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April 27th, 2011 | Asia

The Playground that is Phuket…

Phuket... Island Playground... We based ourselves at Kata Beach in the south of the island...

After a relaxed breakfast, we left Ranong and headed south for Phuket, Thailand’s largest island and playground to many…

We passed through Ratcha Krut, Mon Klang and Kapoe, then followed the coastline past Kam Pham,  Ban Bang Wan and Lam Ru… Traffic on Route 4 was light, and we rode the 265 km to Phuket at a steady clip, arriving there three hours after leaving Ranong…

We wasted no time in getting our overheated bodies into the clear waters of the Andaman Sea...

We crossed the short bridge that links the island to the mainland at Tha Chat Chai, and headed past the airport on a double-laned highway lined with retail outlets for one thing or another, until we arrived at a large crossroad…

After the hassles of riding around in Bangkok, we wanted to stay clear of Phuket town itself, so turned west and headed for the coastal resort town of Karon…

Just before climbing the hills that separate the interior of the island from the coast, we stopped to refuel and grab a few sandwiches at one of the ever present 7-Elevens that can be found in every Thailand town…

When we reached Karon, we turned south again, and a short distance away rode along the beach road in Kata Bay… The cool blue sea looked very inviting, and all I wanted to do was find a place to stay and get my kit off… It was one of those sweltering, hot days, and no amount of riding was drying the sweat that poured off me…

On the road that ran parallel to the beach road, we found Rico’s bungalows, and checked in, booking three rooms as Phil was due to arrive from Koh Samui that same afternoon… His timing was perfect, because as we were unloading our gear, Trev received a call from him to say that he was only minutes away…

Trev and Chenty join a digital photography class to work out how to use their equipment...

Chenty's idea of a "proper" Internet Cafe... Look for one on Salt Spring Island later this year...!!

These zany little taxis will whiz you about at reasonable prices...

We walked the few hundred metres down to the beach and plunged into the crystal clear waters of the sea…

We tested our cameras underwater and generally fooled about in the small waves for a few hours…

The water was so clear that we could see small shoals of fish swimming about just behind where the waves were breaking…

Close to our hotel was a short lane that was filled with interesting restaurants and touristy shops… We browsed about until we finally settled on one of the many inexpensive restaurants, and enjoyed a good meal…

While we sipped on a few cold ones, we watched the traffic go by, and planned what we would do with our time on the island… We were all keen to get as much sun, sand and sea as possible, after the relatively poor swimming conditions we had experienced on Koh Phangan…

Where students test their creations on an unsuspecting public...??

No shortage of seafood here...

Later that evening we hailed a taxi and went to see what Patong was all about… This was where the “night-life” was according to Phil, who had clearly done some research on the subject… After a 20 minute ride to the north of Kata Beach, and through Karon, we were dropped off in front of a large shopping plaza, and walked down the main road, to where the neon beckoned…!!

Shades of Pattaya...!! Go-Go Bar central, Phuket...!!

An excellent place to leave your husband while you go shopping...!! See sign below the main one...

Crocodile Dundee was about to meet his Moses...

Phil hooks me up with another silent partner...

Naturally, there was enormous scope for mischief, and Phil and I got right down to it…

While Trevor was trying to buy a pair of leather gloves, Phil and I got in among the crocodile skins that were stacked near the open doorway…

We bargained for anything that was offered to us by the hordes of street-vendors we encountered, and then just as they were about to agree, we informed them that we had changed our minds, and would not be needing a clock radio; a flick-knife; a genuine-fake Rolex; or a delicately carved wax flower, after all…

Mostly, the vendors were not amused…!!

One thing that did get our attention, was the offer to go see a “Ping Pong Show”… This is where scantily clad girls play a brand of ping-pong that you will not see at the Olympic Games anytime soon…!!

"Roll up...!! Roll up...!! This you gotta see...!! Then tell us about it later, because our "mother" won't let us go in...!!"

The Swamp Eel show sounded particularly scary...!! Stuff that could very well haunt your dreams for a long time to come...!!

