Thursday, 27 October 2011

Phuket and Khao Lak

Patong, Phuket

Patong was... Different. I thought Ao Nang was built up so I was expecting Patong to be on the Georgetown scale of things. It's no so bad however, it's still under heavy development though, so this could change quickly. The road near Central Festival was like riding through Fountain Gate, a very odd sight for SE Asia.

Here are some "highlights" for my ride into phuket:

It's not that any of that kind of traffic behavior is unique to Phuket, it's just I had the camera on and the traffic nonsense seemed to be more frequent there. Everything in the video occurred within half an hour of riding. Generally the traffic is a lot better than Malaysia though.

Thrown in to this mix is the thousands of tourists getting around on scooters, most unhelmeted, I'd say a good majority are unlicensed too. Then there are the odd few on R6's or Harleys. I don't know about anyone else, but even though it's stupidly hot in all my gear I can't get on the bike without it. I saw a news story about the fatalities in Malaysia while I was there, I don't have the link but it was some ridiculous number like 1000 in the period they were reporting on (2 months?). That seems to line up with the 2009 figures of 6745 deaths. The point of the news story though was that trucks were collecting bikes that were stopped on the side of the road. I'm sure Thailand wouldn't be far off, my quick calculation from that wiki page sets it at about 12000 a year (more people in Thailand however).

Anyway. Patong is ok. Of course it caters to all the tourists, who are mostly sad looking Russians, drunk Australians and drunk New Zealanders. The drunk Australians were the worst, I witnessed one trying to start a fight in Jungceylon because someone said something he didn't like. I guess that's how Australians talk to people, I've been away for a while and I can't remember anymore. It's very easy to find western style food and it's a lot cheaper than Australia of course, and alcohol is much cheaper too. But everything is still inflated over other parts of Thailand, I think I kept it to 1200b a day. If you had a 2000b a day ($60AUish) budget you could eat/do/see/buy anything though.

There are touts EVERYWHERE. Taxi? Suit? Massage? One massage lady even latched onto my arm and told me that she loved me while I was just walking past (I have that effect). The touts don't work for me, if the shop has something I might want I'll just walk past if it has a tout because I hate it. I'm not sure how it works either. I see you have a taxi and if I need it I know I can ask you to take me somewhere, but for some reason preempting that is a good sales tactic.

I had a cold for the entire time I was there so I didn't feel like drinking much, plus it was too expensive for my budget. Didn't end up doing that much at all really.

This is the next beach north of Patong. It's a lot more quiet.

A photo off the side of the road. It's only here because there was some weird dream-ja vu about it.
Then it was time to leave this wretched hive of scum and villainy. I had nowhere booked and I had  planned to head around towards Ao Nang again and try stay in a national park on the coast. On my way out of Phuket I could see the rain in the distance, so I stopped for a bit to adjust my chain, then had some awesome crab fried rice right on the beach.

These are the beach huts! (this is past the airport, where the road splits into two between the customs shed and the bridge).

The view, with the rain in the distance.
My crab fried rice!
After I was satisfied the rain was gone I left the island, and because I could see rain coming in from the east where I wanted to head, I headed north instead. There was a town called Khao Lak that should have somewhere decent to stay. The lonely planet guide mentioned some bungalows that were just outside of the town that I decided to check out. They were down a dirt road off the main highway.

It was so quiet and had little tiny eyes. I stayed to watch the elephant get a drink for a bit, then I went to see if this road went all the way to the beach.

And this is the beach!
While I was there I searched for the bungalows on my phone and found a number of negative reviews and a price of 900b/night. I thought it wasn't worth the risk so then went on to Khao Lak where I eventually found a fan only room 200m from the beach for 400b/night.

Khao Lak

This is a big dive tour town. Apparently most places shut down in the off peak season, everywhere looks open now but not very busy. There are lots of swiss and germans here too. And of course every 3rd shop is a tailors or massage. The touts here are a bit more obvious too. When you walk up the road on the opposite side to the shops they will spot you and cross over then wait. One of them even got into a big long conversation with me to try and get me to buy a suit, I didn't care, I was wasting his time, I'm never buying a suit! I told him I started travelling because I didn't like working, and then he tells me that he doesn't like what he does but does it anyway. He's a tailor in a town with 50 other tailors, I can walk 10 meters either side of his shop and go to a different tailor... The term "market saturation" hasn't quite caught on here. If he doesn't like it he should go something he likes, at least open a different business so people have a reason to visit. There must be some point in the year when EVERY tailor is busy here, otherwise why would there be so many?

Rant mode off.

And now, some beachy sunset photos:

Now it's off to the beach to get some more sunset photos!

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