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The Long Walk in Patong, Phuket
Patong Beach is like any popular beach in the world. It has lots of people. It has all the tourist attractions like parasailing, banana boats, walking masseuse, and souvenir peddlers. Some people go to Phuket and only sprawl out on Patong. I didn't want to be that kind of person. I wanted to beach hop but realized so did many other people. If I wanted to go to Phi Phi Island (this is where they filmed the movie The Beach), Freedom Beach, Kata Beach or any other popular beach, I would experience the same thing with all of them, big crowds. I don't mind the crowds but I do not want to travel in big crowds on a boat or taxi. I didn't want to be packed in a boat or car like sardines, a private driver is expensive, and renting a scooter is supposedly dangerous. There was probably a better, affordable, and efficient way to get around the island but when I woke up on May 5th, 2014 from my hotel bed, I decided I was going to use my feet to see other beaches.
The beach tours were pretty expensive. Private transportation were difficult to arrange. I was too hesitant to ask for help. I got a hold of a map and thought to myself that I would just check out some nearby beaches from Patong. Maybe they won't be as crowded or too touristy.
Map of Patong Beach to Paradise Beach
Now I was doing everything on foot and started my trek at Patong Beach. Looking at the map, I decided, I'll hike it to Paradise Beach. The name implied paradise and I ask myself how much more paradise can it get on Phuket. It looked like about an hour walk away. I'm pretty fit, I can walk five miles with no problem. This was going to be easy peasy.
When traveling outside of your country, carry or purchase an unlocked cell phone. You can easily switch out sim cards with pre -loaded minutes and text with the local cell service. It is usually cheaper than having your carrier provide roaming. Early 2000 era Nokia phones are most adaptable to being a handy international phone.
I started my beach hopping journey around 10:00AM and strolled on Patong taking it all in. All I had on me was my wallet, my Nikon digital camera and my Nokia e72 smart phone. I switched out the sim card to a Thai one so I can use it in case of emergencies. I knew I was going to be walking for a few hours and figured I would need my wallet so I can buy food and drinks along the way. My Nokia isn't much to brag about but it is handy when it comes to switching out sim cards from different countries and the battery life seems infinite. I felt like I could take on whatever Phuket could throw at me with just these three items.
Versatile, durable, and adaptable to any environment. Very handy cell phone for international traveling.
At the south end of Patong Beach, there is a bridge and a few road signs that tell the traveler how far a few restaurants and resorts are. The bridge was uphill and so were the signs. I didn't realize that was a metaphor for my beach hopping journey. I was getting further and further away from Patong, meaning further away from civilization, which wasn't a bad thing. An hour passed and so far, so good.
The view of Patong was very humbling and stunning. A few more hundred feet after the view, I saw an small elephant in some guy's front yard. I thought to myself, "That is something you don't see everyday (and the movie The Protector popped in my head which tells a coming of age story of a boy and his elephant and a little Muay Thai thrown in)," and was thankful I decided to walk, otherwise I would have miss these two Nikon moments.
Obey the laws of the local country. Last thing you want is to have your holiday ruined by law enforcement. If you wouldn't break the law in your own country, don't do it in a foreign one.
After the elephant photo-op, my body started to ache. I was sweating profusely and wished I had a bottle of water. The sun was repeatedly backhand slapping me in the face with its rays and I felt like a flesh covered osmosis experiment with all the sweat coming out of all my pores. In other words, it was very hot, very humid, and I was dehydrated. I should have brought some water. Before my walk, my thought process was I'll just stop at a food stand and buy some food or drinks. I assumed they would be everywhere but I was very wrong. Buildings and houses were getting scarce and I hardly saw any travelers except for the occasional tourist on a scooter. Every time I saw a tourist on a scooter, I wondered why I didn't rent one but I also remembered I could easily hurt myself on one and I might be breaking local laws with my limited knowledge of the road rules of Thailand. So I soldiered on with heat cramp and all because I wanted to see a beach other than Patong.
I didn't have to suffer for too long. I came across an oasis, a Family Mart. My wallet came in handy. I bought three bottles of water and chug one quickly. Heat cramps begone. Equipped with two bottle waters, I continued my beach hopping. I figured I was halfway to my destination and the uphill climb was finally going down.