We had to carefully explain to Chenty why she should not accompany us into the establishment in question…

When sudden understanding dawned in her eyes, we immediately realised that we would not be going to see the show either…!!

And that’s what you get for offering too much information…!! I think Phil’s description of a girl shooting a ping-pong ball into a glass from a few metres away was the deal-breaker…!!

We walked the brightly lit streets for hours, marveling at the weird and wonderful sights…but mostly the weird…!! Then we found a taxi to take us back to Kata Beach…

The following day we hopped on our bikes, and riding in our usual format, the four of us headed off to do some sight-seeing…

We headed out to ride around the southern tip and up the east coast of the island...

Passed this basket seller near Chai Long Bay...

We stopped at this elephant shrine, where hundreds of elephants carved from both wood and stone, were draped in garlands of flowers...

Our ride took us high up along the coastal road, where we could see smaller islands scattered in the bay...

We stopped at the Sea View Elephant Camp to remove a stone fro the Big Fella's shoe...

Chenty wasn't sure if my new found figure suited me...!! At least I got a few wolf-whistles from Trev and Phil...!!

The road south looped up and over a range of low hills, twisting and turning all the way… We had pulled off to one side to take a photo or two, and when we got back on the road, a terrible grinding sound came from my rear brakes…!!

My first thought was that the “home-made” brake pads that I had fitted in Vientiane, Laos, had shattered, and the pieces were now scratching the hell out of my brake disc…

We stopped in the parking area of an Elephant Camp, and discovered that a small piece of gravel had somehow managed to get caught between my brake calipers and the steel disc…!!

We managed to knock it out and then made sure that the pads themselves had no been damaged, before going on our way…

We were hoping to find a great beach to swim at, but we had no luck with that particular mission… We stopped in a small fishing village, parked the bikes next to the ocean and then walked around looking for a place to have lunch…

We settled on “The Recycle”, which was little more than a two-roomed shack perched on the edge of a small stream that flowed under the main road and into the bay… The owners had collected flotsam off the beach and used that to decorate the place, and had made a reasonable job of it too I might add…

The GS Boys wait patiently for their grub... (As I look at this photo now (5th June) know that I miss you Big Guy...)

We hoped that lunch would not have been recycled as well...!!

A tasty fish and 12 chips...with a large salad...!!

The prices on the menu seemed very cheap, and we were just congratulating ourselves on finding another cool and inexpensive place to eat, when lunch arrived…

Although it fell a few yards short of what we would call a “full plate of food”, it was nonetheless delicious as I recall…!!

Back on our bikes, we turned north and ran towards Phuket town, and then turned off just short of it and cut across the island, over the mountains and down in Kata Beach…

I enjoy taking a short ride in and around the places I settle in for a few days, and it is much more enjoyable to be doing it with other riders… You always seem to find reasons to stop and have a drink or something to eat, or just to sit somewhere and enjoy the scenery… Not so great doing it alone…

We got our bikes tucked up for the night, using our covers because they stood out in the main road, where hundreds of people walked by every day, and we all know what the devil does with idle hands…!!

Under cover outside Rico's Bungalows, Kata Beach...

After a few days, we had had enough of Phuket and it’s crowds, and decided to head for Ao Nang on the opposite side of the Bay of Koyao… Phil would take a boat there, and meet up with us later that day…

We left Phuket without looking back…

©GBWT 2011

5 comments to The Playground that is Phuket…

  • Trevor Reeve

    Good times Ronnie, thanks for sharing! 50 riders from the club were split into two groups and rode to the Loskop Dam today. it was a great ride with great company, I rode a total of 514km, would loved to have just kept going LOL!

  • Pleasure Buddy….!! I know exactly what you mean….had many of those rides…everything working in harmony, mind, body and bike…. And all you’re wanting is that black strip to take you on forever….!! Try and do a “long ride” once a month, and one day you’ll find yourself on a REALLY LONG RIDE….!! R.

  • Mark Behr

    Glad you had fun in Phuket. Also glad you had Chenty to keep you boys out of trouble!

  • Who knows what we might have got up to…!! R.

  • Trev

    Shit Man, I miss you too. Had a great ride today on a very bald tire across the Nullarbar.

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