Something Fishy

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1st April

“What time do the rest of the office folks get here?” I asked my husband, rubbing my eyes sleepily.

No-wait. Hold the line a minute. I’ve gone off the rails.

I don’t know if you have had the same experience, but the snag I always come up against when I’m telling a story is this dashed difficult problem of where to begin it. It’s a thing you don’t want to go wrong over, because one false step and you’re sunk. I mean, if you fool about too long at the start, trying to establish atmosphere, as they call it, and all that sort of rot, you fail to grip and the customers walk out on you. Get off the mark, on the other hand, like a scalded cat, and your public is at a loss. It simply raises its eyebrows, and can’t make out what you’re talking about. And in opening my report with the above spot of dialogue, I see that I have made the second of these two floaters. I shall have to hark back a bit.

I have been chattering away about 4 nights in Phuket without a word of explanation on how we came to be here on such a short trip in the first place. I published my first travel post on this blog almost exactly two years back when we went on our annual family trip with my husband’s work colleagues. We have been doing this for the last three years without having ever ventured outside our home state of Karnataka. This year however, we went all the way to Phuket.

Having got here a day before most of the office gang though, we grappled with the problem of what to do before everyone else got in. Especially since it was pouring cats and dogs. The kids were quite content to run up and down the bunk bed but my husband prowled round and round the room in a manner that would have caused comment in a caged tiger. I was very relieved when the monsoon finally gave up and we were free to hit the  beach.

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The office people had reached and checked in by the time we came back. Being hollower than the Grand Canyon however, they were on the lookout for lunch. The catch being that it had to be vegetarian. We went foraging and at a few minutes walk, found a Thai restaurant that promised to serve some, and all of us trooped in. Now the food at Novotel (both dinner and breakfast, NOT the pizza we had eaten for lunch) was very nice so we were hopeful of finding something good here too. This was sadly not to be. The entire team, people differing on a wide range of topics and ideas, were as one on this. So a tip for vegetarian people holidaying in Phuket: Airbnb.

After lunch, we headed to the beach for a spot of parasailing. Parasailing in Phuket is a bit like Goa and a bit unlike. Unlike because you take off from and land on the beach – not in water. Similar because it is equally unsafe. All the kids had smooth landings but the adults jerked down mostly.

After that, all the people who’d come in that day wanted to sleep a bit, but we were all rested and ready for a spot of retail therapy! I had done my research well and knew that the place we needed to be at was Jungceylon.

Our hotel had a free shuttle to Patong but we didn’t know that and we took a taxi. Taxis in Phuket are expensive compared to India. We didn’t rent a car or scooter during our trip and I am not sure about the pricing but it would make sense to look up the hotel’s arrangements if you are staying at one. The tuk tuk though very exotic (not for Indians, we own the autorickshaw and phatphati) costs exactly as much as a taxi.

Jungceylon is a huge huge mall and there is no way you can see it all over the course of one evening. We managed to see most of the ground floor. If you are from somewhere with a currency conversion ratio in your favour, you will have much to do here. Being from India, there was a sense of sameness about both the things to buy and the price. There are tons of shops and it is easy to get carried away but honestly except for souvenirs there is nothing that you don’t get back home. Holiday shopping also makes for difficult returns!

There is a crazy variety of cosmetics and beauty stuff. Then there is Thai silk. But at those prices, it ain’t no silk. There are two Jim Thompson outlets at the Bangkok airport and one at Phuket if you really want to buy Thai silk for your home but my recommendation would be to go to one of the many Thai tailors and get a tailored silk dress. Years ago my dad visited Thailand and returned with lots of Thai silk material for my sister and me. Having no idea what to do with it, we took it to our local tailor in Karol Bagh who fashioned some very Delhi salwar suits out of them. 🙂  They turned out well but don’t try this at home! The local tailor is definitely the saner choice.

The Jungceylon food court has a cafeish vibe and the food was rather nice too. I can vouch for the sticky rice with mango and the green curry (made veg by the simple expedient of opting for None Of The Above when asked to choose between pork, chicken or fish) was lovely. As we were leaving, my son spotted a fish spa and asked to try. He found it ticklish at first and then he loved it! The fish were all gathered round his feet and literally jumping out of the water to have a go at his legs. I have no notion what he had on his legs and feet that the fish loved so much but it worked. He came out all smooth and soft I was sorely tempted to try as well but it was late and we had to leave.

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PS. I bought this outfit from a brand called Island Girl. It was so floaty and white and pretty and like something out of a music video! Sunset on the beach sort of thing. Didn’t get a chance to wear it on this trip but Phuket, I’ll be back.

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PPS. Wodehouse on the beach is a great idea!

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