On our way to Thailand
The real story of Phuket 2023
Goodbye Todmorden, the house is clean, the (bloody heavy) bags ready to go. It was too hard to get a taxi to pick us up before 7 am, so we took the short but steep hill walk to the train. So, we walked, huffing and puffing, me vowing never to exceed 10 or 12 kg of luggage EVA
It was fine, much too early but the rest was easy. We were on the peak hour train. In Manchester that meant standing. I slept for a good deal of the flight to Hong Kong. But we missed our connection and diverted to a flight via Bangkok, where we spent an extra 5 hours or so.
There we met Pete, a distraught father heading to Phuket where his son was badly injured in a motorbike accident, and in hospital without insurance. He was raising money on a "go fund me" site on Facebook and had already sent $15,000 to the hospital. It was also possible that he may have to donate a kidney for him. The son was just coming out of a coma. Pretty tough.
Then there was Deevana Patong Resort and Spa, https://www.deevanahotels.com/deevanapatongresort/ a lovely place. Nicely close to the main area but far enough away to be nice and quiet. They offered a free buffet brekkie each morning, intermittent fasting “out the window”.
The buffet was great – so much food – and hours to eat. Of course, one is never sure of exactly what they are drinking in these places. Maybe it was not butterfly pee juice, it was good though and I felt its effect throughout my body as one would expect from the ’butterfly effect’. [As you would be aware of…” In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The term is closely associated with the work of mathematician and meteorologist Edward Norton Lorenz.”]
I got rather ill, lots of painful productive coughing, sore throat, headaches all the time until I found out a week later when I finally saw the doctor that it was pneumonia. Oh well. I still enjoyed the experience of Phuket, we just took it slowly, lots of naps.
Lunch was often a couple of mangoes and a nice bread roll. We ate out for dinner. Heaps to choose from and the food is great. We did notice that prices have gone up significantly, though we were told that Phuket, and especially Patong, is more expensive than most of Thailand.
Our first experience was to take the bus back to the airport to pick up the 3rd bag, a small one containing our coats, a very scenic 1 1/2-hour trip. Actually, we went on the first day and it was a nice overview of the island.
Another highlight was watching a band play golden oldies at the New York Club.
It rained a lot, so we used our brollies and insect spray. I do like the rainy season, it's a bit cooler and pleasant.
We also headed over to the other side of the island in search of a shopping mall. The bus ride was great, a bus sized songthaew full of locals. An hour-long ride through the mountains for 40 Baht which is 1.15 USD.
The Mall was high end crap, but we managed a decent lunch in the cafeteria.
Narda not feeling too flash – having pneumonia. Nevertheless, she was a real trooper getting around. Due to feeling below par Narda did not write much so I will dribble on some more.
We arrived in Phuket about six hours later than scheduled due to missing a connection along the way. Our hotel was quite OK. We had originally booked another resort which was allegedly much grander. However, shortly before leaving on this trip the wonderful people at that resort discovered we were a bit older than their liking. Like over 65. I am just a bit older, ten-years at the most over 65. Narda wrote on their Facebook page that we got booted – the reason we figured was because they were a time-share company and they like the younger ones to hustle. Well, they were quick to respond, “no no no we are not a timeshare” – “bullshit” Narda and I proclaimed…however, they gave us our money back and we found Deevana Patong Resort which turned out to be quick OK. It was set back from the main street which made it quieter. A few blocks from the sea too which didn’t really matter. The people at this resort were friendly and accommodating. We just finished watching ‘The White Lotus’ season two on Bing (Australia) and it was not like that. If you want to see a really well-done series that is it. The first season took place in Hawaii. Rumour has it the next season will be in Thailand – looking forward to that.
In our week there we only got into the pool once, we had planned to try and replicate our 45-minute aqua fitness class we attend three times a week back in Adelaide. However, thankfully a rain storm with lightening and thunder moved into our area shortly after getting almost totally wet in the pool so we had to retire back to our room and mentally exercise ourselves and hope that our molecular cells or whatever that runs our bodies would be able to do a sort of virtual deep-dive consciousness workout that would keep us trim and healthy as we surf into old-age. But we fell asleep so that was the end of that.
Being a few blocks back from the beach makes us feel safe and sound with the tsunami hazard zone signs at the of our street. There was a severe one here in December 2004. We talked to survivors of it: 30-foot (9 metres+) waves. The death toll was high (quarter of a million for the area which included India and Sri Lanka). We had seen the destruction years ago in Sri Lanka – even going inside of a train car that had been once full of people now part of a museum – see our blog from that trip at https://neuage.me/2019/11/15/sri-lanka/ Here is a photo of that train car (Narda would not climb inside – I did – spooky). There are many signs like this, though I am not sure what we are supposed to do if a 30-foot wave were to come at us. We almost drown doing Aqua Zumba.
