Phillipa Edwards Jamie Lawson

A view from inside one of Asia’s top tourist destinations

We’re 16 months into life in Phuket, and while it feels impossible to grasp the deep and complex culture of the amazing Thai people, it has taken me no time at all to get to grips with tourist season, as the hordes descend (here’s some numbers). Yes, I used to be one of them.
 
Naturally, I would not wish the tourist season away, as it keeps this place ticking over and many rely on tourism to make ends meet. However, as a person living in one of Asia’s most popular tourist places at this time of year, let me just say, ugh!!
As a resident, this is a challenging time of year. It’s packed. The supermarkets run out of all the essentials – especially when you throw a potentially devastating storm into the mix!! Thankfully it wasn’t devastating.
But buying the basics, like milk for your coffee? Good luck finding any on the island… and let me assure you, my hubby is not a happy man without his morning coffee.
Here’s some of my highlights living on a tourism island in the high season…

Driving

The roads are revoltingly crowded and when you factor in tourists’ driving skills – who are completely unfamiliar with driving these roads – the accidents are plentiful. I can’t tell you the amount of FarangsI’ve seen at the side of the road, blood pouring out of them, following a stupid bloody accident – usually involving themon a motorbike!!!! Re-living your youth has its disadvantages…  
I was at one of the hospitals this past week and there were a LOT of motorcycle accident victims not looking good. Please be careful if you rent motorbikes in Asia. So bloody dangerous when you don’t understand the rhythm of the roads in this neck of the woods.
On a day-to-day level, life continues as normal – high season and low – so when you add the fact we have to drive our kids to and from school every day into the mix, a 20-minute drive can double overnight!
But like everywhere else in the world, taxis are the ones to watch. Blind corners everywhere, with no room for movement at the side of the road – I really mean it, none. So when those taxis barrel around those blind bends, sitting on your side of the road, let’s just say, shit that was close!!! The demand for taxis is huge at this time of year, and the crazy driving turns one’s hair grey as they hurtle towards the next fare.
All clear for Jax at the hospital
 

Medical tourism

I honestly do not care if people want to beautify themselves. I really don’t. If you want to look better and don’t feel great about yourself, go for it! There’re all sorts of things we can do these days, and mostly, it’s harmless. Hey, I got my eyebrows tattooed recently – they were disappearing!!!
However, living in a popular medical tourism spot does provide some interesting food for thought on that front. Fresh out of Botox injections or plastic surgery, this island is full of people with gargantuan lips, tits, and more. They are so young too.
While I appreciate I am seeing extreme results – due to its freshness – it does make me despair for humankind. There are so many young women distorting their natural beauty, an action that is infiltrating the whole world – just go and watch any reality TV show and you’ll know exactly what I mean!!
Every time I see it, I want to say: focus on being beautiful on the inside and you will glow on the outside. Improvements no biggie. Distortions into something completely unnatural…. I want to put my head in my hands and weep.
We have a lot of work to do to ensure Mother Earth doesn’t evict us all, and yet, how can we get that focus when so many are seeking the superficial?
On the bright side, we do have a giggle some days….

Hurry bloody up

When you live near the equator long enough, you start to walk slower. You have to, it’s hot. I remember walking with a pal from London a few years ago, and I couldn’t keep up! I lost my London walking skills.
I had already slowed down in Singapore, but when it comes to walking in Phuket – a tourist destination – the walking speed is that of a bloody snail!! And usually it’s three generations walking slowly across the entire walk way. There is nowhere to go!!
Obviously, no worries when you’re on holiday, but think of the people who just have to get stuff done, which means: GET OUT OF OUR BLOODY WAY!!!!!!
For a speed shopper, it’s torture!!

Respect culture

The supermarkets are a huge place for entertainment at this time of year – you’d be amazed what people wear to do their shopping while on holidays… well more like how little they wear. My word there is a lot of skin on display – not all of it glorious or medically sculpted either.
But the one thing that really annoys me is lack of respect for local culture and what is acceptable. If you aren’t sure, ask!!
It starts with obvious things – tourists with their feet up on coffee tables, showing the soles of their feet. This is considered extremely rude in Thailand. Here’s some guidelines if you need them.
Nudity also isn’t cool, so if you’re in public, keep your dong in your shorts and your tits harnessed, please. It is rare for a Thai person to challenge on the many infractions witnessed, but never ever underestimate the Thai’s. There’s a reason they were the only South East Asian nation not colonized by Europeans. 
Big Buddha, Phuket
 

Respect wildlife

I went to the Big Buddha for the first time over the holidays as my sister and her family were visiting. It’s great. Check it out. Anyhoo, there’s a bunch of monkeys hanging out onsite, and I don’t know about you, but I love monkeys.
However, I also know that if you spend enough time near monkeys, you know they deserve respect.
Not here. I see one woman offer a monkey a bottle of Coke (it’s a bloody monkey woman!!) and another tries to touch a monkey, nearly getting bitten for her efforts. IF YOU ARE IN A COUNTRY that has rabies and a monkey bites you, guess what? A big bloody injection is coming your way. More than that, in both cases, monkeys are wild animals – respect them and leave them alone.
I also feel sad that so much awareness has been built around the world in regard to cruelty towards animals and still, the lines for photos and rides on elephants went around the corner. It sometimes feels like the message is not getting through at all!! 
Don’t mess with monkeys
 

Pick up your bloody rubbish

This one may not surprise you, based on my previous blog, but please, if you come to a place like Phuket to relish in its beautiful, pristine, white sandy beaches and crystal-clear oceans, the least you can do is take your bloody rubbish away with you.
And I don’t mean dumping it by the side of the road as you exit the beach because there are no public rubbish bins. No rubbish bins is a reality in this part of the world, which means you need to take added responsibility.
So please, take it back to wherever you’re staying, because there’s a small chance they can dispose of it correctly, or even recycle it. Even better, the local staff recycle it and get paid a small amount of money too.
It’s beautiful yes? Leave it that way
 
If you leave rubbish on the beach or by the road, it can go nowhere but the ocean. So don’t be complaining about rubbish on your snorkelling or diving trip the next day if you don’t clean up after yourselves. The pictures of dead birds, whales and more, with rubbish in their guts, has gone global. We are all aware of the fact we are polluting our world to the depths of our oceans. Why be one of the unthinking people contributing to it?
Just this is depressing. Why can’t we see the harm we are doing to our world?
Thailand is an amazing country and Phuket is a special place, where we have the privilege to live and provide our kids with a world-class education. I could live here my whole life and not understand the complex Thai nation or culture, but when it comes to tourism, it’s transparent. After my second-high season, I am getting a view of “the world on holiday” and the world needs to do better!!
From my chocolate lipped family to yours, let’s do better for Mother Earth in 2019
 
Naturally, I will have missed a lot of things, so to my fellow Phuketians, any other view from inside one of Asia’s top tourist destinations during high season??
Yours, without the bollocks
Andrea
 
Thank you for reading my ramblings. My brain and heart are a work in progress, always. I’d love a comment if it stirred any thoughts or feelings and of course, please feel free to share it with anyone you know who might be interested or entertained. I sure do appreciate it when you do.
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