a peek inside the fishbowl

18 Aug, 2019

First days in Phuket

Posted by andrea tomkins in: travel talk

I don’t like admitting this, but I was afraid. Did we make a mistake coming here? Was I cut out for this? The trip was hard on me. Simply getting here was an enormous undertaking and I found myself constantly questioning whether or not I was cut out for this kind of travel. In fact, it seriously eroded my beliefs about myself and who I am.

I’ve always said I wanted to travel. Mark and I often talk about future vacations and retirement plans. So what does it say about me that I am such an anxious traveller? And that I was finding it so hard to Just Do It? Is it because I’m old or is it something else within me that’s changed? Either way, I  was disappointed in myself. OR, was it the exhaustion and jet lag talking? I didn’t know.

We spent the morning swimming and lounging by the pool. There were butterflies everywhere, probably because this place backed on to a jungle. They were pretty to watch. Each one looked like a child’s drawing of a butterfly. Every once in awhile they dropped into the pool water – just for a split second – to catch a sip of water.

By the early afternoon, all we had managed was (another) trip to the 7-11. One of the clerks made me the best iced coffee I’d had in forever. It was so good it was life-altering. I asked my daughter to hold it for me while I paid. As I was digging around in my wallet and trying to decipher one bill from another, the clerk motioned to my daughter. She wanted to take her photo with my coffee. Daughter agreed but then felt weird about it afterward.

We talked about why the clerk asked to take a photo. I thought it was funny and interesting. You see, I had considered asking a fellow at a nearby durian stand to pose for a photo as well. Why do we want to take photos of foreign people doing foreign things? Clearly the desire to do so goes both ways.

Later that afternoon we decided to take a stab at walking to Patong Beach. Here’s where I should mention the godsend that is Google Maps. Until now, I had no idea you could offload a map segment and use it offline. It was so helpful! We always knew where we were going without needing to tap into our roaming package (which was a daily rate but only if we turned it on). This eliminated a heap of anxiety for me.

It was still very hot but the worst of it was finally waning and the youngest seemed well enough to venture forth. We promised ourselves we wouldn’t overdo it, so we set out.

The beach was a 25-minute walk from our AirBnb but we spent at least 10 minutes of that trying to cross busy intersections between streams of traffic. There were no walk signals or no crosswalks. It was a hot walk, and er, quite pungent in parts. It was easy to lose focus on the path ahead – literally, a path, as there were no sidewalks for at least half of the walk to Patong Beach. There were distractions everywhere. If it wasn’t a pot hole, cracks and crumbling curbs, cars, motorbikes, it was the food vendors and shop keepers trying to get our attention (“Thai massage?” “Come and look at our menu!”). I saw a guy on a motorbike carrying a 40″ TV. I saw grandmothers pulling carts of fruit. I saw laughing school children in smart matching uniforms. I saw birds in cages. I saw glass bottles of gasoline lined up on thin wooden shelves. I saw stray cats and dogs, shrines with offerings of soda pop, children playing on hoverboards. I looked up and saw tangled spools of phone/cable/? wire on every pole.

Road to Patong Beach (look at those wires!)

Motorbikes along the road to Patong Beach

Finally! A sidewalk! (Patong Beach district)

Road to Patong Beach

The simple act of walking down the street was a multisensory assault. The cacophony of life blared at us from all sides, at a volume that was very hard to get used to. Add to that, of course, the discomforting feeling of the river of sweat pouring down my back.

Of course, that all didn’t matter very much when we finally saw the beach.

(Want to read the previous posts in the Thailand series? Click here.)

1 Response to "First days in Phuket"

1 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Patong Beach - a peek inside the fishbowl

September 8th, 2019 at 11:23 am


[…] In the previous post in this series, we battled traffic and scary intersections while coping with jet lag and extreme heat. […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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