I’ve been here five days now. I’ve mostly been diving or doing course work for my rescue diver certification. I did get to Patong Beach once, and it was quite an experience. Tomorrow I’m going diving on a boat where we’ll be doing four dives in one day, including my first night dive. I’m doing my course and my diving through Sea-Bees, one of the best Phuket diving operations. I was referred to them by one of my readers, Allan, who had also taken his Emergency First Responder course there. They are a German run outfit, and unlike many of the diver operations in Phuket, are very professional and focused on quality over quantity. It is one of the better operations I’ve seen on my trip so far. I hope to have some photos from the dive boat in a day or two.
My evening in Patong was eye opening. You can find massage parlor girls hawking their services everywhere, almost as bad as what I saw in Saipan. You see tailors hawking custom made suits and shirts like you see in Hong Kong. And the ever present tuk-tuk drivers who are willing to drive you anywhere at an outrageous price. (The tuk tuks here are more modified small pick=up trucks, not tricycles like I’ve seen in the Philippines or Indonesia.
It was odd being in a place that was pretty much destroyed only a few years ago. I was able to identify a few of the places I saw in the Tsunami videos I saw taken in Patong. It really was the prefect storm. The tsunami hit at the very peak of the tourist season, on the day after Christmas. Patong was very close to the epicenter of the earthquake and the hills around Patong serve as a giant bowl to keep in the water and raise the levels. It really couldn’t have been worse. You see tsunami evacuation signs, but I can’t help but believe that if there was a real tsunami warning, it would be a mad house trying to get everyone here to high land.
Food prices here are pretty cheap, as is beer. Everything is pretty cheap except for transportation. This is the low season, so the hawker to tourist ratio is very high. I still need to figure out what the hell I’m going to do after Phuket. There are lots of islands in the area, but I’m not sure if I want to visit any of them or go right to Bangkok. I do think I’ll be going to Chang Mai, which wasn’t on my original itinerary.
Language issues are a bit more than what I experienced in Malaysia or Indonesia, but not so bad as to prevent me from doing anything. I’ve had lots of street food, but I have no idea what the name of the foods I’ve eaten, so I can’t really brag about my Thai food adventures.