Phuket – Thailand

We stayed on the tourist haven island of Phuket in the south of Thailand for one week. Sonically, culturally and cuisinely, it was the most unexciting place on my travels. You may notice how the sound files on this entry are drastically fewer than in the following Sound Journal entry in Cambodia. Also, the majority of the images and sounds from Phuket are from one single day. You’ll notice now that I’ve told you, anyway.

Our hotel, The Old Phuket, was on Karon Beach. Apparently the area is very popular with Scandinavians and Russian, and from the amount of blonds and menues in Finnish, this was quite true. In the evenings, restaurants in the area would serve a watered-down version of Thai food and an equally pale ‘Western’ or ‘European’ menu. Most places also had live music in the form of one lone singer/guitarist who would play along with what sounded like a homemade backing track complete with midi drums, bass, synths, strings and backup vocals. Both the food and the music were pretty hard to stomach at times.

On our first day at the beach, we arrived in the middle of a rumbly thunderstorm. The beach was startlingly empty, compared to when the sun comes out. We were much happier to ssit on the empty beach under some clouds.

It was impossible to find a tour that did not include trips to the islands where the movies The Beach (photo above) and one of the James Bonds were filmed. Having never seen either movie, I am only assuming it looked different than when we saw it, with hordes of noisy tourists, noisy tour boats and garbage.

We visited a group of islands north of Phuket that rose sheer out of the 28-degree Adaman Sea. Some of the islands were limestone, and had been shaped by the land and sea in such a way as to have ‘caves’ that opened from the outside of the island into a lagoon in the inside. The only way to enter the lagoon was by low inflatable canoes, and we often had to lie flat to avoid the razor-sharp stalagtites. The steep cliffs inside the lagoon were covered in trees and vines, and mangrove trees often grew in the water, their roots rising a meter into the air. It was incredible.

The photo above sums up what most of the tourists where in Phuket for.

Along one set of islands, the water was sounding very wet. The first clip below is from above the water as it slurps into crevasses on the rock, and the second is of the same place with my Jez Riley French hydrophone.

Some caves didn’t open up to the lagoon, but curled into the belly of the island. Here is the sound from inside one of those caves.

Outside one cave, monkeys were hanging in the trees. If you look hard in the photo above, you might find one.

In the clip below, my canoe moves from inside the lagoon into the cave leading back to the ocean. You can hear the transition from the reverb-saturated lagoon with it’s insects and voices to the closed, cool cave where bats chirp above me and the paddling is amplified.

My canoe guide saw me recording one of the birds on an island, a ‘Nook Milah’, and began whistling at it in imitation.

I did go on two dives, with Sub Aqua. It made me very,very happy to hit the water in neoprene again, and I saw a good number of interesting creatures. Sonically, imagine being Darth Vader for an hour underwater.

Squeaky Sand! On Karon Beach, the sand squeaked when you walked on it with bare feet. My parents lent a helping foot here, but none of us could bear the heat for more than a few seconds. I have not heard the ‘Singing Sands’ of PEI, but I’m guessing they are similar.