Enter paradise and you will find that thousands arrived before you and will continuously arrive throughout your stay. Sometimes we just have to throw up our hands and say “Phuket” and have a good time anyway. The hoards of tourists make it challenging to get amazing authentic Thai food, thus it became our motto to search for the “dirty noodles.” On side streets and alleyways, market stalls and hilltops we were going to enjoy Phuket and eat well too. Who cares if your restaurant has a peppy australian or ladyboy serving bolognaise, burgers and beer, we want noodles and curries over rice and make that shit spicy. 4feet2mouths had doubled in proportion with our friends Nalat and Tim. With scooters and sandals we were determined to explore and conquer Phuket.
Phuket is an island, a rather large island with multiple cities. We desperately needed wheels and it was hard to resist almost new scooters at $7 per day. It seemed rather funny that so many blondes and beach bebops rode around in just skimpy bathing suits. Instead we wore clothes, Tim and I fashioned bandannas on our heads, our ladies grabbed on tight and the birth of a new biker gang emerged from the depths of Kata Beach: Scooty Booty. The first stop was dirty noodles of course! We had egg noodles, rice noodles and crispy noodles with clear, spicy and red broths and pork balls, fish balls, shrimp and wontons. The second lunch of the day was a fried rice stand. Up and down the island we rode and not even a late monsoon rain storm could stop us.
The evening approached with a sunset that made the eighties look dull. The pinks were so bright that I started to miss “A Flock Of Seagulls.” Back on our
scooters hogs we putted roared into the night. We snaked through the jungle and up a small mountain to treat ourselves to a fabulous Thai meal looking over the city. Go to Khao Rung Tung Ka Cafe if you are in Phuket. We ordered spicy shrimp “dip” with fresh veggies, local greens pak good, satol beans with pork, coconut crab curry with rice noodles and a whole fish roasted with lemongrass. It was another Thai feast and oh was it good.
We needed the fuel because the next day we scuba dove into the crystal clear depths of the Indian Ocean. Schools of fish fluttered around us of every color. Lion fish, eels, and cuttlefish entertained us with each artificial breath. We were able to do some snorkeling with a waterproof camera.
That night was special across Thailand. The first full moon of the dry season, called Loi Krathong, enables a time of hope for the months ahead. Woven boats carry candles and wishes into the tide and paper lanterns float away with promises and dreams. We each released a lantern into the sky. The light frame and tissue encasing are carefully expanded with the ocean breeze then the coil is lit on fire. The hot air fills the cubic balloon and with a hopeful holding of our breath we each in turn made a wish and let go… They climb higher and higher into the night transforming to a tiny orange speck among the stars. The flame either silently fades out of existence or lights the entire lantern ablaze as a last glorified hoorah.
Our next day ws another stuffed with beautiful sights. We positioned ourselves on a sardine can of a boat set out for Phi Phi island. The scenery was magical with black cliffs climbing sharply from the sea and topped with tropical jungles. White sugar-like beaches, coral formations and a variety of fish all welcomed us to this paradise. We snorkeled, avoided the crowds and snorkeled some more. The sun was intense and the water slightly cooler and refreshing.
At night we wondered along Kata Beach in search of food. We opted for the ocean view atmosphere over the “locals eat here.” Nalat must have told them to rock our world because this meal was the spiciest thing we have consumed in Thailand. At one point Carmen had tears dripping down her cheeks between bites. And all of us dripped with sweat to deal with the Thai heat. That night Nalat found this wonderful helmet crab on the prowl along the shore.
A morning at the beach and we were ready for more food. We trekked our way up to the busy main road in search of other Thais eating lunch. We found a guy grilling some chicken and the attached cafe tucked away. I had been craving pad ka prow, ground pork, chillies and a more medicinal tasting Thai holy basil. Again we ate more than our fair share, but real Thai food is so good!
With an afternoon free we rented some more scooters and unleashed terror on the streets. We visited and hiked to a small waterfall. We cruised the streets in search of restaurants, markets and whatever had people and food. Again we found ourselves sharing bowls of slimy and rich pork noodles. For dessert we grabbed a bag of rambutans and mangosteens to be eaten at the hotel.
Want to know the sign of good friends? Friends will join us anywhere in the world just to tell us that we are missed. Great friends realize that we might be missing good wine by now. Nalat and Tim brought us not one, but two bottles (a Bordeaux and Turley at that!). The laughs and conversation continued late into the night. In the morning they left us, the room felt empty and the reality of it being only 4feet2mouths was once again.
Carmen and I packed our bags and made way for Phuket Town. We wondered aimlessly without our Thai guide Nalat. There was still hope for us as we did discover this wonderful Blog. There was only one thing that could sooth us from missing our friends…dirty noodles. Coffee shop in a bookstore: BORING, boat noodles in a bookstore? That’s AWESOME! A touch of sugar, a little vinegar and chillies, a dabble of fish sauce and a spoonful of dried red peppers and we were on our way to feeling much better. Noodles doctored to perfection!
In the morning we were in higher spirits. The rain crashed in buckets overhead, but with our ponchos we stayed mostly dry. Breakfast had one goal- Kanom jee at Pa Mai. We doused a plateful of rice noodles with several curries and sat down at a table. A tray of crisp and pickled vegetables awaited our consumption. There was a renewed sense of strength within us, “we can do this, we can travel within Thailand.”
Bags packed full and buckles cinched tight we were on the move. Local bus to the bus terminal, then a five hour regional bus to the ferry terminal. A meal from several streetside carts delivered us more boat noodles, fried rice and spicy long beans. Sandals off, we crawled onto our mat beds for the night. The rumble and rocking of the boat was almost enough for a peaceful night’s rest. Goodnight Phuket, goodnight to our friends and family (and readers). In the morning we will be in Koh Tao.