A bit of a terrible side-story to this tsunami. Last night our recent house-exchange people from earlier in this trip came to our house for dinner. Their daughter married an Australian and she now lives in Adelaide, meaning they come here frequently. Good for us as we have future house exchanges in Europe. Their daughter had gone to Phuket in 2004 on holiday with two of her friends. When the tsunami hit, she was far enough inland to hold onto a tree which saved her life. Her two friends were not seen again. It was two days before she was able to get phone connections to ring her mum and say she was alive. For two days our house-exchange friend believed her daughter had died. Her daughter is still having difficulties with the memoires of that time.
I did get to go into the water – our next to our last day in Phuket. Narda was too sick and watched me and the height of the waves from a beach chair whilst drinking out of a coconut.
The water was warm – like a warm bath. Unlike our aqua fitness classes where our main exercise arises from shivering so hard our body shakes in time to the music. I loved it and wondered why we can not have the same temperature in the water in South Australia. I have not been in the sea there for maybe… decades? The waves were a good size too, probably a couple of feet at times. If only I had brought my surfboard…wait I don’t have one. Sacha tried to teach me when he was about ten years old (I was a bit younger thirty + years ago – like mid 40s – damn where did all that time go?) but I could never quite stand up on those things and never tried again. But here I probably could…it is so warm.
As Narda said. We took the bus to the airport as we left a suitcase behind. Nuts, huh? In our defence we were exhausted – not having slept more than 24 hours after our flight Manchester to Hong Kong (12-hour flight) then half a day wait in HK and sent to Bangkok to catch another flight and on to Phuket and an hour plus taxi to our resort/hotel. We did not realize until the next morning that we were one bag short. Looking at my notes from those couple of days; “arrived too late in Hong Kong for our flight to Phuket – put on flight to Bangkok waited there for a flight to Phuket – arrived 5.30 pm supposed to arrive at 11.30 am… gave 3000 BHK to dude from Manchester whose son is in hospital from motorcycle accident – airport taxi 800 BHK to hotel…Deevana Patong Resort – dinner at Deevana…to bed 10.30 pm – about 36 hours since walking out door in Toddles…” To go 36 hours without sleep at 75 years old is rough. I thought I would sleep on the plane but for whatever reason was unable to. On top of all that for the young(er) wife (by eight-years) my notes are “Narda feeling quite ill – sore throat lots of coughing all night.”
LESSONS IN PACKING – OR NOT
The bag we left at the airport earlier on the trip would have been more meaningful as it had all my medications in it; five months of Trulicity which is supposed to be refrigerated all the time, I had gel packs in an insulated bag as well as a bunch of other crap I take for all that is allegedly wrong with me. Being at the end of our trip I only had a week’s worth of stuff and it fitted into a small, insulated bag. BTW for those of you who need to carry refrigerated medications, ice gel packs are fine. Even at 200 mls each. The 100 ml rule has been in effect since 2004 when some folks had planned to blow up as many ten planes using drink bottles. Finally, that will change… “The government (UK) has set a deadline of June 2024 for most UK airports to install new high-tech 3D scanners, that show more detailed images of baggage. The changes will see the 100ml liquid rule increased to two litres”. This past year we were limited to 100 ml though no one questioned my iced gel packs. As a matter of fact no one wanted to look into my medicine bag anyway even though I was always offering to show all that is involved in keeping me alive + a wife. It is larger than the image demonstrates. The bag not the wife. By the time we arrived in Thailand we had filled it with clothing going from cold UK to warm Phuket. BTW, we swore never to take so much with us again on a trip. We have made this same proclamation on every trip for more than twenty-years, but this next time….I know we showed this photo at the top of this story but here it is again – we carried too much. Our original excuse was that we had a lot of stuff to drop off with Brendan and Sofie in Pakistan. However, this photo is us leaving the UK on our way home – with just the Phuket stop left, with more than we started with. Go figure. The photo is misleading – it really is more than it appears, perhaps with Narda standing in front of it all it looks not too much. We were overweight – for example my carry on was about five kilos overweight with cameras, lenses, computer, toothbrush… my pockets were full, I had stuff hidden under my coat but luckily no where in the world did carry on get weighed.
