Friday afternoon took a lovely air conditioned cab from Chalong to Patong. Patong is one of the towns that was decimated by the 2004 tsunami. It's extremely touristy and congested with cars, mopeds, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, shops and tattoo parlors. We had already reserved three rooms at the Minotel hotel. I thought the name Minotel sounded greek or perhaps some Thai word that means relaxation or rest. Nope, it stands for “me no tell” as in me no tell, you no tell. My room was fairly decent for $28 with AC, bottled water, and wifi. I enjoyed more alone time, ate lunch at a chinese restaurant with a nice mangy dog relaxing on the floor (all the dogs I have seen have been adorably mangy) and checked out some shops. As is custom you must haggle prices down if you wish to buy anything and its quite exhausting.
Ed is a purveyor of fine things such as fine wines, fine dining and I get the sense of other earthly delights as well. He is always looking for “value for money” (his words). So naturally he partakes in the massage opportunities here - I’m not sure to what extent but I wouldn't be surprised if it was the full extent. He talked me into getting a massage from a reputable place (photo attached) so I agreed and for six dollars I received an hour long Thai massage. I would like to tell you that it was amazing and relaxing but here is what happened. The massage stalls are small about 7 feet long by 5 feet wide just enough space for a twin mat. Each stall is divided by a curtain so that you can’t view the other customers, but let me tell you, you can certainly hear them. You see, Ed was also getting his massage at the same time as me in the stall right next to mine so for an hour while I was trying very hard to enjoy my massage all I could hear was Ed’s moans and groans of pain mingled with pleasure. No he wasn’t getting sex, but still. Call me prude or conservative if you like, but the only man I want to hear making moaning or groaning noises 3 feet away from me is my significant other. I was quite relieved when it was over.
After the massage we thankfully went our own ways, later we all met up for dinner where Ed and Ken got into a heated discussion about the 1951 Australian security treaty with New Zealand and the US (ANZUS, you can look it up, was after WW2 to stop the spread of communism). Ken being pro US and Ed being anti-US (because of our attempts at global domination and all the world problems we have caused). I didn’t have the energy or desire to participate too much in the conversation and just quietly mentioned that Ken was invited to visit me in the US and Ed wasn’t. Hehe.
After dinner we walked Bangla Street which I would describe as a very similar feel to the strip in Las Vegas. Neon lights, huge ostentatious commercial bars, blaring music, scantily clad women, bars offering “bucket” drink sizes, drunk tourists, stall vendors, street performers, “massages”, pole dancers and yes, ladyboys. This was the first night I didn’t go to bed at 8pm haha. We didn’t get more than 5 feet into walking Bangla Road when we I was forced to follow Ken and Ed into the Aussie sports bar and watch Rugby for a good solid hour. Went to use the bathroom and was going to be charged 10 bhat (28 cents) to use it even though I was a paying customer so decided to wait until I had to go more to get more “value for my money.”
Finally left the bar and ended up watching quite a good Thai band doing covers of American songs. Stand By Me, Red Hot chili peppers, U2, Bob Marley and others. The guitarist was from Japan and quite good. I will try to post some video clips of them here.
A group of ladyboys hang out and get paid to have their photo taken with tourists and there is some ladyboy gogo show which thankfully we didn't see. They have breast implants and some are utterly indistinguishable from regular women. Lots of pole dancers in many of the bars moving their bodies like robots to the blaring pop music but with vacant looks in their faces. Its not much different than the scene in Vegas.
On the way out of the strip we stopped at a BB gun stall and had a mini shooting competition of 5 shots each. The BB guns are designed to look like pistols. Ken got the closest to his target, then me, then Ed who was way off! After that I returned to my hotel room around 10:30 and those two stayed out.
I'm currently checked into a hotel in Old Phuket called Joe Mansion but a far cry from a mansion at $15 a night but clean. Old Phuket seems like a grungy third world city, no beach access and I have no idea why we came here. Our days here seem to rotate around eating and for anyone who knows me knows that's the last thing I do back home.
I was eager to get to land after 4 long days on the boat, and now I am equally eager to get back on the boat to some peace and quiet. Tonight we will buy provisions, tomorrow check out of immigration back in Chalong and set tail late in the afternoon.