March 8, 2011

Phuket, Thailand

We took a short flight from Penang, Malaysia to Phuket, Thailand's largest island. Marking the second country on our trip!
Thailand is a kingdom, ran by the beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He has been ruling Thailand since 1946, making him the worlds longest serving current head of state. Also according to Forbes, King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the richest royal around, with a net worth of approximately $35 billion. I have never seen any country love their leader as much as Thai's love their King. Massive billboards and signs with photo's of the King and his family litter the streets and intersections all over Thailand, along with "Long Live the King" T-shirts and bracelets everywhere. Here are a couple of pictures of the King and a calendar of him I saw multiple times during my stay in Thailand.
Thailand has a population of 66 million with 10 million living in the metro area of the capital city of Bangkok. 95% of Thai's are Buddhist, making Buddhism the national religion.

Language: Thai
Hello:
Male: Sa-wat-dee-kraup Female: Sa-wat-dee-kah
Thank You:
Male: Khob-kun-kraup Female: Khob-kun-kah


We only spent one night on Phuket before we headed to Koh Phi Phi. We stayed at a nice hipster hostel called Bodega, a 5 minutes walk from Patong Beach on the south western part of the island.I expected Phuket to be Thai paradise. I have always heard of Phuket and people traveling there for exotic vacations. However, I was very unimpressed. I can only talk to the Patong Beach and Phuket Town areas because those are the only places I saw while I was on Phuket. Both were dirty and sleazy. It is full of fat drunken tattooed foreigners looking to get more drunk or hook up with thai prostitutes. Not what I picture when I think of paradise.

Our arrival in Thailand!
Nonetheless, we had an interesting 24 hours in Phuket. Right when we got there we went straight to the beach to catch the sunset. It was pretty crowded and had tons of parasailing and jet skiing. The scene reminded me a little of Florida. But I have to admit it was a beautiful sunset.
While we were waiting for the sun to set we watched the parasailers take off and land. They took off and landed on land with the help of a Thai monkey man hanging on to their harness the whole time. Check out this video.


Our room at Bodega had a great balcony, so we grabbed some large Changs and relaxed outside for most of the night!
We eventually ended up wondering down the main drag at Patong Beach and found ourselves in a very interesting area. Lots and Lots of bars and even more Thai prostitutes walking around.
We found an area that looked like an outdoor market, but instead of stalls selling things, they were bars. Hundreds of bars next to each other all in one outdoor area. It was pretty cool, with good music and an interesting crowd. A lot of older white men sitting at the bar with a young Thai girl.
All of the women working at the bars would ask you if you would like to play Connect Four against them. If they won, you had to buy them a drink and if you won, they would buy you one. Lets just say every bartender in Phuket is a Connect Four genius. They never loose games. After loosing a couple of drinks to some Thai bartenders, we decided it would be more fun just to play against each other.

We had a fun night in Phuket but we were all very happy to be leaving in the morning! If you are traveling to Thailand I would recommend spending as little time as possible in Phuket. Many times you have to spend one night there to catch the next days ferry to an island, but that is all you should stay for. The islands near Phuket are amazing and deserve your time much more.

Next stop, the amazing Koh Phi Phi!

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