Phuket: It’s not that shit

You know when you’re travelling and you tell someone where your next stop is and they don’t say anything but they give you this look? The look that says “ooooooh….stink”. Well that’s what we experienced every time we let fellow travellers know we were headed to Phuket.  To be honest, we weren’t that psyched to be going but we had a gap to fill in Thailand before our flight from KL and it was cheap to fly there from Bangkok so to Phuket we went.

Another deciding factor was the prospect of free accom with a friend of ours who lives there…although we only ended up at his place for the first night. The taxi mafia are to blame.

Seriously, there is actually a taxi mafia in Phuket and it makes life difficult if you’re a tourist staying anywhere other than the really popular beaches. Despite warnings from our friend that without a rented motorbike we would be rather stuck at his place, we decided to risk it with no mode of transport (there were no bikes that had engines small enough for us to be covered by our insurance). We lasted half a day.

Our first morning in Phuket was spent walking in the heat from our friend’s place in search of…anything. We managed to jump on a bus that took us to Phuket town – please note, there is absolutely nothing to be seen in Phuket town. It is a hole.

It was a scorching hot day, I was hangry and the situation was made increasingly tedious by extreme traffic caused by the protests happening in the country at the time (ironically we never saw anything when we were in Bangkok). Soooo around three hours later we found ourselves in a taxi, ordering our driver to take us to a beach –  preferably one with accommodation, restaurants and everything a tourist could want within walking distance.

He took one look at us and drove us to Kata beach, the refuge for families and couples wanting to avoid the fluoro singlet wearing, face chewing, bucket drinking crowd that gathers at Patong (and who are potentially to blame for Phuket’s bad name). The ride was incredibly expensive due to the mafia keeping prices high but we did manage to get a few bucks off by wandering around some souvenir store on the way – and no we didn’t have to buy anything.

Kata was just what we needed. The beach, food, drinks and everything a tourist could need were all within five minutes walk from our hotel which we stumbled upon down the end of this alley.

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By some miracle it had clean rooms, a pool, good service and it cost around a third of the other places we looked at. It’s called Bamboo village if you’re wondering and is down the main drag of Kata (you can just make out the sign in the pic).

Kata beach is (like most Thailand beaches) beautiful and well catered. We ordered drinks and lunch most days. The loungers cost around 100 baht and food is really reasonable.

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Western and Thai delights are both available. The bottom photo is my beloved Som Tam. This one was made to order on the beach (Western food comes from further afield) and you can choose the spice level – note: spicy is heeellll spicy.

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If you tire of the same scene easily then Kata Noi, a good surf beach with fewer kiddies (and fewer people in general really), is just a short walk from the main Kata beach.

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There’s also Karon beach to explore in the opposite direction from Kata Noi – don’t bother with the buses or taxis there, it’s surprisingly close.

However, if you’re after night life then Kata is probably not for you. We did manage to find a nice cafe/bar that served Thai meals for 99 baht and made delicious mojitos for the same price. It was so good that we ended up there a few times as the sheer amount of restaurants down the main street is daunting for a couple as indecisive as us. They also had a live musician who was quite good.

Speaking of live music, we encountered this colourful duo on one of our walks down the main street.

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Yep we were pretty lucky to see both the Thai version of Elvis AND Neil Diamond live in concert. Oh and they were multi talented…

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Gotta love the Every brothers etc.

Basically, people bag on Phuket because it’s popular and anything popular can’t be good to some traveller folk. I however think that it’s great if you just appreciate it for what it is – a tropical paradise that you can enjoy from the safety of your comfort zone at Southeast Asian prices.

And hey, if it’s good enough for Delvis…

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