First up: Phuket Island!
It was a few years ago when I decided to leave Italy and start travelling around the world.
I was tired of working everyday in the same office, scared to get trapped into a daily schedule of work-home-whatever-home. So I told to myself: “the time has come, let’s see what’s outside!” and without any plan I improvised an 8-months trip around Asia. And so I have decided to book my first flight to Phuket Island.
Phuket is made up of the island of Phuket, which is the largest one, and another 30 smaller islands.
Landing in Phuket
From the window of the airplane, before landing, I could see the sea; it was shining and the sky looked like a paradise. I felt excited and I could barely contain my happiness. The airplane was almost landing on the sea. There were a few people spread on the beach, watching for airplanes landing every five minutes, just like a show.
As soon as I entered the Airport I felt relaxed. A sudden sensation of calm filled my heart, almost like time had stopped.
After a few minutes I could see Max, the owner of the bungalow I had booked on the internet a few days before. Max was with his Thai girlfriend and they welcomed me in a really kind way. They took my luggage and brought me to the bungalow by car.
During the journey the warm air from the window was caressing my face and the colorful streets of Phuket Island were filling my eyes with something special, something joyful. The streets and buildings were very basic but the people around, on their scooters, seemed really peaceful and smiling. And in that moment I thought: “This country has something different” and I smiled back.
The Outback Garden
On arriving at my bungalow I thanked both for the pleasant ride, I took my key and got inside my room. It was practically a mini studio, fully accessorized and in great condition! It was a surprise… I couldn’t expect better, especially for $200/month!!!
The place is called Outback Garden and it permanently guests a great tattooist, Jane, who performs old style tattoos with bamboo.
Jane was and is a great artist and tattooist! This is one of my best memories of him.
After a quick shower, I was ready to go and start exploring the island. I rented a scooter from Max for only $6 a day and I left for my new adventure.
The fruit market in Phuket
My first visit was to the local fruit market; an explosion of colours surrounded me. Smells, voices, the weather, the birds singing, everything was a magical mix of everything! Excited, I bought any possible strange fruits, red bean cakes, dragon fruit, strange type of melons and many artisanal fruit snacks! I wanted to try them all!
After a “colourful walk” into the local market I took my scooter and spent the rest of the day racing around. After driving for many kilometers I felt like I had known the streets forever. The streets from a scooter, in Phuket Island, look like this:
The next day I went to visit the closest beach: Kata Beach.
The beautiful Kata Bay was just an amazing combination of white sands and crystalline waters. Kata was one of my favorites because of its spectacular palm lined beach, many restaurants and fresh and lively nightlife! Kata is divided into two main areas: Kata Centre and Kata South, where it was possible to find a series of luxurious resorts. The area had plenty of shops, souvenirs, fashion stores, 7-Elevens and local mini markets.
The Big Buddha – Phuket Island
A visit to the Big Buddha (original name: Phra Phutta Ming Mongkol Akenakiri or Ming Mongkol Buddha) was the best way to enjoy a full panorama; in fact it has the best 360 degree views in the southern part of the Island.
The Bhudda statue looked majestic and peaceful. The thing which impressed me most was a big tree covered with bells hanging from the branches, located at the foot of the statue. The wind swayed bells, creating a mystic sound, which trapped me in a trance for a while…
A lovely extra experience, in the same place, was listening to a group of children playing old instruments to worship the Bhudda. These children were playing for hours and hours, for the tourists, for their God and for their country…
Phuket Butterfly Garden
The Butterfly Garden in Phuket was well worth a visit. It was made up of a little artificial garden full of plants and rivers where butterflies were able to fly freely. It was possible to take pictures and often those butterflies would rest on my hands or head, kindly accompanying my walk through the garden. It was possible to buy food for the butterflies and feed them. The variety of species contained in the garden was vast and for the first time I was able to observe the giant butterfly; one of the most exciting discoveries of my stay.
The original Cinema in Phuket
I spent one weekend of my stay visiting the main shopping center in Phuket and I discovered one of the most beautiful cinemas I have ever experienced in my life. The cinema, located in the shopping center, was modern and original and it was possible to upgrade your seat to a big, soft, comfortable couch. I decided to pay a bit extra for the experience and enjoyed more than one movie lying down there with my super sized popcorn!
At the end of my stay I was thinking a lot about the big contrast between the outside streets and the luxury shopping centers and markets spread around the island. The huge differences made me ask myself how many of those people really had access to certain comforts. But most of all I couldn’t believe how much Phuket, in a special and original way, was a kind of safe and advanced reality compared to what I was expecting.