Which scene is Patong Beach – Phuket Thailand or Tijuana Mexico August 2016 ?
I have loved Patong – Phuket Thailand for years. Been there 4 times – 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2016. But it’s now I did love Patong – past tense. It became Tijuana. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Depends on your Modus Operandi. Do you want to party till the gulls come home and the Thai police arrest you and charge you $200,000.00 Baht for a week in prison for going, all Frat house on the beach road? This is definitely not Kansas and the yellow brick road is a one way to ticket to Thai prison.
At the airport I refused a cab as it was pricey – 900 Baht, 850 – 800 – I’m on a budget so I had read about buses and mini bus cabs for 180 Baht. I thought bargain but it was – an ouch moment. I was led to a mini bus where 15 passengers and luggage was crammed into a sardine can. There was a guy whose BO was so bad – standing at the curb. I quickly moved away, one whiff and I bolted. Guess who sat beside moi for 2 hours, YUCK! As warned, the driver took us to a Travel agency where we were forced to disembark – and interrogated – it was a lot like a US customs and Immigration. I refused all tours -don’t need it. Been there done that.
Finally we are all on our way. We got to our myriad destinations. I had not seen these parts of Phuket before so I was semi interested. I had blindly booked a cheap motel/hotel/guest house. And we were there. As I disembarked the only other passenger a blur in the night says to me. “You are travelling alone?” Yes I said. “Where are you staying? I said, “This place,” he nods, “Expensive?” I said “God no, it’s a $100.00 for the week.”
“Sounds great” he says. All of this is taking place as I am disembarking the van, collecting my bag and trying to orient myself. Not once have I had a look at this person. It was a 60 second convo. So what came next was a surprise, “Can I sleep with you – share your room?” I pay 50 %, it will be fun. Someone to hang with” I reacted as if I was shot. Head went up – eyes into a slit – Muscles tensed, legs ready to bolt. God, I am so polite, as I am about to be mugged. “Sorry dude not happening – but there are many places here, good luck! I walked away – shaking my head – wow – what was that? You get hustled every moment.
I love the water and Phuket in the past gave me the chance to go on the tours and see James Bond Island, Phi-Phi and pretty much just island hop and hang out in the canoes as they meandered the water caves. I remember having to lay flat on the boat so as not to scrape my head or body on the cave ceiling that was perhaps – 4 inches above me. It made for some intense moments. I don’t have claustrophobia but I soon understood what the word meant.
I also was able to visit – The Monkey Buddha caves and came out with an appreciation of the glorious Buddha’s that were lying deified in the caves but a bit disgusted with the smell of Monkey shite that was part of the ambience of the trip. Eau de Caca is not appealing unless of course you like that thing? I too painted Buddhas inspired by my Thai experiences.
So this trip in 2016 was essentially a re-visitation to the site post –post Tsunami. I had been there in 2008 so I had seen some of the changes but this visit, it was pure insanity. The videos underscore this reality.
It’s insane. The street traffic – these village streets designed for Tuk-Tuks were crammed with larger vehicles that made crossing the street a game of chicken.
Patong Beach, Phuket had exploded with hap-hazard crazy development – Somebodies not believing in the preserving the Goose that laid the Golden egg decided to add in the Easter Bunny and the Leprechauns who resided with the pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow. The rainbow flag flies proudly in Patong and you can find yourself unwittingly about to be compromised.
The call of Massage – Massage – blends in with the cries of TUK-TUK – and the harangue from the vendors who think more is more. You are bombarded with humanity hawking their wares and their bodies. With this cornucopia of merchandise – all the same – at every stall with Prices jacked to the hilt. A T shirt – 1,200 Baht – WTF – down to 100. You got to bargain and walk around and see if you need anything. As its all gifts – I don’t need anything from these hawkers, pronounced with an F. Like FHAWKERS.
I was walking – I had a mission to get to Magnifique Tailor. I wanted a suit made. I had designed a jacket that had to become a tux but a Tux that looked as if TOM FORD had designed it. I brought the fabric from Malaysia and from Canada. I had altered a jacket and transformed it into a ‘De Caermichael’ original. So it was just going to be fun. Though I harbored the thought, “Hmm where I am going to wear it to? I thought well Xmas, New Year’s, a wedding or perhaps a Film shoot?” But it had to be done and at $300.00 Canadian – a bargain. In Malaysia I had priced it. The Jacket alone was 1.800 Ringgits – the pants another 1200 ringgits and the shirt 1000 ringgits. A total of 4000 ringgits – or 1,333 Canadian $
Ouch, not happening. So I was mentally busy thinking of how to find this place and how to translate my wardrobe dream? The streets were uber crowded, it was raining and the directions I had were to me, vague. It’s near the Wattana clinic of Beach road – near Findig. With the, “you can’t miss it moniker.” It’s next to McDonalds and Burger King. Address 80/3-4 Thaveewong Road , Dr.Wattana Street, Patong, Kathu, Phuket 83150, Thailand Phone: +66 76 292 949 So if you find FINDIG – you find the tailor. The only oops is that about another 1000 feet there is another FINDIG? Its like STARBUCKS on ROBSON STREET VANCOUVER 2 stores kitty corner.. but 2 FINDIGS.. I DUNNO!
