Jeff's Mid-Life Crisis goes Round the World (RTW)
About Me (1)
HONG KONG (2)
* ST. ANDREWS
* FROM TRAVELER TO TOURIST?
* HONG KONG
* BANGKOK TO HONG KONG
* BANGKOK TO PHUKET
* PHNOM PENH
* ANGKOR AND SIEM REAP #2
* ANGKOR AND SIEM REAP #1
* CHANGES IN LATITUDE CHANGES IN ATTITUDE
* VANG VIENE
* LUANG PRABANG #2
* LUANG PRABANG #1
March 02, 2005
Today is Wednesday, March 2nd. At the end of my last blog entry I said I was doing something unexpected and taking a bit of a long journey. I didn't mean to be overly dramatic or to worry anyone (sorry Mom!) because all I did was leave Asia and go to London, England.
That's right, I'm in beautiful (and cold/snowy) London after over 24 hours flying and layover time from Hong Kong. I'm writing this as I'm jet lagged trying to get used to crossing 8 time zones going backwards.
I decided to leave Asia after 12 or so weeks there to change things up and try something different. Not sure what my plans are after London but I will hang out here for a while and be a tourist.
This blog entry is about my time in Phuket.
I originally planned to only spend 5 days in Phuket but ended up staying for 9. I spent the first 6 fun days and nights at the Sunset Beach Resort and managed to keep busy and see most of the local area, get alot of exercise and even got some sun. It was hot everyday with mostly cloudless skies and temperatures in the 90's during the day and the 70's at night. Most of the time there was gentle breeze blowing - in other words PERFECT!
The final three nights I decided to take advantage of another great internet special for the 5-star Novotel Resort in Patong. The rate was 3600 baht (about $90) versus the normal rate of 7000 baht. This was definitely a plush and cushy place with a great pool and spa and awesome views of the bay and the ocean.
As Patong Beach faces west the sunsets are just incredible. They remind me so much of the sunsets in San Diego (minus the pollution that can turn Southern California sunsets pink). A good sunset is an event in Patong Beach (as it should be) with people stopping on the beach or sitting in the sand watching the sun slowly disappear into the ocean. You can hear a collective sigh from people as the sun finally goes down over the horizon and is no more for the day.
How did I spend my days on Phuket? Good question... Everyday I walked back and forth from my hotel to the center of town at least twice. I spent a couple of afternoons laying on the beach - did you know that you can still get a sunburn even if you lay under a beach umbrella? Who knew? Well, I do now!
I played golf twice which was awesome - Jason, is it golf season yet in Rising Sun? I played Phuket Country Club and another equally nice place but I forgot its name. I had to rent clubs (obviously) which is always a crap shoot. I partially blame the rented clubs for the 94 I shot my first round. The second day I played I shot a 39 on the front nine and a 49 on the back (for an 88). I was hitting the ball pretty good just dumped three balls in the water on the back nine and couldn't putt for a lick. The golf courses are top end for Thailand but would be middle of the road courses back in the USA. Also, caddies are mandatory, which is okay especially since it was very hot, and all the caddies are Thai women.
One day I took a boat trip to the Phi Phi Islands to see the sights and do some snorkeling. Phi Phi (pronounced pee-pee) is about a 90 minute boat ride from Phuket Town on the eastern side of Phuket Island (Patong is on the west side of the island). The main resort area of Phi Phi Don was severely damaged by the Tsunami and has yet to recover. It was a sobering sight to see all the destruction still visible 2 months after the event.
We stopped at one of the island, Phi Phi Ley, to do some snorkeling. The cove we anchored in was where they filmed the movie "The Beach", an adaptation of a book by the same name which starred Leonardo DiCapprio. "The Beach" is a renowned backpacker book about an ideal society away from the mainstream on a hidden island in Thailand. It represents the perfect society to many of the scruffy, world-drop-out vagabond types you see all over Southeast Asia as well as many other travelers. They lived off the land in a tropical paradise and the land and ocean provided everything they needed to survive. They lived in a collective society where everything is decided for the good of the society rather than the good of the individual. Anyway, it was a great book and a so-so movie. The ideal and the scenery are beautiful and the island is breathtakingly serene, natural and awesome.
The snorkeling was great too. I hadn't put on a mask and snorkel in probably 20 years but I picked it back up real quick. The water was very warm and very clear and there were tons of tropical fish and lots of pretty coral. It was like swimming in my Mom's saltwater fish tank.
When we were floating around in the water someone on the boat threw some potato chips into the water and soon we were surrounded by hundreds of tropical fish. It was so cool just floating there seeing and feeling all these beautiful, multi-colored fish swimming around me eating the chips. It was a weird feeling though as some of the fish wanted to taste me, I could feel little nips on my legs and arms probably where some chips had fallen on me.
There were two little girls from Denmark (about 8 and 10 years old) snorkeling with their Dad and it was so cute to see them smiling and giggling as they were surrounded by the fish. They got a little scared after a while and got out of the water but their eyes were as big a saucers as they told their Mom what happened to them!
While on the boat trip I was spent some time talking to these little girls' Mom. They live in a town outside of Amsterdam in Denmark. She was asking me about my travels and my travel plans, what I've been doing and where I plan to go. She encouraged me to visit beautiful Denmark and invited me to stay with them! That was so friendly and awesome to me to get such an invitation from a family I'd only known for a couple of hours. Stuff like that just doesn't happen in the U.S. (at least not to me).
Here's a picture of me on the boat:
Another day I rented a motorcycle (a small one - 125 cc's) to further explore the island and see some new and different views. Driving in Thailand is scary but it's not so bad on Phuket as opposed to Bangkok but a motorcycle is always a risk. There is an anything-goes attitude on the road here so you need to be constantly aware and careful.
I had a great time and that motorcycle was quite fast, especially in the hilly, twisty roads away from the resort areas and away from any car traffic. It's been alot of years since I rode a motorcycle and it was fun. I got to see some of the real island life I would never have seen had I been in a car or a tour bus.
Here's a road sign that you don't see too often!
On my last day Ex-President's Bill Clinton and George HW Bush were in Patong Beach on a tour of Tsunami affected areas throughout Asia. They are special envoys representing the U.S. and the U.N. making sure that donations are being spent wisely, that donations pledged by countries are actually sent and to make sure that people of the world know that further help will be needed. Having two such high profile people involved will help assure that the rebuilding effort stays in the forefront of people's minds and in the international media.
I don't have all the exact facts and figures but the official toll of the Tsunami is over 270,000 dead and well over 100,000 missing and presumed dead!!!!! The vast majority of those missing will never be found or identified. Millions more are directly affected through the loss of their homes, business, livelihoods and loved ones.
This was the greatest natural disaster in the history of the world and many, many people continue to suffer. Please remember these people and pray for their well being.
That's it for Phuket, it was time to leave paradise and head once gain back to Bangkok!
This is me in Cambodia after a little too much Mekong Whiskey :-)
Posted by Jeff on March 2, 2005 10:22 AM
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