Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Don't you Phuket about me...

So much has happened in the last five weeks since my last blog entry! I suppose I'll start there...

I "went travelling" for four weeks around South East Asia - or as others put it - I went "on holiday" although, as enjoyable as it was, there were definitely times when I felt far more exhausted than relaxed.

Anyway, five weeks ago, I boarded my AirAsia flight, and endured the eight-hour flight to Kuala Lumpur, where I spent the weekend taking part in SEA Jam - a weekend of swing dance workshops during the day with some of the best teachers in the world, followed by social dancing late into the night. It was definitely the sweatiest dance weekend I've been to - I was running out of clean dry clothes by Saturday evening - but I learned plenty of new moves, and met a whole new scene of awesome dancers from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, plus a substantial number of expats from Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden!

On the Monday, I headed on to the island of Phuket, Thailand, where I was to meet up with a group of Swedish dancers for a few days of beach-going, banana-pancake-munching, exploring and - of course - dancing. After having adjusted to the humid bustle of Malaysia, Thailand was definitely something else. Stepping out at the airport, I was immediately accosted by a number of enthusiastic taxi drivers, who I had the common sense to ignore. Unfortunately, these cabbies have definitely collaborated in finding a consistent rate for fleecing bewildered tourists, and the standard government rate which was publicly listed on the billboard next to the cab rank held no authority, as the drivers insisted on a substantially inflated price. I instead moved across to the "Taxi-Meter" rank, hoping to get a taxi that would put me on the meter. Clearly, I was naive in this approach. Eventually, I found a mini-van that would take me to Karon at a price substantially less than the taxis - though, admittedly they took twice as long to get me there! Welcome to Thailand.

Karon was an interesting place - down the road from the infamous party town of Patong, this was much more family-friendly, and the preferred destination for middle-aged Russians and Swedes. Wandering around, there were times where it seemed like there were more fair-haired tattooed westerners than locals. The days were hot and sunny, and I cursed my negligence in packing sunscreen - and then cursed the local price for sunscreen. Afternoons were spent in the pool, and in the evening I joined my fellow travellers for some social dancing, as we took over the floor of a local Korean restaurant, and then revelled late into the night at the nearby Reggae bar. Clearly we were getting into the local culture.

After a few days of tuk-tuk travelling, reading, swimming, and unsuccessful haggling at the market, it was time to return to the airport and fly to my next destination - Bangkok!