Next up after my Singapore Sling was five days on Phuket Island. I chose to stay in Patong Beach just one short block from both the beach and the famous party hot spot Bangala Road. Phuket offers the international traveler all sorts of interesting daytime activities including: swimming, snorkeling, diving, parasailing, surfing, kayaking or just cruising the many islands and rocky limestone crags dotting the coastline.
For my first full day in Patong I chose to take an eight-hour speedboat tour of five area islands. There were just over 20 of us from across the world on this tour but fortunately the boat captain/guide spoke to us in English. The guide had a great sense of humor and did a great job of keeping us entertained between stops.
Our first stop was a small limestone crag that rose straight out of the sea. As we neared and slipped along its sheer walls the crew began passing out hard hats. A little puzzling until the captain explained there was a cave we could explore in a small lagoon on the backside of the island.
And as it turned out, I was glad to have the hard hat. Even walking in a crouch and bent at the waste my head was still skimming the cave’s ceiling. Being over 6ft is not always such a blessing – especially in the land of midgets. Nothing is sized for big people over here. The cave opened into a small dramatic clear blue pool surrounded by lush ferns and orchids with a small sandy beach then sheer limestone walls.
Next stop on the Gilligan’s Island Tour was a fairly large island of just limestone cliffs and sea caves. Here we traded the speedboat for kayaks and paddled thru the lagoons and sea caves offering spectacular views and photo opportunities.
Third stop on the tour was Phi Phi and Khao Phing Kan islands (better known as James Bond Island). This island provided the iconic backdrop for Roger Moore’s famous 1974 James Bond Thriller “Man with the Golden Gun”. The scenery was stunning but more interesting and very amusing was watching all the goofy tourists line up to pose for photos in front of the limestone pillar.
People of all shapes and sizes would turn in profile, position their arms and legs in the appropriate angles, make a gun with their fingers and strike their pose. Didn’t matter if it was a middle-aged man with a beer belly, a blue haired lady, or six year old kid – they were all Bond, James Bond for just a brief second.
Moments like this provide one of the unexpected joys of travel – simply watching people act as though no one is watching or judging them. Except for me of course a natural voyeur that judges everybody lol.
And once our boatload of James Bond wanna-bees were safely back on board we headed to the island home of a small group of Indonesian Muslims that live in a floating village for lunch. The lunch was a small buffet and pretty tasty considering it had been sitting out in the heat for a few hours.
After lunch, I had plenty of time to wander thru the village taking photos and buying trinkets from the kids. All thru Asia there are hundreds of thousands of people of all ages aggressively trying to sell you something. The thing to remember is that the magnet or bracelet that they are trying to sell you might be the difference between whether they eat fish or chicken with their rice that night.
I try to buy a few things each day from the most interesting of the personalities – most of which I leave in my hotel room when I move on.
We made one last stop after lunch to an island with an actual beach. Here we were given a couple of hours to swim, parasail, rent skidoos, bake in the sun, or as I preferred – seat myself under a thatched roof and drink a mai tai out of a hollowed out pineapple while listening to a little Willie Nelson on my IPhone.
Then once again loaded aboard the S.S. Minnow for the cruise back to Patong Beach to sample the nightlife. I have so many photos from this day trip and the nightlife was so different I will end this blog and pick up the rest of my time in Patong in the next blog.