If Phuket, Thailand is your first introduction to the third world, then brace yourself. BBQ Duck Bill split in halves and served over wilted creek cabbage just screams ‘exotic adventure’. As far as dreamy destinations go, the pace of Thailand is faster than any islands of the South Pacific. Here is how it looks to me.
In the tousled electric street wires and tangled traffic swarms, a haze of humidity is further clouded by the poverty. Produce markets are awash with the stench of the local fruit, durian. Steaming squid and cockles confuse themselves with the scent of incense. Riotous colors of temple offerings make a giddy display amongst the gold plated Buddhas. LSD was never this good and the chaos is amplified by the jangling rants and chants bellowing from overhead, crackling speakers.
Soon the monsoon will clean up the city streets and alleys again. Families will ride their mopeds laden with dogs and babies, grandmothers and takeaways, salvaged tarpaulins and spare tyres. Load those bikes with green mangoes, fishes and chillies, baskets of greens.
Where To Escape The City Rabble.
- Lavish resorts on the west coast of Phuket are one third of the price of western accommodation. Five star resorts compare well in service and cleanliness to any western 4 star hotel. Spend your days by the pools or on Kata beach. Nights are for shopping, wining and dining.
- Head north to the hill country and to find real villages and families who still forage for their existence. Wild ducks and pigs and long legged chickens roam the streets at their own risk.
- Go south to the sea cliffs of Ao Nai Han where fabulous white eagles scrape their wings under the heavens and elephants chow happily on spiky pineapple leaves.
- Ascend to the Big Buddha, a magnificent and gigantic white Quartz sculpture. See the work in progress, buy a construction tile to be built into the buddha. Share his view of the small, busy world below. You will find a serenity here to lift your heart with good intention. Honour the buddhas in their multitudes. Say a prayer for the way of the world.
- The peaceful temple offerings made at Wat Kajorn, of lotus bud and gold leaf, are a mad contrast to the crashing fireworks to evict evil spirits. Light the candles for you story to be heard and your dreams fulfilled in a grateful life of compassion.
Ko Phi Phi Don is completely rebuilt since the tragic tsunami of 2004. Every island now has a tsunami alert tower that broadcasts a siren when necessary. These days, Phi Phi is swarming again with twenty year olds looking for tattoos and trouble, love and ecstasy, alcohol by the bucket. Ko Phi Phi has been sadly loved to death again, because it is so beautiful.
Escape to Ko Phi Phi Lai
Across the water lies Phi Phi Lai. An uninhabited island of rocky castles in crystal water, it teems alive with gaudy tropical fish. Swim indefinitely in body temperature salt-water amongst the crevasses and caves of dragon jaw rock overhangs. Beware the currents, the spear fishers and the long tail propellers extending well behind the traditional wooden boats.
Escape on a bare boat.
Sail out across the silver glass of Chalong Bay to the outer islands jutting from the horizon like visions from an ancient tale. Limestone pillars eroded and undercut by a gently surging sea. White sand beaches. Coconuts.
Sailing in Thailand is a daylight activity. The sea is riddled with thousands of unlit fish traps that will foul your underline if you don’t keep watch. Nocturnal squid boats trawl the outer channels, their bait lights fill the night sky. And then there are the pirate stories, of which I have none to tell. Thai locals are fearful of the history and the presence.
Instead, we found peaceful, cave dwelling fishermen who occupy the deep caves and shorelines of the southern islands. Protected by dogs and reef, they hoard their fishing gear and all manner of flotsam, like Aladdin, in the back of the caves.
Their seafood catches are held alive in floating netted pools, offshore. The youngest boys care for the fish pools until market day, when all manner of sea creatures are for sale. Tiny pointed whelks, hard jelly slugs, snake like fish and baby crabs.
Every island has a restaurant
Koh Mook served the most exquisite whole baked sea bass that I have ever eaten in my life and the restaurant views were to die for. Their delightful ‘house cocktail’ of chia seeds soaked in thick lime cordial! tasted like dish washing liquid but they were so proud of their creation.
We anchored just off the point, where the seagrass was teaming with squid. It happened to be Grand Final Day of football, so the markets were in full swing, with fun for the kids on the craziest jumping castle. Celebrations went into the night.
Koh Mook is also where you will find the famous Emerald Caves. Do not miss this! You must swim into the cave to find a short section of total blackness. A waterproof headlamp will get you through. On the inside is pure, tropical magic. This is one of the rare times when the beauty was overwhelming. I literally choked up with awe. Go there.
You won’t need to stock too many provisions for a trip around the islands. Food is available everywhere. In peak season you will have an amazing choice of meals, wines and beers for small costs. In the quieter season the menus are limited, simple, cheap and delicious.
Words of Warning About Thailand
- Speak kindly of the noble King and hold your wallet close.
- Eat the street food hot and drink only bottled water.
- Begging is illegal and drugs are forbidden .
- Beware of men dressed as Vegas Showgirls in Patong. They often work in pairs and will empty your wallet by ransoming your wife for a photo with them.
Long and Lats; Phuket 07°53’N, 98°24’E
Name of Airport; Phuket International Airport
Currency; THB Thai Baht
Dialling Code;+66 76
Airport tax; International & Domestic
Temperature; 25 to 34 degrees Celsius
Climate; Tropical with high humidity
Languages spoken by the locals; Thai and English
After every phrase as a polite gesture you add your gender, Kha- female, Khup- male.
Hello & Goodbye ..Saw Was Dee Kha (female)
..Saw Was Dee Khap (male).
Thank You… Kab Khun Kha (female) Kab Khun Khap (male)
Distance from Airport to City: 30kms
Local Transport; Good value hire cars, Taxi, mini van, motor bike taxi and bus. You may have to pay for the motor bike taxi up front so the driver can buy enough fuel to get you there.
Local Beer; Singha, Chang , Leo quite strong alcohol content and inexpensive.
Food; Plentiful street food and competitive restaurants on all of the islands. Thai foods is often sweet, sour and spicy all at once but they know how to cater for farang ( white skinned people).
Affordability; Thailand suits every budget.
My secret to share with you…
There are thousands of massage parlours in Phuket, some are for gentle pampering, many are for sex and then there is my secret place. The Blind People’s Massage Clinic at Chalong on the south road from the ‘circle’ to Rawai Beach. The therapists are all blind and exceptionally well trained in authentic, traditional Thai massage. Not for the faint hearted, you will experience the most intensely remedial massage of your life here.
So respected are the blind masseurs that professional Muay Thai boxers are treated by these ‘Healing Doctors’. It is open to the public and extremely affordable. If not for this centre, these lovely strong men and women would be discarded as unemployable.
Grab a quote for your travel insurance to Thailand right here.
Do you have a story about sailing in Thailand or elsewhere. Let us know about it in the comments section below.
Want to learn how to Make Money Online while;
Go really far and go really well from Janelle
- Freelance For Upwork, Travel The World On New York Wages.
- 30 Awesome Online Jobs For Nomads
- How To Become A Digital Nomad And Live For Free