30.03.2006 - 31.03.2006
The resort that we have been staying in is located on Karon Beach in Phuket. This is a quieter area than the most popular destination on Phuket (for backpackers) which is Patong Beach. We decided however, that we were going to need to see some of the island otherwise we would spent the entire time lazing by the pool - nice and relaxing but necessarily a good use of our time.
The hotel where we are staying runs a shuttle bus service twice daily to Patong - one at 10am and one at 3pm (return times being 10:30 and 3:30). As we planned on spending the evening in Patong, we decided to get the 3pm shuttle and make our own way back.
In contrast to the relative quietness of Karon, Patong is a heaving mass of hawkers trying to flog designer knock-offs, cut prices tailors and other souvenirs that the traveler needs. On arrival, we walked the length of the beach front road looking in most of these stalls as Heather was looking to replace the shoes that she broke while Darwin. This managed to take us upto 5pm, and for some reason no shoes were bought. We could have spent that time at the pub/beach. Eventually, I managed to persuade Heather that I was severely dehydrated and needed some Chang (local beer) quick. We found a beach-side pub and watched the sun go down of the ocean, taking a photo of it for posterity.
Once darkness fell, we decided to find somewhere to grab something to eat and then the problems started. As mentioned, Patong is the main backpacker resort, so we thought before we arrived that there would be plenty of cheap noodle bars where we could indulge our taste buds in wonderful Thai food. Bzzzzzz, wrong! We managed to find one small place, as everything was serving Western junk food - at one point we even considered MuckDonalds as an option, as there was nothing else appealing (common sense did prevail though). Again, a real contrast to Karon where you can't swing a stray dog without hitting anything from budget to expensive Thai restaurants. You probably wouldn't want to go near the stray dogs, mind.
After dinner, we explored Patong further and it is at this point we discovered the Lonely Planet was not exaggerating about some of the seedier sides. Having been through Patpong with no problems, we thought nothing could faze us - however we didn't expect Patong to be even more dodgy. It was an experience in itself (we didn't go in to any clubs though). At one point, we were at a bar that had been bought by a 25 year old guy from Manchester for about 43,000 pounds. He had only been in country for 3 weeks, and he was learning that getting the appropriate licensing was going to be a bit of a challenge for him. Still, he seemed happy enough - not too bad a way to spend a few years I imagine.