Among some of the souvenirs I got from Phuket included a beautiful beach dress, two sweet bags... and oh wait, what's that ugly thing I see in the mirror? Oh yea, my unsightly tan.
I am so tanned now that I'm probably the shade of badly burnt coffee. And that's putting it lightly.
The fashionable way to greet me now is no longer a vibrant, enthusiastic "HI JO!" coordinated with a bear hug, but an "Oh my GOD you're BROWN" completed with a shocked expression of horror.
This is the reason why I've developed a shade that will cause a million japanese girls to shriek in horror and run for bottles of sunscreen and whitening lotion in case they too get into this horrid dilemma. Lilean would do the same I suppose. She did not show much fondness towards my new color.
Well, one must strive on despite the adversities one faces. Therefore I shall, as Bera would say, "Build a bridge, and get over it." See? Now I love my new tan. I look like an islander! (the tagline in some coconut tanning oil bottle I saw in a shop)
Phuket turned out to be a cliche. But a good one of course. It's one of those good satisfying cliches that makes you feel a teensy bit guilty for enjoying it, like kissing in the sunset on a cruise through the Danube. Ultimate cliche, but it does have its perks. The island wasn't very much surprising for me, being one infested by tourists from every corner of the universe and consisted mainly of sun, sand, sea and Thai food. Which of course, got boring after a few days. Being there fore 3 weeks, I had to find numerous activities to fill up my time productively.
For the first five days of the trip, my mom came along and enjoyed herself haggling with unsuspecting sales people and watching Phad Thai hawkers at work whilst trying to discover the secret to a good Phad Thai.
Her short five-day trip was, sad to say, far more eventful than my 3 week trip, seeing as she got into a motorbike accident, fell down from the mountain, got conned in seedy Patong AND bought a bikini!
ALL things which I didn't manage to accomplish!
When we first arrived at the airport, Bera was there awaiting us with this lack-of-design name card, two Bacardi Breezers and a nice flower wrest for each of us. He can be really sweet sometimes. I was so excited at seeing him after two weeks that the idea of taking a picture of him waiting for us at the arrival hall seemed rather preposterous considering I could be using that time to hug and kiss him. So instead here we have a reenacted picture of the tear-inducing moment of reunion. (well, not really tear-inducing, but you get the gist)
Days with mom were spent chugging around on a super old Suzuki jeep which was probably made during the World War II. The engine was so loud that we were constantly yelling at each other while in the vehicle and soon conversation got too painful so we cruised (chugged) around in silence. But it was cheap and it got us around, so I'm thankful.
Mom also had a chance to ride in a motorcycle and zipped around the streets with Bera. And then got into an unfortunate accident involving a handsome white man of unknown origin, random Thai people and a bruised Bera but an unscathed mom. They also discovered the best Phad Thai after the accident, so I would say that it is overall, a joyful affair.
Sunsets in Phuket were a sight to behold. Once the sun started setting the sky would turn an amazing shade of pink, purple and orange. Imagine being able to watch amazing sunsets like these from a selection of places, from beaches to hilltops, or even from the comfort of your own little hut. The skies in Phuket are a much darker shade of blue compared to KL. And they have more stars as well.
Mom especially enjoyed sunsets, as that's when the pesky sun goes away, and the weather starts to cool into a demure and welcomingly breezy night.
Mom finally got into the camwhoring vein on her last day, but alas, it was too late. Too late. She did enjoy a lovely (and highly overpriced) coconut on a beautiful hilltop bar overlooking the ocean and sunset.
But things hyped up after mom left, sad to say. We discovered this amazing restaurant called Big Chicken, where the clientele drove mostly Mercedes Benz, BMWs and numerous other expensive looking modes of transportation. We were the only ones who zipped in on Bera's rented motorbike. Surprisingly though, Big Chicken's prices was on par to that of say... Taman Connaught. However, the taste and quality of food in Big Chicken is far superior to that of Tmn Connaught. We had lovely garlic pork with rice for 40 baht, that's like RM4, and half a grilled chicken (one of the best grilled chicken I've ever tasted in my life, cross my heart!) for 80 baht.
Needless to say, we became regulars for the next two weeks. I think a waiter even recognized me! He smiled at me! Bera thinks I'm hallucinating though, for believing that a waiter would actually remember a Beautiful girl like me.
Somehow when I'm in a foreign country, I will develop a taste for some good ol junk food. Mc Donalds.
Some windsurfing guy we met at the pool told us he got food poisoning at the Mc D outlet in Patong. So of course we zipped over on our bike (Bera very reluctantly) to sample some of the stomach-trouble-inducing burgers. I ordered a Samurai Burger set (which was basically just pork burger with some teriyaki-ish sauce) which cost me a WHOPPING 189baht! That's like RM19! for Mc Donalds! WHO PAYS SUCH MONEY FOR REPRODUCED SHIT FOOD! WHO! Anyway the burger was nothing fantastic. On the bright side, the fries were extra large and so was my orange juice.
Then it turned out that the Mc Donald's in Patong was super overpriced. Locals ate at Mc Donalds for a fraction of what I paid. A set meal cost like 87 Baht or something similar. I DONT UNDERSTAND! it's not like Patong was up in the mountains or away in the outskirts like the airport! WHY! I hate Patong.
