Phuket
Marriage Ceremony
The final and perhaps most ridiculous journey of all was the luxury machine Mark procured on arrival in Phuket harbour for our transfer to Patong Beach. All eight travellers, including their luggage, climbed into, on and around a standard pickup for the forty minute ride. So cramped and overloaded was our Toyota, that even the local Thai's stopped to stare, point and laugh. When we filled up with petrol, a family even came out to take our photo. 

Soon thereafter, we crawled over the hills in the centre of the island on the steepest road I have ever witnessed, before dropping down the other side on a sixty mile per hour roller coaster ride into Patong Beach. Checking into the Hyton Hotel (the poor spelling a good reflection of similarities to the Hilton), we emerged at dusk into the town of Patong, as the sordid and twisted Thai nightlife came to life. Ah, home from home...

After a splendid meal of the usual Ton Yam Kung and seafood, we decided to stray into the bars to witness at first hand the fringes of the sex tourism industry.

Reception Penang
Football Match
Wedding Warm-up
Krabi
Koh Phi Phi
Phuket
 
Reception Jamaica
Negril
Along the way, we got sidelined into an exhibition of Thai boxing. Two sinewy but muscular Thais were kicking and punching lumps out of each other to the cheers of the crowd. We settled down to a quiet beer whilst this madness roared around us. 

Between fights, the winner came round to collect a gift from the crowd. Only then was it clear how tiny the boxers were, standing centimetres shorter than Petra. I wouldn't call his pint a poof, mind.

Our beers drained, we made our way into the bar area. These are small square bars, lined up two abreast down a long covered alleyway, each bar sporting at least half-a-dozen bar girls and perhaps two customers. Each bar has resorted to their own methods for enticing the punters to sit down, from seven foot transvestites in Lycra body stockings, to Snake or falcon peddlers, to the simple but effective kidnapping technique.


Jimmy at the Thai boxing: "I could have 'im."

Paul foolishly applies his grey matter to the hammer game.
Once we had taken our seats (whilst laughing at Gavin in the middle of a human tug-o-war between Jimmy and a bar owner, the lads collapsed onto the nearest bar stool), we discovered all bars had the same technique to keep the punters: put drunken tourists on a bar stool and present him with a giggling Thai who offers a game of connect 4 or Jenga. The trick is that this seemingly silly little girl kicks the crap out of the tourist every time, thereby challenging his intelligence. Of course the longer you stay, the drunker you get and therefore the more you get your arse kicked. And you thought this wasn't business!
 

 

If you get wise to this trick or appear to be getting bored, you are shown the tour-de-force; the hammer game. This involves a large wooden block, a claw hammer and a nail (one for each player). The rules are simple: you take turns to strike the hammer into the wood, until it is hammered flush into the block. The beauty of this game is that it replaces (or seems to replace) brain with brawn and challenges the tourist where it hurts: his manhood. So naturally when you get your arse kicked again, you'll stick around until you either drink the bar dry or beat the girl. Neither of which ever happen... 
Er, a camera shy Thai girl strays into the shot.
Meanwhile the constant procession of transvestites, bar girls, pythons and falcom peddlers amid equally colourful tourists offer an unparalleled assault to the senses. Paul was silenced temporarily, before waking from his trance to pronounce "this is just total sensory overload." Enough said...
Gavin drags a reluctant Jimmy and Petra home.