Not Quite What We Had in Mind

Going to Phuket was something my wife and I had really been looking forward to.  We were excited about the beach and the food and whatever entertainment we could find.  We got a few suggestions from friends as well.  We started making plans well before we went, but somehow those plans wound up getting thrown out the window.

The problem was the weather.  We booked our tickets and accommodations about a month in advance so there’s no way we could have foreseen what was going to happen, but we made the most of it.

The trip from Singapore to Phuket was standard.  Nothing special.  It’s a short flight.  There is a time zone change of one hour, but that’s not too bad.

When we got to the airport in Phuket we had to get past the horde of people trying to sucker us into taking a ride in an expensive taxi.  Just outside the door there were people holding laminated signs advertising their services.  Most of these guys want 600 baht.  I recommend going to the right just outside the door and walking straight until you cross a small road and are at a taxi stand.  The official airport taxis are multicolored (red/yellow I think) and have set fees and set maximum fares for destinations.  You’ll pay about 400 to 450 baht for most destinations there.  No point in letting yourself get ripped off unnecessarily.  The airport taxis are new and clean as well.

Once we got underway I was surprised by how similar Phuket was to the Philippines.  Even the driving style was similar.  Apparently the lines on the road are just a suggestion in Thailand.  Also, when we started following the coastline the driving barely slowed, despite the severe curves and the fact that we were just a few feet from long drops down to the ocean.  At least the roads themselves were in good condition!

Patong Beach could’ve been a town in the Philippines.

The architecture was a bit different, but the feel of the place was similar.  It really reminded me of Antipolo.

As for the weather, it got progressively worse.  When we first arrived it was overcast and drizzling.

Throughout the day the rain would lighten or stop, then come down in heavy showers again.

The second day was about the same.

By the evening of the second day though, the rain started coming down more and more heavily and it was nonstop.  I can’t be sure but it seemed like every time I woke up that second night it was raining, and the whole third day it rained too.  About an hour before we left for the airport the streets started to flood.

This set the tone for our trip and we spent less time on the beach (because there was no sun and the surf was rough from storms) and more time exploring the town and eating.

Of course, we didn’t get to see everything and we’re definitely planning on going back.

(More on Phuket tomorrow)

Beating the Weather in Singapore

If you’re coming to Singapore, bring light clothing! Oh, and pack an umbrella!

Singapore is located in the tropics.  It only takes one step outside of your house at noon to be reminded of that.  Well, sometimes you don’t even have to leave your house to figure it out.  This place is hot all the time, and it’s especially hot during the summer.  The temperatures seem to constantly hover around 32 to 34.  I think I noted on a weather site that the temperature drops to 29 at night here, but that’s only outside.  The buildings are constructed in a way that they hold the heat, so the ambient temperature in your home might stay at 31 to 32 all night even with the windows open.  Complicating matters is the humidity, which averages about 75%.

Also, it rains quite often.  It seems to rain about once a week, if not more.  It’s supposed to be even worse during the rainy season, which is from November to December.  Though, from what I remember from this past year, it’s raining more now than it was then.

Sometimes it rains just a bit.  Sometimes it rains a lot.  What’s good about the rain in Singapore is that it usually rolls in quickly and is gone just as fast.  If it rains, it might rain for 30 minutes and then an hour after it stops the roads will be almost dry again.  There are times when the rain is more prolonged and may be off and on for a day or two, but not as often as the short showers.

I love the rain here for two reasons. First, it cools everything down. In the days leading up to a good storm it usually gets hotter and hotter, sometimes touching on 35. Then the clouds roll in and the rain helps to cool everything off. The second reason is simply personal. I love a good thunderstorm! The overcast days, the gray of the clouds, the rumble of the thunder and the flash of the lightning are calming and thrilling at the same time.