Negotiating transport to take us to our hotel wasn’t as easy as I’d expected. As soon as we’d left the arrivals lounge there were dozens of taxi touts lurking outside ready to pounce. The cheapest option was to share a mini bus with 10 other travellers so in we squeezed, nestled in beside some Japanese tourists. As I listened to them speak a language that’s become so familiar to me I felt strangely comforted in this unknown new land.
For around £9 we were given the promise that each of us would be taken to the door of our hotel, which was a pretty good deal. Hurtling along the streets we passed street sellers with all kinds of wondrous fruits and handmade crafts. I watched in amazement as trucks drove past with dozens of passengers dangling their legs out of the back of trailers. We made a brief stop at a small shack and were abruptly told the get off the bus. Thankfully, rather than being kidnapped we were gently encouraged to buy some tourist trips and when we declined the staff were perfectly polite and just told us to get back on the bus. At this point I was worried about the kind of place we’d come to. We’d only left the airport twenty minutes before and had already been targeted to buy all manner of things.
When the bus pulled up outside the brand new Holiday Inn Express all my fears were dispelled and I knew we were in for a great stay.
Recently built, the Holiday Inn Express in Patong was a gorgeous, chilled out hotel. July and August aren’t peak months in Thailand because it’s when they have their rainy season. For this reason the Holiday Inn, while still bustling, wasn’t bursting to full capacity. This meant that there weren’t any elbows required to get a table at breakfast nor were there any territorial scraps over sunloungers. We were lucky and escaped most of rainy season but on the first day we were caught in the biggest downpour I’ve ever experienced. Within seconds of starting, the monsoon-esque rain had soaked everything in sight and a few minutes later the streets had turned into rivers. Thankfully this wasn’t as omen of things to come and for the rest of the holiday we had scorching hot sun which turned my milk-bottle skin into a delicate shade of pink.
The hotel was right on the beach, where we ventured most days. We found a gorgeous cocktail bar on the sea-front and enjoyed many an evening supping Pina-Coladas while watching the glorious sunsets.
Patong is a large beach-side town and is one of the biggest holiday resorts in Thailand. Classy it ain’t, but it is cheap and offers a great holiday escape. Not terribly family friendly, it is good for couples and 18-30 types. There’s a lot to offer and there was even a luxury shopping mall that put on a water show every evening. It was so big it was like the Disney Land of shopping malls. We headed there one night to go to the cinema to see apocalyptic movie World War Z. The movie itself wasn’t great as I’ve always found Brad Pitt a bit of a wet blanket but it was cool to see the scenes that were filmed in Glasgow city centre. The highlight was actually before the movie started when the whole audience had to stand up in respect for the Thai national anthem that was blared out on the cinema’s surround sound. A bit of a surreal experience but very interesting nonetheless.
We spent most of our time in Thailand doing well, nothing much really. Mainly just relaxing, going to the beach, sitting by the pool, eating out or ordering room service from nearby restaurants and watching the extensive cable channels we had on our TV. I know that’s really tragic but after two years of watching Japanese TV, suddenly every straight-to-video flop looks like an award-winning blockbuster.
We also spent a large proportion of our time avoiding ticket touts, girls offering “massages”, tuk-tuk drivers and shady characters punting the infamous “Ping-Pong Shows”.
There were also countless drinks drank out of pineapples and coconuts. My favorite being fresh coconut milk from a young coconuts. These huge green coconuts are something we never see in Europe so I was really surprised to know that this is how the brown dried up coconut I’m so familiar with starts out.
To my delight there was even a crazy golf in the next town so one afternoon we jumped in a tuk-tuk taxi and headed straight for Dinosaur Park in Karon Beach.
All in all, my six-day trip to Thailand was amazing; both relaxing and exciting. Admittedly, we didn’t see much of real Thai culture so I’d love to head back some time to explore Bangkok and the city of Ayutthaya, but Phuket was the perfect holiday getaway. A return trip to Thailand will have to wait, as for this trip, the next stop was Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia…