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 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 (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.
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. It takes a few unwary swimmers each year too. Unlike many other beaches, often Karon does not even return a body. 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 a range of corals and anemone beds full of colourful fish. There is a reef that runs parallel to the beach from the point on the right of the picture, beyond which it falls away quite sharply, which can be interesting to explore in scuba gear. I took some divers there when I was doing PADI Divemaster. I also played the victim for Rescue Diver trainees…… Stopped in one spot for a while, someone would come along and “save” me just as I was getting entranced by the antics of small creatures.
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 back on the eastern side of Phuket. However 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 1125 Honda horses on the transom