I am used to backpacker ghettos filled with $5 hammocks and loud European 20-somethings smoking and flirting and eating crackers to save money. This here is a different beast at this “Phuket Paradise Resort”.
This evening I emerged from my private $14-a-night mansion (from which all these amazing photos are taken! Kitchen not shown because I’m too lazy to cook) to swim swirls under the stars in the glowing lit pool. It was amazing: warm, quiet, sparkly… heaven. Now, the pool is surrounded by the other mansions, each with an outdoor patio. Whilst doggie paddling, I began eavesdropping on the three groups on the patios and ascertained the following: I am smack dab inside the lair of thirty middle-aged European and Australian men who have taken up residence here to carouse with their much younger Thai girlfriends.
This is fascinating!!! Who are these men? How did they come to nestle here? Who are the women, and what are their thoughts on this situation? What are *my* thoughts on this situation, once I’ve gathered some more facts?
I walked along the dark dirt road around ten pm, scuffling towards the hazy white light I thought might be the small store Elton mentioned would sell water. Suddenly: “Lillie! Lillie!” The pudgy, red-faced chap who was previously sitting near Elton roared up behind me on his “tuk tuk”. “Elton and I realized that it’s way to far for you to walk at night! Hop on– I’ll give you a lift.” “NO!” I squealed. “Scared!!!” But then my hunger and thirst got the best of me, and I snuggled behind this strange fellow and gripped on for dear life, finally choking out, “So what’s your name?” “John!” he hollered back through the wind.
Turns out John had been a famous singer in New Zealand, and had amassed so much loot he had come here to “Paradise” to chillax and enjoy life. “I’ve got a 12-month lease now,” he admitted as I paid for a bag of chips for my dinner, “so I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. I didn’t like it so much at first, though,” he grumbled. “Really now!” I exclaimed. “Why?” “Felt too much like a retirement home with all these other old dudes around. But now I’m more used to it… getting into the swing of things.”
At this point we’d reached the Paradise hotel. The whole tuk tuk ride took about 1.2 minutes each way, but I still appreciated the reprieve from the dark and the creepy lizard noises. John and I said our “sleep well”s, and thus I couldn’t yet ask the shopping cart full of questions I was aching to know. What IS “the swing of things” here for men in his situation? How does he spend a typical day? How does he obtain his sense of life meaning? Does he miss home? Does he still sing? How famous WAS he, anyway?
(Note to my mother who may worry about my impending friendship with womanizing middle aged men: All my doors and windows here lock securely, I have a working Thai cellphone and 9 contacts to call for backup, I’m a muscular 6 feet tall, I have good sketchball radar and many evasive moves, and… these fellas are mostly kindly lost souls. Don’t worry! 🙂 )