|The trip from Koh Samui to Phuket was quite an adventure. At 6:15am, we took bus #1 to catch bus #2 that took us to the ferry. After the ferry we boarded the bus #2 again and proceeded to Surat Thani where we were dropped off at a roadside stop. We waited 2 hours for bus #3, which drove all the way to the bus office outside of Phuket town where they proceeded to give us a sales pitch for hotels and transportation. Bus #4 took us to Phuket town where we caught Bus #5 to Patong Beach. We arrived in Patong at 5:30pm worn out and weary.
Patong Beach was hit pretty hard by the tsunami, but because of its size and flare for tourism, they rebuilt most of the town pretty quickly. The only areas that were still being rebuilt were right along the beachfront road. There are stories, pictures, and videos all over telling about the tsunami. A block and a half in from the beach a woman said the water was 5 meters deep! We can't imagine the mental anguish that people still live on with there.
Since many tourists still haven't decided to come back here yet, we were able to score a great deal on one of the best hotels in the Patong area. It was our first 4-star hotel of the trip! We enjoyed the comfortable bed the most... They offered a package that was pay 3 nights, get 2 free so it all averaged to less than $24 a night with a nice breakfast.
Patong Beach is a bit dodgy in nature. You walk down the streets and are flooded by shady bars and lady-boys. Each bar has the same scene... old white man, Thai girl, old white man, Thai girl... and so on. But beyond this, there does lie a very nice beach with great waves, sunsets and amazingly cheap fresh seafood. We got to spend a good day on the beach, but during the rainy season, we got our share of showers. We met up with James and Laura again, and we drank & ate some great seafood & pizza with them. It was so nice to be able to travel a bit with friends that we've met. Hopefully our paths will cross again soon...
On the last day, we decided to trek out to other beaches. We went a bit south to Karon and Kata beaches, which were much quieter and the sand much softer. Again, we had to battle Mother Nature, but there were a few times that the sun broke through. These beaches are suffering from the lack of tourists even though many were virtually unaffected by the tsunami. At times it was like we were on a deserted beach. It was nice to break away and experience a different area than Patong.