Bangla Road, Phuket’s Red Light District

Sundown is when the party starts at Bangla Road, Patong. 

Notorious as Phuket island’s red light district, the place comes alive each night with neon lights, loud music and sexy girls at every corner. This is where members of the oldest profession in the world openly ply their trade along the 400m long street, amidst a backdrop of sleazy strip bars and clubs.

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Although the arch says ‘Patong Beach’, this is really the entrance to the infamous Bangla Road. H & I were immediately accosted by dozens of people toting placards for ping pong and tiger shows. “Free entry! Free entry! Just buy drink only!” one girl nearly screamed in my face as I tried to rush past.

There were vendors selling cheap Winston cigarettes, people selling souvenirs, and transgenders dressed up in elaborate stage costumes, whom you can take photos with for a fee. At first glance and from afar, most wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from real women – until you see their Adam’s apples bobbing up and down their throats.

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In steamy bars, men (and women) sat around sipping cold beers, watching as scantily clad dancers gyrated around glowing poles. Sex was everywhere.

It was all quite overwhelming, the easy way sex was bought and sold in this place. Sex was a service, and the girls (and guys) could love you long time –  for a fee. Even though I was at the heart of it all, it was still odd to see all these big, burly white men walking with small, busty Thai chicks. Knowing that later that night, they would go back to the hotel and fuck. The guy would pay her, and they’d go their separate ways. Heard the phrase mixing business with pleasure? Here, pleasure was a business.

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I’ve read many books written by former sex workers on the sex trade in Thailand. How some of these girls are emotionally and psychologically damaged beyond repair because of what they are subject to. Clients who torture them, who think they can do whatever they want to because they pay them.  And I count my lucky stars. If I had been born under different circumstances, who’s to say I wouldn’t be among them?

I don’t think I could ever do that for money, but then again, I’m more fortunate than most people. Some of these girls have no choice, while some choose it for the quick and easy money.

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We sat down to people-watch and have some drinks. I don’t drink (Yeah. I’m a prude and I don’t drink. I’m ‘uncool’ like that) but I didn’t want to be a killjoy so I ordered one with the least amount of alcohol – something called Spy. It’s this sickly sweet lady beer that tastes like soda. H had a Pina Colada.

The bar girls who prepared our drinks were all dressed sexily. Some (but not all) will be available for sexual favours, but clients will have to pay the bar for the amount of time that they take her out (it’s a loss of business when there are no bar girls working, see).

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H poked me in the arm.

“I think those are prostitutes,” she pointed at a pair of girls, who were just standing and waiting. One was dressed sexily, but the other had jeans and a long-sleeved blouse on.

“What makes you say that?”

“They haven’t moved from that spot for some time now. The girl in pink keeps checking her makeup in the mirror.”

There were two older ladies with super thick make up hovering nearby. I assumed they were mama-sans. The modus operandi went like this: the two mama-sans usually targeted men walking alone, whom they would drag towards the girls. But despite the big crowd, it must have been a slow night because we sat there for 45 minutes and the girls didn’t get even one successful ‘transaction’.

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If you’re just looking for good, clean partying, there are a couple of bars that offer live bands or sports TV, with no dancing girls. Note: A beer is priced at a minimum of 80B.

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Further down the road were more ‘family-friendly’ shops. After all of that, I saw a Starbucks and nearly burst out laughing. Even in the middle of all this, you can’t escape….

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All that walking and people watching was tiring, so before we hopped back onto our motorbike, we stopped for a crepe snack.

Okay, so I stopped at this particular stall because the guy was cute. He had dimples omg. No, I did not take a picture of him because I was shy lol.

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Our Nutella and condensed milk crepe was thin and crispy, almost like a wafer. Costs 80B (yeahhhh pricey but what the heck).

Walking down Bangla Road was an eye-opening experience. Will I come back again? Maybe not. It was interesting though.

Here’s an informative article if you’d like to read more about Bangla Road and the different bars/clubs there. Link: here.

 

 

Bike Adventures in Patong, Phuket

I’ve never ridden on a motorbike. 

Even though bikes are common in Malaysia,  mum has never allowed me to get on one (let alone ride one) because she says it’s dangerous. I think accidents happen no matter what vehicle you’re driving, so everyone just needs to be more careful on the road.

Now, travelling around Phuket is convenient with taxis and tuktuks, but 200-300B per ride for short distances can really add up and blow over your budget. The best way to get around (and if you’re feeling adventurous) is to rent a scooter or a motorbike. Our hotel had bikes for rent for 250B (24 hours), so off we went to explore Patong! 