In Patong you could see these sleazy bar girls (read: prostitutes) walking around with old white men. They're everywhere. But Patong was the beach most populated by such "couples".
I suspect that I was often mistaken by people as being a bar girl since I got that horrid tan and I walk around with Bera, who unfortunately for him, is white. But I dont dress half as revealing as they do, nor am I THAT tanned. But I often catch glances by other white men who seem to think I'm one. They either seem to stare at me, or avoid me. It's ALL bad.
Bera was convinced that those people were not disgusted by me and my fictional profession as a bar girl, but were in fact checking me out, the way men do. But I'm not convinced. I hate people who stereotype others without fully understanding the situation. Some people were obviously bar girls, but some were obviously not. One should learn to distinguish. This painted a greyish hint on most of my days I spent out.
Anyway, on to brighter things.
I bought a new dress. It's lovely, it's beautiful and I love it! There came a time when I got sick of the accusatory glances and decided to dress up as a tourist. Hence the flowery dresses + beach wear. Thais don't wear such lovely things.
We also visited the Phuket Aquarium, where my being Thai-like did me some good by giving me a local-priced ticket, half of the amount a foreigner would've paid. It was a fun experience since I've always watched movies where couples visit aquariums on dates and I've never done anything of the sort. Bera went crazy marvelling at the different fishes and being afraid of the bigger ones.
One morning I woke up to this in front of the bed. It was a mountain bike. I didn't know how to ride a bicycle and so Bera had taken it into his hands to teach me the most vital skill in life.
It took 2 days (with tons of breaks in between) for me to finally master riding it. Well, "master" is hardly the word, but I have to exaggerate my accomplishments otherwise no one will be impressed! Anyway I didn't fall a single time since Bera was always there to catch me. And by the time he wasn't, I was riding away happily on my own. (Of course, lots of berserk screaming ensued during the 2-day training, and moping around, and whining, but I did it! And thanks Bera for being patient)
This is Scott's dad, whose name I do not know simply because everyone calls him Dad. And Scott's mom was Mom. Anyway he was a funny individual who cracked many English jokes and some which I took more than a second to laugh at since I couldn't quite get the Midlands accent sometimes when they get excited and speak really quickly. But Scott's parents were a jolly old couple and when Bera cooked for them my favorite Hungarian dish - the paprikash chicken + nodkedli, they were all smiles and stuffing themselves amidst lavishing compliments on the chef. And get this, they live in Spain. Wouldn't I love to spend some time in Spain, learning some Espanol.
This is without a doubt my favorite place in Phuket (if i do not take into consideration Big Chicken of course). It's a little hill opposite the famous Phromthep Cape and near Naiharn Beach, where I stay. It has the best view of the surrounding islands and the ocean of course. We could sit at the tip of the hill (or mountain? it's quite huge) on the verge of falling off, enjoying the sea breeze and watching the sunset.
Sitting here, you could just lose yourself in the tranquility of the wind and the sound of the waves, forgetting you ever had troubles. If you feel like it, you could buy a coconut or a beer from the Rastafaria guy who plays reggae music at the corner who will smile at you and hand you a coconut, freshly cut up with a pink straw stuck in it. You then take it with you and climb down to a quiet spot where you enjoy the view in private.
Sometimes there will be a retired old chap flying his amazing electronic kite there, and watching it provides some much needed distraction from life. Watching it swoop up and down above the vast ocean, flying farther and farther away from its owner has a satisfying effect somehow.
Bera would of course be enjoying his obligatory can of beer watching the view. (well, okay, not obligatory... he
only had it like a couple of times I was there)
Being fascinated by all things big and exotic, Bera forcefully brought me to look at the Big Buddha... apparently the biggest buddha statue in the whole of Thailand. I would of course have to do something defiant like kiss in front of the holiness of Buddha. :P
I love this sign placed in front of the Big Buddha. It says "forgiveness make you happy". Hence the smile on my face after I've forgiven all the evil people who mistook me as a common prostitute.
Among some of the other things I did were:
Enjoy snacks in the pool.
Force Bera to get a manicure with me. AND he was MAN enough to accept the challenge. I'm proud of him.
Got my nails painted blue but decided it was too horrid a shade to stay on and made me look like Cruella De Ville so I asked to wipe them off and did a French instead.
Which turned out lovely of course.
Gorged ourselves to the point of suffocation at Chern Long BBQ Buffet restaurant at the mere price of 129 Baht (RM13)
Celebrated our half-year anniversary, in which Bera gave me a rose which belonged to Swensen's, where we had our lovely sundae and waffle.
Had candlelit dinner at the most romantic hilltop restaurant overlooking the ocean, where I wrote postcards to people and Bera gave me a Paulo Coelho book as our anniversary present.
And spent our last moments at the restaurant having a chat with Dhok the kid selling flower wrests, which Bera bought for me. At one point, Dhok started counting his earnings on our table and took my pen with a grin on his face, the cheeky little ass he was.
Phuket was overall, quite memorable. Quite a trip.