Monday November 23 - Sunday November 27
I met an American couple from seattle the night before I left koh Jum and enjoyed my last dinner at Woodland Lodge. The hospitality and sunset views at woodland captured me, but I'm not ready to stay put just yet. I decided to head to Phuket to visit a yachtie friend who has a house on the island and is also taking some time off boats. I cought the ferry back to Karabi and then took a four hour minivan ride to Phuket town where Chris picked me up on his motor bike and took me back to his house. Chris grew up as a cruiser kid in Spain and Asia. His family discovered Phuket and eventually bought a house on the island. They keep their boat in Chalong Bay. Chris has recently bought a duplex in a mostly Thai neighborhood which he uses as a base and place to take holiday away from big white boats. It was so good to have a companion and tour guide for a few days. I don't think I would have gone to Phuket as a solo backpacker because it is spread out and expensive. I was able to avoid the crowds, costs, and confusion while seeing the best parts of the island with Chris.
After regrouping at his house we headed to a water side restaurant on Ao Sane beach. The beach is one of Chris's favorite spots so we returned the next day for some swimming, longing and more delicious food. A group of friends Chris knows from Spain met us there and we drove to Big Buddah for sunset. A five story tribute statue sits on one of the highest hills on the island and offers three sixty views of the island. It was two over cast for a decent sunset, but the viewpoint gave me a good prospective of the size of the island and the surrounding islands. We headed to a night market for lots of fried snacks before going back to wash away a long day of sun and sea. We ate dinner at a local roadside restaurant. I ate my first fried soft shell crabs of the trip (yummmmm).
On Wednesday we headed into Phuket Town. The town center is not as touristed and is filled with all types of storefronts and restaurants. There is no shortage of cheap clothing bazars anywhere in Thailand... Indoor, outdoor, air con, markets, and moving carts. An endless sea of similar t-shirts, sandals, dresses, handbags, and hats. We stopped for rottie dipped in green curry. Pancakes with egg and a thick spicy curry sauce. I had some urban burnout after a few hours In town. We stopped at a shopping mall where I got a Thai cellphone and sim card so I can be even more connected while I'm here. Then it was straight to the beach for a sunset swim and a good grassy viewpoint to watch the sun go down. Then we headed to Rawi beach in search of a carnival where a Thai reggae band was suppose to play. We ate dinner at a waterside restaurant with concrete picnic tables, strings of fluorescent lights hung from trees and a busy street he server had to cross to get to the kitchen. We were happy for the sea breeze and delicious food. The concert that night was canceled due to wind and rain, but we met a British and German pair of characters and headed to an Indian restaurant to smoke hookah, chat, and eat samosas. They were both in Thailand for Martial arts training. It was interesting to hear them talk about their world and life in Phuket. I played the part of the American and listened to the familiar cracks about puppet Obama and the tumbling partisan government and crashing economy. For the most part we kept it light and I enjoyed a few hours of conversation.
The next morning we headed back to Rawi to check out the fresh water perl shops. Thousands of strung perl necklaces hung from bamboo stalls in all different colors. A sign read lots of lady or ornaments. I could help but think about fem theory, ornamentation, and the symbolism of pearls. We had lunch at the same restaurant before driving all over the place in search of viewpoints and sights. Then we headed to Chris's parents house for a chill out by the pool and dinner. We met up with the spaniards and Chris's sister and visiting cousin and had a few beers at a beach side reggae bar. I celebrated Thanksgiving by gorging on a late night bag of fried chicken from a roadside stand.
On Friday we had another low key beach day at Ao Sane with Chris's cousin Justin. It rained off and on and I enjoyed sitting under a beach umbrella and watching it all come down. Chris's parents threw a barbecue and I met some other foreigners living in Phuket. That night we met up with a group of foreigners teaching in Phuket and went to two Thai clubs. The first wasa cool bar blaring top 40s which was fun to dance to, but when the night turned to live band karaoke we left quickly. The second club had a live Thai band with crazy enthusiasm and choreographed dance move. The loud energy was overwhelming, but we stayed for a worthy hour of people watching. The silent stoic Thailand boys and very fashionable girls stand around table tops with bottles of ice and whiskey. By the end of the night I was very ready to head home. I can't say clubbing in Phuket Town was a great time, but the experience felt authentic and worth seeing.
By Saturday I was ready to hit the road and make my way back to a quiet island. I took a six hour bus ride to Ranang and got a guesthouse for the night and caught a boat to Koh Chang. I met the owner of a guest house at the pier and have booked a wooden bungalow without electricity form him for the night. I'm about to walk the beach and check out the other options. The place is beautiful but the ringing from some sort of bug could drive me into a permanent migraine or insanity. For the most part I'm happy to be by the sea and back into a life of simplicity.
Koh Chang, Ranong Province, Thailand
P.s. the bug noise just subsided (thank you universe)