Before describing my 4 days in Phuket, let me say this is the second time I have visited here. The first time was for a very large business conference of 800+ employees, and while we were allowed to stay an extra day or two and have some fun, and our conference schedule was hardly demanding, I felt like I had to return and experience it on a vacation-only basis.
What I remembered was beautiful beaches, shady but fun beach bars, and lots and lots of expats from all over the world, most not even expats but people who simply retreated to Thailand for a few months to become lazy bastards. It was then that I knew I should someday follow in their footsteps!
But I realize now that one of the reasons I had such a great time in Phuket the first time is I had so many work buddies to hang out with, from my friends in AZ to meeting the new people in my new (now old) group, including what would be the first of many recorded nights boozing with the ever-excellent MMG. When you are with these types of crowds, it is easy to meet new and interesting people.
This time around, I must say it wasn’t quite the same. But I still had fun.
I couldn’t decide where to stay, as the first time I stayed in the Laguna area, which was a bit too far from the fun in Patong beach, and I knew it would be filled with couples and not what I was looking for. I assumed the same for many other remote beach resorts, so I decided to pick a hotel NEAR Patong, but just far enough away to be relatively quiet.
Somehow I got this ALL wrong, as I booked a hotel smack dab in the center of Patong. Not just central but on the most infamous party street around: Bangala road.
I also paid extra for a beach-side room, and obviously that was false advertising as I was still a 5-10 minute walk to the beach.
Oh well, at least the hotel was rather nice for 60 bucks a night!
But I also knew this about the main drag: Every fun bar that exists is inevitably FULL of prostitutes. This was fine when I was hanging out with the gals from my company as the hookers left you alone (for the most part). But when by yourself? Yikes.
At first I tried going to bars and restaurants not on the main street but I soon realized they were full of couples and families, and when I would return to my hotel, walking down the main stretch, I was pretty much running back to my hotel, with a swarm of hookers noting my presence and following. It was not unlike Rocky when he approaches the Museaum of Art, only if Philly were represented by Thai prostitutes, lady-boys and hermaphrodites.
But I do maintain that this town is a freaking blast regardless. If you don’t think guys picking up prostitutes isn’t the most interesting people-watching possible, you are crazy.
I couldn’t believe how many people must be “renting” the services of gals for the day, and how many of them were holding hands with their “dates”. I came to realize it was the girls, not the guys who demanded this affection, which was especially perplexing when it was a 60-year-old Guy with a twenty-something gal/lady-boy. (I mean, this gals MOTHER was hardly a zygote when these guys were 20!)
And much like Bangkok, I was pretty masterful at conveying to the girls that I wasn’t looking for sex, often having pathetically philosophical conversations on why Americans frown upon it. (The real reason is all prostitutes in America are either emaciated smack-shooting hags or rotund rednecks sporting femullets, but I didn’t want to sully the Thai side of the profession by saying that)
I found myself paying to NOT have sex, as you can have a pretty fun time with a gal by buying them drinks (which they get a kick-back from obviously) and eventually if I talked to them a while, I’d give them a hundred baht or something before leaving, almost as an apology for the imminent fear they must have felt had I accepted their offer and became naked.
But one thing that terrified me, while hanging out in these areas, especially since I was smack dab in the middle of it even when I returned to the hotel, were the mosquitoes. Wow I got bitten a lot! And the fact that these mosquitoes were feasting purely on prostitutes and their Johns was more than a little unsettling.
Oh well, if I did catch VD from a mosquito, they likely had one helluva hangover after sipping my veins.
And on this hooker thing: While most of you know I am a fairly perverted guy and I proudly agree, I must say I was surprised before I left how many people made comments like “Oh, you are going to Thailand to bang hookers” comments. That shit bothers me.
Why? I consider myself perverted in the “I like strip clubs a little more than I should” sense and that does NOT mean I pay for sex. There is a difference. (Kind of like how The Killers have soul but are not soldiers...only if that lyric made sense)
My biggest disappointment in Phuket was I didn’t meet people like I thought I would. Sure, I talked to some people here and there, but I guess the fact I was by myself and not toting a prostitute really made me seem creepy, ironically enough.
Seriously, the Europeans ignored me, Americans were non-existent and Australians just smiled (but gave me no vegemite sandwich).
I probably had the most fun (yet again) at one of the strip-clubs. These places were full of male AND female tourists, all having a good time, mostly because of the crazy shit the girls would do on stage. I shall not go into details, but let’s just say the stage shows involve “vagina tricks”. It is in no way a turn on and basically it is kind of a freak show. But darnit it if it isn’t fun!
I hit 2 such clubs in Phuket, and the first one was rather fun, and as usual, I had bought several drinks for ladies to leave me alone. One of the girls (not attractive at ALL) tells me she has to go up on stage, and sure enough, she does one of the “stunts”.
Laughter ensues, a few moments pass, and she returns to my table, where I sit slightly horrified, and we have the following conversation:
You like my show?
You just shot 5 goldfish out of your vagina.
Wait, I only saw 5…never mind.
You give me tip for show?
I’d rather give the goldfish a warm bath and a group-hug.
Okay you buy me another drink?
So my second day, I went up and asked the front desk gal where I should go to have fun but avoid the hooker scene. She told me “have you tried ‘Tiger-Bar’ across the street?”
And yes I had, and this had more hookers than Times Square in the 80’s, so I figured she misunderstood the question.
“No! I said NO hookers.” I responded.
“What? Why you not like Tiger Bar? It is fun!” She said.
This blew me away, as this girl was sweet and clearly not involved in the sex trade. It was if she was being patriotic by pushing prostitution, as if to say “Buy war bonds!”
So I asked her directions to a club I remembered called Banana, which we tore up nicely 2+ years ago on our conference, but once I found it this time around, it kinda sucked and was no place for a creepy loner who doesn’t dance. Plus the beers were 200 baht a piece! (like 7 dollars, which is more than I even pay in NYC…well at my dive bars at least)
My third day I took a day trip to Kho Phi Phi, which was pretty awesome I must say. Some amazing beaches there, but be warned it was a long day of driving/boating to and from there, only to spend 2 or so hours on the beach. (wish I had done this my last day and stayed a few nights but oh well)
So after my 3 nights in Patong, I was more than ready for my quiet destination. No real regrets on coming though. Had I had a friend with me, it would have been excellent. Shame on you all who thought of coming but didn’t!
(And Diane, no I did not see Lyle Lovitte, but I saw lots of lady-boys!)
More later from Kho Kho Khao in the Phang Nga province of Thailand.