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It was a good thing H knew how to drive a bike. The traffic on Phuket’s roads can be pretty crazy, with vehicles weaving left and right, loads of other bikes and pedestrians crossing the road everywhere. Sitting pillion was the best because I could take in all the sights and sounds! The roads on Phuket island are well paved with virtually no potholes. Something Malaysia, supposedly ‘more developed’, can learn from.

PS: Attempting to selfie while on a moving bike is extremely dangerous. please do not try this at home 

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Where to park ? Everywhere. As long as you see a bunch of motorbikes parked by the side of the road, simply squeeze your own bike among them. Unless there are people in blue vests hanging about – those are motorbike taxis. (Motorbike taxis ferry you around just like regular taxis, but obviously they can only do so one at a time. Good for short distances).

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We parked somewhere along Thanon Ratuthit Songroipi Road, which is the road next to Patong Beach, and started looking for dinner. There were dozens of restaurants offering different kinds of food: Thai, Chinese, Indian, Western, Japanese, you name it, they got it. Waiters stood outside each stall and brandished menus in our faces. We picked one at random because the prices seemed pretty standard.

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Fried squid topped with fragrant fried garlic. It was very fresh – bouncy and succulent. The coating was crispy without being oily/soggy, and the generous serving of fried garlic added an oomph to the dish. Good stuff.

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Also tried the famous Thai Green Curry. It was good: I could really taste the blended spices in the curry, which was strong, creamy and perfect with rice. My only qualm was they had too much eggplant. Not my favourite vegetable 😛

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To wash it down, coconut shake.

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We walked across the road to Jungceylon, a large and air conditioned shopping mall. There were shops selling clothing and souvenirs, as well as restaurants and a food court. It was just like any other mall, but if you’re looking for a good place to cool off from Phuket’s humid weather, stop by for a bit.

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An open air area in the middle of the mall. My jaw dropped when I passed by a McDonalds – it was so expensive! The cheapest set was like 210B (RM24 wtf??). I can get two meals for that price at a McDs back in Malaysia. I thought franchises should have standard prices. Anyway, there’s abundant and delicious Thai food everywhere so I don’t see why people would wanna eat McDonalds.

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An interesting display at the mall is the life-sized barge in the middle of a dancing fountain.

 

We’re not done with Patong yet, so stay tuned! 🙂

Khon Kaen Mookata, Phuket – All You Can Eat BBQ

Who doesn’t like an all-you-can-eat buffet ? A food fest where you can gorge on an endless supply of meat, seafood, vegetables and other goodies sounds like the perfect dinner at an awesome holiday.

Ladies and gents, welcome to a Thai ‘mookata’, or bbq buffet.

Combining the best of both buffet worlds, , guests can choose to either grill their meat and seafood over a hotplate, or dunk them into a boiling hopot, all in one go. How’s that for convenience and variety?

Before we move on to the eating part, let me tell you a funny story. H & I were super hungry after a whole day of sightseeing around Phuket, so we were raring to hunt for a Mookata. There was a famous one located some ways from our hotel in Patong, so we decided to rent bicycles and cycle there.

Big. Mistake.

For one, I hadn’t ridden in a long time and the hotel’s bikes were way too big for my short legs. I basically wobbled all the way to the restaurant – it was a miracle that I didn’t fall off at all! Secondly, the traffic around Patong was pretty crazy. I escaped death by getting run over by a motorbike one too many times. After that episode, we swore not to cycle there again lol.

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Anyway. We got here safe and sound, and just in time for dinner! The Khon Kaen Buffet and BBQ is located across the street from a fire station. The large resto has no air conditioning, but is roofed and can easily seat up to a 100 people. You eat first, and pay later.

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Visitors were a mix of locals and tourists. There were also many white men accompanied by Thai women. Hm.

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Naturally, we made a beeline for the food area, where you can pick from almost every part of the pig – liver, intestines, belly, etc. There were pork slices marinated in different sauces, as well as seafood, chicken and fish.

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Don’t forget to pick up a few pieces of lard. They’re not for eating, we use them to oil the grille plate.

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H & I grabbed a bit of everything. My tray here had needle mushrooms, fish fillet, slices of pork belly and pork meat, shrimp, chicken, intestines and ham.

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The grille/hotpot is placed on a stove. Let the cooking begin!

