By day, Patong is a mad thronging of people, tuk-tuks and scooters all trying to get through the day, going about their business. This is mostly tourist-related. Not tourism. This business is aimed squarely at the tourist. And trying to get them to part with their cash, for good or services. These range from tacky trinkets, to taxis fares, to suits (made in 24hrs by a tailor no less), to tours in other parts of Phuket. There nothing sinister at all and if you’re not buying, the sale isn’t pushed and both parties go about their business. One can also seek refuge in the Jungceylon mall (supposedly HUGE, but it’s not really) for peace and quiet. But, mostly because it’s airconditioned and there’s a vendor downstairs that sells the most delightful coconut ice cream.
However (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?), after nightfall, Patong loses all inhibition (if it had any to start with) and becomes quite mad. Bangla Road is closed to traffic, though scooters zoom up and down at will, and foot traffic takes over. The bars, clubs and go-go bars become brighter and louder (how is that even possible?) and denizens of the night ply their trade. If the suit traders were numerous during the day, they are outnumbered at night by all manner of people trying to get one to buy watered down drinks at inflated prices, poor quality Euro food or worse, a seedy ping pong show. As crazy as it seems, one can extract themselves from the mayhem and be a spectator on the fringe.
I’d hasten to add that this place isn’t for everyone, especially at night.
A mere two hour taxi ride down the west coast of Phuket, and we were checking in at The Shore at Katathani. It’s a tiny hotel, and we noted this but the small number of tables at the restaurant. They claimed to be full while we were checking in, but not even a third of the tables were taken up at breakfast time. This was a low-key affair just a stones-throw away from the beach, with only a rim-flow pool and the obligatory Indian Mynah between us and the azure Andaman Sea.
Last night’s sunset was the first we’ve seen, as while the monsoon season may not be bringing any rain at the moment, it IS bringing clouds every afternoon, and being equatorial, Phuket offers sunsets that are over in a flash. In this case, the flash was one of splendour. This was taken sitting on the floor in front of our bed… Simply stunning!
We’ve come to Thailand in the middle of what seems to be monsoon season. This is the time of year when clouds gather, storms brew and the rain falls in sheets from the sky. One looks at old movies of ‘The East’ and imagines that the monsoons are a non-stop torrent of rain that falls 24/7, beckoning Noah’s Arc, but none of that has happened. So far…
Yesterday’s rain found us in the pool. The pool was a large granite-lined one filled with warm water, and we found it rather pointless measuring it in metres, and thought that hectares would be more suitable. Anyway, the water was warm, the rain was cool, so it made sense to be where it was warmest seeing as we were going to get wet regardless. It was quiet a surreal experience, and something I’ll never forget. Which is what I find travel is all about for me… gathering experiences. These last a lifetime (or at least what’s left of mine) and cannot be taken away. This is what travel brings to my life at least.
Paternoster (Our Father in various Latin-based languages) is a small sea-side town up the west coast, north of Cape Town. It’s a great place for a day visit, though it’s a fair distance to travel. We spent 3 days over our anniversary there, and had the luxury of being out and about on the beach once all the day visitors had left for home. It’s at this time that Paternoster becomes a sleepy place where times seems to stand still and the tide decides the same.
This gentleman (for want of a better word) had set up a beach chair and let the tide lap around his feet. And around his coffee mug while reading a book.
To me, this epitomises Paternoster…
Out visit to Angkor Wat was amazing. The temples are exactly what you’d expect – majestic! Their engineering is absolutely astounding. No surface is unadorned with some of the most intricate carvings around. Many of the temples are being ‘rescued’ from Mother Nature, as the forests have been left to almost overrun the temples in some places. But, they show a darker – the Khmer Rouge used the temples as strongholds and fortresses and the temples testify to this with many edifices pockmarked by machine gun fire.
Please has returned though, and many of the temples are actively used by Buddhist monks who arrive daily…
We overnighted at Tonnerre, and performed a bit of clothes shopping at the nearby supermarket, necessitated by an airline luggage disaster. We also partook of some local culinary wonders and vinyard nectar in the form of a lovely Burgundy rose (that is, a rose made in Burgundy) and lovely it was too.
We wandered the streets, explored the cathedral, patted some cats and cooked dinner on the boat that night.
The next morning Cris and I bounced at at the crack of dawn (actually it was before as we had to set up our cameras) and took some photos of the most majestic sunrise over the canal.
We arrived in Tonnerre after another hot day’s barging and found ourselves moored across from a really run-down grain and cereal silo. A slow-setting sun meant the bare brick and cement of the silo cast a lovely reflection into the canal in front of us and the scene simply composed itself in our cameras.
What we see in this post is once of the first of many images we took of this waterfront industrial monolith. More was to follow when the run rose the following morning.
Tonnerre was truly one of the most memorable places we visited
The Pompidou Centre was a block or two from our rented apartment in Paris. There you’ll find the Musée National d’Art Moderne. One of the exhibits that was on display during our visit was one of the more disturbing room I’ve seen… I dubbed it the ‘Pantone Swatch’ for obvious reasons…
Grand Dedale was a place to be experienced. From lounging around in the massive reading room with delicious port and sherry and arm-stretch away to lazy walks along the river through orange orchards and vineyards, it truly wonderful.
The next time we have an excuse to be in Wellington, we won’t hesitate to make a turn past there.
Thanks Angelo and your team for the fantastic end to our holiday!
Grand Dedale’s manor house dates back to the initial settlement of the Cape in the early 1700s. Architecture is traditional Cape Dutch, with high ceilings, massive windows, thick walls and large rooms. This has been given a twist with and nice Art Deco treatment. The scale of the rooms and roof beams add a wonderful feel to being there.