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Love it or hate it, everyone has an opinion on Phuket. A surprisingly large island, to some the island is a warm-weather paradise full of white sand beaches, beachfront activity, and massively wild nightlife. To others, the islands reeks of overdevelopment, haggling street vendors and rampant Western consumerism. Love it or loathe it, Phuket is still a must on any traveler’s stint in the area.
The main population hub is centered in Phuket town on the eastern shoreline, while all of the beaches and resorts sit serenely on the opposing coast, silently waiting each night for the west-facing sunset. These are the same beaches that were ravaged by the tsunami in 2004, however the towns have rebounded and sprung back with concrete-enforced villas and storefronts in the wake of disaster. Mopeds and tuk-tuks zip haywire around the entire island, and the entire pace is a little faster than what most would consider to be “island-life”. Nonetheless, with all of the long white beaches and green hilltops, Phuket still provides substantial island charm for those who want to look for it.
Lacking the time to explore the entire island, we simply chose to post up for a couple of nights in the infamous zone of Patong Beach. Seemingly built specifically for Western tourism, the once-beautiful beach is now littered with everything from lawn chairs and jet skis to mobile vendors and parasailing. If you want to buy some knock off western merchandise, get a Thai massage, drink a beer in a lawnchair and drink yourself retarded, then get on a plane right now for Patong Beach. If you prefer a little more of an authentic cultural experience, I suggest you look elsewhere.
Choosing to stay in a place near the beach, we crashed for a couple of nights in the newly opened Bodega guesthouse. I can’t say enough about this place. It’s clean, it has a great location walking distance from the beach, and the British owner Robin will fix you a killer cafe latte on the streetfront patio with modern art and smooth jazz filling out the ambiance. I would highly recommend the place to anyone staying in Patong Beach.
Again, lacking the transportation or time to explore the rest of the island, we simply “did the tourist thing” and relaxed on the beach and hit up the discos at night, namely, on the infamous Bangla Road. To correctly picture Bangla Road, take every risque venture you have ever heard about Thailand and stick it all on one avenue. Think Bourbon Street, minus the American legal system. Girls offer massage, guys pound beers, and strange things happen with ping-pong balls. It’s a scene to say the least. This time around Bangla Road got the best of us and sent us packing rather early around 2am, which is probably for the best. Missed out on a day or can’t remember the day before? That’s ok, because the “Patong scene” starts all over again the very next day. Beach, vendors, beers, repeat.
Like I said, love it or hate it.