The last time I was in touch was on Thursday, so I will pick up from there…I was advised by Yolanda, a super-responsible young friend of mine, that when I was in Thailand, I had to try a Thai whiskey. So, with Friday off, Ella and I set off on Thursday night to find a bar that she had been to the week before for her sister’s birthday, so that I could taste my first Thai whiskey…The only problem was that Ella’s memory was somewhat distorted from that night – I can’t imagine why… So this night turned out to be a fascinating exploration of downtown Phuket Town by night. We found restaurants, food markets, cafés, Thai salons and Michael’s Bar, which we were delighted by because I believe it is the owner that lives in the same complex that we’re living in, as we’ve seen a car parked there saying ‘Michael’s Bar‘. So we stopped there first. The walls were bright red, it had a pool table, a stunning wrought iron spiral staircase, the TV was on a channel which had seal slaughtering and our Chang’s – the local beers – came with peanuts (FREE FOOD!!!!!)
While we were chatting and debating which direction to head in order to find Ella’s previous hangout, a couple on a scooter pulled up outside and the girl jumped off the scooter and asked the only other person in the bar where they could find naked girls to dance for them. My mouth fell open and I nearly lost my precious peanuts but Ella, who has been to Thailand before, wasn’t at all perturbed by this casual request. The easily accessible sex trade is something that I have yet to get used to. I have seen many elder European, German and American men with very young Thai girls.
The next place we found had loud music playing and darkened windows. We thought we may have found the place where the naked girls were dancing but it was more like a semi-karaoke bar with wannabe Thai girls singing wearing the shortest pants I’ve ever seen in my life. This is another thing I have to adjust to: the two vastly different extremes of the scales when it comes to the women’s dress here. They are either extremely conservative wearing traditional clothes or they wear promiscuous, teeny-tiny, revealing clothing. There is no middle ground in this field. The karaoke bar had these girls squealing on the stage with ‘disco’ lights made out of tin foil and coloured cellophane and cardboard cut-outs for the windows creating the light boxes. It was, without a doubt, the most awful, kitsch décor I’ve come across – ever. Abu Dhabi airport didn’t even come close to it! We also had a guy with blue eye shadow and red lipstick singing along with the girls after a short while. The worst part of this experience for me was that it was the first time I had to use a Muslim toilet – for those of you who don’t know what that is, it is a squat toilet, so you stand on two footrests and squat right down to your haunches to use the toilet. When you’re done, you use a spray to pretty much hose yourself down. I’ve been dreading this since I heard about this and trust me and it really wasn’t pretty.
From there, after much more walking around and getting directions that had many hand gestures but we’d nod profusely, thank them and walk away saying, “Ok, did you get that?” “No, you sounded like you understood where to go…” So, after meandering through the streets until we were sure we’d never find our way home, never mind ever find this pub – we came around a corner and spotted neon lights …we had found it: The Timber Hut discothèque complete with English Karaoke (sung by Thai’s – most of the songs were recognisable) and REAL disco lights! I got to taste my Thai Whiskey at last and although it was very good, I was later to discover that this was not what Yolanda meant…but more on that later! Just before leaving, we went to the bathroom as, judging from our trip there, we had no idea how long the journey home was going to take us, I had to laugh at a hand-basin separate to the others with a sign above it saying ‘vomit station’!
For Friday I had planned to discover another beach or a market but I was so upset to wake up to torrential rain and decided that neither would be a good idea and I should wait it out – sadly, it didn’t end – alllllll day. It has rained on and off here for close to a week now. I was furious that I had to sacrifice my one-day weekend to this pouring rain.
Saturday – rain. I could have sworn I was in London with this weather! I pulled out my raincoat – the first time I’ve worn something with long sleeves since I arrived. So off Ella, Sak and I set on his bike with rain pouring down so hard that our faces were screwed up in such a way that I’m sure we all looked Thai! Now for just a second, I want you to imagine our moods: We couldn’t do any exploring yesterday, we were cooped up all day, now it’s a Saturday, too early to be awake, our hair and clothes are so drenched that we look like a pair of drowned rats and we settled in for our talk on Thai culture.
On Saturday night, I hung out with Ella and her sister, Sophie – so it’s great that I’m starting to meet people and I was thrilled that I was able to spend my Saturday night talking to someone other than myself!