We are here with the sun and the sand in Phuket. It's just a hop across the border from Vientiane to Udon Thani in Thailand and then a short flight down to Phuket. So, I guess that makes it our closest beach. Them's the breaks of living in a land-locked country.
So, we took a week off and headed south. We're staying at a large and somewhat impersonal hotel but it's right on the beach and the kids are having a ball. It took me a little while to chill but finally, in our last few days, I'm seeing the light and feeling much more relaxed. Just in time to return to reality. Ain't that always the way?
It's shoulder season and not school holidays but there's plenty of people around. "Chinese!" exclaimed our cheerful taxi driver, when I asked who were Phuket's main visitors. "Chinese tourists on package tours are number one! Then, Scandinavians and Europeans, the Russians, and Australians."
At our hotel, there are also a fair representation of Koreans, Singaporeans and Malaysians. Hardly any Australians. They are probably carving up the party beaches of Patong.
It's interesting to see the distinctions between the ethnic groups. While Asians layer on the sun protections of floppy hats and voluptuous clothing, the Europeans peel off as many layers as possible. Every woman, young and old, dons a bikini and every man a budgie smuggler. They've got a taxing day of garnering tan lines ahead of them.
But regardless of whether you spend your days doing aqua aerobics to loud techno music, baking your skin like an overcooked piece of salmon, risking your neck hang-gliding, or building sandcastles, we're all here for the same thing, really. The big blue skies, the sun, the sea breezes, and that beautiful aquamarine water that really is as blue and lovely as it looks in the pictures.