Everyone knows Phuket is a horrible place. It’s filled with touts, scammers, cheats, whores, dope pushers, drunks, commies, and assholes. I felt at home right away.
By Phuket, of course, I mean Patong. I’ve heard nothing but bad things about Phuket in general and Patong specifically, but it happened to be right on my route. Plus, it’s famous, and I felt like spending weeks in southern Thailand without going to Patong would be like visiting Seoul and missing Itaewon. I like a place with a bit of an edge. I like drinking beers with desperate people with nothing left to lose. Plus, it isn’t that big of an inconvenience to remember to bring my switchblade for the short walk from my hotel to the mall.
Patong was definitely a nice break in this trip overall. I paid too much for my hotel room (600 baht!) I drank too much. I smoked too much. I ate at McDonald’s AND Burger King in a two day span. I joked around with strippers. I drank with a 60-year-old Australian sex tourist while watching 7-foot-tall ladyboys try to draw customers to their cabaret. I sat on a curb and drank with a ping-pong show tout. I convinced a bar girl to buy me drinks. I got considerably better at Connect-4. I watched hours of Fox News. That’s the only one that I feel kind of bad about.
Touts in Phuket are ridiculous, as expected. One guy tried to sell me a suit 4 or 5 times, as his shop was on my route to the beach. I told him I was backpacking and have no place to put a suit, but he kept trying. I walked through what looked like a street market but was a gauntlet of touts selling the same T-shirts, and at the end of the block was a dead-end so I had to walk through it again, and they still tried the second time. I was wishing I’d opted for a machete rather than a switchblade. After all, the dude at the Trang night market that sold me my knife had both.
Most hilariously, right before I left Patong, I was in full backpack mode waiting for the bus from the beach to Phuket Town. Some guy comes up to me – “Hello sir, jet ski?”