Welcome to Party Town: Patong Beach
Patong Beach is known as one of the best party towns in Thailand. It also has a great beach. We decided to hang for a week in Patong, not to party but because we found a quiet hotel just a block off the beach. *Aside* We also figured where there are lots of tourists there ought be good food. We were right, but more about that later!
When I made our reservation at The Shades Boutique Hotel I asked for a room on a lower floor as
there is no elevator. On arrival, low and behold, our room was on the fifth floor! *Aside* That is as far up as you can go. It did cross my mind that they punished us for asking! When we finally arrived in the room, huffing and panting after the 69 seemingly vertical steps, we asked if we could have a room on a lower floor when one became available. Next day one was available. However they informed us as we were heading out past the front desk to Thailand Immigration to extend our 30 day visa, so we passed. The offer was not made again. *Aside* By the end of the week the climb was easier, but it never got easy. *Aside 2* You can drive a car down the street to The Shades Hotel, but not easily. Turning your car around can be difficult even on a good day but is possible. When we tried to book a tuk-tuk to the hotel from Karon Beach, the first driver told us that taxis couldn’t go down the street. That was a lie. The second driver delivered us to the front door of the hotel. The big delivery trucks however must back in or out - no choice there.
We read to avoid the Immigration office on Mondays and Fridays. Even though we arrived at 10:00am on Wednesday there was already quite a line. What we needed: a completed form; 2 pictures; 2 copies of our passport and our current visa. Luckily there is a copy/photo office just around the corner. *Aside* How convenient! 450 Baht later (that’s about $13.00) we’re ready to apply for our visas. Our forms and passports entered the queue at the bottom of the pile. Actually there looked to be only five people ahead of us. After about twenty minutes and 4600 baht later ($130.00) we had nice shiny new visas that would last until March 3rd. We walked past McDonalds on our way back to our hotel noticing the Thai
Ronald McDonald in is a little different from the American Ronald. *Aside* Tom offered Ronald the traditional greeting! We also walked past one of three Starbuck between the immigration office and our hotel, less than a third of a mile away. Beside the second (and largest) Starbucks on our path we noticed a Coffee Club Thailand. Coffee Club has a full food menu in addition to coffee and their coffee is way better than Starbucks. *Aside* I had a Chai Latte that tasted as though it was made from pure cream - so rich and delicious. Next trip I had a Café Mocha which was also rich and delicious, but the third time I returned to the Chai Latte choosing a “Long” instead of a “Short”.
The Coffee Club food was delicious with breakfast all day in addition to great salads and an assortment of sandwiches and main entrees. *Aside* We visited one restaurant in Thailand that touted breakfast all day with (until 3:00pm) in parentheses. That kind of negates the “All Day” part of the description in my world.
We found good food on our short street as well with Thai dishes costing from $4.00 to $6.00: really good and really cheap! The weather smiles sunshine on us some days then frowns rain on us other days. On the days when it’s raining we sit on our bed (there are no chairs in this room) and play video games on our phones and listen to books on tape. On the days when the sun is shining we walk the beach. The beach in Patong is wider than the beach in Karon, which is good because there are a lot more people. However the beach doesn’t really feel much more crowded because of that width. The gentle, gradual slope of the beach makes it EXCELLENT for walking. The sand is very fine and full of tiny sparkles you can see when the sun is shining bright *Aside* I think it's mica that makes the sparkles and not a glitter project that blew up on the beach. The sand packs solid at the water's edge so walking in the surf is easy! We walk in the morning. We walk in the afternoon. We walk when the rain stops.
*Aside* This is awesome because the sand is wet and cool and doesn’t stick to your feet when they are wet. We walk at night. *Aside* Meanwhile Tom and I stopped holding hands while he tries to get rid of the cold he got for free somewhere in Patong. I told him I don’t want it. Thanks for the offer though . . .
Bangla Walking Street is about a ten minute walk from our hotel. This the official Patong party street lined with bars and restaurants from the highest quality to the lowest quality. The street is blocked off at night exclusively for foot traffic moving through the locals whose job it is to lure or literally pull the tourists into go-go and strip shows with super cheap beer and drinks. It is rumored that there are “Ping-Pong Shows” on Bangla Walking Street where girls pop ping-pong balls out of their hoo-hoos hitting targets. *Aside* Apparently they also do this with frogs. I don’t care what you paid me there is not enough money in the world for me to put a frog in my hoo-hoo, let alone pop it out at a target in front of a room full of drunken people. Not that anyone would want to see me do it anyway, but I’m jus’ sayin’ . . . As near as I can tell Amsterdam ain’t got nothin’ on Thailand!
Most of the scantily dressed go-go girls we can see in the open bars look bored, and are barely moving in time to the music. Apparently the “Ping Pong” girls are hidden inside somewhere (as I guess they should be). However we did not see any of these shows. Not because we weren’t curious; not because we didn’t have the opportunity - we had posters pushed in our faces at every turn, but because that was not actually what we wanted to do. We wanted dinner somewhere so we could watch the people on Bangla Street get drunk and be stupid. We opted for dinner at Higher Restaurant, touted as a third floor, roof-top venue. The food was awesome with especially the Tapas Platter. There were nine items on the platter: (starting at the upper left
of the picture): spicy stir-fried seafood with glass noodles; coconut grilled scallop; grilled foie gras and liver pate with toast; a crab meat ravioli; avocado and salmon cone; sashimi salmon; sashimi tuna; salmon egg sushi and spicy grilled beef salad (bottom right). The ravioli was so good that Tom ordered a plate for us to share. *Aside* In fact, the Tapas Platter was so delicious we went back another night for a repeat of the platter, but the second time the chef’s selections included sushi rolls rather than sashimi. Damn you chef!
On our second visit to Higher they gave us “welcome” drinks, which I thought should have been called “welcome back” drinks since we didn’t get any the first time, but what do I know?
We booked a Phuket Cultural Street Food tour, but it was not as good as other food tours we’ve taken in the past. Certainly there were the requisite fried bugs, stir-fried morning glory and some garlic fried fish. We also found the coconut custard “cups” that we LOVED in Chiang Mai, but these were not as good.
The highlight of the tour was Rang Hill which offered us a view of the vista of Phuket City at night, all the way to the coast. We finished the tour with a walk along Romani Street in Old Phuket Town to view the historic colonial architecture and some street art.
One night we walked the other direction (away from Bangla Street) for dinner at Rustic. We enjoyed their charcuterie, risotto balls and desserts so much that we opted to go back on our last night in Patong. However we weren’t smart enough to make sure they were open on Mondays so walked all the way back the other direction past Bangla Street to Savoey Restaurant. Tom chose a fresh sole from the display on ice which they steamed for us with lime and chili and garlic.
*Aside* The man tending the fresh fish bar offered Tom a large sole with very dull, sunken eyes telling him it was good. Tom said “No” and stuck with his choice of the sole with the nice clear eyes. Good choice Tom! The fish was delicious. Tom finally recovered from his cold so we walked our last walk on the beach under the night sky in Patong holding hands.