Phuket Adventures #4: A Few Short Stories

Seh Hui Leong


Here are a few short stories that I couldn’t quite tie into the three-part travelogue that I had written up. You could read the previous entries here:

  • [Part 1: Adventures of a Novice Traveler][part1]
  • [Part 2: The Rainy Season][part2]
  • [Part 3: Under the Sea][part3]

Camera Panic! – A Blessing in Disguise

Every adventure has its unexpected moments: my first happened just before I set off to Phuket.

Like any other traveler, I always keep a list of things to pack and made sure that I had everything I needed. As I thought everything is perfectly as planned, Murphy’s law proved otherwise. Checking my gear almost gave me a heart attack: the battery for camera decided to pass away peacefully without me realizing it. As a photography enthusiast, a camera with dead batteries means trauma.

It’s already 10pm when I noticed the fact, and I found it out too late, literally. I’m at a loss knowing that all camera shops were closed – it’s perfectly human to panic when bad things happened in the last minutes of an important event. At such panicky moments, I was reminded with a quote “any problems that could be solved with money is never a problem”. At that point I decided to calm myself down and continue to pack my things. The camera problem had to wait till the next morning.

'Airport terminal' by Seh Hui

The next day, I found a [camera shop in KL Sentral][eoe] that opened really early in the morning and immediately bought [an affordable Fujifilm camera][fuji] which comes with an underwater case. In hindsight, having my camera broken down is a blessing in disguise: I could have missed out the enjoyable experience of underwater photography if my camera is still working.

The main take-away I had from this experience is to learn to don’t take problems and bad luck personally. Shit happens to everyone at different times. Instead of being sucked into the negative void of blame, panic or helplessness, it’s more rewarding to seek out a solution that would put you back on course. Who knows? Maybe you could meet with a better outcome that you’d originally planned or intended, like in my case of being able to enjoy underwater photography.

Think about it, especially if it’s a problem that could be solved with money or some other forms of resources.

Shopping at Phuket

'Shopping Mall' by Seh Hui

Personally I don’t do a lot of shopping. Reason being that I’m embracing a concept of [living a minimalistic lifestyle][bogue]1 and I blatantly refuse to bring back “stuff” that I don’t give a damn about. This even applies to souvenirs, to my friends and family’s chagrin.

What I do like is to window shop, which gives a unique feel of how locals and retail outlets here do business. During this trip I only went to [Jungceylon][jung], which is a new shopping complex in Patong. What really stuns me is just how many things that they sell, it really felt like a high-class warehouse to me with everything of every brand imaginable. The sheer amount of shelves and merchandise on them is mind-blowing as I had never seen such a sight in Malaysia.

The rows of shop lots along the streets of Patong is as shocking: with shops everywhere mostly selling counterfeited branded clothing and tour packages. Taking a closer it’s not hard to notice that most shops sells similar merchandise with similar prices. This reality confounded me, wondering with such cutthroat competition with no possible signs of differentiation, how one could stay in business. Maybe it’s the same business reality with any business that largely fed on tourist dollars: really high margins from unsuspecting tourists and by sheer volume of people willing to buy them.

I could imagine them surviving such competition with a strategic store location and good salesmanship. Perhaps even some cunning and scheming of the less ethical.

I’m also surprised about the serving size of McDonald’s, which follows Western portions – the regular-sized meal being equal to a large-sized meal in Malaysia.

Other than that, the prices are generally similar to what we were paying in Malaysia after taking currency exchange rates into consideration.

Photographer or Stalker?

'Relaxing' by Seh Hui

To be honest I’m feeling bitter as I’m writing this.

Bringing a camera to the beach sometimes draws some nasty looks from fellow tourists. To them, it’s an unwelcoming intrusion to someone else privacy, whatever that means. I do respect that point of view: after all, being photographed without explicit permission draw suspicion on whether the person is a pervert, a stalker or a paparazzi.

One experience that I feel particularly bitter about is when I had sand kicked on me by a guy when I pointed my camera in his direction. That happened when I was toying around the camera setting preparing for a panorama shot. I still remembered the scorn I had on my face when that happened, in the end I just let it slide and focus on some thing else.

Maybe he’s just one of those guys who feels disgusted by a male photographer pointing in his direction? I do wonder whether his reaction would be different I’m a hot chick in bikinis?

Neurotic Patong

'Night Walk along Patong' by Seh Hui

As the sun comes down, that’s when the party starts in Patong. Bangla Road is the most popular destination to enjoy nightlife in Phuket: filled with neon-lights, pubs, booze and tiger shows.

Just walking along the street gives you a taste of what it’s all about: hustlers promoting free tiger shows to attract people to enter their clubs, some even brought their drag queens along with flamboyant outfits which makes the deal even more irresistible, the immense amount of people that surrounds us, the dim interiors of bars with pulsing lights…

I hated the place.

Partly due to my general dislike and discomfort being in the middle of a crowd. Partly also due to the fact that I felt really neurotic when I’m in the place. And I could swear that I’d never set foot on Bangla road again. It’s funny to think about my immense dislike of the place considering that I do like being in a dance club atmosphere.

Maybe it’s because I hesitated in convincing my straight travel companion to visit a more gay-friendly district? But I digress. 😊

Seeing You Again – My Next Trip to Phuket

'Packing Again' by Seh Hui

After having such a great time in Phuket, I’m definitely going there again. For the next trip I would still focus on things that I enjoyed the most: the sea, beaches and a relaxed pace.

And for that next trip it’ll be when the monsoon season is over: I really wanted to enjoy a calmer sea which would allow me to explore without being beaten down by waves.

There’s a few things that I hoped to experience in the next trip:

  • Taking beautiful photographs of orange-cast skies during the sunset at Phromthep Cape
  • Take photographs at Ko Nakkerd: A high viewpoint in Kata which also features a big Buddha statue
  • Taking a swim at Maya Bay in Phi Phi island
  • Take a stroll in Phuket Town, which I had a better impression than Patong
  • I would love to go [Snuba diving][snuba]; which would definitely be an awesome experience. Pretty expensive, though.
  • Pick up some adventure sports: either kayaking or surfing would be great
  • Immerse myself into the beauty of Koh Samui for a few days

That’d be another travelogue for another day in the future.

  1. I greatly recommend that you read Everett Bogue’s [26 Essential Ways to Achieve Minimalistic Freedom][minimalist], which is one of the best introductory reading about the minimalist philosophy and what actions you’d take in living life simple [part1]: {filename}/blog/2010/ [part2]: {filename}/blog/2010/ [part3]: {filename}/blog/2010/ [eoe]: [fuji]: [bogue]: [jung]: [minimalist]: [snuba]: 

Written by

Seh Hui Leong

Python programmer by trade, interested in a broad range of creative fields: illustrating, game design, writing, choreography and most recently building physical things. Described by a friend as a modern renaissance man.