The Tuk-tuks were useless – one driver – told me 100 Baht as it was near by, then disappeared as I went to get the $. The others were aggressive 200 – 300 hundred Baht for a 50 Baht journey. I started to walk towards the famous Bangala road and found myself staring at the McDonalds and Burger King Complex. Which was only 5 minutes into the walk – So huh – ? I kept walking and I was hustled every 5 feet.
The Thai’s were once a friendly godly people, but the GOD was now the almighty Dollar. And friendly that is a word in a dictionary. It no longer applies to Thailand. Avarice, Greed – Insanity – yes. Food prices have escalated and you do eat more due to all that sea activity. I ate and drank about 1000 Baht a day. 5000 Baht in a week. I had no choice, I could not cook but I’m bringing my rice cooker and cook ramian etc in my room next time.
I was practically mugged – “Ryan Lochte” style. There was no gun to my head – at least not yet but it could happen. But I was grabbed by the Massage workers, who I thought were women, but its Wo- Man!
This for all intents and purposes, female grabs my arm. The grip was a vice – I looked at this petite to me person – beautiful face and makeup and clothing and realised I was staring at a man. But I would never have known – unless shim hadn’t man-handled me. Some may say Kool – I’m turned on, Me – not so much. These are not girls, below.
I had to pull shim-hand off me and pick up the pace. I said Wow – wow – shook my head – Caitlyn Jenner was here in Phuket. To avoid being Man handled again- I started as soon as I heard them scream Massage – I began blowing kisses and sending Hearts – which disarmed them and made them laugh and so I passed unmolested. It really was like walking a sexually charged gauntlet. Man are you objectified – lol – you are a $ sign with a fuck me sign on your head.
I finally got to Magnifique Tailor and it was great. Pretty much what their web site promised and I got what I came for. http://www.magnifiquetailor.com/
So I walked back. A few days earlier there was a village wide Electrical Blackout. It’s a 2x a month ordeal. Something that Patong is NOW famous for. They don’t tell you this in any of the material that you may read. It’s a given, a constant and this time it was FATAL. For some unknown reason as I was packing my bags in Malaysia, I literally heard a voice in my head, bring your own light source. I had a light wand and brought it. I needed it as the video will show the Guest house was pitch black from 9am till 10.30 pm. And pitch black all the time as the power was on motion sensors and they did not always work.
Patong’s over-development has led to a ridiculous maze of a mythological labyrinth of electrical cables. The power cables did not just snake over head – it was an anatomical POV of twisted sinew and guts and nerves floating 10 feet above you. So at any moment you have a power failure due to this celebrated cacophony of cables. But the dude fixing it – got electrocuted – go figure and dies – human fricassee for everyone to see. And the flooding is another phenomena. They paved over paradise and the water has no where to go except flood the streets that have no sewers, so it becomes a lagoon. A tsunami can turn all this into an electrical petri dish of disaster. Talk about primordial soup.
The video clearly show the dangers and the laughable Tsunami signs. If a Tsunami strikes – as it will again – history does repeat itself. The danger is 1000 x compounded. The congestion is mind blowing restaurants build on the sand to the water’s edge. You used to have breath-taking vistas of long sandy beaches, as in Krabi and now you have a boardwalks width of sand. (Below is KRABI. I am heading there next time. )
Patong beach-ette is way too communal. With People playing ball and vendors plying their trade, you have 10 feet of sand – maybe as Princess Diana says in that infamous interview – “So yes, it’s a bit crowded.” She meant 3 peeps in her marriage. I mean 333 people on my teeny itsy bitty piece of beach.
The water as I had seen upon my arrival was quite cloudy – more, murky jade than crystal blue. It was monsoon season and from the air I could see the clear demarcation of the heavy flood waters in the ocean.
