Patong: My Thoughts

As I write this, I am sitting on the balcony of our little apartment here in Patong. The sun shines down on me, and palm trees wave their jagged branches gently above. Below, children laugh as they swim back and forth in the large pool that the complex boasts. There is a water-slide, and they’ve lined up to slide down it one at a time. The ocean is but a five minute walk away, but from where I sit, I can see nothing but row upon row of apartment complexes and hotels stretching towards the sky.
A parasail at Patong Beach

This is not how we normally live

These last few days have been very strange for me. It is not often that we (a:) rent a condo, surrounded by hundreds of other families. (b:) Have a pool with a waterside at our ready disposal. (c:) Have a cleaning lady once a week, and (d:) Are living in close proximity with over three other traveling families.

During the past three days, my family and I have had a blast. There is no better way to spend your time than to make new friends! The other families here have taken us to pool parties, foam extravaganzas, secluded beaches, and local dining hotspots. In fact, it has been as close to what most call a “vacation” as my family can boast!

But although Patong has been fun, I do not think I would willingly live here for long. The very fact that the city caters to tourists in every way makes me uncomfortable. There is no way to truly experience the culture of Malaysia when in an environment set up primarily for other cultures to enjoy. Although we’ve been in Malaysia for a few days now, it still feels as if we haven’t entered the country at all!

The one time when I felt I was truly experiencing Malaysia was when the Gabell’s took us to a wonderful restaurant on the outskirts of town. For once, we were the only tourists there. Other Malaysians were seated at the tables surrounding us, eating local fare. After that brief retreat from the world of vendors, waiters, DJ’s, and cleaning ladies, we dove back into life as one of the many tourists in town.

In the end, Patong is a wonderful city to visit for a week or even two at a time, especially if you’re looking for a chance to get out and have fun. I’ve had a blast visiting the many tourist traps here!

But for anyone looking for a quiet place to relax, or a secluded town to call home, I would not recommend Patong. 

5 Replies to “Patong: My Thoughts”

  1. so thoughtful – i try to avoid tourist areas, too.

  2. It sounds like an amazing experience. We’re hitting the road with our kids at the tail end of next year. Malaysia is on the list because I’ve never been there and neither have the kids. Thanks for the insight on the lack of authentic culture. I’ll be sure to keep my eye open for something to add to the experience.
    Happy travels!
    Sonja

  3. A very penetrating observation. This seems to be a trend everywhere these days and especially in the U.S. Every city, every town, like all the rest, virtually indistinguishable. The cultural flavors covered up and overwhelmed by the bland uniformity of corporate sludge. Sure there are exceptions but they are becoming few and far in between. It’s really sad.

  4. So you were in Patong? First things first am I going bonkers but Patong is in Thailand not Malaysia..?!

    1. Oops! You’re right! Sorry about that typo, guys. I get Patong and Penang mixed up frequently.

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