My First Visit To LOS (without Bangkok & Pattaya)
That sounds crazy, isn’t it? Taking all the efforts to go to Thailand and without visiting the two most ‘famous’ icons of Thailand Tourism…he.. he.. he .. Hold on guys; let me explain before you crucify me!!!
My introduction first; I am an Indian guy, 31 years old, hail from New Delhi, hold a Permanent Resident status in Singapore and have been working here for a big MNC for the last 5 years in the field of Microelectronics. Now being in Singapore, you are tempted to explore around the region, and for a Singapore resident, Malaysia comes first as an ‘overseas’ destination. After having visited most of its prime attractions (KL, Genting, Penang, Melaka, Langkawi etc), it was Thailand’s turn next. And while making the plans to visit Thailand, twin cities of Bangkok and Pattaya were out rightly rejected. Now you must be wondering what a crazy I am… Wait dear; here comes the explanation – I am already married (and happily too)! My Missus could not think about what a married guy could have an attraction for, in a sleazy place like Pattaya (and to make it worse, I am a vegetarian and a teetotaler too). So after all the arguments, we settled for a more ‘subdued’ place – Phuket, for our first Thailand experience. I have seldom seen any submissions on this site about visits to LOS with one’s wife or girlfriend so I think it makes my experiences are a bit different from others
Before I move further, let me mention a few words about my spouse too. It’s the 7th year of marriage for us (she was my classmate in university and we got married soon after graduating). She is the same age as I am, holds a Masters degree in Computer Science & Engineering, works for an MNC in Singapore, and earns more than me :-). She was a non-vegetarian before we got married and turned vegetarian after marriage (because of me). Alcohol is out of question for her as she is pretty religious-minded too. We both are good looking too (I think so) but were the first serious boyfriend / girlfriend for each other (so no experience of mongering too). Now you can imagine us as a couple and understand why we would be so out of place in Pattaya and wouldn’t have much to do even in Bangkok too (besides temples and boating).
We finally made our first Thailand visit to Phuket in early March, 2005 and here are some moments from that trip.
We stayed at Patong Beach. Walking past Bangla Road, looking for a place to have our meal (it can be tough sometimes to find vegetarian food), I felt someone, suddenly holding my hand. “Hi Hansum”, came the words and a force pulling me inside a pub even before I realized what was happening to me. I could not see my wife’s face at that time, who was walking behind me, but I am sure she too, would have been dumbfounded. At last, I realized the situation and told the girl – “I am married” and expecting her to leave me then and there. She smiled a bit, held my second hand too, put both on her shoulders and looking into my eyes deeply with a naughty grin, told, “So am I…”. I was speechless.
Welcome to Thailand!!! This was my first encounter with such a situation and an exact reason why we had not gone to Bangkok and Pattaya at the first place.
We thought of exploring the island and hired a motorbike. We thought it would be ‘cute’ to ride a bike instead of a car for the sight-seeing and went for it. Now the guy provided us with only one helmet. Having known about the police extortion methods there, we requested him to provide with an extra helmet but he declined. Finally, after much persuasion, he lent us one more after charging THB100 extra for it (and we were happy at his kindness). Off we went to the south of Patong – Karon, Kata and others (I have forgotten other names) to the southern point of Phuket island. The entire route is so beautiful and picturesque and we thoroughly enjoyed the journey. The only problem – the bike, which had a poor braking system that applied only after pulling it real hard; and the entire stretch of our journey was through hilly terrain. Locals were riding so fast and zooming past us at regular intervals but I was very cautious at every turn and the corner. And soon the inevitable happened! A car, driven by some merry-making ‘Farangs’ sped past us from behind, so close to us that it forced us to go off the road. I tried my best to stop it then and there but we were in a small pit before I realized. I managed to pull myself out of it first and then dragged my wife too out of the pit. One of her legs was burnt badly due to contact with the hot exhaust pipe. Two Thai ladies, who were passing by us, stopped and offered their help (even without asking for it). Both of them helped me to pull my bike too out of the pit. One of them provided us with some cotton wool and water to wash the wounds that my wife had suffered. I still remember their great gesture that day; and fondly remember a glimpse of true, selfless Thai kindness; quite unlike my bike-owner.
We started once again to our hotel after the accident. It took quite some time to convince my wife to take the pillion seat once again. I really had to explain to her that there was nothing wrong with my driving and it was one freak accident, anybody could have encountered. We stopped at one place (I forget the name but it was either Kata or Karon and the road was just next to beach) to eat something and have some cold drinks too. She was enjoying her Coke, looking at a building near by, with her back towards the beach, when a feminine voice tapped her on the shoulder, and asked her for the ‘time’. She looked at her watch and turned back to tell the lady the ‘time’ and found herself just in front of the two big melons, right in front of her face. The lady was a Farang, enjoying her bath, all topless (but quite a ‘Cultural Shock’ for me and my wife). We don’t consider ourselves too conservative and are comfortable meeting someone in a swimsuit or bikini at the beach or the swimming pool but have never visited a ‘strip-joint’ or a ‘nude beach’ ever (and have no plans to visit either). Encountering a lady at the roadside, only hiding the bare minimum, was a bit too much for our comforts. However, a few of the tuktuk drivers, standing nearby were all relaxed watching this entire episode. Maybe they see it every other day!
We talked to a few tour booking guys for the full-day Phi-phi island tour and booked with the one who quoted the least. Everyone was offering almost the similar package but I found a different rate from every different guy; strange!!! And all of them were sitting in a stretch of one kilometer or less (Bangla Road would be definitely even smaller than that).
Off to tour next morning, we found around 20 people on our fast-speed boat and half of them were typical ‘Thailand couples’ seen so frequently – white men with their Thai girls, half or one-third their age. All the girls were taking a great care of these guys (maybe that’s what’s called ‘Girlfriend Effect’ on this website
Got in conversation with an American guy during the lunch. He told me that he was a professor in some American university, lived near San Francisco and was a regular visitor to Phuket. On asking what it was that pulled him to this place time and again, his face changed the colours for a few times and he replied – “Massage”. Wow, so an American academician flies half the globe across, just for the message services offered in Phuket. Seems that the ‘tourists’ to Thailand come from all the strata of society, including professors!
I remember two more guys from that trip – one British and another Australian. They had poor language skills and spoke with such a heavy accent that sometimes it was tough to comprehend. To top it all, they told me that they were working in some part of Thailand as teachers. Sometimes I wonder, if a native speaker speaks such a horrible language, it’s called their ‘accent’ and they are excused for that. A poor grasp of the grammar, combined with ‘accented’ pronunciation is simply no excuse, at least for those who have English as their first language (or the only language they know). Remember, the same nationalities ridicule the language proficiency of some countries when their IT jobs are outsourced to!
Overall, we had a great time in Phuket and enjoyed every single moment of our 4-day stay there. A great place to relax indeed!
I am sorry if I ruffled a few feathers above and offended a few people in the process. If you liked my memoirs from the above trip, I will try to contribute further, talking about some more experiences from some of the other trips.
Please also excuse for my language proficiency (or the lack of it). After all, I am not a native speaker and it’s the third language I learnt.
A nice submission. I particularly liked the bit where the lady tried to haul you into a bar and when you said you were married, she said that she was too.