Phuket rarely plays itself
People who have been to Phuket probably don’t feel like going abroad.On the Thai island of Phuket, billboards in Chinese are more likely to be visible than Thai.Many LED billboards are in English, not Thai.Even the local famous song and dance show, customized jasmine Flower folk song special.It’s easy to see why. In 2017, according to Statista, 27% of Thai tourists, or 9.8 million people, came from China.Russians make up the largest number of western tourists, followed by Britons, according to the Asia-pacific Journal of Travel Research report.An empty street is seen during the COVID-19 outbreak in Phuket, Thailand, on July 19, 2021.(Photo/VCG) Chinese and Europeans have always been phuket’s most important “funders”.They represent the two sides of phuket’s prosperity — one is the beach, sunbathing, middle-class fantasy;On the other side are duty-free shops, a constant incentive to buy.Another important item on the shopping list for phuket tourists is property — in addition to holidays and investments, Phuket has long been a mecca for international retirement.Aside from the service staff, the local presence in Phuket is minimal.Phuket is a thoroughly alien island, deliberately hiding its individuality so that it can be easily labelled.Phuket seems to have been forced to tear off its label by the pandemic.In a recent video uploaded by netizens, the entire island of Phuket, seemingly reduced to just one or two people and the empty sea, has retreated back into a small fishing village.There is no doubt that Phuket is romantic, a romance that exists in fantasy.Phuket is romantic, a romance that exists in fantasy.Phuket is often the backdrop for romance in Thai dramas.The popular Thai drama “My Love with Your Heart” has thousands of young girls yearning for dusk in Phuket island.Phuket is also home to some romantic adventures.Nearly 400,000 tourists visited Thailand in 2019.Quite a few male tourists also come for romance.Looking for a “holiday lover” is a common practice in Thailand.Local Thai girls are also happy to meet coveted foreign men in this way.In the Spring Festival of 2019, six of us arrived in Phuket island as expected. We took off our heavy clothes and put on beach skirts, shoes and splints.Come just for romance and you may be disappointed by Phuket’s infrastructure.Back then, there were few traffic lights, few traffic police and not a single bus running on time.We use our legs for most short daytime trips.Google Maps often doesn’t work, and a lot of the trails are ours.As soon as it got dark, we took to the Tuk-tuk, windshield-less, helmet-less, and felt the Phuket wind head on.Muay Thai street, phuket island in an unremarkable road, signboards, furnishings are relatively simple.A small ambulance is parked on the street and is said to be highly used.Unlike other small fishing villages, the most interesting thing about Phuket is the safe distance between The Chinese and The Europeans.At night, the street from time to time to several fast motorbikes, the car music loud.There’s probably a couple of European and American guys on the bike who like to whistle at our group of girls.Patong Beach is phuket’s most photogenic beach and a show ground for European girls.Elements of a typical beach girl’s look include a bikini, bare feet, a mat, sunglasses, and a book.Long legs, wheat skin, handsome male friends, proud body curves, as well as skydiving, yachting and other sea sports, are their chips to compete in the beach show.But the fine sand of the beach is mixed with sharp and hard stones, and barefoot European girls are likely to leave a bloody trail in the sand as the price of their elegance.Phuket is a place where you can enjoy the freshness of the exotic without feeling strange or isolated — after all, you can bump into Asian faces all the time.Outsiders come from other cities to spend a week or more on the island as a migratory bird, enjoying the thrill of unbridling.However, according to the Thai Road Safety Commission in 2020, there were 10,715 traffic accidents and 62 deaths on phuket island, which has a resident population of just over 400,000.As more tourists flock to Phuket due to the relaxation of quarantine policies in the second half of this year, traffic safety problems in phuket are expected to become more serious.The high frequency of traffic accidents is also a heavy price phuket pays for its freedom.Why do Chinese like to spend money in Thailand?One yuan will be exchanged for about 4 baht.Exchange rate differences often make us irrational and delusional.Go out foraging, whenever the Thai baht into renminbi, there is a kind of do not eat no sense of heaven.This incontinence allows us to forage for food four or five times a day. We often have two late-night snacks and four or five drinks a day… A passenger at Phuket International Airport on November 1, 2021.Airports are also empty during the pandemic.(Photo/VCG) Duty free shops are the main battleground for Chinese people.Local duty-free shops are also in on it — free rides to and from the duty-free shops, free meals in the lobby, and they don’t do a decent job.Once you step into a duty-free shop, many luxury stores simply display large signs that read: “Sale, Sale, Sale!”