Struggling to get excited about another beach resort, I finally conceded to myself that coming to Phuket would have been pointless without seeing what all the fuss was about, and so I took another Sawnthaewng out to Patong, a name similar to Patpong in Bangkok and equally synonymous. This was one of the package destinations for which Thailand is renowned, or should that be infamous. Though not at all looking forward to it I decided that I had to run the gambit of girly bars and lady boys once and for all. The beach proved to be good yet unremarkable and the tout infested streets the typical cultural void of tourist strip hangouts, an advert for globalisation with the propensity of Starbucks, Burger Kings, McDonalds and 7/11s. Suffering of bad skin and a bad attitude, I'd picked a pretty unlikely spot for a detox, but after finally splashing out on a new pair of shorts I took a siesta and saved myself for the night. Promising myself to forego beer for the foreseeable, I reckoned that the already apparent neon glitzy gauntlet run would prove to be suitably sobering.
As it happened it wasnt that bad (relatively speaking), pretty mainstream for standard tourists. Though probably it was there to be found if you looked hard enough and were prepared to brave the consequences, the G string clad babes sporting selection numbers werent in evidence. Certainly there were 1001 bars with conspicuously numerous Thai birds, and the odd more in your face bullshit extravaganza of tiger effigies, neon lights and very young looking mini-skirted "schoolgirls" dancing on the bar. Strangely dubbed Bangla Road, Bangladesh certainly had nothing like this that was for sure, the main strip was a pseudo assault course of lady boys in kitschy drag, bar girls trying to entice you in and touts pushing "free shows" on you, doubtless catering for all tastes including the notorious "ping pong". I didnt get that much hassle but elected to play it safe anyhow, sad to say that a couple of ordinary Irish bars were more relaxed with good live music, it kept me out of mischief. The band did an interesting twist on "My Girl" by singing "Thai Girls" instead.