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…….The World Without Boundaries

A Weekend Revisit to Patong

Written By: jipp - Feb• 02•20

So I have just remembered. I went to Phuket late last year – to join a bunch of friends from my hometown who actually toured from Bangkok to Phuket and back on bicycles. It would be my second time to this island, after going there with a friend back in 2009 (one of my very first travel trips). As expected, everything had changed a lot. It was only a moderately sized airport back then, but now it seems to have doubled up in size and the number of passengers that it has to deal with.

I remember having to deal with the incessant hassling by hordes of taxi drivers, but this time you can just go to any of the ticket counters and buy your ticket. There were more easy and cheaper options. Cheaper does come with a price though, only in another form. I had to wait until the van was fully loaded, and then it stopped at some shop where we were all asked to disembark and go into a shop promoting all kind of tour packages that I had no interest whatsoever in. I just wanted to reach Patong where my hometown friends were eagerly waiting.

After tossing my luggage in the hotel room, I went to join them at Bangla Road, the road that fascinated me so much when I first visited it 10 years ago. I was glad that they were not really in the midst of the cacophony of deafening sounds and noises that Bangla Road is known for (apart from more other things of course), because I was not really prepared for it just yet. Instead, I found them in a quite part of the area where we could have beer and talk without having to shout at the top of our lungs.

The real tour around Patong only happened the next day. Patong was almost unrecognizable from the last time I remember it was. New buildings were up – large and modern – and the small bars that lined up the beach back then were no longer there. Instead, they had now been replaced with modern shops that sell souvenirs and restaurants that sell food at exorbitant prices.

I remember thinking how expensive things were in Patong back then. Now it has turned for the worse. Apart from the beer, everything in Patong is expensive. The prices seem to cater for the rich(er) tourists and not really for the budget travelers like me. Thanks God there are tons of other places in Thailand – and more and more new places are springing up – that you can still travel to without having to break the wallet.

The beach is still one of my favorite things in Patong. It may not be the most beautiful beach, but there is something so relaxing and exciting about just being there. It is still as crowded as ever – which means you’ll never run out of things to see and observe and laugh at. LOL.

The nightlife at Bangla Road still fascinated me. I remember going there alone last time because my travel buddy had preferred not to come with me, or ‘the images would stay in my head for years’ as he described it. I was 10 years younger, and of course very eager to explore.

I went to see all the shows, and I had no second thought about going deep into the ‘back alleys’ to see what Bangla Road really had to offer (for my eyes). And my friend was right, the images did stay in my head for years, in fact they are still in my head up to this day. I mean, I haven’t gone senile and definitely haven’t lost my memory yet so… they are definitely still in there. LOL.

But I wasn’t there for those shows this time. Instead, we went to one of the night clubs with live band performances. It was super-crowded, and was quite uncomfortable to be in with all the rubbing and giving ways (to incoming and outgoing club-goers) but whatever feel of discomfort gradually went away as the night wore on and we had more and more beer down our thirsty throats.

It was a super-energetic night and I don’t remember having jumped and danced to a course music and live band performances so continually for a very long time. I thought my days of energetic clubbing were over but my night – that last night in Patong had proved otherwise. LOL.

For me Patong really is a place that you’d go to for the nightlife – and probably a little bit for the beach, a very crowded one – and nothing more. In fact, people come to Patong as a transit point to other islands in the Andaman sea which is dotted with world-famous islands, as an alternative to going there via Krabi.

But I don’t mind going there again – for the nightlife of course. With all the busy-ness of my (professional) life that I was dragged into right now, a night or two in Patong suddenly sounds quite relevant to me. Heh.

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Show me Your License

Written By: jipp - Jan• 12•20

I remember renting a motorbike in Chiang Mai. It was not my first time renting a bike when traveling, in fact I’d rent a bike whenever possible because it is always convenient to go places on one. The convenience of stopping whenever I feel like stopping is unrivalled by any other mean of transportation.

And never had I bumped into a traffic police, at least not anyone that stopped me and asked for my license, which was none – until this trip to Chiang Mai.

I was making a one full round of the four-cornered Old Quarter of Chiang Mai when I bumped into a road-block – a major one. I could see a lot of the local motorists flagged aside and questioned by the traffic police. Since the whole of the Old Quarter runs strictly on a one-way traffic system, it was too late for me to split away from it.

Things went so fast and I was there going face-to-face with the policeman before I knew it. Caught off-guard without any idea of what to do apart from surrendering myself to whatever hell that might come. I stopped as the policeman flagged me down with a gesture.

Somehow right at that moment something in me just worked with its own thought, and I found myself taking out my wallet from my little sling bag, rummaging through it as if I’d find some sort of saviour in there. And somewhere among all the ATM and credit cards that I stuffed inside my lil wallet of which mostly are useless, I caught sight of my Malaysian driving license. And quiet on an impulse, I reached to it and took it out and before I knew it was already in the hand of the policeman.

There was a long long pause when the Thai policeman looked at it. He tried to find some answer in it, but it didn’t seem easy for him.

Probably feeling defeated, he took it to another policeman, probably one of his superiors, and this superior took a long look at it (my Malaysian driving license) before mumbling something and returned it back to the policeman that stopped me. This policeman then returned it back to me and gave me a go-ahead.

There was a big relief in me – alright – but also I chuckled inside, still thinking how I managed to pull a trick at the very last minute, and succeeded. It was so damn funny to me even now.

Heh. You lucky bastard.

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