Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Phuket has returned… and so have the pirates.

After spending a few days in Bangkok I was particularly ready for some beachside relief.  On the southern tip of Thailand, on the coast of the Andaman Sea, lies the beach town of Phuket, famous for its decimation during the December 2005 Tsunami. I can vividly remember watching as the tragic events of the Tsunami unfolded and as innocent tourists and locals alike were swept away from their morning breakfasts. Recently, I heard reports that Phuket’s infrastructure had been revitalized – I was eager to visit the island and see for myself the progress that had been made.

While both Mike and myself are traveling on restricted budgets, we decided to weave that in with a few luxury experiences to rejuvenate and recharge our engines. Enter the Sheraton Grand Laguna Phuket The luxury Starwood resort featured beautifully manicured gardens, a river of pools ideal for swimming laps, a main entranceway fit for Thai royalty and beautiful white sand beaches. 

As soon as we arrived I dropped my bags in the room and made a dash for the beach. Skipping over Sheraton’s selection of “fine dining restaurants” in search of an authentic and budget friendly meal, I came across Lazaro’s, a simple and rustic food stand that allowed me to enjoy my meal with toes in sand.  Upon exploring the site I noticed they kept their seafood incredibly fresh, and by fresh I mean alive. Massive blue buckets connected by flimsy oxygen tubes were kept alongside the teak bar with live and swimming sea bass, red snapper, lobster, and other types of fish indigenous to Phuket. I was admittedly impressed.
After a quick dish of spicy Thai beef salad – a lovely dish of seared beef, slices of fresh onion and tomato, garnished by cilantro, lime and Thai parsley, I took to exploring the shoreline.

The expansive shoreline of Phuket featured several quaint and seemingly authentic open-aired beachside food outposts, rickety bars preparing themselves for the afternoon happy hour crowd and locals fishing and enjoying peaceful family gatherings in the shade of short palm trees.

After walking for what felt like another hour or so I came across Casnaria Bar, which undoubtedly had a gnarly pirate vibe to it. This was right up my alley. My entire life (whether consciously or subconsciously) I’ve had an obsession with pirates and a love for their dangerous freewheeling lifestyles (enter Captain Jack Sparrow). Here it was, live in the flesh right in front of me! A secret pirate hideaway on the sleepy beaches of Phuket! I felt as though I had stumbled upon my buried treasure! 

The pirates (restaurant staff) quickly exited Casnaria Bar and headed towards the surf. 

Their bodies were as smooth as beach rock; polished and perfected by the pounding of gentle waves. They flashed me a smile and hopped into a long tailed boat docked right off shore, waving as they took off. They motioned to the ocean, revved their engine and sailed away before I even had a chance to say goodbye... taking my heart and mind with them...

... as I’ve always dreamed a pirate could do.

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