On my way down and nursing on my second bottle of water, I noticed a billboard that advertised a hideaway beach. I made it to Little Tiger Beach. This beach was beautiful to me. It seemed like a lagoon that was bookended by some hills that could be climbed for a spectacular view. I took about a 30 minute break just to take in the scene. It wasn't crowded at all. I could count the visitors on two hands. I was shocked that there was hardly anyone here but I enjoyed it even more because of that and it was only 1:00PM in the afternoon.
Little Tiger Beach
After taking in Little Tiger Beach, I was thinking Paradise Beach has to be even more spectacular if this area isn't crowded. I continued to walk and noticed a sign that Paradise was only one kilometer away but it looked like it was all uphill and the road was really narrow. It didn't look like there was any walking room, let alone driving room but I did see a wooden hut a few yards back and it had a path leading down a rocky coast.
I went down the path and contemplated my next move. Should I turn around call it a day, walk this seemingly steep one kilometer to Paradise, or go around and walk the rocky coast? I made an executive decision and said "F*** it," I'll go around. It's only one kilometer, how bad could it be?
What would you have done?
With my rejuvenated body, I started to walk and climb the rocky coast. The rocks were getting bigger and bigger and I just kept on going and before I knew it, it felt like a waste to turn back around. Fifteen minutes into my climb, I suddenly had two movies popped into my head, Deliverance and 127 Hours. I thought to myself, "Are there such a thing as Thai Hillbillies; What if I have to cut a limb off, I don't have a pocket knife". It was another one of those moments where I said, "F*** it," and kept on going.
Thinking I'm halfway completed, I realized I drank all my water. But I wasn't in imminent danger, at least in my mind. I could have slipped and fell and hurt myself, a venomous snake could have scared me or bit me, dehydration could have taken over me so much that I could not go on, or practically anything could have happened. I didn't let those thoughts bring me down. All I could do was tread softly and carry a big stick (I know it's supposed to be speak softly). Also, I wasn't all alone and I wasn't the only one that came this way. I saw a Thai fisherman here and there and there were evidence of people going this way with the litter that was washing into the coast. If anything, I could yell out for help or use my trusty Nokia to make a phone call or text.
Wear Sunscreen. Being burnt and red is not only painful and inconvenient but also unattractive.
Exhausted and sun burnt, I saw Paradise from a distant. I could see catamarans and big beach umbrellas. I reached my destination but unlike Little Tiger Beach, it was very overcrowded. If I wasn't so tired and thirsty, I would have just turned around and climbed back to the wooden hut that lead me here. Since I made it here, I had one more obstacle to overcome. Jellyfish. I didn't see any in Little Tiger Beach and only saw a few in Patong. I had to cross a little body of water that was full of jellyfish. I was calculating how I could get across without touching one of these creatures. It was too far to jump across with one leap and the rocks were too slippery to walk across so I just jump as far as I could, landed in the water and jump to the other side as fast as I could. If I touched a jellyfish and got stung I was ready to urinate on my leg. Luckily, I did not get stung (and I think urine and jellyfish is an urban myth but I didn't have to find out).
I made it to my destination with no big problem. A little dehydrated, a little sun burnt, and a little fatigue but still in good spirits. I was disappointed in Paradise beach. I didn't think it lived up to the hype and the name but I was content with myself that I set out to come here by foot and made it. The sun was jabbing me in the face all day with its heat rays but I took the blows and rolled with the punches. It was a test of endurance and I pass it with flying colors.
The Last Hour
After my victory meal, I was ready to walk back. I did try to look for a tuk tuk or a scooter taxi in the parking lot but no luck. I was sort of glad to take the rocky coast route, it was an adventure to me and it was better scenery. The walk back up the one kilometer hill was pretty gruesome in itself. The road was very narrow and the hill was very steep. In my opinion, Little Tiger Beach was the best beach out of all three that I hopped around to but I enjoyed all three in their own way. By the way, it only took me two hours to get back to my hotel room from Paradise since I was more prepared thanks to the restaurant break.
What could have made my journey in the sun safer and better?
- Be better prepared and bring a backpack to carry supplies.
- Bring supplies that can ward off dehydration like food and water.
- Keep the sun off you as much as possible by wearing sunscreen, a hat, light colored clothing to reflect the heat.
- Wear appropriate, comfortable footwear.
- Carry a small umbrella and jacket in case the weather changes
- Have a cell phone on hand. Keep people informed to what your plans are.
- Be alert. Be aware of danger like wild animals, traffic, and other hostile environments.
- Know your limits. If physically or mentally incapable of enduring, take a rest or if you must, quit. There is always another day or another way.
© 2014 Ken