I just spent 3.5 days in Phuket over a long weekend (that I accidentally made one day longer after misinterpreting the national holiday calendar). I’m happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised by what it had to offer – not that I expected it to be a shit show of any kind. I had been made to believe that Phuket was a cornucopia of beach bars and resorts, a place for Westerners to check “island adventure” off their list. Alas, there is more to it! Fancy that.
My friend Andre started talking to me about his plans for Phuket a few weeks ago. I’d been telling him that I’m having a great time in Thailand thus far, but have been finding that there aren’t many people who have the same travel personality as I do. Turns out that Andre and I are actually quite aligned in that respect and he kindly invited me to tag along.
The idea that hooked me in the first place was to avoid Patong and instead make home base in Phuket Town. It’s known for being a quieter, colonial town that’s more centrally located. This sounded like heaven to me. I’m quickly tiring of the drinking & partying scene here in Thailand and wanted something different (but not something too “plain bagel”, either). It truly lived up to the reputation.
We stayed at The Rommanee Boutique Hotel right in the middle of town, which proved to be both an excellent choice in stay and in location. The vibe on all of Rommanee (street) reminded me of the outdoor patio at The Court of Two Sisters in New Orleans, with the pastel lilac vines and twinkly lights hanging from above. Very quaint, almost suspiciously cute – but I chose not to question it. The first day was spent exploring and walking around Phuket Town. Just down the street was this tiny restaurant that specialized in Roti. After a series of misunderstandings in our order (common!), we ended up with three different types of Roti – fried egg, banana, and egg & banana together. Along with some fresh coffee, it was absolutely delicious and quite cheap. It ended up being breakfast for three of the four mornings.
Wandering ensued afterwards, and I mean that in the true sense of the word. There wasn’t a whole lot of planning involved. We’d see a interesting mural over there, and then get a glimpse of a building that was featured in Lonely Planet, then stop to admire the unusual quietness of the markets. It’s like the traveler’s version of “follow your nose”.
After a brief respite, we switched to hiking mode and decided to trek up Rang Hill to a lookout point with an apparently spectacular view. I use the term “trek” lightly. It was quite leisurely, actually. It was a mostly cloudy day and everything’s a little easier without the sun beating down on you. The lookout did have a expansive view that I think was particularly captivating at the time we were there, dusk. I’m biased, though, as I’m a sucker for the sun on the horizon. Plus, there were these trees with roots and branches in tangled knots, begging to be climbed. We allowed ourselves a few minutes of slightly juvenile Tarzan time (and a couple of unwanted encounters with cicada exoskeletons) before walking back down to town.
It was Asahna Puja Day (July 8th) and so we made a point to stop by a local temple to watch the proceedings. Many people circled the temple, holding slim burning candles and lotus flowers. Lots of bats whipped around as well, which gave it a slightly eerie vibe. Ever loyal to Lonely Planet, we headed to dinner at a LP-recommended Italian-Thai fusion restaurant called The Cook. It was such an odd pairing of cuisines that I felt the need to go to what seemed to be the heaviest extreme – Tom Yum Goong pizza. You know what? It was delicious! In a rare circumstance I did not eat the whole thing, and unfortunately half of the pizza will live the rest of its life sitting in the hotel fridge. 😦
The following day was quite the adventure on Ko Yao Noi. In short, beware of the low tide. More to come on Day Two, Day Three, and Day Four later!