Lights flash. Loud American music blares from every direction. Crowds of laughing tourists throng through the streets. The entire town parties loudly until around twelve at night here. I’m in the largest tourist trap on Phuket. Downtown Patong was made for the tourists. We were here to celebrate Elisha’s birthday. My brothers and I stared wide eyed out the windows, soaking in every detail. We had only been away from the flashing lights and colors that came automatically with western culture for a month, and already seeing them again amazed us beyond what it would had we spent the last month in the States.
Patong is the only town on Phuket that can boast of a proper mall. That was where we were headed. It was a huge complex, complete with hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, arcades, a theater, and multiple shops. We all filed into the movie theater to see Snow White and The Huntsman. Ezra whispered to me “Hannah, do we really have to stand?” I whispered back “Do you want to get kicked out of the country?” Sarcasm is just another service I provide.
We stood in the dark, watching the screen as it played a two minute video honoring the King. This is standard procedure in Thailand, where the King is greatly revered, and any disrespect of him is severely punished. In some cases, tourists perpetrating this custom have been kicked out of the country and forbidden to return. We’ve been careful to be respectful in the extreme.
The movie was quite good, and had us laughing, crying and gasping in horror at all the right times. Afterwards, we piled out of the theater and walked through the mall together.
“Oooo!” Mom cried, and steered us over to one of the food vendors. “Döners!” We had fallen in love with döners during our travels through Europe, and the love affair had never really ended. We ordered and sat down. I breathed a deep sigh of contentment, and studied my surroundings.
It was the typical tourist nightlife postcard. Neon signs flickered and shone on us all. American pop blared from the speakers, and the water fountain danced in time to the beat. A large pirate ship sat in the middle of the concrete pond, and waiters escorted their customers to their tables. A young woman dressed in a lacy dress was seated next to us, and sat in an extremely uncomfortable position in order to show off her shape and clothing. Her hand was on her hip, her elbow sticking straight into the air, and she checked her makeup every few minutes. Her boyfriend was absorbed in his coffee and a newspaper. She managed to maintain her position for almost fifteen minutes before she gave up and shifted to a position that made her look a little less ridiculous and a little more related to the human race.
Seated at the opposite table, three casually dressed American tourists argued over what to order, and small children ran screaming in front of the tables, adding their screams to the lively atmosphere. The mix of people, dress standards, and cultures clashed everywhere, confusing the eye and making it “dinner and a show” as Ezra described it. The döners were average, the music barely adequate, and the night was a blast due to the interesting mash of foreigners!