Scribblings from Patong, Krabi and Ko Lanta

Trip Start Jan 22, 2009
Trip End Mar 19, 2009

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Sunday, February 1, 2009

The southern Thailand towns and beaches of Patong, Krabi and Ko Lanta each are unique in their vibes yet all share a mellow tempo, genuinely Thai,  that's very nourishing for one's good spirit.

If I was a composer, here's the word tempo I would choose for each:

For Krabi.... small town evening ambiance and peacefulness. People taking sunset strolls along the harbor sidewalk, food stand vendors making preparations for dinner servings to locals and travelers alike, a woman carrying a traditional transport stick balancing two baskets of goods while passing  two Thai ladies wearing Islamic headcoverings, longboats departing for open sea, everyone smiles, chatter is light and easy. Even the sunset is subtle, unpretentious in its quiet exit.

For Ko Lanta.... jogging, swimming, reading, relaxing, hammock swaying, doggies playing, tidal flow, sunset glow, Singha beer to go, drifting bongo beat, nighttime flame thrower's heat, dinner on the beach while lanterns resonate pastel light into the night as the beachfront bars begin to hum. Soon, the day is done and the new day's dawn begins on cue to the lazy hammock's rhythmic flow.

For Patong... a dash of Las Vegas, a pinch of international jet set beachfront panache and a healthy helping of tropical burlesque merriment, musically accompanied by either loud, brass go-go music or great vintage rock cover band sounds.

The bulk of the raucous behavior merriment (when the Aussies are not celebrating Aussie day at the Aussie bar) is conducted by the Lady Boys themselves. The lavishly, scantily dressed Lady Boys are Thai transvestites, lost souls who seem to be perpetually recreating their Rio Carnivale fantasy dream.
"What?!" says Texas Bob, nearly spilling his beer at this remark. "They're NOT women!" "But they seem so purty and they have a pair of...and don't look like they have a ...oh nooo...this can't be so", as his voice, full of chagrin, moans and he slowly sinks deeper into his pint of beer. Poor Texas Bob....

The range of the international crowd walking the streets is global in its representation; Western European, Eastern European, Asian, Aussies, Israelis, jet setters and families. One may see a dubious Dubai (say that ten times real fast) business man, Russian or Italian mobster pass you by, each accompanied by their various voluptuous female escorts and Russian models.
Perhaps even the ever popular American bailout corporate CEO with his escort about to partake in an expensive beachfront seafood dinner at a fine beachfront resort, funded by the ever generous American taxpayer.

Hey, we all need a vacation, right?

Patong, and especially further up coast, was devastated by the December 2004 tsunami disaster, killing lives and destroying property. Several storefronts along the beach have displays with pictures taken on that fateful morning. Incredulously, within Patong city limits, the are no lasting indications of this natural disaster. Everywhere has been rebuilt, and then some, thanks I suppose to the resilience of the Thai people and the beach resort and real estate developers. The few locals I inquired about the event had not witnessed it, having arrived in town since that day.

A tsunami early warning siren system has since been installed by the Thai government as well as signs that state the best tsunami evacuation route would  be to go inland. Well, thank goodness for that helpful direction, I would never have thought to run AWAY from the water...brilliant!

I took a lovely island day excursion over to the picturesque Krabi province, home to dramatic, lush karst peaks that thrust out of the water and along the coastline. Here, you may find James Bond with his Golden Gun searching for Leonardo Dicaprio and his merry band of backpackers.

Snorkeling was very good here, near Phi Phi island and Maya Beach, so long as you avoided the areas where the jellyfish were beginning to move in.

Next stop...Ko Samui.

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