Sunday, July 18
Laem Singh, Phuket, Thailand
I figured out that there is a songthaew that goes directly from Phuket Town to Laem Singh, a really scenic beach I've been wanting to check out on the West side of the island, so I hopped aboard, and about an hour later, got dropped off on the side of a curvy rural road in a jungle overlooking the ocean. To access the beach, I had to clamber down a really rustic set of dirt stairs, each one of which is supported by scrapwood. My hiking boots really came into play there. Just as I took my first step onto the sand, a tout tried to lure me into a bar / restaurant hut right there. "Maybe later," I replied, as I sauntered off in search of a little pinch of paradise. I didn't exactly find it. I've since figured out that Phuket's water shows off its famous clear turqoise color only in the serene season from November through March. The months of April through October welcome the monsoon season, which totes along a ton of baggage in the form of rain and rough, murky waters.
I took a stroll around the cove and sat on some big ol' boulders for a while and watched the roiling sea ceaselessly batter the beach. This place is really pretty, and must be overwhelinvly so during the other half of the year. A couple of dozen tourists soaked up some of the sun's ultraviolet rays and braved the pounding surf for a frolic. As I made my way back toward the dirt stairs, another guy verbally pulled me into a wide hut, where I ordered a banana pancake that was thicker than a thunder thigh. After that thing made it's way into my gut, I made my way toward the trailhead, which took me three walks up and down the cove to find, as it's really hidden away behind two huts. After I climbed up the ultra-steep stairs, I was about a gallon of sweat poorer, so I bought a bottle of water from a lady in a little wooden stand up beside the road.
The driver who dropped me off earlier told me the last songthaew back to Phuket Town was at 4:00 p.m. because it was Sunday, so I arrived at 3:30 just in case it was early. The nice lady offered me a chair, so I sat in the shade by the stand for a few minutes and chatted with her, then as it got closer to 4:00, I stood right out by the road. As the clock ticked a quarter past 4:00, I figured no songthaew was on the way and that I was stranded, so I started walking down the winding road with jungle on both sides toward Patong, which is at least four or five miles away. I figured a taxi would probably stop, as they usually look for return fares, and sure enough, one beeped at me and pulled over a few minutes later.
The cabs here look like really tiny songthaews, but since they hold far fewer people, they're way more expensive. The ride to Patong cost about $3.25. For comparison, a ride twice as far on a songthaew only costs 75 cents. A moment after I hopped out of the cab, I waved down a songthaew bound for Phuket Town. I was lucky it was only 4:40 p.m. and I didn't miss the last one. Since it was still light out back in Phuket Town, I walked down the street from my hostel and shot some photos at Put Jaw Temple, a Chinese Buddhist temple, followed by a night walk photo mission around parts of town I hadn't been yet, where I captured some amazingly large and strange-looking buildings.