Fun in the sun
31.03.2008 - 01.04.2008
We finally make it to the islands! This begins our 2 weeks or so of fun in the beach and sun. We begin in Phuket mostly because... well, that's where the airplane lands.
Some detail for those not famaliar with Thailand's islands, Phuket is and has been Thailand's top beach destination for some time. Perhaps 20 years ago a tourist at Phuket could experience something like the idealized, perfect beach—you and your gal along with miles of virgin white sand and blue water. Sounds good. But now, 20 years later, Phuket's been discovered by many-a tourist and commercialization has been in high-gear for years. Today Phuket is one of three things: an over-run tourist mecca where fat, burley Euros (and Australians) come to vacation in cheap motel digs, or a location for top-notch 5-star beach luxury for those with the disposable income, or a stop over until you can find your way to Koh Phi Phi. Patty and Ren are in the latter group.
Somewhat of a surprise, we were quite pleased with our short stay in Phuket. We chose to visit Kharon Beach on the West coast. Kharon offers a long stretch of very white sand, ocean breezes and a handful of sea-front shops, hotels and restaurants. Just South of Kharon you can find some 5-star luxury, and just North you can find some busier, backpackery locations. Kharon is properly nestled right in between. Pictures do the beach better justice than words.
Hotel rates went up a bit for us ($100 was the minimum we were finding), but we did get a bit more for the extra few dollars. Food and tuk tuk costs went up as well. We're attributing the prices to the tourists in Kharon; they're willing to pay it. Many of the vacationers here are families from Europe (particularly from Scandanavia). Food prices were closer to what you might expect at B level restaurants in Europe. ie., $10-15 US per person for a standard Thai dish rather than the $2-5 we had been finding elsewhere. We even saw someone tip a tuk tuk 100 Baht (about $3). When we were tuk-tuking around Chiang Mai, we'd argue bitterly with tuk tuk drivers over 10 Baht!