Part of being a travel writer is about finding a special place that can give you a unique experience far removed from the mainstream. It’s about buying a plane ticket to a destination of your choosing and letting fate decide what kind of adventure will dictate your course of action.
After spending a few days in Bangkok, Thailand I purchased a flight to the tropical, hilly island of Phuket, which is a base point for beach-loving visitors wishing to spend some time island-hopping.
It’s not surprising the place is so popular. Towering island rock formations topped with green patches of jungle jut straight up from the clear, turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea. The coastline is a patchwork of slate-grey stone cliffs and white sandy beaches. A Thai local man informed me that the striking coastal structures were used for the floating island scenes in Avatar.
My plane landed at the airport and I still didn’t know what lay in store. I was going with a “wait-and-see” attitude and had yet to book my hotel.
It was then I met two very interesting Thai people. With his all-white outfit, black polyester jacket, long black wavy hair and purple circular sunglasses, one of them looked like a Thai John Lennon. The female half of the duo had her silky black hair neatly done in a large bun with a pretty flower resting on the side. She wore a magenta-colored traditional Thai wrap which set her apart from the other women I had met since landing.
They invited me to join them for the weekend in Patong, which is one of the main beach destinations on the west coast of the island. They arranged for me to stay as their guest at Patong Bay Garden Resort, a luxurious hotel nestled right on the beach.
That evening, we met up for a night out in Patong. At first, you might be taken aback by Patong. Once night falls, Bangla Road closes down to traffic and awakens to a peculiar street scene full of open-air bars, dance music and a plethora of barely-dressed Thai girls and ladyboys. But although it might sound somewhat off-putting, Patong is a lot of fun.
The rest of my stay was filled with trips to the exotic James Bond Island, where sheer limestone cliffs vertically protrude out of vibrant green water, and Koh Pi Pi—the implausibly beautiful setting for The Beach, starring Leo DiCaprio.
I woke up each morning and ate breakfast overlooking a beautiful, emerald bay while reflecting on the gracious hospitality of the local people. This is what it means to be a travel writer.
I love my career and I don’t plan on giving it up any time soon. There is no shortage of editors looking for good travel articles and getting paid to do what you love is perhaps the best gift you could receive.
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