Boxing, Elephants And Some Wacky Baccy
AUGUST 2023 ISSUE
IT WAS my dream that the four teenage boys would remain happily within the walls of Club Med Resort and take part in their fun and safe activities.
It was of course, unrealistic. I would need to get outside my comfort zone and give them some freedom while hopefully providing the necessary parental support and boundaries.
The quandary of how much independence to give your teenagers is a tricky one, especially in a foreign country and when not all of the kids are yours! That’s why I found myself inside a nightclub on the first night of our holiday.
Having tackled the gauntlet that is Bangla Road at night we approached the club with some trepidation. The boys thought they wouldn’t get in but of course they were barely spared a glance.
Once inside the cavernous venue, I found a place to wait and couldn’t help but yearn for the tranquil bar scene back at Club Med. I took a backseat while the boys roamed the booming halls.
Luckily (for me) the club resembled the scene of an arms deal from an espionage thriller and I doubt there was anyone there younger than 25. The boys quickly lost interest and we were able to return to our resort unscathed.
Having tasted the nightlife, I fretted that the boys would be wanting to go out into Patong every night. While I was happy for them to go to Patong together during the day – they all enjoyed shopping for brands and got excellent at bartering – Patong at night was another matter!
But it turned out that they were mostly happy to wander around Kata or even stay in the resort in the evenings.
Our second big foray was an island jet skiing trip. This was the only time that the boys dropped their ‘too cool to have fun’ façade and openly embraced the experience. They loved it. Two to a jet ski, riding between islands.
The water was choppy, the jet ski’s fast and the freedom total. I, on the other hand, had trouble even keeping the last of the group in sight. After years of driving at a sensible speed it was a bit too difficult to let loose!
Muay Thai Boxing
A trip to a Muay Thai match provided a new experience for us all. The stadium is located right in the heart of Patong tourist district. The price is aimed at tourists (1,600 baht = $AU70). I can only assume that locals get a discount.
We watched several fights, most not reaching the end of round one. The fighters, representing one of two clubs, were from Thailand and around the world including Australia, Russia and USA. Each fighter wore the traditional Muay Thai shorts and gloves.
The powerful strikes and swift movements were impressive and a quick kick to the head proved the quickest way to defeat an opponent. The night culminated in the main event, a bout between two seasoned fighters.
This fight lasted eight rounds and was decided by a narrow margin. The atmosphere in the stadium was friendly, it was clear that many of the fighters and spectators knew each other and that this a regular event for all.
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
Despite much coverage of the mistreatment of elephants in Thailand, there are still many tempting options available to tourists to ride, swim or bathe with these animals.
However, we chose to visit Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, which prides itself in being the area’s first and most ethical sanctuary. It provides a home for retired or injured working elephants.
Housed within 12 hectares, the elephants are mostly free to roam the area. Tourists are guided around the property coming close to the elephants but it is up to the animal whether it chooses to approach the visitors.
The elephants do associate people with food, but we found that most of them chose to keep their distance apart from one friendly female who approached every person in the group in turn.
The sanctuary provides a safe place for the elephants to live out their days in a secure location where they are well looked after. The cost of a half day visit is 3,000 baht ($AU130) not including transport. All profits go towards the upkeep of the elephants.
Out and about in Kata
Kata is a much quieter town than Patong. It felt a safe location for the boys to be independent and try out their bartering skills. The markets in Kata consist mostly of street food, although there are a few stalls selling clothes and souvenirs. There are many bars in the area which were very quiet during our visit.
The Big Buddha was also nearby. One afternoon they made their way to the statue by taxi and then followed the trail down the mountainside back to Kata. The steep and muddy path winds through the jungle and is frequented by cheeky monkeys (and mosquitoes!)
Just 10 steps from the gates of Club Med is Kata Beach, a beautiful sandy beach in a large bay. The waves are mostly small and consistent, perfect for learning to surf or trying stand up paddleboarding. There is no rip and the water is almost too warm. A swim was a twice daily occurrence for everyone.
Walking around Phuket you would imagine that cannabis had been legal for years. Almost every other building is home to a weed store or dispensary.
Officially people older than 20 and who are not pregnant or breastfeeding are legally allowed to consume cannabis. In reality, IDs are not checked and your teenagers will be able to purchase almost anything they’d like.
It feels like weed is everywhere: it was being smoked in the club we went to, you can smell it on the street and I even found a bag on the ground in the resort (which we promptly handed in!).
Officially smoking can take place inside an individual’s residence and cannabis inside food can be consumed at a licensed restaurant. Smoking marijuana in public places is illegal but you wouldn’t know it.
In retrospect, would I recommend visiting Phuket with teenagers?
It honestly depends on the teenager. In our case the boys were mostly responsible and had fun without getting into too much trouble. They were a sensible group and stayed together when they were out.
Overall, it was a successful and enjoyable holiday. However, I can’t help but think that travelling to Thailand with my daughter, who loves pushing boundaries, would have led to an entirely different adventure together!