Monday, August 11, 2008

Puket Pride

The country we have returned to the most over the years, and also spent the most time visiting, is beautiful Thailand. We have been to a number of interesting and fun destinations within this wonderful, predominately Buddhist country: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, the World Heritage sites at Sukhothai and Ayuthaya, Pattaya, and a smattering of islands in the sound. Every destination we’ve experienced in Thailand offers a unique glimpse into a rich Buddhist tradition and an ancient culture, and the country’s distinctive natural and architectural beauty. But one of the most fun and interesting things we’ve ever experience in this colorful nation is the week-long gay pride celebration on the island of Phuket.
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand, and also the most popular with foreigners. 80% of all travelers visiting Thailand spend some, if not all, of their time on Phuket. It is located in the Andaman Sea off southern Thailand, and is mostly mountainous but has numerous find sand beaches.

The most popular tourist areas on Phuket are the beaches lining the western coast of the island: Patong, Karon, Kata, and Kata Noi. These areas have easy access to wide, long beaches, and also have Phuket’s most vibrant nightlife and cheap shopping. When Herman and I travel to Phuket, we generally stay at a tiny beach on the extreme southern end called Nai Harn Beach. There are fewer tourists there and no nightlife to speak of, but it’s a great getaway and the locals are charming. It even has a little gay section of the beach where local gay men come to frolic in the water, play volleyball, and watch the radiant sunsets.

All the festivities for the Gay Pride celebration, however, take place on Patong beach, the largest and most popular of all Phuket beaches. At Patong, most of the gay hotels are packed within a three-square-block area called Boys Town, in the Paradise Shopping Complex. But because the celebrations at Boy Town go on every night until the wee hours, during pride week, we stay at a quiet little gay B&B on the outskirts of Patong call Club One Seven: a pleasant fifteen minute stroll from all the action.

Each of the gay-owned businesses sponsors a float.

The procession files down the entire length of the beachfront street and ends at a beachside park where loud music, the great BBQ seafood, and exotic drinks flow freely all day and all night long.

Their pride celebration does not happen every year, nor does it happen at the same time of year, so if you plan to join in the fun, check the travel blogs first to insure when the next one will occur. Then don’t miss it!

Time in Phuket

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