To begin I have to apologize for the delay in posts. To many adventures in Taiwan and new projects to have a chance to return to the beauty of South-East Asia. Now that I am finally back on track and ready to go I decided to continue with some ideas for survival week in Phuket, Thailand!
Last post I gave a description of some activities and information on the island itself. While I hope that minor introduction helped some I am a history buff and for a complete newbie to Thailand or South East Asia it would be good to know some background history. Here goes: Phuket is the name of the largest island in the Phuket province of Thailand. This particular area consists of the major island, and 32 smaller islands that each appear to be more majestic than the last. (The ones most recommend to travel to are Phi Phi, Similan, and Racha). With so many islands so close together one could hop each night to a new hostel or be content with a luxurious boat daytrip. Originally a trading hub and midway point for European ships in the 16th century Phuket is now an international home for tourism and entertainment.
With that minor extension to my first post finished lets continue on to more info on this incredible vacation spot. First, some ideas for excursions:
If you ask someone to name the 10 things they think of when they imagine Thailand quickly Ladyboys are mentioned. Differing from Drag Queens these individuals identify as transgender or gay men and have a societal status similar to a third gender. Many Ladyboys work in female dominated industries, with the greatest concentration being the genre of the cabaret. In Phuket this particular form of nightlife is dominated by the Ladyboy contingent, and rightfully so.
Of these shows Simon’s Cabaret is the most infamous. This particular performance was gaudy and everything we expected it to be, while simultaneously being nothing we could have imagined. Opening with Madonna’s Material Girl, keeping us shocked through a saucy rendition of Barbie girl, and appalled by a remix of Gloria Gaynors I will survive, the show was a masterpiece of it’s own design.
Performed with more glitter than I have seen in one place and on a stage the size of a high school auditorium the most interesting touch proved to be the song list. The music was tailored to each area of the world that visitors come from to Patong. Russia, Egypt, China, Korea and every countries number was creatively….interpreted.
The show is a landmark of the island and has only stopped twice in its history. There are other options for this style of entertainment. But if you are going to do it right Simons Cabaret is the must see.
As Phuket is an island I made it my mission to eat as much seafood as possible. Quickly I fell in love with the dish Tom Yum. Many options exist of this incredibly spicy Thai soup served in an oily broth sprinkled with peppers and chilies. Frequently crafted with prawns, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice and fish sauce. Different types are common: less seafood or different proteins, and each is a revelation. To survive the spice be sure to get a side of rice (also important for when you want to enjoy the left-over broth).
Another incredible food adventure was the jelly and jam desserts. These sweets, wrapped in leaves and sold all over the night markets are debatably healthy and so so perfectly sugared. This would become important as, spoiler alert, many countries in Asia severely deplete the amount of sugar that most Americans require. Hunting every import store for a bag of sour patch kids in R.O.C. is not a great look.
In addition to the sweet jams and jellies cubed into cookie-cutter shapes the drinks became a new temptation.
Think of a slushy made with real fruit. These orange, coconut, and strawberry mixes were especially refreshing and became a more-than-once-a-night snack. Look for any night market to find several options all for less that 75 cents USD.
One Final Evening
A final requirement of Patong Beach that we saved for our last night (read REGRETS learn from our mistake and go way earlier) was a trip to the restaurant Number 6. We had avoided our visit initially as the crowd was always massive outside the doors each night.
Yet every tourist we met, and even more locals, told us it was a must visit. So finally we arrived at the long line expecting a two hour wait, and were instead taken to a shuttle bus that rode us straight up into the mountains. We arrived at a breathtaking wooden restaurant that overlooked the lights of the city. With an awareness that this was our final night in island paradise we splurged. Here though the prices were barely over a good night markets it was the best meal I had all week. The seafood was incredible, as was the curry, and a final helping of mango sticky rice I couldn’t even fathom stomaching. But obviously did.
We left the restaurant and arrived at our hostel in a final wave of sunburn, good food, and exhaustion. It was an incredible week in the south of this beautiful country but having travelled all this way to see the art of Asia I was ready to move on.
So, with a 4am wake up call and a ticket on our new favorite airline (Air Asia) we were off. And on to Cambodia!
A final shot from the walk home from the Phuket Night Markets
A .gif that will not get bigger for some unknown internet reason of the lights that flash over Bangla rd. each night.