We arrive at Phuket airport (Thailand) at midnight. With a healthy dose of suspicion, we search for a taxi to Kata. We’ve been warned for scams but in reality, you’ve got to make an effort to fall into it. Fixed prices are clearly offered and there is no sign of any independent taxi which potentially could trap you or offer you a cheaper price. Scam or no scam the price remains shocking, but we have no other choice. All we want is a good night sleep.
Unfortunately, we are kept awake by our taxi driver who thinks he is driving a Formula 1 car. Here we go again… It’s the usual story that happens way too often… We are stiff in the back. He is speeding. We ride-along with our eyes. He makes a crazy overtake. We reach our limit. He’s not onto us. We ask to slow down. He does not understand. We ask again. He smiles and looks at us. We think “oh no don’t look at us!”. He slows down. We relax. Ten minutes later we’re back on track. Argh… why oh, why is this all in the game? 😦
The next day, we are again into Formula 1. This time: the F1 triple header. Three F1 race weekends in a row! So cool. Yes, we are F1 fans. It’s sports. It’s fast. It’s competition. It’s team work. It’s strategy. It’s sensation, It’s innovation. It’s Max Verstappen. It’s something that we have not let go of during our world trip.
To tell you the truth, we are more addicted than ever. In Russia we were able to listen to race fragments when the train passed villages where the 4G network was strong enough. In no man’s land between Mongolia and China we had to wait hours and hours, locked up in a waiting room, as each train carrier needed to be lifted to change the bogies to fit the Chinese gauge. Pretty boring one would say. Not for us. Time was flying past as we were, full of excitement, following an F1 race through some kind of vague unprotected Chinese Wi-Fi network. In Vietnam, we made a VPN connection, acting as if we were in Austria, to follow the Austrian free live stream (which btw is no longer working…). In Bangkok, we were lingering and boarded the plane at the last final call… and just picked up the final minutes of a tight qualification.
In Kata, no inventiveness is needed. We can watch all races in a sports bar! We enjoy it a lot. Watching F1, with fans from all over the world supporting different teams and drivers while having fun all together. Even virtually (hear you next weekend @canskigirl).
We’ve found a nice cheap apartment, a ten-minute walk from a pretty strip of golden-sand beach. It has a cozy balcony overlooking a jungle-covered hill and on the roof a pool with a 360-view. What more could we ask for? Well, there is one more thing. When we travel we often end up in eating eggs with toast for breakfast. I don’t know why it is, but somehow this seems to be universal. No matter where we’ve been in the world, we always end up in eating eggs. The alternative is often local food, but we’re not so exotic in the morning. That’s why in the last three months we ate countless times eggs with toast… In all sorts of variations, I must say… scrambled, omelet, fried, … but still… it remains egg. We are so fed up with eggs and that’s why we went on a ‘no-more-eggs’ expedition. A couple of hours later, we had gathered a ‘home-sweet-home’ breakfast. Muesli, yoghurt (branded ‘dutchie’!), toast, Dutch cheese (yes!), peanut butter and last but not least Douwe Egberts coffee! What more could we ask for? I like that, to enjoy the little things again that we too often took for granted.
We’re planning to stay in Kata for a full month. Kata lacks the party hustle and big city vibe like other places in Phuket but is lively enough for some live music, drinks, good food and meeting people. It is rainy season and for us it is perfect. It means that the sun is shining most of the time and the occasional tropical showers are more than welcome after our extreme hot days in Vietnam (almost 40°C!). Moreover, the rainy season transforms the normally blue calm ocean into a beach break for surfing. The main reason why we are here.
Surfing. Riding the waves. Feeling the power of the ocean. Exercising in natural environments. The speed. Being surrounded by the four elements, sun (fire), water, air and sand (earth). The sound of the waves. The shape of the board. Surfing, it is an incredible feeling.
All right, at start our surf efforts are not exactly great. That incredible feeling is still far away. You know, it’s been a while, new break, rental board, strong current, choppy waves and every other reason we could come up with. It’s a bit frustrating, until that beautiful day with clean conditions. All of a sudden, both of us are back in control. Paddle out. Sit behind the break. Watch the swell. Look out for the moment. Catch the wave. Feel the surf. Surfing, it is still an incredible feeling.
We enjoy our Kata life. The Thai are friendly, not pushy and we like their smile. The famous Thai smile. The Thai smile has many types of smiles all with an own meaning. The polite smile, the ‘I’m-sorry’ smile, the ‘sorry-you-are-wrong’ smile, the ‘mask-grief’ smile, the ‘it-can’t-go-worse-so-I-better-smile’ smile, the ‘I-say-yes-but-I-mean-no’ smile, the evil smile, the ‘I’m-happy’ smile, and so on. The Thai smile is a mystery for foreigners. Sure, we will misinterpret their smile now and then, but being surrounded by so many smiles is good for a pleasant atmosphere. Why don’t we all smile a little bit more. 🙂
Kata life is easy-living and there is plenty to do (or not to do, as we wish). Not being on the road for a few weeks feels good. Having a travel break. It helps to digest the roller coaster of the last 6 months (yep, it is still work in progress) and both of us use the time to do our own thing. We believe it is important to do so when living in each other’s pockets 24 hours. In this way we still enjoy spending time together :). Like our Muay Thai boxing experience.
After a week in Kata beach and passing the Thai boxing school multiple times a day we sign ourselves up for a lesson Thai boxing. “Two hours” the guy tells us, “three is too much for you…”. Ow ok… we had one hour in mind, but two it is. “Tomorrow?”. “Yes”, he says friendly. The next morning, we wake up with muscle pain from surfing and a sore elbow for me (one of my fins found me faster than I could escape…ouch). Why again have we sign ourselves up for two hours Thai boxing? Thai boxing is designed to promote your level of fitness and toughness and both are not at a high standard today. We do show up reluctantly. It was such a relief when the guy told us “Oh hi, we’re closed on Sunday”. This time we embrace the ‘I-say-yes-but-I-mean-no’ Thai smile!
Instead of signing up another day, we choose to use our energy for surfing and watch a live Muay Thai event instead. I don’t think it is fun to see someone being beaten up, but it’s an old martial art in Thailand and extremely popular, so we give it a go. Sniff a bit of culture! Muay Thai is quite a show. It comes with rituals and the psychology between the fighters (and between the gamblers around the ring) is quite interesting to see. How they scan each other. How they act not to lose face (extremely important). How they act to show dominance. How they don’t show their pain, even if you can hear the kick everywhere in the stadium. Muay Thai, an interesting night out to have experienced once.
But hey, the sun is shining, the waves are good, so I got to go! 🙂