wo years ago this week my husband and I we stuck in Phuket, Thailand. For most being stuck in a tropical resort beach with nothing to do but looking at naked Europeans and ladyboys playing volleyball in 70-80’s F temperatures is heaven. For us it was just killing time and itching for something with more adventure.
We had arrived in Hong Kong at the end of 2007. We had unfortunately applied for our visas to China after the unforseen Tibetan riots occurred in Tibet, so this ment we could only be issued a single entry 30 day visa. The Chinese government had totally messed up our plan. We had not only planned to stay in China for 6 weeks but our travel path would have taken us over the Himalayas and into a whole different part of Asia and not Thailand. We love south-east asia but had been to Vietnam and Cambodia a few years back and wanted to see experience traveling in northern India, Burma and then way down to Malaysia and Bali for some beach time.
I’m not saying that Thailand isn’t a great place to visit. The people seemed very friendly but since they were still in recovery mode and most of the visitors to the area were those from the Euro zone countries prices were incredibly high and I could have been on any island in the Caribbean for the experience I got there. Very commercialized and tacky. The only good feeling I got was that I was helping a cause when I was there. The hotel we stayed was rebuilt and run by a family who had most likely been a victim of the tsunami two years earlier. We selected places to eat based not on popularity but whether it was locally owned and run. There were no trips to Starbuck’s, McDonald’s or any of the chain restaurants that had re-established themselves there.
The only sadness I had in leaving was knowing that this area had a tough road ahead of them. We had spent our days hiking up either side of Patong Beach to the outskirts of town. These areas where either abandoned or being turned into very high-end condominium developments in the hills overlooking the beach that was once a place of very high devastation. The only reminder of the tsunami was a small memorial located not far from the beach area. It’s a simple construction which people have placed small elephant figurines and other mementos on it to show remembrance of love ones lost.
The early morning we left behind the cheap massages on the beach, the overzealous prostitutes, the noisy waterfront and the ladyboy that was ironically waving at our taxi as we skipped town. He/she in her/his magenta wig pretty much summed up the place. I don’t mean to discourage those in going to Phuket but know that it’s not like Leonardo’s movie. If you are in for a place where you can recover from your hangover on the beach, ride an elephant through the jungle and get a cheap massage it’s a great place to go. I only wish them well in there own journey to full recovery and hope they are better prepared next time.
Please let me know your thoughts on the matter of Phuket or other places like it. I would love to hear other travelers comments.