I left Singapore to travel to the island of Phuket, Thailand. First, let me answer your question: no, the ‘ph’ is not pronounced as an ‘f’ – Phuket is pronounced more like “PU-ghet.” Phuket is the largest Thai island; approximately the same size as Singapore at 540 square kilometers and is located in the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand. I had decided to travel here after hearing stories from friends and doing some research. After all, this part of my trip is the fun part – and what better why to have fun than to sit on the beach and relax for a couple of days. I left Singapore midday and arrived in Phuket about two hours later. Thailand has no visa requirement for American citizens, and entry is free.
I was staying on the southwestern part of the island at Kata Beach. The most well-known place on Phuket is Patong. Patong is a place straight out of Jersey Shore with a huge party scene, and I didn’t think I could handle that by myself, so I decided I wanted to stay somewhere quieter and more laid back. Kata Beach is about two hours from the airport by minibus (200 Baht). I arrived at the hostel and was warmly greeted and welcomed to the island. As it turned out, I had gotten lucky and arrived just in time to join a few of the other people at the hostel for a trip to Phuket Town for the Weekend Night Market.
We arrived in Phuket Town, and I’m sure my mouth literally hung open when we arrived at the first market, the Walking Street market. This market is fairly new (since 2013) but is already very popular with locals and tourists. The market is on a 350-meter stretch of Thalang Road, in the middle of the historic Sino-Portuguese area of Phuket Town. The street was closed off so that vendors could line up in the middle of the street to sell their wares. Food items were the most common item for sale, but clothes, bags, and other goods were also being proffered. The very first stall had several durians on display and the fruit for sale. The smell wasn’t as terrible as I had been lead to believe, however, I was outside and there were a lot of competing smells. As I began to walk down the path of vendors with my new friends, it hit me how hungry I was. Since AirAsia is a budget airline, there were no snacks on the plane. I was pretty pumped to start my Thai food journey at this market.
The first thing that really caught my eye was a stall selling fresh grilled seafood, including one of my favorites: octopus. Being adventurous, I decided to add the extra Thai chili sauce – and it was spicy! Walking around a busy street market with a stick full of grilled octopus was an amazing experience. The next thing that caught my eye was more seafood (this is an island after all, the perfect place for seafood!) in the form of a breaded stick of squid, the Thai equivalent of a corn dog. This was cut up for me and served with a side of sweet Thai chili sauce (not so spicy). As we walked, I chatted with the other people staying at the hostel, including two Americans: Kevin and Tara. I soon realized that I had found my people: travelers with an insatiable curiosity and a desire to see the world.
After a few more snacks at the first market, including a freshly made spring roll, we piled back into the truck and headed to the second main market. This market has the atmosphere of a county fair, with large tents housing vendors, bars, and shops. I was pretty full from the first stop, but knew I would find room for more deliciousness. Tara suggested grabbing a beer, and after a day of airports and planes, I decided this sounded perfect. We walked and checked out the wares for sale while enjoying our beers. The atmosphere was very fun and lively with a mix of tourists and locals. After about an hour we headed back to the hostel and called it a night. So far my time in Phuket was off to a great start!