So we had all sorts of plans for sight seeing in Phuket. All to be ultimately frustrated by the annoyance that I shall term the “tuk tuk mafia”.
Having done a fair old bit of travelling in Thailand, we have a pretty good idea of what is a reasonable rate for hopping in one of the little pollution belching death mobiles.
But in Phuket, and in Karon and Kata particularly, there is an unsavoury racket going on with this method of transport.
Having laughed in the face of the first driver who wanted to charge us about £30 to travel 10 – 15 miles to see the Big Buddha, we quickly realised that the prices were completely stitched up and everyone charged the same.
Bearing in mind that the same journey in Bangkok would probably have cost about £5 you can see the issue. But tourists who have only come for a fortnight of winter sun are happy to pay the price.
However, it is not only the extortionate cost that was a problem, the drivers have formed a cartel backed up with threats and physical violence to dissuade anyone operating a reasonable alternative.
A cheaper bus service was once trialed years ago but after the driver was pulled from his vehicle and badly beaten it was abandoned.
Apparently the local police and local government are well aware of the problem but dare not address it. It continues to be the biggest cause of complaints from tourists yet no action is taken. It certainly put me off ever returning to Phuket and I would not recommend anyone else visit either sadly.
So, since we couldn’t afford to see anything at all in Phuket we had to spend all our time lounging on the beach. I know – it’s a hard life!!
Check out the flabby, pasty blob that washed up on the shore line . .
Karon beach is a long, sandy curve of white sandy with the obligatory turquoise sea lapping away at the shore.
From dusting off the grains of sand, to tapping to turn the page of my Kindle, it was sheer slothful idleness!!
But I did get fairly bored after a while it has to be said! I am not a beach lover particularly, it does get a tad tedious after a while.
Especially as the spectre of the unvisited Giant Buddha, just ten miles away, hovered in the back of my mind.