Through a series of unexpected events outside of our control, we ended up in Phuket. Right, out of all places in Thailand, it had to be the most notorious one. However, if all expenses been paid by the business partner who, for some reason, decided to have a meeting in some sunny and sandy location, why not?
To clarify, there are Phuket Island and Phuket City (naturally, the latter one is on the island, but, by far, is not the hottest tourist place there). We ended up on the southernmost part of the island. Regardless of location, both, locals and tourists, call any place there Phuket.
First impression: it’s hot. The absolute temperature during the day may be just a couple degrees higher than in Chiang Mai, but the air is more humid and the night temperature, unlike in the north Thailand, does not go down that much.
The good, the bad and the ugly in no particular order:
Traffic, at least on the way from the airport to our fairly remote place, was as bad as in Chiang Mai (i.e. awful). Since our villa is far from the beach, walking is not an option: 5km under the blazing sun is the perfect recipe for a sunburn disaster. Riding a scooter or a taxi brings us back to the traffic which is slightly better at the southern part of Phuket, but still quite heavy.
Everybody heard about the Russian invasion of Thailand’s beach towns. In Phuket, you note it right at the airport. In Chiang Mai we’ve got used to road signs, billboards, menus and such in 3 languages: Thai, Chinese and English. In Phuket airport signs in Russian greet you as soon as you disembark from the plane. Closer to the beaches Russian presence becomes more and more prominent. First visit to one of the beaches, Nai Han Beach, made me wonder what country I was in. Literally, the only language spoken around was Russian, and spoken loudly and obnoxiously.
The beaches sans humans are fantastic: white sand, blue water, light wind and bright sun. Mid-March is closer to the end of high season, so crowds beginning to diminish and even within walking distance it’s possible to find a deserted patch of sandy paradise. This year, however, is not a typical one. With political unrest in Bangkok and changing demographic of Thailand visitors, when high season ends is a moot point.
Phuket island is peppered with small towns and villages. Interestingly, they simultaneously resemble any place in Thailand (food stalls and fairly run-down restaurants along the road, tons of motorbikes forgetful about traffic laws) and any tiny town in south Florida, which is insignificant enough to get it’s own shopping mall (or even strip one), so it still relies on old-fashioned mom-an-pop establishments.
… and more some random photos