After doing a Jet Lag Super Sleep, I woke up at 7 am and scootered way up the coast of Phuket. More details after the pics. Click on any image for a slideshow.
Falling asleep at 4 pm has its advantages. Mainly waking up at 6 am feeling refreshed after 12+ hours of sleep. I was on the scooter and riding dirty in the streets well before most people were up. Phuket is pretty dead until after 10 am, so enjoying some quiet time before the rest of the euros wake from their slumber is nice.
It is still a bit surreal that I am halfway around the world from my hometown, only a few days into a multi-month journey. Part of the reason it is a bit weird is that Phuket isn’t THAT different from many other places I have been. It reminds me the most of Mexico. The streets are filled with white tourists and locals selling various items. Food, taxi rides, jet ski rentals, parasailing, tattoos, and suits among other things.
English is commonly spoken by the locals to the tourists like me. My only similar experience to a country like Thailand was a trip to Vietnam last summer. Vietnam is much less crowded with tourists. Time will tell if the rest of Southern Thailand is as overpopulated with speedo wearing europeans as Phuket.
I am a bit disappointed about the prices of everything, and remain hopeful that they are extra-inflated because of the over abundance of tourists ready to willingly empty their wallets. It is FAR from expensive, just more costly than I was hoping for. Food is around $5-7 and drinks a few dollars more. This isn’t outrageous- just more than the $3-5 I was hoping for, with $1 for a beer. I am optimistic that the farther I head south, the cheaper and more local things will be.
Other activities aren’t cheap either. I was planning on checking out a local Muay Thai fight tonight, as there are posters all over the streets advertising it. When in Thailand, watch some Muay Thai. Then I saw the price- $1,300 bhat for the cheap seats. That is over $40. Not bank breaking, but that leads me to believe that this is a tourist only activity. There is no way local people are paying $40 a head to watch some fights. I figured that the tickets would be $10 to maybe $20, but $40+ screams “Tourists Come Watch!” prices. I would love to watch a local sporting event with locals- not with a bunch of drunk europeans. I love foreign sporting events, but that will just have to wait. If I was here for a few days or a week, I would give more serious consideration to going. I have a feeling that some time (or many times) in the next few months, other live sporting events will make themselves available to me.
The scooter rental continues to be my best form of entertainment. I scootered far up the west coast of Phuket, going through Karon, Patong and farther north. Patong is the uber-tourist center, with a main drag lined with a Starbucks, Burger King, Subway, McDonalds among other western staples.
Seeing all of these same food chains I see everyday in the states is not something pleasing to me. Because of the huge percentage of wallet stuffed tourists (and high prices), I am guessing that the non-thai options are for the out of towners. Even most restaurants offer PIZZA, PASTA, STEAK, HAMBURGERS! It is a bit disheartening that even when traveling, most people would opt for a slice of pepperoni pizza over some tasty thai food. McDonalds wouldn’t exist over here if people weren’t buying it.
It also makes me wonder what a place like Phuket (or Cabo, Cancun, or any other tropical location in a 3rd world country) would be like without the influx of western tourists ready to empty their wallets on the same comforts they have at home, albeit a few dollars cheaper. Would the local Thai people be crushing Whoppers and washing them down with Frappachinos? It is probably a “chicken or the egg” argument- did us tourists bring the fast food, or would the chains exist even without the foreigners roaming these beach communities?
I have neither the time nor the energy to figure out the answer to that question. For now, I am going to go find some cheap street food. Maybe a chicken satay?
Breakfast (omelet, iced latte): $9
Lunch (Pad Thai, fresh coconut): $5
Street food (undetermined) and a beer from the mini mart: $5ish