(Sale, sale, sale!)How much can Chinese tourists spend?Before the pandemic, the Thai Tourism Authority estimated that Chinese tourists spent an average of 6,400 baht a day.King Power International Group, Thailand’s largest duty-free shop, had a global turnover of 2.4 billion euros (about 19.4 billion yuan) in 2018, half of which was driven by Chinese consumers, according to Jing Daily.The Chinese are also one of the most popular buyers in Thailand.A “rich woman” who went with her said that some of her friends moved to Phuket from first-tier cities in China for the reason that they could enjoy top-notch education from local international schools and cheap sea-view rooms to maintain their original consumption level.There are well-known international schools, which are in line with European and American education, but the cost is not as high — phuket wins on “value for money”.Before the pandemic, the Thai Tourism Authority estimated that Chinese tourists spent an average of 6,400 baht a day.It’s just that Phuket’s high cost performance is targeted at China’s first-tier cities.A meal in Phuket can be more expensive than a tier 2 Chinese city.Skin care products bought in Phuket duty free shops are probably not as cheap as those bought in airport duty free shops.Seascape apartments in Phuket sold for an average of 192,758 baht per square meter in 2020, according to Knight Frank, a real estate consulting firm, about the same as those in second-tier Chinese cities.In Phuket, we don’t feel like we’re trespassing.The presence of the locals is so low that they are almost relegated to background panels for visitors.The Chinese, on the other hand, are a privileged group.Every night, we visit a Thai massage parlor.My masseuse, a woman in her 40s, loves to laugh.After learning that we were Chinese, she immediately greeted me in Chinese and praised me for my beauty, white skin and thin waist with a few English words.Being praised is a common thing in the area.That kind of enthusiasm, not obsequious, perfunctory, but a heartfelt sense of intimacy.In Phuket, we don’t feel like we’re trespassing.Thailand has a huge gap between rich and poor, but its people are surprisingly simple.In Phuket, it is rare to see a house equipped with security doors, and a common lock hangs on the front door.I left my cell phone on my motorcycle and checked it an hour later.Theft, rip-off and other overseas travel “embarrassment”, we have not encountered in Phuket island.I think it has a lot to do with Thai people’s religious beliefs.Most of them follow Thai Buddhism, and Wat Chalong is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the area.It was a large cluster of buildings with very bright and bold color schemes — bright reds, yellow and purple — that contrasted with the plain grey dwellings of the area.Step barefoot into the interior of The Temple and you will find the humorous murals on its walls.These murals are bold and unrestrained, and their stories are simple and down-to-earth.Thai Buddhism does not blindly emphasize asceticism, but tolerates the seven emotions and six desires.Generally speaking, Thai men will become monks once they reach the age of 20 or before marriage. After returning to secular life, they can get married and have children.Religion also gives the country a sense of mystery.Thais believe in ghosts, and one of the most bizarre apparitions can be found at night at Phuket FantaSea, the local Disney amusement park.At night, phuket island is filled with prosperity, leaving only unreal experiences that seem like dreams. Most Chinese people pay for the adventure.At night in Phuket, the Chinese mostly pay for the adventure.At night, Phuket is filled with all kinds of big-name shows, almost all of them related to curiosity.The biggest was Simon’s “ladyboy” show — a “stigmatised” word for Transgender people.But stigma also fuels curiosity, and Simon Soo is a must-pass for almost every first-time visitor to Phuket.In December, even if it is not the rainy season in Phuket, it depends on the weather.As long as the weather is cloudy, it is impossible to get out to sea the next day and beach activities are limited.Local people are very sensitive to changes in the weather: they can predict what the weather will be like by looking at the sky, looking at the sea, feeling the wind on the sea, and so on.Especially during the rainy season in Phuket, the weather can change from day to day.The 2018 sinking happened during the rainy season off Phuket, and the sea weather suddenly reversed on the return trip.The Chinese owner of the local restaurant chatted with us about how the number of Chinese tourists to Phuket has dropped since the accident.In December, even if it is not the rainy season in Phuket, it depends on the weather.Fortunately, we had good weather on both of our voyages.On the day we went out, we had to leave before dawn and cover three or four islands a day.The journey from Phuket to another island often involved an hour or two of “floating” on the turquoise sea.A group of us sat in a speedboat, the propeller noise is very loud, behind the propeller splash, you can hardly do anything but sit on the boat in a dazzled.This is probably the daily life of local fishermen.The captain of the speedboat was dark, strong and taciturn.I looked at the captain’s back and guessed that he had been sailing for more than ten years.Before the outbreak, you could earn 1,000 or 2,000 baht a day sailing, which was not much.Several of the sailors, who looked only in their twenties, entered the water like battle-hardened soldiers.Passing through the first dive site, the sailor volunteered to lead the “snorkeling”.It was also the first time I tried diving, and it was amazing that I, who couldn’t even swim, jumped into the ocean.The first time I jumped in, I couldn’t get used to the mask. I had trouble breathing and my brain was spinning.But soon, the sailor with the body dexterously pulling me, in front of my eyes, upper body, feet, began to appear reefs, seaweed and all kinds of fish… the figure of the sailor also like a fish, on a pair of flippers, no breathing mask, no life jacket, so naked swimming in the sea.People surf off the coast of Phuket on October 25, 2021.Before the COVID-19 outbreak, her friend Yana would go scuba diving with her friends almost every year. She called it “tanning once a year.”They usually go straight to a dive shop and don’t go anywhere, spending every day at a different dive site.I asked her why she was so obsessed with diving, and she replied, “Only in the ocean do you realize how much wider the world is under the sea than on land.”That’s true — the ratio of land to sea is 2.5 to 1 on a geoid basis.On my last day in Phuket, it began to rain.Passing the busy Patong beach again, the whole beach is empty.Sailing in this weather is out of the question.The rain was so heavy that it washed away the romance and prosperity of Phuket, leaving me with an illusory experience that seemed like a dream but not a dream.