Settling In- Day 4 in Phuket

Fresh pics from another day in Thailand. Lots of words below the pics if you would like to do some reading. Click any image to start a slideshow. 

Monday, April 21st

When we last left off, I was heading out for some cheap street food. That ended up being some tasty BBQ meat sticks- 2 chicken sticks and 1 beef. Then I treated myself to a butter and sugar crepe.  Total was $2 for the BBQ $1 for the crepe. That is more like it. Back at the hotel, a 2 year old French girl couldn’t stop babbling about something in French. Her parents said the girl has been mesmerized by the floating lanterns on the beach- where there is a candle/ kerosene on the interior of a red paper lantern. After enough hot air, the lantern quickly rises into the sky. This sounded like something I should check out. 

I headed down to the beach, which is only about 100 yards from my hotel, and took a seat on one a beach lounger. Not only were red lanterns being sent into the sky- another group had brought a huge bag of fireworks. And these are NOT the safe and sane kind that are allowed in the States. These were the real deal Holyfield fireworks. It started with sparklers for the kids and quickly advanced to roman candles before finishing off with mini versions of the ones you see at sporting events and the 4th of July. There were no cops hassling anyone. Everyone was having a great time.

So there I was. Watching legit fireworks on the beach, while other people send red lanterns into the sky, drinking a beer, in 80 degree weather, with a tank top and flip flops on, after eating $2 of chicken and beef sticks and $1 of a butter and sugar crepe. It could not have felt more “right.” This is exactly why I had wanted so badly to get away from the States. While not something insane (nearly everyone on the planet over the age of 18 has had a beer and seen fireworks). It was the combination of everything- and there was nothing I NEEDED to do. No responsibilities to anyone or anything. It felt amazing.

I finished up the evening trying (and mostly failing) to have a conversation with a few local Thais- a guy and a girl. They worked at a local hotel, and spoke a little English. Even 3 words of English is better than my Thai. It was interesting to say the least- 3 people barely understanding each other. The fireworks show ended, I finished my beer, said “Lah Gon” to my new Thai friends, and headed back to my hotel, excited for whatever tomorrow brings. 

Tuesday, April 22nd

As noted 17th century poet Ice Cube once said- today was a good day. It started off by me joining a weekly podcast I helped start several years ago- the Filmdrunk Frotcast). Usually I have been a part of the show live from San Francisco. This was episode 200, so it was not something I wanted to miss. With the magic of the internet (specifically skype on my phone and using the hotel’s wifi), I could hear my friends crystal clear and they could hear me. I chatted with the Frotcast crew for about 30 minutes before excusing myself to start my day. It was only 9:30 in the morning and I needed some food.

I ate some breakfast, enjoyed an iced cappuccino, and took the scooter out for one last ride in Phuket since I needed to return it at noon. While I had gone fairly far north of Kata, I had not gone south farther than a few kilometers. Heading south offered a beautiful, winding road through the coast line of Phuket. Every so often, I could see the amazingly blue ocean below me. An official viewpoint appeared, so I parked the scooter to get a look. Seeing Phuket from higher up shows how crazy the geography is here. There are many U shaped inlets that make up the various beach communities- Patong, Karong, Kata, etc. It is really cool to see from up above.

(We interrupt this broadcast, as I was rudely stopped by a mosquito in my room. I don’t know how they keep finding their way into my room, but they do. One at a time, they sneak in and torture me. I fucking hate mosquitos. I’m not sure there is anything hon this planet I hate more than mosquitos. They are all assholes and they love me and my blood, and my skin hates their horrible blood sucking faces. Nothing would make me happier than learning mosquitos have vanished off the face of the Earth. Back to your originally scheduled program).

In the parking lot of the Phuket viewpoint is one of the many EXOTIC ANIMAL tourist traps offered here. This time it was a really large eagle with its’ talons covered that could be put on your arm for $100 bhat (about $3). I am sure these eagles have a pretty crappy life as far as eagles go, but this was one tourist opportunity I simply couldn’t pass up. After trading $100 bhat for several pictures of the huge eagle perched on my arm, I hopped back on the scooter and continued south.

Next up I stopped at an elephant trek business. While I caved in to the “eagle on the arm,” the elephant exploitation was one that I did not want to help support. For another $100 bhat, I could feed a baby elephant and get a photo with it. The young elephant was adorable, but sadly its’ right foot is tied to a short chain - only allowing that foot to move about a foot in any direction. It was pretty awful to see, and giving money to this operation was not something I could justify. Since I can’t and save all these elephants from their shitty elephant captivity, I at least can choose to not support it.

I continued down the highway south, cruising through a few small tourist communities. Big or small, everywhere on Phuket offers the same thing: Food, booze, massages, shopping, tattoos, or tourist adventures. After scootering some more, I made it to an overlook, where I could see several small, secluded beaches. It is amazing how many beautiful beaches there are here. It makes me wonder what it looked like before all the tourists started pouring in. The untouched beauty must have been incredible.

Which then made me appreciate everything that it took for me to even get here. The airplane technology to fly me here at 600 mph, the roads and infrastructure to allow me to drive around easily, the scooter to power me up and down those roads, and the internet to allow me to share my journey in near real time. Yes, I am another white tourist among the thousands that are here, but that doesn’t prevent me from enjoying it.

Before leaving the comforts of home less than a week ago, I figured it would take a few days to settle into this new lifestyle. After several days, I am definitely starting to relax and enjoy everything much more. At first I felt a strong internal pressure to DO EVERYTHING! There is a sense that I am halfway around the world- why WOULDN’T I ride an elephant? And watch a snake show? And ride a jet ski? And go parasailing? Part of not doing every activity I come across involves the money- the tourist activities are insanely overpriced. This is for a good reason- PLENTY of people are buying. Few people are traveling for 4 months- I want my money to last more than a few weeks.

On top of that, I am perfectly content just doing whatever makes me happiest. That means most days will involve wondering around, taking lots of photos, eating some (hopefully) tasty food, relaxing by the pool or on the beach, catching up on my favorite TV shows (watched Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley today), emailing friends, working on business projects, and smiling the whole time.

Tomorrow I leave for Ko Phi Phi, my 2nd destination in Thailand. A new adventure awaits…

Daily tally:

Breakfast- Ham sandwich and Iced Cappuccino: $8

Lunch- noodles with chicken and vegetables, watermelon juice: $7

Picture with an eagle: $3

Beer and snacks from 7-11: $3

Dinner- Pad Se Ew with Chicken- $5

Bus and Ferry to Ko Phi Phi: $20

Hotel: $34

Total: $79