Had a rough first couple of days in Phuket. I discovered it's not really my kind of place and was made worse by being on my own for the first time. The bus dropped us at Patong Beach at about 9.30pm ... if you read anything about Phuket it will say not to go to Patong. Prostitues and fat white men everywhere, drunk tourists, rubbish, pollution, flashing lights, heaps of traffic, and expensive to boot. Everyone tries to rip you off in one way or another. Patong's idea of entertainment is having people fight each other or do things with ping pong balls. So I got out of there ASAP. Perhaps it would be good if you booked a resort and just hung out at the beach + got massaged, but trying to navigate through ladyboys with 2 backpacks at night was not my idea of fun.
I went across to the other side of phuket, to the town where it's mostly locals. Not very scenic but they did have a very cheap backpacker's with friendly travelers who could help me plan my next few days. I ended up island hopping to Phi Phi, a very touristy place (but a lot of fun) where The Beach was filmed. I partied till the wee hours on the "pamphlet trail" - each bar has free drinks for a designated time so if you have good organisation you can hop from one to the next and pay nothing. Dancing on the beach with free alcohol and fire twirlers is always a good thing (except if you decide to jump a flaming skipping rope...). Next I hopped to Ko Lanta, a very sleepy island with cute bamboo huts for accomodation. I met up with an Aussie girl who came with me to Lanta and we stayed in places on the beach made of sticks. Travelling with 2 is so much easier, and we did some cool stuff including a day boat tour (during which i got shamefully burnt, yes mum, I know...) and a PIRATE CAVE omg. We also hired a moped which we burned around in. She is into photography too which was cool, so we could both stop at every nice lookout and not annoy each other!!
I've just ferried back to the mainland again and am staying in a town famous for it's caves, and the random rock standing out of the sea which was apparently in a james bond movie. I have half a day tomorrow to do something cool, like paddle through a cave or be boated around to see some stuff. Then off to Phuket airport and back to Singapore. I'll be quite happy to leave the touters who harass you at every opportunity and try to rip you off, but at least I have had a taste of this area and can figure out what I'd like to do if I came back. Apart from eat Tom Yum (which has been very good).
Back to Singapore tomorrow, I am looking forward to staying in a backpacker's on Dunlop st in Little India, the suburb full of indian restaurants (can you believe it)!! And this time next week I will be freezing my nuts off instead of sweating in a singlet - at least it should cure the sunburn!