As I write this I’ve just finished binge watching After Life by Ricky Gervais on Netflix. If you haven’t watched it, I thoroughly recommend it. Hilarious and sad at the same time. A heads up however that it might affect the tone of this post!
After my shoot with Dia in Bangkok, the next day I hopped on a plane to go back to Phuket. Visiting this island had probably been the highlight of the previous years trip and I felt that the 9 nights I’d spent there hadn’t nearly been enough. This time I was going for almost 2 weeks.
To anyone who would listen, I would talk about wanting to return in order to take more sunset photos, to relax on the beach for longer and to visit some of the sites that I had missed before. All of that is true to a degree, but if I’m being honest (and I should as this is kind of my diary of my life) the main reason is that I wanted to return in order to see a girl.
I had met Namfon (Pang) late one night when I was out watching the NFL. We got on well and spent a fair bit of time with each other over the last few days of 2015’s trip, going out drinking, eating, dancing and to the beach where I had (unsuccessfully!) attempted to teach her to swim. When I left Patong I didn’t really think I’d hear from her again, but I was wrong and for almost the entire year between we had kept in touch speaking almost every day. I have never in my life had a girl communicate with me so much and I was determined to see her again. As I write this from 2019 I know exactly how things eventually turned out, but I shall try to write from 2016’s perspective.
It was great to return to Phuket. It really is such a paradise of a location. I met Namfon shortly after arriving and we went out for food and some games of pool in a small local bar. It was a fun evening and I was happy to see her again. We spent the next few days relaxing on the beach and enjoying ourselves.
On my list of things to do in Phuket, I wanted to visit Promthep Cape, Wat Chalong and The Big Buddha. As things turned out, I only managed one of these! It’s hard to remember exactly why now, but Namfon and I had an argument one evening which left me feeling pretty worthless. Following that I didn’t see her for a few days and I didn’t feel much like doing anything at all. In those few days though I met some people running a bar away from the main strip and those people have become good friends who I have seen several times since. Silver linings.
The Big Buddha I visited alone one morning toward the end of my stay. The views from here are stunning in almost every direction you turn. It doesn’t take too long to explore and look around, but I was glad I did so as it’s such a huge focal point of the island. The Big Buddha is visible on the hillside from so many spots. I finished off the visit by receiving a blessing from a Monk – I still have the band he gave me wrapped around my wrist.
I would finish my stay in Patong by making amends with Namfon and we spent the last couple of days together again. In fact, we almost got on better and I was sad to say goodbye when the time came to leave. Although I subsequently stayed in touch with her again for another year, when I returned in 2017 it was all very different and would never be the same again. But I’ll save that post for when I come to it.
One final thought. When walking around The Big Buddha, I noticed (it’s hard to miss) all the ornaments decorating the site. Couples were drawing hearts and proclaiming their love to each other to hang up on display for all to see. At that moment as I watched on, there seemed to be couples everywhere hand in hand, laughing and writing. And I felt pretty alone.
I dream of one day hanging an ornament there myself with someone. One day.