Amazing that only a month ago I was in the process of tying up all the loose ends in Florida before jumping on plane to England, and here I am now 30 days later somewhat settled in Thailand feeling like I have been here for months. The one thing I still can’t get over is just how easy this has all been bearing in mind that for a few years now I’ve been conjuring up in my mind just how difficult it would be.
Last Wednesday I took the day off after a friend who I had met online a few years back offered to take me around the island and show me some of the sites along with pointing out a few do’s and don’ts, at present I am based in the southwestern corner of the island and have managed to see most of the southern points of interest on my own after renting a scooter a week earlier.
We set out early driving north up the West Coast, the next town north of me is Patong everything that you have read is probably true a true tourist trap we quickly passed through Patong and continued north after only a few miles it became apparent just how different Phuket becomes when you go north. The first thing that becomes apparent is the lack of Westerners, at present where I am based one is surrounded by tourists unless you head out of town a few kilometers, at one point we stopped while my friend ran an errand in the five minutes or so that I was standing there I only saw one Westerner.
Heading on further north it was explained to me that as expected things got a lot cheaper and you easily see a much stronger Muslim influence, even though the north is very different it also depends heavily on tourism like the South another thing that is common to the north and the south is the investment that is going on, everywhere you look new buildings are going up and the infrastructure is being improved.
By lunchtime we had already driven off the island across the small bridge that separates it from the mainland and recrossed it coming back starting back South down the East Coast “the difference between the East Coast and the West Coast is a lot like the Atlantic and Gulf in Florida only the Gulf here is on the East” We stopped for lunch at the Yacht Haven Marina Phuket sounds kind of posh in fact very laid-back and simple and probably the best Cheese Burger I have ever eaten anywhere.. what is strange here is that to date each time I have chosen to eat some Western food the quality has been unreal and still very cheap.
After lunch we continued down the east coast stopping from time to time to view the scenery, the East Coast is considerably different to the West Coast far less beach’s and much less developed retaining a much more rural feel to it, the kind of place I could quite easily spend a lot of time in.
Half way down East Coast we started to head on over back to Karon beach, by this time I had gained a pretty good feel for the island. What comes to mind, and more so after talking with others, is that Phuket is probably the least representative of Thailand that any province could be, a little like South Florida and the rest of America, even in the more rural areas Phuket is about as expensive as it gets in Thailand that comes with one advantage though, no effort is needed for a Westerner to install themselves here, and even though it is expensive by Thai standards it is still a lot cheaper than the West.