Friday, July 16
Phuket Town, Thailand
For some odd reason, I woke up at 8:30 a.m., and not long after, I heard some live percussion music out in the street off in the distance. I was so excited! I hoped it was some kind of strange procession, but it turned out to be a parade of school kids that ranged in age from junior high down to wee little tots. The usual marching bands, majorettes, flag wavers and banner holders were well represented, plus many unusual costumes like traditional Thai, princes and princesses, cartoon characters and some surreal-looking outfits that were possibly based on a video game. It was a really long parade that stretched for many blocks, and it took a good 15 or 20 minutes to march on by. What an unexpected start to the day!
In the afternoon, I took a bus down to Patong, the most popular beach on Phuket. It's easily the most crass, commercial and cluttered tourist trap I've ever seen in my life, crammed chock-full of resorts, spas, restaurants, massage joints and souvenir shops galore. There are three or four moneychangers on every block, and even more ubiquitous than that are the huge heaps of electrical wires that haphazardly dangle from poles everywhere and look so dangerous.
Many businesses have touts on the sidewalk who try to lure you in, and there are massage parlor girls in short skirts and high heels who blatantly drum up business right out in front of tourist families. Other more conservative-looking ones give massages to tourists right out in the open on the beach. I was surprised that the sand was the standard tan color and the water was fairly murky. I thought this beach was one of the white-sand-and-clear-jade-water variety, hence its popularity. I guess not. Oh well, it still looked nice anyway. I jumped on the 4:30 p.m. bus back to Phuket Town, since, for some weird reason, the last bus is at 5:00 p.m. and I wasn't up for an expensive cab ride.