Well the 3 Chicks finally headed down to the South of Thailand on 27th November. After a pretty horrible 16 hour journey, involving an overnight bus (where our backpacks got broken into down in the hold & I had my Maglite torch & ipod speakers stolen while I was peacefully sleeping upsatirs), we finally arrived in Phuket.
We were taken straight to a tour operators, where they wanted to 'help' us by offering advice about accommodation & things to do on the island. When we asked them to contact one of the budget hotels that we'd found in the Lonely Planet, surprise surprise, we were told that it was 'fully booked'. Having been in Thailand for a good few weeks, we knew better than to fall for that so decided that we would sort oursevles out - as that had worked out pretty well for us so far. So we discussed our options over coffee & as Phuket town looked pretty grim, we decided to head to the lively Patong Beach that we'd heard so much about. We asked the cabbie to take us to the 'Baan Patong Hotel' but turns out there are 2 places of the same name & typically we were taken to the wrong (very expensive) one. So off we trotted with our backpacks in the high 90 degrees heat, Lonely Planet in hand on a hunt for budget accommodation.
We didn't get too far down the road when a sign for 'English Sausage' stopped the girls in their tracks. Not what you're thinking but anyone who has been to Thailand & seen the very unappetisng frankfurter things (quite possibly dog meat masquerading as 'sausages') that they serve up here with breakfast, will understand why seeing that sign was like xmas coming early for the girls! While they were momentarily rooted to the spot, some English lads came over & started asking where we were lugging our huge backpacks too. When we said we had no idea, they suddenly whipped out a big map of Patong & started giving us loads of advice. Then the owner, also English, overheard & told us to head 30 seconds down the road & take the next right to Square One Hotel, where 'Nick from Glasgow' would sort us out a cheap room. What a result!!!
Square One is a brand new hotel (only been open 3 months) that has really comfortable, well decorated rooms & offers a swimming pool & free internet access for the bargain price of 400 baht each a night (about 6 quid). 'Nick from Glasgow' & his Dad who owns it, both did a double-take when we turned up & asked if they had any spare rooms! Turns out that they run a language school, so nearly all of their customers are their students. They don't often get walk-ins just off the street like that, let alone during high-season! By the way, for anyone considering doing a TEFL course sometime, they're currently offering the 4 week intensive course including full accommodation at Square One hotel for 10,000 baht (which is less than 150 quid!) Check out the website: http://www.teflplus.com/
Once we'd checked in, the girls couldn't resist the temptation of that 'proper english sausage' so we had some grub before having our long-awaited first swim since we'd been in Thailand. Very nice indeed. That night, we decided to take the English lads (Vinnie, Shane & Les) up on their offer of some drinks on the infamous Banga road, extremely lively - near naked ladyboys dancing on poles, people coming up to you & trying to put iguanas on your shoulder so they could con you into buying a photo, very competitive Connect 4 championships going on between the Thai barmaids & the customers - all very amusing! The lads took us to a place called the Surf Shack which is owned by another English friend of theirs & had a good time chatting to them & taking part in the completely pointless & very frustrating 'hammer the nail into the block of wood with least possible attempts' game. I soon realised that Patong was so commercialised that it didn't really feel any different from Kos or Tenerife, which was a bit of a let down after I'd heard so much about the idyllic & remote South Islands of Thailand.
Up early for our first proper beach day! Like the rest of Patong, the beach was very crowded & you couldn't lie down & close your eyes for more than two minutes without someone trying to sell you a sarong, or pomello, or lighter, or rubber mask...you get the picture! Still we weren't complaining as it was our first time on the beach since we'd been away. The sea was stunning, crystal clear & the temperature of a luke warm bath! The sun was scorching though so we were in & out of the sea like yo-yos! I think because of the intensity of the sun, a lot of people get onto the beach before 9am & then stay until just after lunchtime. As we'd got down there a bit later, we stayed later which was nice as the beach did noticeably thin out & by 3.30pm, we had a nice size stretch of beach practically to ourselves!
Later on, we got chatting to some of the Thai locals who work on the beach renting out jet-skis & selling para-scending trips & as business had quietened down so much, they offered to let us ride on the back of their boat while they did a para-scend & later on, they also offered us a free five minute ride on the back of their jet-skis! That was great fun, bouncing along the waves at full speed. All in all a lovely beach day but we decided that we wanted to move onto another island the next day so booked a ferry boat to Krabi.
That night after dinner we met up with Vinnie etc again for a farewell drink. They were all up for a big night but as we had an early start we opted for an early night - how very unlike us!