Friday, 29 November 2013

Letter from Phuket 1

I am writing this at 5am, I am sitting in bed awake, wishing it wasn’t dark outside so I could go for a swim. I’m back in Phuket (Thailand) for the 6th time for the King’s Cup yachting regatta. It feels very familiar although a few vital things have changed, such as the colour of the pool towels and sunbeds…

I still get the little butterflies of ‘will it all go ok? Will I cope?’ when I think about the manic two days of regatta registration coming up. Silly though because it always goes OK and on Sunday night it all comes together, and I finally close my laptop satisfied that everyone has a legal certificate and they can go racing on Monday morning.

Heathrow terminal 3 never seems to change. I shopped in Boots and had tea in Costa, and got invited by a man to have my photo taken next to a cardboard cutout of the Queen as I was idly inspecting the Royal Wedding gift shelves. I said ‘no thank you, I’m English’ which made it sound as though I could have my photo taken with the Queen any day of the week.

My flight out was uneventful and I had two seats to myself, in fact the plane was very empty. Clearly Wednesday is not a popular travelling day! I spent most of the 11.5 hr flight to Bangkok not sleeping. I read an entire Dick Francis novel which I then left on the plane to be recycled, and watched a couple of episodes of an American drama called ‘Nashville’, about a country singer and her family, and of course an up-and-coming rival singer. There was then a couple of hours at Bangkok before a 90 minute flight down to Phuket and an hour’s taxi ride to the hotel.

Having arrived at Kata Beach at around midday yesterday (Thursday), I just wanted to sleep and did manage a couple of hours dozing, but was totally out of sync and it feels wrong being in bed in the middle of the day. A quick walk on the beach confirmed yet again that this is definitely not my ideal holiday destination and that Mr H would absolutely hate it. Couples and families either lying on the crowded beach, splashing about in the sea, walking around in skimpy swimwear with their bellies hanging out (male and female) or zooming around on SeaDoos. The majority of tourists here now seem to be Russian, with some Brits and other Europeans thrown in.

So, it’s warm and most of the time it’s sunny. But for holidays give me the Scottish wild lands any day. I dined alone last night, having gone for a stroll into the village (ie. stepped outside the hotel front gates) on impulse I stopped in at an outdoor restaurant and ate Pad Thai (noodles) with prawns and a bottle of Heineken, followed by banana split. It didn’t feel at all odd being in the restaurant on my own and I could watch the world walking by on their way home from the beach, or locals driving past in their pickups and tuktuks but mainly on scooters. A baby elephant went by in the back of a truck, some animal screamed in an alley across the road, and the Russians sitting at the table next to me argued with the waiter about exactly what it was they wanted.

Today we start sail measurement and it is a bit of a warm-up day before tomorrow’s mayhem. I might go back to sleep for half an hour.