12 January 2010

Phuket Thailand

Phuket is the peninsula in the southwest of Thailand and since the '70s this area is assigned to be the resort island for tourists. Chalong is just south of Phuket city and for cruisers this is the place to do customs and immigration. It's also easy here to rent a car or motorbike to explore the countryside. Intriguing is the 'Big Buddha' on the hill that is looking down on the bay. It shows to be an extended complex under construction. Because of the implantation of the eyes (real sapphires that took a few year to collect donations) the head of the Buddha is in scaffolding. Also stairwells and galleries are in the planning. The 'Wat Chalong' is a temple complex nearby with six buildings in a park area. Every temple is devoted to another Buddha, monk or saint and the buildings are richly furnitured with golden statues, big paintings, sculptures and vases with fresh flowers. Outside are tables with facilities to burn candles or incense. Every here and there we see monks in orange habits.

Phuket has its own amusement park, a sort of Disneyland in a real Thai theme: FantaSea. In the early evening we make a short tour in the park that is well decorated and illuminated. There are heaps of fantasies and realities e.g. two white tigers in their luxury 'apartment'. There is an international buffet in an enormous and royal decorated 'salle de banquet'. After that we enter the real big theater in the 'Palace of the Elephants' to see on and around the stage a turbulent and spectacular show with beautiful costumes, sound and light effects, acrobatics, a glance over Thai history and culture, and a lot of elephants.

On the west coast of Phuket peninsula are about ten bays with white sandy beaches and above them tower the hotels and apartment complexes. No palm trees grow on the beaches to provide shadow, so some hundred parasols next to every two reclining chairs offer a colourful sight from the water. In the evening you shuffle with the crowd of tourists along the hundreds of little shops and restaurants, most of them with terraces and good music on a pleasant volume level. That is changing when you enter the 'girlie-bars': here is modern (rock)music and everywhere you see girls in short skirts and high heels 'dancing' on the counters. Just take a barstool and order a drink. Half of the visitors are just tourists curious about the Thai 'nightclubs' and the other half of the visitors and young guys and men who make their appointment for later in the evening. On the beach we buy with a few other Dutch yachties a big paper lantern that through the heat of a burning fuse slowly goes up in the air with all our wishes for the new year.

Slideshow Thailand