Weekend at the beach
I was hoping that our quick weekend getaway to the island of Phuket would provide some interesting blogging material but predictably, the resort destination is not so much a Thai cultural experience as it is as exercise in vacationing with thousands of European tourists.
I love a nice beach as much as any Swede or German and I can understand why we're all drawn to the beautiful white sands of Kata and Karon beaches.
You can rent a deck chair that comes with an umbrella and little table for 100 baht (about 3 bucks) for the entire day. It only took about half an hour walking on the beach at 10am to get a burn on my shoulders. I wasn't quick enough with my 55 SPF sunscreen.
The water was delightfully warm and clear, perfect for cooling off when you've had enough of the chair and umbrella. Long tail boats for hire take people out to nearby islands, which we would have done had we more than 48 hours to spend in Phuket.
When you get tired of the beach, the little roads are packed with hundreds of businesses all with signs in several languages, none of them Thai. Almost all of the restaurants advertise "European food" and you can have your pick of German, Scandinavian, Italian, French cuisine.
I still go for the Thai food, like this place where we had a traditional breakfast of rice soup. This is actually a bunch of separately owned establishments all offering pretty much the same thing with the only difference being the color of the table cloths.
Phuket felt more like a tropical Disneyworld than Thailand. At night, this Dino Bar was packed.
Or maybe it was more like Vegas. We heard another Thai Elvis singing at an outdoor restaurant on Friday night (or maybe it's the same guy, different night?). He was singing "Green, Green Grass of Home" and sounded like the King except he couldn't quite get the "green" without a touch of accent.
The 2004 tsumani destroyed property and took lives but Kata and Karon beaches suffered less damage than other parts of the island. Now they're building more and larger hotels at a furious pace. I doubt there's an agency like OSHA in Thailand but that bamboo is probably stronger than it looks.
So I enjoyed my pina colada in a young green coconut, got sand everywhere and am nursing a sunburn just like everyone else. We all need places like Phuket to indulge while we're on holiday and Thailand knows how to deliver and does it well.