I guess they tone it down for the tourists. There were very few customers in the restaurant and all the waiters stood around watching us eat.
The day started with brunch at one of the five hotels in an integrated resort near the airport. First we got the bottom of our shorts wet with some rogue waves while wading on the beach there and then the monsoon caught us before we could get back to the jeep. We spent most of the day venturing onto the mainland. We took a wrong turn but that only led us to a really cool waterfall. We also checked out the possibility of chartering boats from Sunsail.
We found the best restaurant that night. Andaman Seafood had the best BBQ seafood and the spiciest spicy seafood salad. When it started to monsoon we just moved a few tables deeper into the restaurant. There were a few other customers so we did not have the sole attention of all the staff. What a relief AND the food was good, and Thai and hot enough. No compromises for tourists.
This was our last day so we walked on the beach in the morning despite the ominous black clouds to the North. They did not hold idle promise. It really, really rained on us but we were in our swimsuits so it didn’t matter. There was no sign of Allan’s glasses by the wrecked Russian fishing boat on the beach where he had lost them. We studied the sand crabs (Al stomped behind them to make them jump-he even managed to catch a few tiny ones).
Back in Patong I bought myself a Topaz ring for a souvenir. Remember all those desperately aggressive shopkeepers? The girl tried not to take the jewelry back after I had tried it on. Her technique worked. Lunch was French fries and hamburgers at the miniature golf course. It was raining too hard for us to play. But that did not stop two Japanese girls from playing.
As we checked out of the condo we asked about purchasing one of the units. It was four times as much as we were willing to pay. This started us dreaming about retiring to this surprisingly clean and modern island anyway. But unfortunately it’s a too expensive island.