I continued south to Karon. Phuket’s West Coast Road winds up down and around the hills from the airport to Cape Promthep, the southernmost point. It offers a variety of scenery, along with some challenging slopes and bends.
However spirited riding is not advisable; around any corner the road can spring many a surprise…. Wet patches, sand, gravel, broken seal and so on, before even considering Phuket drivers.
A few years back I helped a young fellow out of the ditch near here. He had been on a motorcycle that had been rented in someone else’s name, because he was unlicenced. Four hours into his Phuket holiday he had a suspected broken arm, and no travel insurance.
His mates turned up a few minutes later, drunk and useless. I paid a tuk tuk driver well over the odds to take him to Patong hospital, and left the others to sort out the motorcycle, which would have been uninsured (small rentals never are in Thailand). Having checked that he made it to the hospital, I had done my bit and cleared out.
Karon Beach is a long stretch of soft golden sand, that squeaks when you walk on it. From November to April it is gently sloping and lapped by benign little waves, the kind of thing tropical holidays are made of (but a little boring from my point of view). The lifeguards’ base pay is about 10,000 baht a month ($US 320). Here they top that up a bit by renting out sun loungers @ about $US 6.00 a day for a pair with a sun umbrella.
Come the monsoon, like many of Phuket’s beaches, it turns evil. The waves are not big, but the beach becomes steep as rips and undertow take sand away. They take a few unwary swimmers each year too. Unlike many other beaches, often Karon currents do not even return a body; only the motorcycle the victum arrived on remains. It is best to stay out of the water at Karon Beach from May to November
Kata Yai is my favourite of Phuket’s main beaches. Snorkelling around the rocks, there is a variety of environments, with coral and anemone beds full of colourful fish. There is a reef that runs parallel to the beach, beyond which it falls away quite sharply. It can be interesting to explore in scuba gear. I took some divers there when doing PADI Divemaster.
I also played the victim amongst the coral for Rescue Diver trainees…… Stopped in one spot for a while, I would get entranced by the antics of small creatures. Then, sadly, some student would come along and "save" me.
During the monsoon Kata can be a bit dangerous with rips and undertow too, but it is not as bad as Karon. There is often some OK surf, though there has not been much to get excited about this so far year since a week or so back in May. The best months are yet to come.
Storms over the past couple of months have taken away a metre or so of sand. Come the end of the monsoon it will be returned
Getting hungry, I started to make my way home for breakfast, going over the main range of hills again on my way to Chalong.
I didn’t stop to take many pictures as the battery in the camera was getting flat. The roads were starting to get busy, and there is not so much to catch my interest on the eastern side of Phuket. I may take a couple more pictures to add to this leg in the next day or two, for the sake of completeness.
I did swing on down the road to Chalong Pier. It is the main departure point for diving, sightseeing and transfers to various islands nearby. The bay is very shallow, so the pier is about 1 km long.
Speedboats depart directly from the beach. Here is one with 1,125 Honda horses on the transom
Well, that's it for that trip. Just a short one to try things out. It has been an interesting exercise for me, and I have learned a few things in the process. Maybe others have learned a bit too......
If so, now we have the Ride Report forum, please post yours. Motorcycles are just machines to be used to go places and do things. Some like to ride more, or race. Others like to get off the bike and do something else.
I, for one, find where people go on their bikes, and what they do there, far more interesting than how they tart them up, and traumas that could be solved with a bit of common sense and the Owner's Manual.