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Well, the airport protest only lasted a day so I was able to get the next flight on Monday. It is amazing what a difference a border can make.
Phuket is only about 200 miles from Penang, and that 200 miles is a thin isthmus, but it is a totally different world. Thailand uses a totally different alphabet. It is based on Khmer which is based on Brahmic script from India. Unlike Malaysia, you can’t read a thing.
Thailand is 95% Buddhist, where as Malaysia is 75% Muslim. That makes huge differences in what you’ll see with foods and culture.
Unlike the rest of SE Asia, Thailand was never colonized by Europeans. Like other countries which were never colonized, (Tonga, Saudi Arabia) they still have a rather powerful monarchy. The king of Thailand is thought of very highly in Thailand. In the drive from here from the airport, I must have seen at least five large photos of him on the road. Also, lots of yellow, which is the color of the king.
Phuket is very touristy. It was hit very hard by the tsunami back in 2005. I haven’t visited any of the beach areas yet, but I’m interested to see how everything has sprung back. The cab driver from the airport did the thing where he stopped somewhere to try and sell me a different hotel. Didn’t work.
My goal is Phuket is to get my rescue diver certification done. I’ll need a CPR course on top of that. I hope to start tomorrow or the day after.