Shit, there's smoke coming out of the room! So I ran downstairs as quickly as I could, passing by the fire alarm and not wanting to pull it yet because whatever was on fire still looked pretty small. I grabbed two of the guys from the hotel lobby and told them there was some sort of fire in our room, and that they needed to follow me right away. Kristine and I had not been out for long; we'd just finished breakfast and we were checking some E-mails and buying some postcards. I decided to go back to the room to get my USB cable so I could load up some photos and also use the bathroom.
When I opened the door, the strange smelling smoke wafted out of the room and filled the outdoor hallway around me. I thought "Finally, we've over taxed the aircon system, and we're taking the building down with us"! When the guys got to the door, they started laughing, and I thought "Well that's a hell of a reaction for a fire - what if someone was in there?"
Then they told me about the spraying for the mosquitoes that was being started today. Apparently, as the weather changes towards the monsoon, they start spraying the rooms to "make our guests more comfortable". Nobody thinks of maybe letting the guests themselves know... Anyway, that was my little panic for the morning, and so began our second day in Phuket. I thought I was going to be having BBQ'ed backpack for lunch. Not today, thankfully.
Yesterday was just beautiful, if not a little too hot. The little red Daihatsu tuk-tuk's here take you around everywhere. They are so cool. We hopped into the back of one to take us from Karon beach (where we are staying) to Kata beach where the waves are a little safer for swimming. Both beaches were completely destroyed during the tsunami, and as there was in Phi-Phi, there are many reminders in the area ranging from merchants selling DVD's of the chaos, to newly constructed walkways and replanted palm trees along the beaches. The beaches themselves are immaculate. Soft squeaky sand beneath your feet and clean clear waters with great body surfing waves. It was a good time, that is until I walked a little too close to the waves to take a picture while wearing my MP3 player around my neck. Sure enough it got splashed, and now it's only working sort of. I can listen to music, but I've got no menu functions, so I am at the mercy of whatever the unit feels like playing. In a way, that's OK, 'cause you never know what's around the corner, but sometimes, you just want to skip the ABBA for the ACDC or something, so it's a real pain - hopefully it clears up. The camera fixed itself after getting wet in NZ, but this is salt water now...
Yesterday evening we went to Phuket's (in) famous Patong beach a little north of us. This is the most built up place on the island, and it is loaded with European tourists. Unfortunately, many of them are of the older single male type, and they are simply here to scoop up the many Thai call girls that wander the streets. The scene is a combination of super drunk backpackers and older European men on cheap sex vacations (I have heard that some organizations actually organize these kinds of trips). It's pretty sick really, but I was surprised at how un-seedy the place looked - I was envisioning a lot more slime and grime, but it looked more like a lot of disco bars. Of course, there were scantily clad Thai girls everywhere. I suppose this is the downside of the very strong Thai tourism industry, and unfortunately the place has become known for this, and the government does not act for fear of negatively affecting the tourist dollar. It's a complex situation that the country has to deal with eventually I suppose. For us, it was simply the spectacle of something different. I'm told though, that it's not as bad as Amsterdam.
Anyway, believe or not there was a Starbucks! The smell inside when we walked in was like climbing into a warm comfy bed that you've known for years. Sick eh; how the commercialism has affected us that much. Not that we are Starbucks freaks or anything, but it sure is a staple of the Vancouver scene - so much so that when we walk into one after 5 months, we start drooling like rabid Dobermans!. I had an iced mocha, which was enough to quench my craving. Good fun! Dinner was nice too, right on the beach as we watched the sun set and listened to a Philipino cover band play obscure soft hits from the 80's that included a lot of Lionel Ritchie, who for some reason, is immensely popular everywhere in South East Asia. Can't figure that one out, maybe a reader has some insight...
We're going to spend one more day here chilling out (Kristine has a cold), and then we will be parting ways with our travel mates and heading up to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. It should be cooler there, and we hope to take a cooking course and maybe get out on a short trek.