The flight to Phuket from Bangkok is only about an hour long, but there are many flights a day- mostly 747s and they're all full. From the air you can see the great wetlands change to hills and then craggy mountainous terrain. Islands pop out of the sea like poker chips on end, and countless bays cut into the shoreline making this part of the country look like a pirate's paradise. The huge cliffs make this a climbing destination, but from what I can see of the tourist crowd, it's beer and beaches that get the most attention!
You hear every language here. Just because someone looks North American doesn't mean he speaks English, but English seems to be the one unifying tongue and is used for ordering food and chatting up hotel staff. The funny part is the accents! Someone with a pronounced German accent trying to understand someone with a thick Thai accent can result in some great bouts of confusion- all of which adds to the flavor of this soup.
They say there was an indigenous population in Thailand; very short, dark people and when the tin mines flourished, many mainland Chinese who came to work here decided they liked the place and the people and stayed. They eventually intermarried and created a new culture and a new language. The Thai people are proud of their unique mix and their diversity. Their alphabet is totally different from anything we're familiar with and I have to say- all the Asian lettering is a graphic artist's dream!
[Image: Sunset at the beach]
Something of interest: There are 3 sexes here: male, female and in between. Spectacularly beautiful young men with coiffed hair and long manicured fingernails greet you in the hotels and garment shops along with the rest of the staff. Acceptance is everywhere, but there is still an underlying resentment that makes it difficult if not impossible for these people to get higher education and well paid jobs. They are left to seek work in the entertainment business or the sex trade and cannot get legitimate passports if they become transgendered. Still, they are a colorful and attractive part of Thailand and with luck, the politics will change.
The taxi ride in from the airport took about 40 minutes. The route is rural and rustic and looks somewhat like Mexico, but far more lush and green. Little of the classic Asian architecture is left here. It's mostly modern buildings with glass fronts, big box stores and Starbucks. There is nothing outstanding yet about Phuket province. Tiny shops along the streets, narrow 3 story buildings, grey with the dampness in the air accompany us to the turnoff to Kata where we'll stay for a few nights. Travelling with carry on gives you a lot of freedom and spontaneity....and I'll write more tomorrow!
[Image: What I assume is a Buddhist temple]
- Well, she started in about beer today. I'd wondered what kept her.
- Also, mountainous terrain implies cragginess.
- Her commenting on the near-universality of English spoken with an accent is almost as ill-informed as her not really realizing that the Thai writing system was not designed to make her fascinated.
- Also, again with "Mainland China"?
- Her commentary on Thailand's LGBT community is almost as irritating as her talky-talk about the 'well-dressed girls'; she does, however, admit the probability that some of the sex workers she alluded to are transvestites.
- She finishes off by being disappointed that the Thai people live in modern dwellings instead of being what she expected; local color who live in exotic buildings so as to delight idiot tourists before promising to share her blinkered vision of Kata.