Date: 16 - 25th Nov, 2023.
After the Phi Phi islands my next destination was Phuket; which turned out to be an amazing place. Lot of things to do at Phuket; however, since I had to work and also don't want to travel a lot, most of the time I spent in the Old Town which was thoroughly enjoyable. Compared to Bangkok, which had fewer tourists, Phuket had preserved the old city buildings which are kind of artistic, reminiscent of San Francisco, instead of communistic style of apartments. There are decent temples with plentiful art work inside their secure exteriors. I visited Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Chinese temples.
Weed is easily available but I barely saw locals smoking weed or drinking lot of alcohol, unlike Americans or Europeans. There are massage parlors everywhere and you must get at least one massage for sure.
In the old town there are a few art studios for folks to learn painting, which is very cool. I couldn't resist taking some photos:
This picturesque intersection is popular and lots of photos are taken by locals.
Food/Fruits: There are tons of options fruits and food wise.
I would suggest people to checkout the local Fruit Market, a little walk away from old town, but totally worth it. Lot of vendors buy their fruits from here at wholesale as there are a wide variety of them. I particularly liked small yellow bananas, mangosteens, durian and oranges. You can also get mangoes and oranges, but at this time they weren't exceptional.
Lots of people hate durian because of its smell but somehow I don't find it objectional at all. On the contrary I loved the fruit; it is like a custard and I had good portions of it. I had one with dark yellow flesh, and another with lighter creamy color. Both tasted good, but the lighter one I felt tasted fresher and creamier.
Whole meal options can be categorized into gourmet restaurants, road side stalls, restaurants where locals eat, and places where they serve 10 different curries and you can pick each item which adds like 20 INR. I loved most of the food items there, the food is not too spicy and very flavourful, plus they do not over cook like Indian counterparts and you can actually taste the meat and vegetables instead of the spices.
Particularly there are two favourite food places I liked Ko Yoon Noodle soup a 30 year old restaurant operated by siblings for 120 rupees. It proved to be an amazing mixture of meat, noodles, peanuts and some veggies with some light sauce. The simplicity is amazing as they only serve 2 types of dishes.
The second place I liked is Khun Need You Pak restaurant where they serve noodle soup and fried rice and a coconut pudding that tastes amazing but it's just 20 rupees, a place equally visited by locals and tourists. Plus, they have wifi and outside seating area where you can watch passers-by. One of the days it was raining heavily so I sat down in front of the restaurant where I met the two chefs and eventually their whole family. They offered me free fried rice and a beer, and we had an interesting conversation courtesy of Google translator. The people working in the restaurant were from all over the place like Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. You can see photos of the restaurant, and the chef's kid and us having beer together.
I particularly like the night life of Phuket as they play decent music and not that loudly, unlike in India. Lot of food vendors are still open in the night markets where you can buy food and relax listening to the music. The good thing about night markets is that they wind down by 10 pm, which is perfect for me as I go to sleep early.
Sunday night market is not something to miss, when lots of people and vendors show up to hang out. Chang and Singham are mainly local beer brands which are basically lagers, very similar to Indian Kingfischer beer.
For folks who want to shop, I think Bangkok is the best, as you can buy anything in Chatuchak Market, however Phuket also has decent places and fair prices. I particularly liked BAAN 67 store for casual wear, and bought around 25 clothing items for my colleagues and friends. I hope they like them!
For 10 days I stayed in one hotel, and beside my hotel there is this small coffee shop where you can get cold coffee for 50 rupees.
I see lot of locals come here to have their coffee early in the morning and it's a cool place to just sit and talk with them. The coffee place is called Charaya Patani somewhere here, if you happen to be there don't forget to drop by for a coffee.
Overall Thailand is a great place and now I know why lot of people prefer to travel here. Not only that, I see lot of western men moving here and starting families and we Indians have lot to learn from this culture, some noteworthy are:
The cities and small towns are all clean, I was astonished how this is done but I do not see any struggle from them to do so. Even their so called slums are very clean, as clean as temples in India.
Roads are super clean and well maintained, I could not find anyone violating the speed limit on the highways nor on the local streets. How come in India these are problems, but not in Thailand as the problem of traffic is same? Indians cater too much for safety which spoils the risk taking and always expect the government to solve their problems. This is one such case in point. Instead of just being responsible and learning to drive more reasonably and slowly, we create more rules to curtail freedom.
Barely any pollution is visible on the streets because of Thai vehicles run cleaner compared to Indian vehicles.
The priests in Bhuddist temples are actually monks, who practice what they preach, unlike in India where Hindu pujaris seek worldly pleasures as freely as anyone.
Thai women are very feminine, work hard, cook food, stay slender and are easily approachable. These mannerisms need to be learned by Indian women, who would gain by being humble, instead of arrogant and masculine. For this same reason a lot of western men are settling in South East Asia, and given enough time I think Indian men will do the same.
Thai people find happiness in simple things, going about doing daily tasks instead of achieving lofty goals like starting big business, becoming famous, seeking power or status seeking short term success over long term stability. In the short term success process we destroy everything we value and become corrupt. I do not find such behavior with Thai people for the most part.
Their food is very simple and very hygienic with lot of protein and less simple carbs. They do not overcook their meat or vegetables and by so doing they retain the nutritional content. However, in India, at any outside place you go, everything is overcooked to a pulp and the food is full of simple carbs like rice, wheat floor, maydha, etc. The street food of India is loaded with carbs and we Indians also eat lot of sweets. I think Indians needs to get back to the roots and there is a lot that can be learned from the Thai people.
Prostitution is legal here and is taken not so seriously. People are well aware and respect each others' life choices. However, in India this a big taboo and somehow men who don't want marriage and prefer casual sex are really looked down upon by Indian society.
I have seen at max 2 or 3 beggars on the streets on my one month stay there, it seems they are doing something great which is a great accomplishment from Thai people.
Indians need to stop feeling proud on silly things like GDP, winning some World Cup, etc and focus on simple and meaningful things in life. Until then I can only envision worse things to come to India.
In summary Indians has achieved a lot of things 1000s of years ago and showed the world in yoga, spirituality, education, art, etc however, we are still basking in those past glory with no relation to the current times. Now we have generation of immaturity for a long time. At least we need to be humbled by places like Thailand, Vietnam and learn from these cultures simple things that adds lot of meaning to our lives in long run.