The Journey – Pt. 22 – Fucking about in Phuket. Photos

  

Thailand was similar to most other places in Asia with its families on mopeds, bundles of electricity cables, friendly people and colour and bustle. Something had to be different. It was a tourist destination for young kids with surfing and snorkelling, beach parties, nightclubs and freedom. We didn’t want that. We weren’t here long enough to chill or sample the action. We wanted to see what was there. I wanted to head off to see the fabulous rock formations on the beach on James Bond Island but it was too far and expensive. We put that aside for another time.

As we nosed into the harbour the island looked green, tropical and affluent with its big houses on the hillsides and sandy beaches. A huge Buddha sat on a hill in the distance.

Heading off on foot in the heat, down the road, away from the expensive tours and hustling cabbies, we teamed up with friends and grabbed a taxi in a quieter area to take us round. We settled for the giant Buddha on the hill. On the way we stopped off at another lavish temple with fire crackers and sonic booms. It was a lavish affair of reds and golds with hundreds of gold Buddhas, paintings and grounds. The temple was wonderful as usual. Extremely extravagant and full of incense clutching adherents.  

I hadn’t realised what the strange beehive structure was that I was standing next to until the attendant threw in a lighted bunch of fire-crackers that went off with such a racket that it made us all jump out of our skin. It was an echo chamber designed to enhance the noise. It transformed loud bangs into fearsome explosions. Somebody should have warned us!

We set off for the hill, up the winding road past restaurants and elephants, cyclists and little four wheel motortrikes. The Buddha on the hill, that we had spotted from the boat, was big – extremely big. We walked around the base as a troupe of young Buddhist monklets were escorted past in their orange robes – obviously about to be indoctrinated.

The views were incredible. The green hills, coated with thick carpets of rich tropical forest, undulated down to the sea. The city sat in the bay below. The sun bathed us in its radiation, the rocks were melting, the air thrilled and the sweat dripped so that we were constantly replenishing fluids. Birds sang and flitted and there was that tropical scent in the breeze – of flowers and decaying vegetation – sweet and fecund. It felt serene. We climbed up the steep steps and looked up at the massive idol. We went into the space under the statue where there were numerous shrines and then we walked around the outside to peer over the landscape and look at the various other shrines, butterflies, trees, orchids and wildlife.

It was lunchtime and our taxi driver knew where to go to get a fish meal – probably one of his relatives. We ended up in an isolated place by the side of a lake where fish and crabs in big tanks looked mournfully back at you as if they already knew their fate. After a beer or two to ward off the heat we consumed our fish and crab, without thinking too much of those sorrowful eyes, and settled back in our seats to take in the surrounds. There was a rafted fishing village in the centre of the lake which was probably the source of our meal.

We then had a lazy wander round Phuket taking in the colourful shops and decaying old buildings. The market was interesting as usual with its array of colourful fruit and vegetables and live fish in bowls. I can never quite get used to the meat displayed in this heat.  

Another great and tiring day in the heat!

This Indonesia/Java/Borneo bit has been marvellous. The people have all been extremely friendly and helpful, public transport great, taxis dubious but cheap, food wonderful and it has been exceedingly hot and humid! My skin seems to be changing colour! I’m getting used to this warmth and travel! Only another 4 weeks!! Plenty of reading, writing and viewing still to do!

Well here we are amazingly on day 42. It has been extremely busy despite the fact that I have quite forgotten how to cook, clean, repair or even make my own bed.

We are now at sea heading for India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

India – here we come!!

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