As I wander through Patong at 7am seeking coffee I wonder what all the fuss is about. The streets are empty of people, yet the constant flow of traffic has already begun. Later I realise that Patong doesn’t come alive until after 11am – a true indication of a party town. I relish this time to navigate myself through the maze of alleyways until I find the long, soft white sand beach littered with men assembling their beach chairs for the day to rent at 100 Baht.
I spend some time relaxing on Patong beach after a swim in the beautiful aqua, warm water under one of the umbrellas after I have been suitably sated by a caffeine hit. No better way to start the day. I In front of me an older Italian gentleman is set up under his umbrella with three sets of tiny Speedos (or DT’s) which he continues to change throughout the day, right in my view of course. He speaks minimal English yet feels the need to approach me and sweep my chair of sand. Quite a character.
Later in the day it is although I’m in a different place; on every corner I am asked “Taxi, Taxi?” or “DvD?” by men with their own constructed street-side stores. Others push around large trolleys with an array of food on them including fruits, shakes and noodle dishes whilst some have converted scooters for their produce or carry them on their shoulders. The actual shops offer an array of goods that Thailand is so well known for: fake Louis Vuitton, Ray Ban, Dolce & Gabbana, even Mac and Puma. I am surprised to find that although one might feel slightly harassed walking through the streets during this chaotic time I found that as soon as you said no politely, or offered a quiet shake of the head there was no more pressure.
The biggest confrontation is the Thai women (although I questioned whether they were all women) sitting outside their massage parlours applying make-up, sometimes six of them sit at a time, trying to accost both men and women for a massage. I’m warned early on not to accept the massage when you can’t see inside the store, unless of course you’re wanting a “special” massage (which I am not!). Then later in the evening I am confronted again by the men who sit alone at bars and the women who keep them company, becoming more brazen as the night progresses. Bang La Road is infamous for this yet for some reason it is still a shock. While I sit at Starbucks overlooking the evenings activities on this renowned road where street vendors sell neon lights and the music is pumping I meet two people, both from Brisbane and one which went to my school. It was one of those situations which makes you realise how small the world really is. We reminisced about our school and spend the evening enjoying Thai food, cocktails and releasing lanterns into the night sky from the beach.
Where did I stay?
Patong Terrace Boutique Hotel – I had a terrace room which consisted of a king-size bed and balcony, with a mini-bar and decent bathroom. Best of all there was free Wifi and the room was surprising quiet despite being perched right above Rath-U-Thit Road which was one of the busiest thoroughfares 24/7. All of the staff were absolutely lovely and on my birthday they even surprised my by filling my room with balloons and a special note. They greeted me daily and were always willing to go above and beyond offering advice when asked. Although on the more expensive end of my budget it was a great way to spend my first nights of solo travel and so conveniently located. I enjoyed the stay so much I extended by an extra day and would recommend for anyone staying in Patong.
What did I do?
The highlight of my days, other than those mentioned above was a cooking school I treated myself to on my birthday at Pum Cooking School. It was a four hour class and in a group of six we each made four meals of our choice. We were fortunate that Pum took our class as she has quite a few stores around the world and is definitely a very knowledgeable and entertaining teacher. The class included some insights into Thai culture as well as a visit to the market and of course a lot of laughs and delicious Thai food (if I don’t say so myself). Definitely worth the 2,000 Baht I paid and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in something similar.
Later on my birthday I treated myself to a 45 minute foot massage and one hour Thai massage at Let’s Relax. Although it was more expensive then the street vendors at 900 Baht, it still only equated to 30 AUD which is a steal for a massage in Australia. It was well run, very professional and relaxing. The company has stores in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chonburi. It topped off a wonderful birthday.
Another day as I was walking through the streets and stopped at a fish tank, where you put your feet in the water and the fish eat all the dead skin. You can do this for as long as you want, however, I wanted to do it for the novelty, so paid 50 Baht for five minutes. It was very difficult not to giggle as I am very ticklish! My feet felt smooth after just five minutes!