The video of the flight in – records it all and you can learn a lot about climate change and weather from this snippet of images. I did learn that Malaysian Air loves its “flies’ to hitch a ride on its flights. I can show street images of food with flies as a side order. I reported it to Malaysian Air, who will do nothing. As flies are de rigeur on their flights. Keeping it real and from the streets of Malaysia to 35,000 feet cruising altitude above Malaysia- Thailand. So in the end don’t fly – Air Malaysia its mascot and appetisers are flies. The fly did putter around on my food and drink, landing and taking off. I pointed it out to the steward. His response, fasten your seat belt!. (WTF)
- A standard response in Malaysia is that “our team is investigating”. All of Malaysian infra structure is geared towards failure as “the team has to investigate”. I have had similar run in’s with TM Malaysian Telecom – INNET – another internet provider. The management at the condo – where people do Illegal construction 7 days a week. From 6.30 am – to 10 pm. Where strangers invade your pool – guests of guests – so that the pool is filled with 300 people. Capacity 50. So Malaysia is well, simply Asia!
- Any proletariat or bureaucracy is a mangled web of confusion from Lazada, HP, the aforementioned – it’s a mess in Malaysia.
But I digress- Patong has changed – its more Tijuana than Thailand. The bars and night clubs do a brisk business and at Phuket Airport I did meet a victim of your own devices who related this tale, as I left the country.
“I hate Patong”, He offers as an opening gambit. I listen and nod, not for the same reasons of course and hate for me was disappointment. But I was eyeballing his obviously new tattoo, covered in cellophane. A death head in a soldier’s helmet. Comme ca. C’est vrai charmant. Non, plus terrible. I have tats honouring God and spirit, nothing to defile the body. Patong is a Mecca for those into being inked. I too fell prey,but I turned into souvenirs. Bali, Korea, HK, Thailand, Canada all are recorded on my body. My Tats get read and I am compared to a mystical magazine.
Hardly appealing, but I did notice a plethora of tattoos related to death, destruction and demons on many people. A sign of the times. The apocalypse and the rise of the walking dead – I jest (maybe). But anywhoos – the dude continues, “He says his name, I nodded, not sure what he said as he is Iranian, so it could have been Samir? “
Samir, says protesting – but why as he clearly knew the laws here. “I was arrested for drunk driving, after only 1 beer. I crashed the bike, not badly – me and the “He gestures to his cronies a bunch of jacked up – testosterone fuelled muscle men (thugs)” were having fun.” I think goon squad – nothing but trouble.
“But, they locked me up for 1 week. I was in Jail and I had to be bailed out by my mother and she lives in Monaco. She paid 200,000 Baht to get me out of prison.”
“Wow,” I commiserated, but not really. I had avoided the street bar scene – I could see the danger. Happy hour was everywhere – enticing many to drink to obliteration. Monaco intrigued me. “So you live in Monaco?” “Yes my mother lives there she likes her gambling and her lifestyle” Again I nodded, trying to calculate – Reality or just fucked up?” I noticed he had – bags galore. I had 1 carry on – maybe 10 kilo.
He saw me looking at his bags. “Yes, I am 75 kilos over-weight.” He shrugs, I laugh, lift my small practical bag and we are now approaching the ticket counter. As I conducted my business, Samir calls out to me. “Hey can you take one of my bags” I shrug noncommittally.
I look at the ticketing agent and the baggage handlers – all saying NO – shaking their head. No – NO – I said why? I know why, drugs etc. I was not interested but I was playing a part here. And I soon saw why. Duty Free had no surprises and was not free and Samir was there, again I nodded.
As we boarded and I claimed my seat, Samir was my seat mate. Holy fuck! But the guy was creepy and what are the odds.
Samir, quickly excused himself and said as the flight was empty – he had to sleep. He moved to an empty row. I was relieved. He had got out of prison last night, partied and had his tattoo at 4 am and was asleep by 6am to fly at 10.30 am. It’s an hour to the airport and a 2 hour International airport departure time. So he was essentially a zombie.
Another short, 1 hour flight with no fly and I was in back on Malaysian terra firma. I was relieved to find the air sweet and as I had developed severe anaphylactic shock in Malaysia due to the haze… I was grateful no haze. In Phuket I was free of all symptoms.
That freedom was short lived as by Monday the Haze is back. It’s Pointe a Pierre all over again. Phuket is like Maracas Trinidad on Steroids. But if Maracas ever got developed it would be cool, I think.
So like Tijuana you have extreme hustle and bustle, bars, sex, booze, babes that could be men and the huge aroma of desperation, from the over exaggeration of consumer development. It can if you squint be a Kubrick backdrop or excuse me – I forgot XXX was supposedly filmed in Thailand cum Toronto so it could be a Vin Diesel production.
I did incorporate Buddhas in my garden.
Cristoph De Caermichael
Ps – Why do I travel so much to flog the book. THE BOOK OF 25.