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They give you a kettle of broth to refill the shallow hotpot whenever it seems like it’s going to run out. We cooked most of the seafood in the hotpot, and let the meat cook on the grill. The pork and seafood was yummy, but the real star here was the chicken. Tender and juicy, the texture was so  bouncy that it felt like firm fish meat. It had been marinated in some spices like black pepper, and the meat had absorbed the flavour well. We ate until our shorts threatened to explode. Of course, I have a separate stomach for desserts so I had ice-cream too lol.

PS: The grille gets black and messy towards the end, so be careful when cooking those last few pieces of meat.

Our meal came up to about 350B (RM41/USD10), inclusive of a bottle of Coke, which was still value for money considering that a lot of buffets in Malaysia cost more than that.

The place is a bit hard to find coz it’s not along the main road, but trust me, the hunt is worth it. 🙂

KHON KAEN BBQ BUFFET 

Soi Ratchapathanuson,

Patong, Kathu, Phuket,Thailand (Turn left before the APK Hotel and go straight til you see a fire station). 

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We walked off our dinner at a night market just next to the restaurant. It was a field with makeshift stalls and funfair like game booths. The grass was muddy because of the rain earlier, so we carefully stepped on wooden boxes laid down on the ground to make a walkway.

Locals were sitting at tables in an open air area, swigging beer and watching a guy sing on stage. There were some random drunk guys dancing below the stage with not a care for the world.

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A really nice meal to wrap up an equally awesome day! We cycled back to the hotel and got a good night’s sleep.

More of Phuket to come! 🙂

 

Review – Frutta Boutique Hotel@ Phuket,Thailand

Hey, guys! So I’m back from my short vacation to Phuket, Thailand – a couple of shades darker, very tanned, and just a few pounds heavier from all that eating ! I’m missing their beautiful beaches already.

H and I set off from work to Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2, had a quick dinner and then hopped onto an AirAsia flight bound for Phuket. The flight took just over an hour and a half, and our mobile phones automatically set the time back by an hour (tech is so advanced these days, you don’t even have to wind your clock up!).

PKT is much smaller than KLIA2, and there was a long line at immigration, which thankfully, didn’t take too long.  We went to a counter to get a metered taxi, which cost us 800B (RM96) to our hotel in Patong. There are no direct buses to Patong from the airport, which sucks. But if you’re low on cash, you can always take the airport bus to Phuket Town, then transfer to another one headed to Patong or any of the other beaches (Kamala, Karon, etc). Do note that all bus services stop after 6pm though!

Our taxi was comfy and air conditioned. The drive took about an hour past winding, hilly roads. We also passed by about a hundred 7-11 outlets while on the way. There were so many!

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We stayed at a place called Frutta Boutique Hotel. Our hotel is tucked into a quiet alleyway. Both buildings belong to them, apart from a few other shops like a massage parlour and an art gallery.

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I don’t have a very nice picture of the lobby, so here is one from Agoda.com. ._.

We were checked in by super friendly staff. Seriously. So this was the whole deal with Thai hospitality, I thought as they fussed over the two of us, brought our luggage up to the room and served us freshly sliced papaya and some sort of delicious fruit nectar. The front desk guy, Nut (like coconut, peanut, any kind of nut – he joked) gave us the run down on some of their facilities: like scooter rental (250B per day) and pool facilities. We were also allowed to use their bicycles for free.

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The hotel is themed around fruits and an organic lifestyle, hence the name Frutta.

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The rooms were done condo style with a sliding door and adjacent balcony. Inside, there was a queen-sized bed, dressing table, mini fridge stocked with beer and soft drinks, a TV and a bathroom with shower. Now I’ve done my fair share of travelling and stayed in some pretty sucky hotels, but this was comfy and most importantly, clean. For 1200B a night, I think it was worth it.

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We messed up our table within 2 minutes.

It’s not exactly within walking distance of the main attractions in Patong (Patong Beach and Bangla Road), but I think that can be easily solved by hopping onto a motorbike taxi (you’ll see many in Phuket! More on that later), a tuktuk (a little expensive though…) or jumping onto a scooter.  If you’re feeling up to a little adventure, you can always walk about 30mins to those places.

The Frutta Boutique Hotel, Patong 
Address:86/14 Pra Baramee Road,
Patong Beach, Kathu, Phuket 83130
Phone:+66 (0) 76 345 092 | Fax:+66 (0) 76 345 092
Email: reservations@frutta-boutique.com

For more details, visit http://www.frutta-boutique.com

More of our Phuket adventures to come! 🙂