Last year we had even more but some if not a lot was for Brendan in Pakistan. This is from in front of our house waiting for a ride to Adelaide airport. And the time before…again taking stuff to Pakistan but I think we came home with more…
As far back as 2009, travelling the world with this too much stuff…but starting 2024 see us with less. You should see our shed – the place all this ends up in.
Perhaps we will be travelling like this soon…
Some photos of folks parachuting or whatever it is they are doing on our local beach…and a short slideshow of our beach…notice the Australian flags flying – don’t know why. I asked a few people but didn’t get an answer I liked. Probably because a lot of Aussies come here.
Some other random shots…as seen in Cambodia, Viet Nam, Laos, India and so many other places in the area electric wires some how find their way from the source to the customer.
For days we were seeing signs of hair braiding about the place. I mentioned at the beginning of our Thailand adventure (apart from Narda’s pneumonia and my butterfly pee juice effect) that perhaps I could brighten up my dull life with a bit of colourful braids in my hair too. I did not notice any other males with such an arrangement but why would that curtail my wants? We had wonderful foot massages one day and I had thought of doing it then. Not being one of those people who jump onto the first thing that pops into my wandering mind I waited a few days before acting on my impulses and had my hair done. (It lasted for a couple of weeks…though I did feel a wee bit [no doubt from the butterfly pea juice] embarrassed at the gym when we got back to Adelaide. Maggie and Mabel thought it was cool at their perceptive age of 9 and 11) Here is what I looked like for a few weeks –
It is the best I can do. At 75 my hair has seemed to stop growing. It hasn’t turned grey much, bits here and there but not all. I think my hair is about the same length as three or four years ago. Thin too. But it could be because of diabetes – they say that hinders hair growth. We do things to keep our hair healthy (though Narda is more reluctant than me to try such things – I have been doing this for five or six years). For example, I mix oils (olive oil, hemp seed oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil and lavender essential oil) and massage into my hair for a few hours before washing it. Sofie, Brendan’s wife, says that onion oil overnight helps – but I have not been game to do that (yet). If you have any other suggestions let us know.
In 1969 – a mere 54 years ago my hair was solid black and long…. unfortunately the years have taken their toll. I was living in Eugene, Oregon with Carol Ann and Desiree…just a little time ago…with long flowing hair…
The main party area seems to be Bangla Road, also known as Patong Walking Street, about a fifteen-minute walk from our stay. Even walking on the main street to get there on any night is a lesson in dodge the mobs to stay on the sidewalk. This is winter and there are crowds every night. And of course, hustlers selling marijuana, trinkets, rides in their loud taxi buses that have disco lights providing headaches for all. Bangla Road is closed in the evening to prevent chaos – more chaos. Most of the bars on the Bangla Road have bar girls who would lure you into looking at the bar and ordering one drink at least. Since most of the bars don’t have walls, you can hear blaring music all through the stretch of the street. Having a wife, I wasn’t lured. However, we did pop into one club, ‘New York’ which had a nice sounding name to it…’New York’. The band was quite professional, the joint was full. We found a table toward the back and nursed our drinks as long as we could with many times being asked if we wanted another one. We walked a few blocks but as Narda was quite ill, we wandered back to the quiet of our hotel. It is a very loud street with club after club each trying to be louder than the next. There is some of this noise in our video of Phuket.
Our video clip for this is on you tube over at https://youtu.be/AGubSWhgK98
Wanted to go to this restaurant, it had all the hallmark of the place for me. Next door to our resort too. Not sure where the angels went off to but to my appetite’s disappointment it seems to have closed years before with the sign left for us lesser humans to just wonder.
I was intrigued by these trucks going by advertising some Thai boxing event. Some trucks even had a little cage on top with boxers, boxing. They were loud too. I added Australia’s entry into the mix – see picture below with a boxing kangaroo pulling up the rear.
We would like to return to Phuket someday. We got home….Narda was super sick but recovered within a week or two. We are home now for two-months then to USA for August and September (New York, road trip to Battle Creek Michigan where I was born 76 years ago and have not been back to since birth – I believe it has changed a bit, then to Chicago for a month and DC for a few weeks and on to Valencia, Spain for a month). We will be back home early November. We left home on Christmas day in our caravan to have a few days camping with Sacha and Georgia in Victoria. Lived in our caravan for a couple of weeks after returning to Adelaide as our house exchange from Wales/England (we stayed at two of their homes) were in our home then flew off to KL – Pakistan – England – Holland – Wales – Thailand. Five months in total. It was way too long. Starting in 2024 we plan to take shorter trips. If we missed you this trip we will see you hopefully on the next. For 2024 so far, we have only planned Pakistan and India for the first few months of the year.