I’m riding along on a motor scooter in Phuket. Anais is at the very front of the bike, Brett is in control, and Lachlan is sandwiched between Brett and myself. Not something I thought we would be doing a week ago, but it has been really great fun, not to mention a very practical way of getting around the crowded steamy streets of Patong.
We have spent a week in Phuket and I have mixed feeling about the place. I spent the first day or so apologising to Brett for bringing him and the family here. Our resort was located away from the main squaller which is Patong Beach… this has been a mixed blessing. It’s been positive because the stench of raw sewerage and vomit is less, but we were initially isolated in this location with nothing to do.
The logistics of transporting a family of five backwards and forward can be difficult and after a while, expensive.
Our enjoyment of the holiday improved once we sorted out the transportation. We settled on a mix of hiring a Tuk Tuk driver for the big sightseeing days and renting a scooter for the week. We used the scooter mostly for general use, going to and from the supermarket or beach, but we also managed some pretty fun family outings on it.
Another important factor in appreciating Phuket has been getting up into the mountains where it’s a little cleaner and far less manic. However things are much more primitive in this area’s also, so it was a day trip option only.
We have also found the beaches further away from Patong to be more to our liking. But if you are looking for clean, deserted beaches I wish you luck as I don’t think they will be easy to find. Even on the island tours, tourist complain about the volume of people on the islands.
We didn’t take an island tour because we would like to sail to these islands by catamaran ourselves in a future getaway. Yes it is a dream… but the package deals didn’t excite me so I am prepared to wait for the dream.
The saving grace for this holiday has been our beautiful air conditioned accommodation. Yes there are rats and cockroaches in the street. You can’t drink the water, and the sewer runs freely past the shops, but when I go inside my accommodation I step right back into my comfort zone. I have the opportunity to recharge, and clean away the filth of the day.
When we are ready for more adventure, off we go again.
What will I miss when we leave?
Even though the overwhelming majority of aromas have been gut wrenchingly awful it is some of the smells of Thailand I will miss the most. I will miss the smell of the open fire, as street vendors BBQ corn and chicken innards over the flame. The smell of the early morning as we ride along in the relative cool.
On these rides I quite often catch the aroma of Jasmine rice cooking in the open, so sweet and fragrant. The clean white rice is so vastly different from the grime that surrounds everything else.
Walking through the streets sometimes we experience the unexpected pleasure of passing by a vendor with incense burning. For a moment the air there is sweet with the perfumed smoke. Incense also brings a feeling of tranquility for me. Thai streets are anything but serene or tranquil, but as I breathe deeply I feel relaxed.
The beautiful turquoise blue sea water you see in the Thailand holiday brochures is real. No photoshop or trickery is involved. The water is perfect, and the ocean temperature is so gorgeous I could float around all day given the chance.
What else will I miss? I will miss the spicy Thai food, because here the street vendors cook for the local palate, the flavour is true and the heat is so much more intense.
I will miss the warm balmy evenings sitting by the beach eating noodles from a street cart.
I will miss scootering around the roads, looking out at the world passing by. This has been a great way to see Phuket. I like riding along next to another family on a scooter, or a tuk tuk full of tourist, everyone just an arms length from my bike. It is kind of nice to be so close to everyone on the road, and the slower speed of the traffic is a positive too.
It will be hard to get used to the Aussie price of beer again, I like paying 29baht or $A1 for beer. I would love someone to bring me beer on the beach and adjust my beach umbrella periodically.
For all these reasons we will be back. There are things I will miss, and more I would like to experience.
My tip for Phuket, organise the best accommodation you can afford, everything else is cheap, don’t skimp on comfort.
So goodbye to Thailand for now. I will be returning in October to explore another area of this country. Next time we will be hiring two bikes between the four of us and going on a family adventure, I hope you will join me.
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