Spontaneity, excitement and constant rush of adrenaline made Patong completely worth it.
Bad weather in Krabi meant my first few conservation scuba diving activities, scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week, were canceled. The other volunteers and I were promptly informed that our weekend would be moved to mid-week and we would make up these dives on Saturday and Sunday. So what to do with these suddenly free few days? Of course it was a bummer to miss the diving, but we decided to seize on the opportunity and trekked out to Patong in Phuket. I did have a moment of hesitation, when I realized how potentially illogical it was to travel so far in the bad weather and for such a short period of time. But I vowed to myself to embrace carpe diem while I was here. Within an hour of making the decision to go, I found myself on a bus en route to the touristy beach town.
After a three hour bus ride on highways drenched with rain, we arrived in Patong. Though it was already 10:00 pm, it may as well have been the middle of the day; neon lights advertising hotels, souvenir shops and bars completely illuminated the narrow streets. It was like a miniature version of The Strip in Las Vegas. After checking into a nearby hotel and dropping off our belongings – which, for me, amounted to a clean T-shirt, a pair of shorts, a couple pairs of underwear and a toothbrush – we set off to explore the spectacle. It was still pouring rain, but vendors hawked us to buy their souvenirs and partygoers spilled out of massive three-story nightclubs that lined the main street. The most impressive one was called Tiger, and two lit-up, larger-than-life tigers guarded its entrance. The street was so crowded it was difficult to walk, and we had to shout in order to hear each other over the blasting dance music. As we weeded our way through the mayhem, all of a sudden, the music stopped and everything went black. Even during these few minutes without power, people still danced, shouted and sang over the silence. Though it didn’t last long, the experience was along the lines of a power shut down in Times Square.
The following day, we grabbed umbrellas from the hotel – yes, it was still raining – and strolled through the shops, buying souvenirs and Thai street food. For dinner, we went to a Thai restaurant in the heart of town. I ordered Pad Thai, which is noodles with vegetables and tofu in a rich flavorful sauce. Only in Thailand could you find restaurant after restaurant that served authentic and delicious Thai cuisine amidst a raging party scene.
When we awoke to leave the next day, I opened the curtains to gaze at the window to see if it had stopped raining. To my surprise (and pleasure) it had, but I looked down at the streets and saw a river of brown water where the street should be. Cars slowly trudged through the murk, and the occasional pedestrian walking across the street was shin-deep in water. The city was completely flooded. As we prepared to go and ran to catch our bus home, I took a moment to appreciate how insane the last couple of days had been. I knew that when I called my parents the next day to check in, they would say how hasty and naïve I was to think the trip was a good idea. But the mere spontaneity, excitement and constant rush of adrenaline made it completely worth it.
Article written by Anna Carey.