Flying over Koh Phi Phi on our way to Phuket I started to get excited. Beautiful clear blue water, palm trees, island life, swimming, snorkelling, scooter rides, big Buddhas, temples and PAD THAI!!
Phuket was all that and, to top it off, we were joined by two of our best Kiwi friends for the first 10 days of our Thailand adventure, April and Anthony (AKA Peach).
We arrived in Kata the day before Peach and April to scout out a good hostel,
Fin Hostel in the heart of Kata Beach fit the bill. It cost us each $16NZ a night. We found Phuket was, in general, more expensive than anywhere else we’d been in Southeast Asia so far and we soon learned it was also more expensive than the rest of Thailand. But, this hostel was really reasonably priced for what we got. It had a fully self-contained kitchen, a pool, a nice common area, the bunks were comfortable, air-con, free wifi, there were small lockers for your belongings, it was clean and not too loud. We were all pretty happy, not to mention the beach was only a two minute walk away and there was a roof top pool!
After exploring Koh Phi Phi, Railay and Tonsai Beaches and Koh Lanta, the four of us ventured back to Phuket the day before Peach and April had to fly home to New Zealand, too soon. For their last night we kept it hostel style and checked-in to the Wire Hostel Patong. What a funky place! It cost us $8NZ each for the night and was located just off the main drag. The young German guy who owns it introduced himself when we arrived and showed us around – super nice dude. The place was clean and had everything a good hostel provides: free wifi, a decent bed, air-con, a few small common areas and a nice atmosphere. The thing I loved the most about it was the beds were capsules built into the walls – I don’t think you could stay here if you get claustrophobic.
A DAY EXPLORING:
On the morning Peach and April arrived, Neil and I were sitting outside Fin Hostel with a couple of cold ones waiting – they’d been travelling for almost 20 hours and definitely deserved one. After the cuddles, cheers and check-ins we hired a couple of scooters and set out for a massive day of adventure – who needs sleep?
Our first stop was Phuket’s Big Buddha – he’s pretty damn big.
We scooted up a massive hill to get to the Buddha and along the way took in the sights, including elephants! At first I got excited, but at a second glance I felt disheartened. These poor creatures were chained to one spot, their tusks were all chopped off and they just looked so incredibly sad. We didn’t stay to stare at the them long, Neil took a quick photo before we got told we had to pay to take photos. I hate how Southeast Asian countries use and abuse animals to make money, this is why you won’t see photos of us riding elephants or posing with tigers.
Anyway, just around the corner was the Big Buddha. We parked our scooters, got out our scarfs to cover up – got to be culturally respectful – and walked through the entrance, it was free! We took our shoes off at the bottom, copying those around us, and ran up the hot steps into the shade only to find you could remove them up the top! Amateurs. That view though! The Buddha was amazing and the area he overlooked was beautiful – well worth the ride up.
We may have been to several temples already, but this one was Peach and April’s first in Southeast Asia and it was a pretty cool one to start off with – things got a bit cute when they lit candles together. Chaitararam Temple was beautiful, the little details were lovely to stare at and the paintings were quality.
But, it was very hot and we were all dying for a swim – we spent about 30 minutes here, another free stop, before heading to Yanui Beach.
Yanui Beach is just before the southern most point of Phuket, it’s tiny and made a lovely stop. We jumped in the water to cool off, but it was pretty warm! Still, it was nice to wash off the mornings sweat! Gross.
The water was clear and the beach was mainly full of locals – not too many of them either! A nice, not so crowded place to take a dip, perfect. After our swim we checked out the lookout at the southern most point, five minutes up the road, before heading back to our hostel where we had a quick swim in the pool before we found some dinner and had an evening stroll.
One thing I love about Thailand so far is how it changes so much at night! Walking through Kata after the sun has gone down everything comes to life, the music is pumping, the drinks are flowing and you can stumble across weird and wonderful things – like a fish foot spa! We’d had a couple of these already – I actually really like them – but Peach and April hadn’t of course! So they dipped their feet in and laughed, a lot.
We had a nice stroll through the main strip, where the boys were pulled at by lady boys while April and I laughed. We did a little clothes shopping – everything is so cheap – had a beer and hit the sack! What an awesome first full day in Thailand.
This place was crazy! The beach is beautiful, but incredibly busy and there’s a lot of rubbish around so we didn’t spend much time there. The most interesting part of this wee city is it’s main strip.
During the day the strip is full of little clothes and nic-nac stalls. There are heaps of people eating a late breakfast or having an early beer, as well as families walking to the beach and tourists taking in the sites. Not to mention, often there’s a drunk person or two stumbling home or laying on the footpath from the night before.
At night, however, it’s a completely different place.
As soon as you step on to Bangla Road the taste of sweat hits the back of your throat, the smell of alcohol drifts up your nostrils, the beat of the bass rises up through your feet, the locals’ voices resound in your ears, all of them asking, “you want to see f**king? Come see free ping pong show!” and your eyes are the most confused they have ever been in their little lives – where are you supposed to look?
This city of sin was a big culture shock. There were a lot of women dancing on polls in almost every bar, sex shows were everywhere, and totally free! You just have to buy a drink. But, the women, they never smile, they look miserable. I sat down to do a bit of research and found most of them were either Vietnamese or Laotian and had been smuggled in and forced to work.
Naturally, we didn’t go to any of the shows, instead we opted for Laser Battle! It’s smack in the middle of the sex fuelled street and turned out to be one of the funnest things we did!
The four of us joined teams with a bunch of tourists from China. All of them spoke little English, but it didn’t stop us from laughing together and just having an awesome time. The owner of the place joined us for our last game and gave us a great deal, lovely dude. Neil was the overall winner, he was pretty stoked with himself, it’s just a game Neil. (He did absolutely clean up though).
Phuket was an adventure, it was really busy and there was a lot to see and do. We enjoyed our time here, but three nights was definitely enough! The simple island life calls our name loudly, “hey! You! Yeah, that Kiwi couple, get over here!”
If anyone else has been to Phuket, let us know how you found it in the comments below!