04 January 2009

Exploring Phuket: sandy beaches, colorful nightlife and the Chalong temple

It was day 3 of my trip to the Phuket islands. (I have shared experiences of the first couple of days in my previous posts: Day 1 / Day 2). My presentation was already over. I went to bed a bit late last night. So, I was finding difficult to wake up in the morning. Finally, I woke up to the noise coming from outside. In fact, I had forgotten to shut down sliding doors of the room's balcony before going to bed last night. I took shower and put on my casual cloths before rushing to the dinning hall of the hotel for breakfast. It was around 10 o' clock and I was getting ready for today's venture.

I entered into the conference hall where the morning session had already commenced. I looked for Dr. Adnan but could not locate him. I decided to attend some of the ongoing presentations. During the coffee break, I had an opportunity to talk to some who were planning to go for a city tour that afternoon. Dr. Adnan also had joined our conversation. In the end, we resolved to have a sightseeing of the Phuket city after lunch. The conference session resumed.

After lunch, we all assembled at the hotel's lobby before proceeding for the sightseeing. We were a group of five: myself, Dr. Adnan, two keynote speakers Prof. B. K. Mohanty & Dr. Arvinder Kaur and one other participant Dr. A. K. Mishra, a senior scientist from the Indian Agricultural Reserach Institute, Delhi. Naturally, one taxi was not going to be enough for all of us, so we decided to hire a tuk-tuk. Tuk-Tuk is Thailand's most recognized form of travel. They are abundant on the Phuket island and the three wheeled vehicles offer more safety and comfort than its two-wheeled counterpart. However, now our negotiation skills were going to be tested as the fares were not fixed ones. I was not sure about Dr. Adnan, but rest of us had a little bit of bargaining skills. Finally, we managed to seal the deal for a five hour city tour for 500 Bhat which was much less than the asking price.

(Tuk-Tuk: A popular form of transportation in Phuket)

Phuket is bounteously provided with a wide array of attractive beaches. The warm and exciting waters are located on the Andaman Sea and this is why it is popularly called as the “Pearl of South”. We started our tour from the famous Patong beach and the views were simply stunning.

(The famous Patong Beach: Phuket island)

(Para-gliding at the Patong beach)

(Tourist's attraction: sunbath on the nice white sandy beaches)

Our next destination was the Sunshine Beach. Along the other side of the road were fine resorts endowed with the tropical sense provided by old coconut trees.

After roaming around the beach for a while, we proceeded for yet another beautiful spot called Karon View Point. Karon View Point offers spectacular views of Kata Noi, Karon and Kata beaches. It is located on the way to Promthep Cape.

(A spectacular view of Karon and Kata beaches from the Karon View Point)

Next, the tuk-tuk driver took us to the Phuket Rifle Shooting Association campus where we could either go for shooting fun or have a trail ride on the monster bikes! Shooting with real guns is a fun but sadly none of us were keen to go for it. We spent around 30 min exploring the place before resuming the tour. Few minutes later, we were at the famous Chalong temple which is also reckoned as the pride of Phuket.

There is a long legendary history associated with the Chalong temple which is still told to the visitors to the temple. The temple is also known as 'Wat Chalong' and many stories are told about how the miracles performed there and how the wat played a pivotal and healing role in the fighting between Chinese secret societies (Angyee). This is a beautiful Buddhist temple located on the outskirts of Phuket. It enshrines statues of several prominent Buddhist monks like Luang Por Cham, who had played a pivotal role in putting down the Angyee also known as the Chinese Coolie Rebellion.

(The Chalong temple: Phuket island)

Also, statues of different sized elephants in the temple premises were a major attraction. We all indeed enjoyed walking around the large temple area.

After visiting the Chalong temple, we were brought to some shopping places which was definitely not in our agenda. There were several tourist trap shops around Phuket that get most of their customers from tour companies and by paying commission to tuk-tuk drivers. It was clear that we were not going to get a good deal from such shops. Even so, we all ended up buying some items there.

It was around 6PM when the tuk-tuk reached back to Patong beach area from where we had started our tour. It was a tiring yet enjoyable trip. We all decided to take a brief rest at the hotel. Later we went to the nearest shopping mall and did some shopping there. Dr. Adnan had his return flight to Bangkok in the evening. I said the final good-bye to him but not before we promised to meet someday at another conference which, however, seems highly unlikely. we , the remaining four, took the dinner at an Indian restaurant 'Kohinoor' and returned back to the hotel.

Next day was last day of the conference. I attended the sessions before lunch. After lunch, I and Dr. Mishra decided to spend time at the Patong beach. We put on the casual cloths (half-pant and half T-shirt which, I had to buy there last night) and took towels from the hotel room. We booked two beach chairs (with beach umbrella) at the Patong beach for 100 Bhat each. I was laying there for most part of the day. And, it was indeed a nice experience.

During the night, I had a visit to the Phuket Fantasea which is a new theme park complex that promises to be the ultimate night time entertainment venue. It is a place worth visiting specially for those looking for a unique experience. One can see cultural traditions blended with the latest in Las Vegas style cutting edge technologies. Some of the highlights of Phuket Fantasea are magic elephants vanishing into the air and the musical fountains. It was indeed a fascinating show!

