>Swadhika! *

>I’ve been working hard, even if it’s out-of-office. On being well-travelled. It’s not an easy job, you know, starting out this late in life to get to know the world a little better. And yes, there was our anniversary too, which we wanted to celebrate away from the madding crowds of the hometown. So, we went to Thailand for a short break last week.

To be honest, Thailand wasn’t my first holiday destination. I wanted to go to Europe. France and Italy, with a little bit of Greece here and Spain there. But we were way off the European vacation season. And though I’d vowed I won’t go to South East Asia again (been there twice before), till I’d seen some highbrow stuff (no really, that’s not why I want to go to Europe; I’m just interested in all things Roman and Italian). But you see, nothing goes as you’ve planned, nothing at all. And as luck would have it, we got upgraded to business class both ways -to and from Bangkok! Part of the learning experience, you see, just so that I could get to know how different travelling business class is from economy – the extra leg room and the broad, recline-till-you-want seats and all that jazz.

About Bangkok, let’s get this clear: I was there to shop. Mostly shop. I mean, that’s how I’d been sold that destination. And so that I would suit my part better, I bought ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ at the Delhi airport (I love T3! It’s awesome). That’s quite another matter that I started reading it only on the way back, after I was done with ‘The Accidental Billionaires’ (note to self: must do book reviews soon). My two-day stay at Bankgok was really all about shoes, and some more shoes, and still some more. Clothes are missable, always. Not shoes. So we went from one weekend market to another mall, and yet another mall and no surprise then that I had swollen, callused feet at the end of those two days. And please let me make a special mention here of The Guy’s patience in handling my shopping whims. Only after hours of waiting for me to choose from rows and rows and rows of shoes, would he groan in agony. And then, I would give in and get him a beer.

Please don’t tell me I should have gone here or there, or whatever place you think is worth going to in Bangkok. Because I had no time! I mean, you’re asking a girl to choose between shoes and anything else? Ha! You must be joking. I did, however, take out time to visit Wat Pho, the temple which houses the largest indoor statue of the reclining Buddha. I played the complete tourist there and clicked every nook, cranny and cornice of the beautiful structures. Unfortunately, there were too many visitors and too little time to enjoy the serenity of the place.

The Reclining Buddha

Indians must be the worst vacationers. They almost always come back feeling more tired from a holiday than relaxed. To avoid that eventuality, we’d reserved the latter part of the holiday for a more relaxed time at Phuket. And Phuket I loved! It’s just a Thai version of Goa, with Starbucks added for icing (I could spend my life inhaling the aroma of coffee at Starbucks). The water there is the most gorgeous blue-green, the sand a beautiful buff brown, and it rains in the middle of a hot sultry day. Plus, it has that aura of a place that calls to you to forget your worries and just go curl up on a beach bed in the shade of a colourful umbrella for 200 baht and nice oversized shades, with a book in hand.

Sunset at Phuket
And of course, there are the Go Go Bars. And here, I’d like to change the tenor of my post for a bit. Everyone knows that prostitution is one of the biggest contributors to Thai economy. And while a lot of women may have made the choice to be doing what they are doing, I don’t think it could be the first choice for many women, wherever they come from. You’ll find that women in Thailand run the show – they’re at shops, massage parlours, restaurants have almost no male stewards. According to a local we met in Bangkok, the sex ratio of girls to boys in Thailand is 70:30. Women are the chief bread-winners of the family. I know that a lot of ‘girls’ at these bars are cross-dressers, or transgendered. But they’re posing as women and  that’s the important thing here. There are women who invite you to these bars as if there was a sale on at a shop that you were missing. And I did go inside a couple of them, for a couple of minutes. For you need to be another person to be able to sit and watch a woman show her skin because she wants to make a living. It’s neither aesthetically appealing nor titillating to me. And I do not know what is the politically correct stand to take on prostitution, but I think it’s humiliating for me as a woman to see another woman sell her body like wares at a store. I understand primal instincts, physical needs and whatever other way you use to describe and elaborate on the beauty of sex, but I do not think that the prostitute could believe in any of those. Just my PoV. I’m not saying that prostitution should be banned, I’m just saying that women should be given an environment to opt out of it if they want to, or not be coerced into joining it to make ends meet.
What’s on the Go Go bar menu
But back to where I was – where was I? Yes, the Phuket experience. And if Go Go Bars aren’t your cup of tea, worry not; there’s plenty of beer to guzzle on all night long. Which, of course The Guy did to the best of his bladder’s capacity! And me, I went from mojitos to Breezers and then wine. Because when you’re eating as good food as we were, it doesn’t matter what you’re drinking! Oh yes, I loved the food and ate only because I didn’t want to miss anything. We were initiated into Thai food-Thailand style, by our friends in Bangkok who taught us to order the most Indian palate-friendly Thai dishes (sorry, no seafood and oyster sauce for us). And then we let the coconut curries and the sticky rice totally take over our gourmet pleasures. Not just that, the Mexican food at this place called Coyote was awesome. And the Irish pub, wow! I really wish I could do separate posts on all of them, but all I’ll say is that if you do go to Phuket, just stay at the Banthai Resort – it’s got the perfect location – right across the Patong beach – and is a great hotel and these great eating places? They’re right on the hotel property!

By the way, you have heard of the Patong Beach, haven’t you? It’s been rated by different agencies among the top 10 beaches around the world. And had it not been so sunny for us Indians out there, I would have rated it nearer 10 too. The goras were loving it – all the sun bathing, and I must say, some of them had such a beautiful tan! If only my skin would also tan under such strong sun and not sprout freckles! So I took refuge from the scorching heat in the masseur’s room. Thai massages live up to every single expectation you have from them. I went for one every single day, and came back asking for more each time.

Now, this post is getting really unwieldy and I haven’t yet said half the things I wanted to. Like our day trip to Ma Ya Bay, where Leonardo DiCaprio shot for Beach, and Khai Island and Phi Phi Island and the cruise that took us there. And all the newlywed Indian couples honeymooning in Thailand. Or the unfriendly steward at the cafe in Phi Phi, who really put me off. And my allergies…

I leave that for another day, another post. And I promise, more pics coming!

*Title reference: Swadhika is ‘hello’ in Thai


14 responses »

  1. >The pingback section of ur post has my picture for the baby shower we did for AHK :DSo nice that u got to travel.. I have yet to step foot out of the country 😦

  2. >D – u did just the thing to be done in Bangkok! dont worry bits, u didnt miss anything!Phuket is lovely – been there and will be going again, cant have enough of it, not just yet!

  3. >@Dee: 🙂 Yes, I see baby Dee often on my blog!@Iya: I do remember reading that post on your blog about shopping Bangkok!@Soulmate: Exactly! Thank you for your wishes! It was a no-phones trip for me.What did I actually do on our anniv? We went on a three-island cruise and came back bone tired!

  4. >I always wonder..why can't woman choose any other profession like teacher/receptionist or even baby sitter/maid instead of selling flesh..? Fast & Easy Money ?!..Shi

  5. >Please dont mind me saying this, but I really think that this new template you have reduces the readability of your blog. Dont have to publish this comment, just wanted to tell you.

  6. >@Shilpa: I think there's no easy answer to that. And I don't think we can judge these women by what we see of them. @Nisha: Phuket is a good substitute for Goa, but yes, Goa's Goa :)@V: Problem taken care of.@snippetsnscribbles: 🙂 Thank you!

  7. >@Nisha: Could be. I need a li'l bit of everything on my holidays. Too much quiet disquietens me.@Reema: 🙂 Honestly, I still prefer Delhi shopping!@UsP: And what is the best holiday destination?!

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