We love Phuket, but, boy, has it changed in two years.
We were there just after the tsunami (the February or March just after) and although there was a lot of building work going on and all the sand had been washed away off the beach, there was very little indication at Patong Beach of what had happened. But now everything is rebuilt or in the process of being built. There are multi-storey (but no more than four or five) apartment blocks on the front, with selling prices starting from 341,000 US dollars. Yes, read that again. 341,000 US dollars. They have a new paved promenade, with special tiles in, and most of the sand has been replaced, although it is still about six inches or so below its original height. There is a new shopping mall and the Holiday Inn has quadrupled in size and become a “resort”. The food there is fantastic. I had my favourite dish in the world – Phad Sie Iew – flat rice noodles stir-fried with chicken, egg and greens in soy sauce. Divine.
There are still bargains to be had, especially in the new Patong Top, which is basically just a well-organised open air market with permanent stalls. There’s even a shop that sells nothing but Hello Kitty handbags. I was in my element! Added to which, it was 90 in the shade, with a good breeze. Perfect.