(The Phuket Fantasea)

The post has already stretched too long. But, one last thing I would like to talk about is the Phuket's colorful vibrant nightlife. The nightlife in and around Patong is wild and raucous one. Phuket has a wide variety of pubs, bars, nightclubs, go go bars, and restaurants. Though, it was of least interest to me, I discovered that it's quite easy to find ‘ladies of the night’ in Phuket specially, in the Patong area. As a broad rule (based on what I heard from many), if the lady in question is provocatively dressed and assertive, chances are she is there for the money. One more interesting thing that I heard /observed was, not all the attractive “girls” there are females! Many beautiful “ladies” in Thailand are actually transsexuals and cross-dressers. Several times, we were confronted with an awkward situation while walking down the streets in Phuket. The 'girls' were so shamelessly provocative there that we felt, at times, ashamed! It was pathetic to note that the government is actually promoting 'sex-tourism' in Thailand. Phuket is a remarkably beautiful place for the tourists but definitely not for those who want to travel with grown kids and believe in family values!

I hope that you have enjoyed reading my experiences in the Phuket islands. Please do not hesitate to share your feelings here. Its time to sign off until my next write-up. I look forward to welcome you again. By the way, thanks for having a patient reading to this long post!

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बेदनाथ पुलामी ( उमेश ) on January 4, 2009 at 1:54 PM said...

it's very nice & quit also...thanks for the sharing it between with us

Sumiran on January 4, 2009 at 4:44 PM said...

Thanks for your sharing..covering multi-aspects. It seems you enjoyed a lot there...nice pixs indeed..

Anonymous said...

Interesting post! I imagined myself there with you while reading your tour diary. Thanks for writing on multiple aspects of your Phuket trip. Happy New Year 2009 to you and your family!

Dilip Acharya on January 5, 2009 at 8:08 AM said...

The snaps you have posted proves that you had a very good time there, ... of course, we also enjoyed reading it.

Alok said...

I am not sure what do you mean by 'The 'girls' were so shamelessly provocative there that we felt, at times, ashamed!' But, I liked this post. pictures from the beach areas and from the view point are very good. Nice to know a brief introduction of the Chalong temple and the Fantasea. well, you have said that Phuket is "definitely not for those who want to travel with grown kids and believe in family values!" may be you are right for the family values prevailing mostly in Asia. However, it has different meaning and norms in rest of the world. Besides, you don't need stop to travel somewhere just because of illegal and immoral activities going on there. rather you need to provide a good sex education to the 'grown kids'. just keeping your eyes closed from something may not be a wise thing, that's what I think.

Natsu said...

I agree with Alok.

The evolution of sex tourism in Thailand is a long debated issue and there is no point blaming the 'girls'. The environment they are living in makes them so. I am sure that if they had other better opportunity, they would not have chosen this as their profession.

Shameless are those who are buying what they are selling. For them, it is a profession which is not in anyway as lucrative and easy as it looks to us. They have their own story.

As for going there with grown-up kids, world is wild. Alok says it right. Keeping the eyes closed is not the answer.

Thailand is also a developing nation and the government should be commended for the effort it puts in to regulate the 'sex tourism' and preventing the sexually transmitted infections. They have not perfected it but how much they have done in how little time with such unstable government should be commended.

Anonymous said...

Vednathjee, Netrajee, A.T. and Dilipjee, I am happy to know that you all liked the post.
Dear Alok and Natsu, We all know that the evolution of sex tourism in Thailand has been a long debated issue and I am not blaming the "girls" here. What I did not like was their behavior in dealing with someone NOT interested in whatever they were intending to 'sell'. However, I agree with the need to provide a good sex education to the 'grown kids' and just keeping our eyes closed from immoral activities may not be a wise thing. well, regarding the comment 'Thailand is also a developing nation and the government should be commended for the effort it puts in to regulate the 'sex tourism'', I have slightly different opinion. 'Regulating sex' and 'promoting sex' are two different aspects. and I am definitely not in favor of the later. However, the government's effort may be appreciated in preventing the sexually transmitted infections.

atti on August 25, 2009 at 12:30 PM said...

It is very nice blog. these picture of traveling is very nice specially karon view point .keep it up. nice work.
Karachi Hotel

Phuket Trip Advisor on December 2, 2010 at 11:35 AM said...

We love Thailand and Phuket is one of our favourite destinations.

Great weather, awesome food and magnificent scenery.

Surin Beach Hotel on July 28, 2011 at 3:03 PM said...

Phuket island has so many fantastic beaches which will make a lot of attention from the tourists who visit the island. I love Phuket :)

Phuket Villa Rental on September 19, 2011 at 3:24 PM said...

Thank you for posting.
I've been looking at some of the posts on this website to get an idea about travel in Phuket for my next vacation.

Patong Guesthouse on December 26, 2011 at 12:52 PM said...

Thanks for sharing your Phuket experience,
this post was very helpful… Keep posting and good luck with your post!

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