My favorite thing about doing what I do is that if I enjoy something, I love to use this as an avenue to spread the word about it. And when I hate something, I love to come here and drunkenly hate on it. Tonight I’m going to do the latter.
I came to Phuket because I figured that after a long week of being in busy Thai cities, a beach escape would be a great way to relax and unwind.
So here we are in what I expected to be paradise. I quickly realized that this was not the idyllic gem that I expected it to be. This place is devoid of any local spirit; this is for tourists only. The main walking streets are lined with people trying to pull you into their bar, restaurant, massage place, or into a tuk tuk.
When we finally made our way to the beach, we realized it wasn’t much better there. In a three-hour period, I must have turned down 100 people who were trying to sell me souvenirs, jet skiing, and food. My friend even ended up getting talked into a henna tattoo on Patong Beach. It’s impossible to sit back and relax in that kind of environment. To be fair, the beach is also gorgeous, so I was only moderately inconvenienced by the atmosphere. It was nice to have someone bring me beer.
But it was after dark that I realized that Patong Beach is literal hell. We’ve had some very long days full of activity and outside of the Yi Peng festivities in Chiang Mai, we haven’t gone out that much. I figured Phuket would be a good place to go have a drink and enjoy the nightlife.
I could not have been more wrong. If you’ve ever been to Vegas, you can begin to imagine what Patong Beach is like after 7 pm on a Friday. The difference between Vegas and this hellhole is that while Vegas is also a fake city designed for tourists, at least there is variety there. You can sit down and gamble or catch a show. Patong Beach has only terrible overpriced clubs and bars whose primary design aesthetic is neon vomit. But the worst part is that at least 40% of the people walking around in nightlife hot spots like Bangla Road are holding up signs and trying to get you to go have a beer in their bar, club, or pussy show.
Let’s talk about that, shall we? I’m not above paying to watch people have sex (I did it in Amsterdam), but I drew the line at the famed ping pong shows of Thailand. We saw some of this in Bangkok when we went to a night market around Silom Road. From a pragmatic standpoint, these shows are supposedly free, which makes me wonder what the catch is. And I have no interest in potentially getting tricked into spending a lot of money for something that I could have done without seeing. Some things you just can’t unsee. That’s also why to this day, I haven’t seen 2 Girls 1 Cup; I know my limits.
From an ethical standpoint, I know that people here make very little money, and unlike the sex shows in Amsterdam, which basically amount to straight drag shows with hilarious and embarrassing audience participation, the shows in Thailand mainly involve poor girls doing really gross, degrading things like penetrating themselves with razor blades and fish or shooting ping pong balls out of their pussy. Sorry, does that phrase make you uncomfortable? Our soon-to-be president can say it, so I assume it’s open season on being lewd.
But I digress. In Bangkok, we mostly laughed it off, especially when we refused the ping pong show and were offered “big cock” show instead. However, the nightlife in Patong Beach is basically ping pong shows with a side of beer. On our way to Bangla Road, we stopped at some ridiculous restaurant for Happy Hour that looked like Rainforest Cafe but with tigers. They had a terrible live band that was playing depressing songs in another language.
We bailed after one beer and went straight into Bangla Road, which is basically Bourbon Street if Bourbon Street was in Chinatown. You can’t go anywhere without 50 people waving signs in your face simultaneously for the nearest sex show or Russian strip club. Here’s the thing, if something is good, you don’t have to advertise that intensely for it. But they do, and they’re relentless.
But all of that would be forgivable if it weren’t for the tourists in the area who are even more tragic. I’m convinced Phuket is where sad people come to pretend they’re not sad. That’s why there are huge groups of sloppy bros, desperate chicks, and old white guys with Thai escorts EVERYWHERE. But when they’re sitting down at a bar for two seconds, they’re requesting “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and trying not to cry. I feel like this is a lot of people’s last stand before suicide becomes a real option. Everything about it is extremely obnoxious and depressing.
I can already picture these fat white-haired retirees crying when they can’t get it up two hours from now with the girl that’s been impatiently making conversation with them at the bar all night. Babe, this expensive Thai fling is not going to make your wife take you back or make your children love you. Please do something more productive with the years you have left, because you’re just making the rest of us really uncomfortable.
So instead of calling it a night, we decided to catch a cabaret show which was a blast in Chiang Mai. We spent 30 minutes looking for the Moulin Rose, which based on online reviews was good and cheap. Thankfully, we avoided accidentally going to the Moulin Rouge, which is a high-end strip club. As it turns out, the Moulin Rose closed at least 4 years ago. The remaining ladyboys stand on Bangla Road taking pictures for 100 baht. Then they put on the worst 30 minute show at a random stage at the end of the Soi Freedom bar alley. They looked great, but they only performed four songs in Russian and Chinese before doing rounds asking for tips.
After a couple of overpriced (for Thailand) beers, we decided to throw in the towel. Because if I saw one more flyer for a ping pong show, I was going to lose it.
Thankfully, we’re not spending too much time here in Patong Beach. We booked a tour tomorrow to see James Bond Island, which was recommended by several people. I don’t even get the reference because I have a life that doesn’t leave me much time to watch shitty movies from the 70’s. But I’m so glad to be taken out of here that it might as well be a day tour to Bratislava. I’ll spend the rest of my time here making detailed plans to never, ever come back.
So my humble advice to people looking for a relaxing beach getaway in Thailand: stay the fuck out of Patong Beach.